Don’t Visualize for Success

nasrulekram @ flickr

One of the benefits of being curious is being open to learning from people more curious (and far smarter) than me.  Read on for a stunning turn on an almost universally accepted bit of self-help.

I, like most, have been fully indoctrinated in the idea of using visualization to achieve your goals and ultimate success.  Well, it turns out that visualizing your success might not be just useless … it might be actually counterproductive to reaching that which you most want!

Some recent studies about motivation by researches indicates that visualizing success saps the energy needed to actually create it.  In fact, the more urgent a desire is coupled and the more realistically you visualize it … the more negative the effect.  The energy and clarity of the “vision” can actually trick the brain into believing the “itch” has been “scratched” and you can lose energy towards the goal.

Instead, the study suggest trying critical visualization such as seeing obstacles and difficulties you might face while going for what you want.  It might even be helpful to clearly visualize what failure would look like … now that’s some motivation!

Posted by Tom on January 3rd, 2012 under Psychology • No Comments

Free Book Summary and Tool for Willpower by Roy Baumeister

We’ve just posted a new Book Tool package for the fantastic (and relatively new) book Willpower by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney.  Head over to the Book Tools page where you now have access to a whole TWO (2) tool packages!

Posted by Tom on November 20th, 2011 under Book Summaries, Book Tools, Psychology, WillpowerTags: , ,  • No Comments


I am fascinated by the subject of happiness.  In reality, my “curious pursuit’ is the quest to find a way to help myself, spouse and children find a deeper and more frequent flavor of happiness in our lives.  We do alright at this pursuit, but it sometimes feels like the world is opposed to our goal.  Or, if not opposed, at least championing a version that never quite tastes right or lasts long enough.

I was interested, then to read this essay from Outlook India on national happiness.  The author offers a quick history and his view of happiness from an Indian perspective (thus the title … my homage to Bollywood which I love).  One of his fundamental assertions is that what used to to be a real lack of comfort and happiness inducing goods in the poor has been replaced by a greedy want that reduces both happiness and contentment.

It’s inarguable that the general level of prosperity has increased in India with the wave of outsourcing and foreign money that has poured in.  What is also interesting is that despair has also surged and is seen most clearly in those that should be benefiting from the “blessings” of prosperity.  He writes …

Let’s try and think of the ’80s as the decade during which a Trojan horse called ‘Happy’ entered our consciousness. What it released inside us were the advance troops of deep and constant dissatisfaction and, once the full blast of GLIP hit, we were in bad psychic trouble. It’s not that things were better before—they clearly weren’t—but what we’ve actually done as a society is exchange the misery of a protectionist provincialism for the despair of a barren, capitalist-internationalism. Instead of increasing, our scope for real happiness is actually shrinking. Because, following the initial Trojan, when we began the all-out McDonalding of our society, we inadvertently downloaded a huge Lack/Want worm into our operating system, a worm that takes over and taints everything we do, all that we think. Rapidly, so much has become about ‘being competitive’, ‘taking out the opposition’, ‘winning’, ‘being awesome’. That middle class, perhaps briefly, genuinely happy in the ’80s, is now geared towards generating more and more desire for unattainable objects and lifestyles.

It really is such a strange thing, this situation we put ourselves in where have to always be in a “fight for our life”.  In the U.S. we call it the “rat race” and participation so often really does result in making so many of us “rats” in the worst sense.  Both feeding out of the gutter of human experience as well as inhabiting unseemly lives.

Advocating a return to times where economics were both more shaky (unbelievably) and less generous is a ridiculous  idea.  What isn’t, however, is a return to timeless values that offered earlier generations more wisdom and patience in their approach to life.  Again, from the author …

We Sub-Continentals, on the other hand, have been taught over millennia not to run after happiness. We’ve been warned about illusory rainbows plotting in tandem with non-existent pots of gold. We’ve been advised not to fetishise satisfaction. To switch metaphors, we’ve been coached, again and again, not to fish outside life’s off-stump and to let the ball come to us. This has been true from the time the Mahabharata was written to the time our Constitution was constructed.

I would add, that we, Americans have plenty to offer as well.  How about resiliency, optimism in the face of sure defeat and a healthy respect for the naked lessons of life.  Just as no country has a monopoly on frustration, none has it on the capability of finding the answers.

Posted by Tom on November 20th, 2011 under HappinessTags: , ,  • No Comments

Four Steps to Living Longer

This article at Yahoo! on the top causes of death in men is anything earth shattering.  The most useful part of the article were the four steps to living longer.  Again, nothing very surprising but a good reminder …

Exercise for 30 minutes. Middle-aged men who exercise vigorously for two hours a week (aim for 30 minutes, four times a week) have a 60 percent lower risk of a heart attack than inactive men.
Lose the spare tire. If you’re overweight, dropping 10 to 20 pounds lowers your risk of dying from a heart attack. In fact, a 10-year study found that overweight people had heart attacks 8.2 years earlier than normal-weight victims.
Drink five glasses of water a day. Men who drink that many 8-ounce glasses are 54 percent less likely to have a fatal heart attack than those who drink two glasses or fewer. Researchers say the water dilutes the blood, making it less likely to clot.
Count to 10. Keeping your cool under stress may keep you alive. Men who respond with anger are three times more likely to have heart disease and five times more likely to have a heart attack before turning 55.

Posted by Tom on June 27th, 2011 under Health • No Comments

Review: The Awakening Course

I was actually one of those that purchased Joe Vitale’s “Spiritual Marketing” years and years ago off Amazon.  I believe it was self-published and I read it around the time I was discovering the whole genre of “law of attraction”.
To be honest, I haven’t really touched any of his stuff since then and I’m not sure why (or at least I don’t remember).  I might have been turned off with the whole idea or maybe I just didn’t run across it again.  I also have grown to have a bit of a distaste for the “Secret” crowd and their ilk.  The fact is I just think it’s a very shallow philosophy and mostly designed to make author’s rich.
All of that said, I enjoyed this book.  I think it does a much better job of explaining how the “law of attraction” can actually work in your life.  He doesn’t discount the role of effort and, in fact, emphasizes it’s importance.  He explains that for him it doesn’t feel like effort anymore because he loves so much what he does.  But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t put serious hours into what he does.
Nobody can claim that Mr. Vitale hasn’t led an interesting life and this book does a great job of “framing” his experience with what he has learned from it.
Overall, I think this book is a more mature treatment of this topic and worth the read if you are either fed up but still interested or are just starting to read in this area.

Posted by Tom on May 3rd, 2011 under Book Reviews • No Comments

Review: Undercover User Experience Design

I really enjoyed this book.  It was easy and engaging to read and also offered great material for doing UX planning.
The book starts with a definition of the problems of UX design and some of the difficulties in engaging in this area of work.  It is an often overlooked discipline by site builders and buyers alike.  The first sections have some good advice on creating organizational energy around UX principles.
The later sections of the book get into the meat of discovery, heuristics, planning, etc.  There are great examples and tips on how to move a project through the different phases from discovery of site purpose and needs all the way through  wireframing, testing and more.
My favorite section is probably chapter 2 on Exploring the Problem. I like the tips and ideas around using hard data, common sense and expert knowledge to combine for the best solutions and possible ideas.  I’m definitely in the “design to a solution” camp and found a bunch of very good ideas around really focusing on the needs that the project will fulfill.  I think that mindset gets too easily lost in too many projects and is a major cause of failure in the end.
The last bit of the book is about how to work with different stakeholders in the development process.  This too is a great section and worth the read alone … although the entire book is definitely worth your time.
Anyway, definitely read this one if you have any interest or needs around the UX field.

Posted by Tom on May 3rd, 2011 under Book Reviews • No Comments

“Eat That Frog” Review

This is a great book with a ton of useful and (importantly) doable ideas to “get yourself going”.  It’s often difficult to figure out ways to actually get over the mental blocks that cause procrastination and the associated “friction” of working.  This book has a TON of ideas that range from the motivational to the practical.  Exactly what I need.

Some of my favorite ideas/sections are …

I particularly like the idea of “positive addiction” layed out in the Introduction.  It seems that this is a lot of the answer that most of us are looking for.  If we can get that wheel spinning of finding success and enjoyment out of productive behavior … what else is there to conquer, really?

I also like the “Apply the Law of Three” section and it’s get down to business attitude.  The “Work All the Time You Work” is a big deal and an important idea.  It sounds so simple, but is seemingly so difficult to execute on a daily basis.  Finding that focus and energy to do nothing but what you intend as you sit down to work each day is so important.  Too much time is frittered away with random acts of wasted energy.

Creative procrastination is a great idea too.  It reminds me of the “management by broken glass” theory of getting things done.

Honestly, I guess I could just go through section by section on the book because it’s all good.  Definitely worth the read.


Posted by Tom on April 3rd, 2011 under Book Reviews • No Comments

Know and Honor Your Goals

from popofatticus at Flickr

In the last post I talked about finding out the needs of the other party and how important that is in negotiations large and small.  This post is a call to “never forget your own goals!”

If you allow your attention to be pulled off of your own goals and objectives and give up what you need you will be left with a result “less than zero”.  Yes!  Your goals are of supreme importance and must figure into anything and everything you do.  This definitely dips into paradox territory as we seek to know the other’s needs and while still honoring our own objectives.  But finding the balance is critical and in the end the major job of any successful interaction in business or otherwise.

But here’s the rub … are you sure you know your goals and are you acting in a way that will get you to them?

It really is a tricky deal trying to figure out just what your goals are.  Are you thinking long term enough?  A quick win might be available to you, but will it affect the long term relationship and therefore the long term money making prospects?  Make sure you are comfortable with your goals and how they will affect you today, tomorrow and down the road.

The other potential pit in this process is remaining faithful to your goals.  For instance, I have a personal goal of raising my children to be wise, healthy and happy.  I know that this means communicating with patience and disciplining with the “long view” in mind.  And yet, I still find myself losing patience and ignoring the consequences of a “scream” fest from time to time.  This is a situation where I am not honoring my goals because I’m jumping for the expedient “quick fix” at the cost of my desired destination.

When interacting with others, keep in mind that you need to know your REAL goals and remain faithful to them.  Don’t let emotion or circumstance yank you away from what you want!

Find the intersection of your goals and their needs and life gets easier, better for everybody and you get MORE!


The ideas in this post were generated from a reading of the excellent book “Getting More” by Stuart Diamond.  I have created “tools” and helps for this book for you for free …  just click below to learn how to download them.


To purchase the book:

More posts about this book:


Posted by Tom on March 14th, 2011 under Getting More • No Comments

What Do They Want

One of the hardest steps to learning successful negotiation is the paradox of knowing and honoring your goals while focusing on the other party’s needs at the same time.

Why focus on their needs?  Because that’s where successful negotiation begins and ends.  If you can discover what they TRULY want and find a way to satisfy that need in the context of your own goals … you’ve got it made.  At that point it isn’t really a negotiation as much as a deal finalization.  Often, though, their real needs are not apparent to you … or sometimes even them!

So … somewhat counter intuitively, you need to learn to spend more time asking questions and listening to them in the midst of a negotiation.  What is the subtext of what they are saying?  Is there an unspoken 3rd party that holds great power over their ultimate decision?  Is their a more basic need that there demands are masking?  Is a resolution even possible, or are their needs out of bounds with what you can really give them?  All of these questions and so much more must be explored as you are attempting to discover possible solutions.

And this is the case with negotiations both large and small.  Want a “comped” room upgrade after a disastrous first night in the hotel?  What does the manager need?  How about a little respect first, and a promise of an acknowledgement of fantastic customer service to their boss later?  It might not work all the time … but it will some of the time and that’s all it takes for a much better life.

Yes, your goals are paramount … but find out what they need and figure out ways to get everybody what they need.  Not only will you have what you want … you’ll be a rock star to those around you!


The ideas in this post were generated from a reading of the excellent book “Getting More” by Stuart Diamond.  I have created “tools” and helps for this book for you for free …  just click below to learn how to download them.


To purchase the book:

More posts about this book:


Posted by Tom on March 7th, 2011 under Getting More • No Comments

Quotes for Motivation

How about a list of good quotes about “sticking to it”?  Here are a few that are worthy of posting …

“Fall seven times; stand up eight.” – Japanese proverb

“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.” – Joseph Campbell

“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” – Jimmy Dean

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day.” – James Joyce

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” – Epicurus

“Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else” – Judy Garland

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank

“The mind can make a heaven out of hell or a hell out of heaven” – John Milton

“Try not to become a man of success but a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.” – James Oppenheim

“Yes, and you would not grow to be the man you are about to become.” — Tony Robbins

Posted by Tom on March 3rd, 2011 under Motivation • No Comments