No one cares about you.
Okay, maybe that’s a tad harsh…your family, close friends and (maybe) your co-workers care about you, but, outside of that, you’re very close to flying solo.
Sure, if something good or bad happens to you, you’ll get some likes…maybe even some ‘loves’…on Facebook, but the people who actually care enough about you for your news to actually affect their mood/the way they feel for the rest of their day are very, very few.
Realising that and accepting it can be borderline depressing…or it can be fucking liberating.
What if you could do whatever you wanted to do, whenever you wanted to do it and no one cared?
It’d be pretty cool, huh?
Well, I believe that’s the world we live in, and so that’s how I try to live my life. Not in the sense that I frequently go murdering sprees. That ain’t cool. But, certainly in the sense of who I spend time with, where I spend time and how I behave/carry myself.
I think we worry far too much about what is totally fucking insignificant, in the grand scheme of things.
We hum and we haw until opportunity passes us by, we debate and discuss until situations resolve themselves and we ask permission to carry out the most menial tasks.
It hurts my soul.
With the preface set, I’m going to talk a bit about decision making.
It’s an area of life I think many struggle with and also an area that I’ve spent quite some time developing, so I figured it’d be nice to share the love.
Lemme kick off by giving you a few examples of ‘big’ decisions I’ve made over the past few years that I thought would either make me a gazillionnaire or turn everyone in my life against me when I made them:
I moved to Australia.
Some of my longer term clients at the time, a few of my teammates, my family and my best mates cared.
That’s about 15-20 people. Really not many, is it?
Came home from Oz.
Literally even less people cared about this than when I moved away in the first place.
Both massive decisions for me, in my wee life, but the universe cared not.
I opened a gym and thought it’d be bursting at the seems on week one. It was a unique concept and I’m the dog’s bollocks. “Can’t miss with this one…”, I thought.
Very few people cared.
I think we opened with something like 30 members. (The very fact I’m saying “I think” shows how useless I was at bizniz at the time.)
I changed the name of the gym.
I stressed for months about this…maybe even up to a year. “I’ve built a reputation using my own name. I can’t just make up a new name and pretend like nothing has happened.”
So I got a new logo designed, wrote a Facebook post, published it…and no one gave a fuck.
“That’s nice.”, “New logo looks cool.”, *continues scrolling through newsfeed*.
I got married.
Got nearly a thousands likes on a Facebook post, but probably only around 20 people actually cared.
Probably only 5-10 people cared (the rest didn’t know, and they didn’t know because I knew they wouldn’t care).
So when I was asked: “How are you with decision making, Ross?”, by Suzy, the producer of the Personal Best Show on BBC Radio Scotland, last week, my answer was: “Ummm, alright…I guess.”
I was live on air with two authors: one who’d written a book bout decision making and the other about the positives of social media.
Not quite fitness related, but I’m quick becoming the Phil Neville of the radio – not an expert in one topic, but can be relied upon for a solid 7/10 performance anywhere.
Anyhoo, the author of the book detailed her back story and stated that she was once paralysed by options to the extent that she struggled to make a decision.
One of the contributors even went as far as saying she struggles to decide whether or not to have a cup of tea. Yeah, that’s a piss take of epic proportions. No…wait…it actually happened. FML…get me off this planet.
You can listen to the show here for the ‘experts’ tips, which really were solid.
The show got me thinking…
Making decisions is something that no one really likes doing, but like it or not, I signed up for the gig when I decided upon the self-employed life.
I don’t have a boss to tell me what to do or to sound ideas off of. I’ve just got to make decisions, run with them and evaluate whether or not they were intelligent based on the results. From there I need to make more decisions as to whether to stick with them or reverse/change them.
It’s kinda stressful, but it’s also what I enjoy about my job/life. Every day, as much as it’s kinda the same, is different. I’m met with new problems and new ideas to bring to reality.
The stress part is the bit I think people struggle with most. We all want an easy life. A life where we can earn enough money, have enough free time and have enough friends to spend it with. But, there’s times when life ain’t easy and it’s at those times we have to strap on our big boy/girl panties and make decisions.
When these times arrive, the first thought going through your mind should be:
“I’m not as important as I think I am.”
Swiftly followed by:
“Stop being a little bitch.”
Once you’ve done those two things, if you’re still stressed out and struggling for an answer, you’re going to want to keep reading.
If your problem is solved, congrats – you’re done here. You may now go forth and read another one of my blogs.
I’m going to break this down into two parts:
- Dale Carnegie’s framework for dealing with worry;
- How Obama, Zuckerberg, Jobs, Einstein (and little, ol’ me) keep day-to-day decisions simple so I/we* can focus my mental energy into bigger decisions.
*Yes, yes I did just put myself in the same sentence as some of the biggest influencers our planet has ever been graced with. ‘N whit?!
Carnegie’s Framework For Decision Making
There are some decisions in my life I procrastinate with and postpone.
I often accept shitty circumstances rather than making a simple decision to change purely based on the fact that I quite enjoy tough times and have faith in my ability to endure them. (Case in point being my previous two relationships, both of which I should’ve ended 6 months before I actually did…probably shouldn’t have written that, but I did so let’s move swiftly on.)
I like it when my back is against the wall because it gives me a sense that things will get better one day, which is a massive motivator for me to continue working hard. When things are going well, I’ve got a tendency to coast, which is weird and hopefully I overcome soon. That’s another story, though. Back to the program…
There’s been a few situations over the past 6 months or so that have required a helluva lot of thought, worry and action for me to sort out.
They really tested my mettle and I’m glad I went through them…but, lemme tell ye, I didn’t go through them alone.
During both circumstances (one work-related and one personal) I struggled to think about anything other than the issue at hand, which is massively detrimental as my bizniz relies upon my thoughts, vision and smarts.
It’s worthwhile noting that I’m worse than useless at asking for help. Sometimes people around me can tell something’s up and try to jump in for me, but most of the time I kinda suffer in silence until I resolve the issue or it resolves itself.
However, a while back it got to the stage I started actively looking for help, and (thankfully) I found it in a book called: ‘How To Stop Worrying & Start Living’ by the absolute hero that is Dale Carnegie.
I’ve gotta admit that I probably only read (and when I say ‘read’, I mean listened to) the first quarter of the book as, by then, I felt like I had gotten what I needed to get from it.
In the book, Carnegie uses the following simple framework for decision making:
“What are you worried about?
Imagine the worst possible outcome to your current concern.
Emotionally accept that the worst-case scenario might actually happen. (Don’t resign yourself to it happening, but at least consider the possibility that it will.)
To help with accepting this negative outcome, answer these three questions:
- What will be the real consequences if the bad thing happens?
- How will I cope with those consequences?
- What will still be good in my life?
Now that you’ve accepted the worst-case scenario, what can you reasonably do to prevent it?”
After reading this, I got my notepad out and I went through the process.
At the time, and every time I’ve done it since, I’ve arrived at two outcomes that are both equally stress-free.
The first is essentially just accepting the worst case scenario but focussing on what will still be good in my life when/after it happens.
The second is the outcome that involves me solving the problem and avoiding the outcome I’m worried/have been worrying about.
Either way, my mind has been at ease and I’ve accepted everything surrounding the situation, as opposed to solely focussing on and worrying about the negatives.
Life changing is a grand and overused phrase, but that’s the best way to describe Carnegie’s framework for moi. If you struggle with decision making or anxiety/worry, get your hands on a copy of that book and get it read.
Or, be a lazy bar-steward like myself, and just copy and paste the framework to use when you need it.
Another, perhaps more simple, strategy in the book is Gayland Litchfield’s 4 step process to dealing with worry.
He details the following, simple 4 steps:
- What am I worrying about?
- What can I do about it?
- Here’s what I am going to do about it?
- When am I going to start doing it?
This is a quicker process to go through than Carnegie’s strategy, and so I use it to deal with simpler situations that still require some thought.
Keeping Decisions Simple
I first stumbled upon this article (it might not actually have been this one as a quick Google search throws up many like it) a few years back and it kinda reinforced a few things I was already doing, albeit it made me go ‘all in’ on the concept.
It talks about ‘decision fatigue’, which is “…a real psychological condition in which a person’s productivity suffers as a result of becoming mentally exhausted from making so many irrelevant decisions. Simply put, by stressing over things like what to eat or wear every day, people become less efficient at work.”
Decision fatigue is something I can’t be dealing with. I’m unproductive and inefficient enough without being further inhibited by fucking ‘decision fatigue’.
In order to combat this cruel mistress, Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein, among others, wear the same clothes every single day. In keeping with the above quote, they believe that stressing about what to wear detracts their attention and energy from the bigger, more important decisions they’re faced with on a daily basis.
After reading this article (and to this day), I committed to systemising the clothes I wear.
I wear the same clothes to work every day (yeah, I’ve got multiple versions of the same items of clothing), I wear the same clothes when out casually and the same clothes when our dressed smart.
I shop in the same places and either buy multiple versions of the same item or I buy different colours of the same item…usually the same, though.
The clothes in my wardrobe are lined up in a super-OCD friendly manner so that I don’t even need to look for what I’m going to wear.
The only decisions I need to make are whether I dress for: work, casual, smart, cold or rain.
Hell, I even showed up to one of my best mate’s baby’s Christenings in jeans, trainers and a jumper, because I couldn’t be bothered making a decision…or, more accurately, I couldn’t be bothered getting stressed out about making a decision…on what to wear.
“Do you know it’s a Christening, Ross? Why aren’t you wearing a suit?”
“I wear what I want.” *Now, get the fuck away from me.*
When items of clothing get washed out or ruined, I just go online and order the exact same thing again.
It really is easy peasy.
You can take this further by systemising the meals you eat, the cafes you frequent and even down to when you say yes and no to social events. (Yeah, I’m guilty of pretty much removing all, what I refer to as, useless decisions from my life.)
Yes, life can be a wee bit repetitive, but when that situation lands on my lap and I know I need to make a call, I’m generally in the right mental place to make it…
…and that’s more important, to me, than wearing a different hoody to work every day.
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