Tag Archives: positive habits

Want to Be Happier? Limit Your Choices …

2 minutes to read

“How can you be bored when you have a room full of toys and games?”

I asked my daughter when she stayed home sick from school. Put all exaggeration about my childhood aside. She has a lot more things to play with than I did. Yet despite numerous choices, she’s dissatisfied. My daughter is not unique. Most of my friends’ children are the same. For generations we’ve been taught greater choice will make us happy. Turns out the prevailing wisdom is wrong.

Want to Be Happier- Limit Your Choices …

The Paradox of Choice

Convinced I was on to something, I researched the connection between happiness and number of choices. In a TED talk about 10 years ago, psychologist Barry Schwartz explained why the huge number of options we have makes us unhappy. He acknowledged there are benefits to having alternatives. But having an enormous number of choices often paralyzes decision-making. So people don’t take any action to improve their lives because they cannot decide which one is best.

Further, Schwartz identified four bad effects of a large number of choices:

  1. Regret or anticipation of regret. Your satisfaction in a good decision is reduced because with so many other options one of them must have been closer to perfect.
  2. Opportunity costs. No matter how good a choice is others must have had better features. So, you’re dissatisfied even when you know you made the right decision.
  3. Escalation of expectations. Because we’re so used to a huge number of options, the one we choose cannot live up to our expectations.
  4. Self-Blame. When we had limited choices we could accept discontent as the way things are. But when we have so many alternatives, if we choose a bad one we have only ourselves to blame.

Happiness requires striking a balance between too many and too few choices.

How to Effectively Limit Choices

Schwartz and I part company over how to solve this dilemma. He proposes having an outside entity constrain the choices of people in wealthy nations. The extra resources can then be used to increase the options for those living in poorer countries. The problem arises in assuming the optimal number of choices is the same for all people and for all aspects of life.

For myself, having a huge array of electronic gadgets to choose from does not make me happy. But I have a friend who LOVES comparing and deciding which one is best. (So I call him and he makes the choice for me.)

The best solution is for each of us to determine the amount of a choice that is optimal for our life and set constraints accordingly. Here’s how:

  1. Refuse to believe that more choices are necessarily good.
  2. Are you content with your choices in a particular area of your life? Don’t think you have to change them to find greater contentment. You may end up with less.
  3. Identify an aspect of life you think you’ll enjoy exploring. Test it out. Are you happier? I love trying new varieties of chocolate and ice cream. I go to great lengths to find them.

By choosing to limit your choices you will find greater happiness.

Where in your life are you overwhelmed by choices? Please comment below.

The One Thing You Must Do to Get What You Want

2-½ minutes to read

Remember the last time you got a gift? Did you get what you wanted? It’s disappointing when you don’t isn’t it? But it ruins the surprise if you drop hints. My daughter loves to hear me tell of how I prayed for a girl when my wife was pregnant. In this case the hints worked. Prayer is a powerful tool for getting what you want. But you shouldn’t treat your aspirations like gifts. You’ll have to take direct action.

The One Things You Must Do to Get What You Want

Forcing People to Read Your Mind

Rejection tops many people’s lists of fears. Sales is a tough profession. For every yes, the typical salesman had heard nine to 24 no’s. A lot of people cannot take such rejection day in and day out. But the professional arena isn’t the only arena where people fear rejection. Some avoid relationships or let theirs stagnate rather than risk being told no.

Why didn’t you get the job you wanted? How come you didn’t get a date with the guy or gal that sparked your interest? Did you ask for what you wanted?

At the end of a meeting to discuss a job, if you want it you must ask for it. Jobs aren’t gifts. You have to close the deal. If you don’t, the next candidate will. The same goes for getting a date and having the relationships you desire. People have to know what you want. They can’t read your mind. You’ll have to tell them.

The Kindness of Asking for What You Want

You’ve heard it before. If you don’t ask the answer is definitely no. What have you got to lose?

In many situations the other person may fear rejection. When you take initiative they don’t have to worry about being turned down. As well, most people don’t like rejecting others either. So by giving them the chance to say yes without fear of your saying no to them you make it as easy as possible.

Ask in the way it's easiest for the person to say yes:

  1. Preface your question with a reminder of why the person should say yes: “Given our understanding of the scope of the job and how well my qualifications fit…”
  2. Be positive: “Are you prepared to give me the job?” Not negative: “You wouldn’t want to hire me would you?”
  3. Be confident: Smile and look the person in the eyes as you ask.

If the person does say no, you can still make progress toward what you want. Having turned you down, he is more likely to say yes to your next request. Ask for a referral to someone who needs an employee with your qualifications. Be specific about who you want to connect with.

By giving the person a chance to help, you relieve him of any guilt he may feel about saying no to the job.  All the above is true for sales and personal relationships. In fact, it applies to anything you want.

The best way to get over a fear of rejection is to ask a lot of people for what you want. Despite hearing no 90% or more of the time you’ll find enough who will say yes. You only need one yes to get the job you want. You’re going to marry only one special person. When you close 4% to 10% of your sales prospects you’ll have a big income.

Ask for what you want. Expect to hear yes. If you don’t, move on. Repeat.

What prevents you from asking for what you want? Please comment below.

Know the Most Powerful Word for Getting What You Want?

1-½ minutes to read

Have you gotten everything you want in life? A lot of people don’t know what they want. They grope through their lives as if in a pitch-black room. With so many choices it’s difficult to decide. Having determined the object of your desire, you’re tempted to stray after something else. Sticking with your original plan seems like settling. Of course, once you’ve committed to your goal you have to meet it.

Know the Most Powerful Word for Getting What You Want?

You’ll Need Help

Everything you want in life is owned or controlled by someone else.Roger Dawson, world-renowned teacher of negotiating

Like it or not you will have to ask people for what you want. So spend some time figuring out how to do this in a compelling way.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a magic word you could use to get people’s help? There is.

In a study on helpfulness, researchers setup a situation where a person approached people using a copying machine. He asked to jump to the head of the line because he had to finish a project for his boss. Even when he said please most people said no. But when he prefaced his request with the question, “Will you help me,” most people said yes.

Use the word help when you want someone’s assistance.

Persistence Pays Off

In another study on helpfulness, researchers examined how people reacted to being asked for two favors. They expected people who turned down the first request to help would be more likely to turn down the second request. But their research showed the opposite. Forty-three percent of the people who at first said no agreed to do the second favor. This was more than double what the research subjects anticipated.

Having once been told no, the tendency is to reject that person for future requests for help. But the guilt at having said no often compels people to make amends by agreeing to a second request. When someone turns you down for a job or sale ask for a referral to someone else. Request that you be able to contact them again to see if their situation has changed.

In any event, confidently seek people’s help to get what you want. Remember, if you fail to ask the answer is always no.

What prevents you from asking for help? Please comment below.

How to Make a Stellar First Impression

2-½ minutes to read

You have seven seconds to make a good first impression. Of course this assumes the other person has never met you. But in these days of pervasive social media, it’s easy to know a lot about you. The people you’re meeting with about a job or business have checked you out on LinkedIn and Facebook. Before you cry Google-stalking, think about it. Prudent business dictates knowing about the people with whom you’ll work. In all likelihood you have given a first impression long before you meet someone in person.

How to Make a Stellar First Impression

A Less Than Stellar First Impression

Since your online persona will precede you, consider what shapes it. In a face-to-face meeting, most people want to appear humble. They don’t brag about themselves or their accomplishments. Often they take it too far. They avoid talking about their achievements. Instead they recite their skills. By what magic can the person intuit the great benefits such skills will deliver?

Yet these same people thing nothing of posting embarrassing pictures on Facebook. They use unprofessional headshots on LinkedIn. These pale compared to ranting on social media about things they dislike. They attack the beliefs and politics of anyone with whom they disagree.

Overly humble as they are in a meeting, modesty is thrown out the window online. Neither makes a good first impression.

Humility verses Modesty

The solution is simple. Ratchet up modesty, scale back false humility. Consider increasing your online decorum:

  • Images. Before posting that hilarious picture, how funny will it be if a potential employer or client cites it as the reason for not hiring you or giving you their business? Is he really an old fogey or is it valid to question your maturity? People want to know you’ll exercise sound judgment.
  • Complaints. Other than getting it off your chest, what good does complaining in public do? Are you going to start a mass movement? Will people spontaneously engage in a boycott? How do you like being publically humiliated? Leaders know to compliment in public and reprimand in private.
  • Politics. What you post online may outlive you. When I searched my name I found my address from college. The World Wide Web was not launched until 10 years after I got my degree. Do you know for a fact that everyone who disagrees with your views is stupid, evil, or traitorous? Reasoned debate is one thing. Insults under the guise of honesty may cause you lifelong harm.

At the same time, humility need not prevent you from highlighting your accomplishments. Be:

  • Truthful. Give the plain facts of what you’ve done. What does it mean that you’re effective or dynamic? Leave out the superlatives and adverbs.
  • Specific. Are you very experienced? According to whom? If you’ve been in a field for 23-½ years people will figure out you’re experienced. Quantify your achievements. Now you can test whether the person perceives your value. If he doesn’t will you be able to meet your objectives working with him?
  • Confident. Braggarts use lofty words and talk a lot. Speak succinctly. Know what you want to say. Look the other person in the eyes when you talk. Connect with him.

Be modest rather than humble. Make self-discipline and authenticity that builds relationships your goals. They will lead you to success.

Why do you have difficulty promoting yourself? Please comment below.

How to Make Your Own Luck

4 minutes to read

You can’t deny that successful people are luckier than everyone else. Things just seem to fall in place for them. As Charlemagne said in Pippin, “it’s smarter to be lucky than it’s lucky to be smart.” Wouldn’t it be nice if you knew their secret?

How to Make Your Own Luck

Luck Made Me $6000 in 3 Days

Back when I was in the real estate business I had the chance to make $6000 for about 24 hours of work appraising a golf course. I told the client I knew nothing about the assignment but he wanted me to do it anyway. There was one hitch: I had three days to get it done.

After visiting the course (I could have played it for free but didn’t have the time) I started my research. My first call was to American Golf, at the time the largest owner of golf courses in the country. I told the receptionist I had been assigned a golf course appraisal and was hoping someone at her firm could help me. She transferred me to investor services. I repeated why I called to the investor relation’s person. Our conversation:

IR person: Do you have a pencil?

Me: Yes.

IR person: Do you have some paper?

Me (mystified by his questions but going along): Yes.

IR person: Okay, here’s what you need to do.

He spent the next 45 minutes explaining how to underwrite a golf course. Then he told me I needed to get copies of a golf course trade magazine.

I spent the next hour calling libraries looking for the magazines. No dice. Now this was pre-Internet so I couldn’t just go online and research the publisher. Fortunately one of the librarians had heard of it. I got the publisher’s phone number from her.

My next call was to the publisher. The woman who answered the phone didn’t sound too friendly but I gave her my pitch:

Me: Hi, I’m doing a golf course appraisal and I’ve been told your magazine is a crucial data source. I’d like to get some back issues. Can you help me?

Publisher: A subscription costs $600. You’ll get your first issue in 8 to 12 weeks.

Me: I guess I didn’t explain myself well. I don’t want new issues. I want back issues. And I need them right away because my report is due in two days.

Publisher: A subscription costs $600. You’ll get your first issue in 8 to 12 weeks.

Me: I appreciate that you want to sell a subscription. I’ll pay for back issues.

Publisher: You don’t listen very well. A subscription costs $600. You’ll get your first issue in 8 to 12 weeks.

I gave up and got to work with what I had.

The next day, thinking I had nothing to lose, I called the publisher back. Someone else answered the phone. I explained what I wanted.

Publisher: Sure, I’m happy to help. How many back issues do you want?

Me: Gosh, six month’s worth would be fine.

Publisher: Where should I send them?

Me: You’re being so helpful, may I trouble you to Fedex them? I’ll give you my account number.

Publisher: Oh, we have a Fedex account, no problem. Do you want it for morning delivery?

Me: Yes, I need them as soon as possible.

Publisher: Do you have a fax machine? I can fax you an issue or two.

Me: That would be FANTASTIC! You’re being so helpful, would you give me the name of your supervisor? I want to write a letter about what a great employee you are.

Publisher: Thank you, but it’s not necessary.

Me: Still, I’d really like to.

Publisher: It’s not necessary. I’m a temp. I won’t be here tomorrow.

I received the back issues and finished the assignment on time.

How I Got Lucky

My luck came from two things:

  1. Asking for help. I was honest about what I needed and used the word “help.” People want to help you. But you have to let them know what you need and why. If you’re legit they will help. I once had a business manager give me confidential details about his client’s sale of a winery when I asked for his help. I’ve always thought his client wouldn’t have liked what he did. But perhaps they were too busy drinking wine to care.
  2. Being persistent. I found a librarian who could help me after to speaking to five or six. The first person at the publisher wasn’t helpful. But if I hadn’t called back I would never have hit the jackpot with the second one.

You can do both of these. You can make your own luck!

What do you do to get lucky? Please comment below.

Get More Ideas Like These for Firing Up Your Life and a FREE Bonus!

Use:

  • The wisdom of Scripture
  • Battle-tested ideas from the military
  • Profitable business concepts

to design a better life for you and your family!

Plus, you'll get a FREE bonus, my 49 Day Challenge to Refine Your Character!