Archives January 2011

Wasting Time: It’s just so Addictive and Fun – Why Stop?

Wasting time is way more fun than working right?

I am soo busy.  Yet I am playing on Facebook.  I am soo busy. Yet, I am playing games.  I am soo busy.  Yet, I have time to talk rubbish at the office.  I am soo busy.  I am so just important. And the list goes on.

Lately, I have started to realize some of the lies I am indulging in.  As I am getting much busier, I realize that I must find a way of getting more done.

Now, I don’t mean that egotistically or being impatient with people, I more mean where “I myself” just waste time for no other reason.  I have been really looking over in “What I actually do” each day and working out what needs to be cut out so I can get more done of “What I actually want”.

So far, I have found that my biggest time wasters are:

– Worrying about things outside of my control.

– Eating junk foods that slow me down (albeit I rarely do that these days).

– Thinking “too much” about things, instead of just doing them.

– Over checking my emails.

– Talking “Too much” to other people at the office (although it’s much less than I used too).

There are probably more of these, but what I can tell you is just by fixing most of the above – it would give me much more time that I would believe.

Now I am asking myself, “Why on earth?” and I addicted to wasting time? Now, I am getting on the right track – I have these “Strange Urges” to go back into these old patterns.

In not just myself (but almost everyone I know) is that we all “Develop” these strange time wasting patterns, that don’t actually work in our better interests but give us a “Secondary Payoff” such as:

– The excitement of Drama (over-watching General Hospital or Dynasty).

– The ego inflation of importance (we are “So Busy” and “So Damn Important”).

– The fun of avoiding work (if I am talking to a work colleague, I don’t have to face my work problems).

– The pleasure of indulgence (getting drunk with friends is so much fun and because I am hung-over I don’t have to work as hard today).

It’s quite odd, even when I list these out “Logically” I know that myself and most people I know have been guilty of such “Time Suckers”.

Like many addictions, we all get a short-term payoff from them, but often face much larger (and not always instant) consequences. I am actually finding, just by cutting back on these “Time Suckers” I have more and more time available! Strangely enough, the time was always there but as I didn’t have the pressure – I never felt compelled to really look at what I do and access it.  But, old habits die hard (but they do die!).

I have to say though, Wasting Time is very addictive! I am glad I am finally “Getting over myself” and really starting to act in my own best interests.

Does Being “Positive” all the time drive you Nuts?

Respect My Authora-Tah!

Ignoring negative emotions is like ignoring someone knocking on the door, a cat crying outside or a 4 year old tugging at your Shirt to take them to McDonald’s.

The more you ignore what you are feeling (negatively), to me and many people I know – the louder it becomes.

It’s a bit like, when say you are busy studying in a quiet library and someone taps a pen on the desk, or say busy in your office – and someone plays some song that drives you nuts (Brittany Spears does it for me).  In fact, when I hear her going off – my “Positive Thinking” goes out the window for sure! No amount of “Positivity” can get me over the pain!

You ignore it, ignore it, then eventually you start to go nuts! In fact, the more you “Try” to ignore it, it almost seems the more powerful it becomes.  Then eventually you end up moving, turning down the radio or asking them *nicely* to turn it down.

One thing I have realized in my own life, is that I have been a real “Bottler” of emotions.  If something let’s say not quite fairly is being done to me, I have a real tendency to “Ignore It” because:

– I need to be “More Flexible”.

– I need to be “Nicer”.

– I need to be “More Accommodating”.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we run around like “Control Freaks” and dictate to everyone what we want.  That is the other extreme of what I am saying which isn’t any better.  In fact, “Control Freaks” can often be the type of people that contribute to the problems that this blog post is attempting to resolve!  What I am suggesting as I have found (not only for myself but many others), if you are the type of person that tends to “Take Stuff” to the extreme – it isn’t very good for you.  Quite often, the stress you end up taking on can really show it’s ugly face in a wide range of ways including:

– Passive Aggression,

– Fatigue & General Loss of Energy,

– Bottling up & Exploding,

– And in extreme circumstances – can lead to serious physical issues (i.e. Anxiety, Depression, Heart Attacks etc).

One thing that has really come clear to me in my life lately, is that my own act of “Ignoring” bad stuff around me is actually causing me harm.  That is, besides not “Feeling Right” it can really leave you on edge and run you down over a period of time.  What I have learnt is that it’s really critical to acknowledge your so called “Negative Emotions” and take action on them.  It may be changing something in your outside world or even changing the way you look at things.

This is where too much Positive Thinking can get you into trouble.  If you are “too Positive” it can cause you to ignore all the “Negative Stuff” which leads to the above problems.  Like many things in life – a healthy balance of things are required.

Why is it so easy to get sucked into Buying Rubbish?

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Even though I have worked in Marketing for over a decade, it has taken me a while to become really “Aware” of all the Advertising & Marketing being thrown at us to get us to “Act” in a way that benefits a given company.

When I was getting my weight back in control, I really started to think about how hard it can be to effectively lose weight.  At almost every step in the supermarket, marketers and companies are busy pushing sugar-laden confectioneries, high calorie cereals – They even take a swipe at you on the way out, by putting those great “Impulse” chocolates in front of you!

Now, before you say “OK Ed, take some responsibility, you chose to eat those chocolates” I am the first one to agree with you.  However, you got to acknowledge – companies are throwing lots of money at us to get as to act in a favour that benefits them.

In fact, is this fair doing it to Children?  OK, you can blame me because I am an “Adult”, but the marketing directed at Children? Come on – you can’t just pin that on the kids.

One thing that has really got me thinking lately is that:

– If you don’t know what you want, you can (and most likely will) get sucked into things that aren’t to your better interests.

If anything, this makes perfectly logical sense.  If you know exactly what you want to do and why you are doing it – it’s actually very hard to get distracted.  But if you are “Going with the Flow” – I have found this can really work against us.  When I did this myself, I really got into Chocolate and got very fat!  Fortunately I lost most of it (But it wasn’t easy!).

There are so many people out there (such as in my confectionery example) who are spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year to get you to act in a way that suits them.

Scary Huh? Besides picking on Chocolate (which is a personal love of mine) – this can really apply to many areas of our life.  A good example (as my mother always reminded me), if you hang out with the wrong crowd, you can really up becoming the wrong crowd!

Even better (and especially relevant Post-Christmas) is Consumer Credit Card Debt.  Once you get sucked in to this arrangement (i.e. Easy Credit Payment Terms, Easy ability to withdraw etc) it can be a tough one to get out of! If you know what you want (and why), I have found it really protects you from getting sucked into other people’s plan. If you are sucked into something that doesn’t suit you, then I really ask you to be “Critical and Independent” and ensure you act in your own interests.  After all, who else is going to look after what’s important to you?

When are the “Chinese Communists” Coming to Get Us?

I really do love the Media.  It’s amazing sometimes how I think they get away with the extreme “Spin” of what they apply to anything – which can often distort some kind of “Once Truth” into something extremely misleading that one could argue is a form of “Lying”.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand why the Media do it.  If anything, if you are walking down the street and a newspaper stand in a shop says “Clear Blue Skies”, “Times are Good” or something else nice like “Year 12 Students Grades are Up” I would just smile and keep walking my merry way.

However (as I am a sucker for drama), if it says “Alien Fleet Orbiting Earth”, ” Global Warming Hitting Sydney Tomorrow”, or “Scientific Study Says Coffee Drinkers Die Young” I would honestly get sucked in – and probably run in and buy that paper.

One of my old colleagues worked as a Marketing Manager for a Major Newspaper and she told me this amazing fact:

– The more negative, scary and dangerous the headline – the more papers you sell that day.

In a way, many people “Blame the Media” – but then how can you? If people (like myself) are addicted to drama – then why shouldn’t they act in a way to better their own interests?

One of my favourite topics lately has been the “Rise of China” and how it has been spun by the Media in a way to really scare us.  I do honestly click on the articles and get slightly sucked into the story as I probably am still suck in “Cold War” mentality at some sub-conscious level.

I remember when I was growing up, it wasn’t China in those days.  It was Japan! They were the “Rising Power” who was just taking over everything and they were a big force to deal with.  Even though this was before my time, it was the “Soviet Union” as the big power trying to take us over and I would imagine before that it was WWII type of days.

I also remember (I think it was about 5-8 years ago), they were talking about how the US Dollar is collapsing and that the Euro was going to be the new world’s Reserve Currency.

That is very interesting – the Euro hasn’t done too well lately!

I am finding the power of the Media lately only seems to be increasing.  Many articles are dominated today about China with inferences as to the “Threat” as to which they pose to us, how bad it’s going to be, how “Communism” is taking over the world yet again and how we all need to be completely terrified as when the US becomes the world’s second biggest economy – it’s going to be all over for us.

Extremely few of the articles are actually focusing the fact that Western Companies expansion in China is often in double digit growth and they always “ignore” the upsides the rest of the world is benefiting from.

After All – Drama Sells Right? Sad, but it’s just the way society works.

One of the the big things I have learnt lately, is that in today’s world it’s getting so much harder to really “Find the Facts” and I have had this strange feeling lately that someone (or some group of people) is trying “Extra Hard” to control what we think.

I think the big key is to keep an open mind – but just remember, just because it’s in a Newspaper it’s not necessarily true!

Being Competitive Makes The World a Miserable Place?

I am a very competitive person.  In a crazy way, I had this “Like / Dislike” relationship with it and I was always never sure of whether it is really good for me or not.

I “Liked” being competitive in that it always seemed to get more out of me, but at the same time I didn’t like it.

After all? If you’re competitive by nature, what happens in an area where someone blows you out of the water?

You get very unhappy real fast.  And if you think about it, regardless of almost any area in our lives – let’s face it, there is a good chance that there is someone better than you.

Let’s say you get really buff at the gym, you still aren’t Mr. Universe? What about you earn $200K+ one year, well there are a lot of millionaires in the world which you aren’t? What if your business grows at 20%+ year on year – well, you still aren’t as big as Facebook or Google?

One of the biggest problems in my own psychology was that I had been too competitive with other people. That is, I think being “Competitive” is excellent, however in the way Michael Jordon applies it in being:

– Competitive with your own personal best.

To me this is a very strange, but liberating concept in the sense that if you are simply competing “With Yourself” it makes life a lot more fun and easier.  In addition as well, when you choose to stop “Competiting” with every man and his dog – you can actually really focus on your own Goals / Outcomes in a way that makes sense to you.

What painfully taught me this lesson was in learning how to Trade the Forex Markets (i.e. Currency Markets).  Because I just had to be “Better than everyone else” it really caused me to ignore the basics and not learn the fundamentals.  This basically meant I wasted lots of time “Changing what I was doing” so I could “Beat” other people in my reference group.

Instead of just taking it slowly at my own pace, ignoring everyone else – I kept getting sucked into what everyone else was doing.  In addition, if someone is just a “Brilliant Trader” leagues beyond me, I would instantly be put off in that I would instantly think “I am a failure or doing something wrong”.  No – it’s just that in this area, someone is getting a better result than me – so what?

I then felt very bad about it and found out – it’s a common trading mistake.

It’s also not a trading mistake – as I have found that in many areas in society this type of thinking is a big problem for a lot of people.  “Keeping up the Joneses” thinking can lead to excessive levels of debt, poor young girls (who are convinced they are “Fat” by some photo-shopped model on a fashion magazine) feel bad all the time and in extreme cases can even die from eating disorders, people use unethical workplace political tricks to undermine others who are “Beating Them” and the list goes on.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting in anyway that we “Stop Trying” or use this as an excuse.  I have just learnt (and also observed from a lot of top players) that when you start playing your own game, is when the results really come in. That is, if you are really competitive with other people – you are actually saying to the world “I don’t believe in my own journey, goals or outcomes”.

Think about it – if you were on what you know is the “True Path” for your life – who cares if someone can run faster than you or has a better car?  If you feel the need to “Compete” with others as I did, then I can bet you that you either don’t know what you are after or have lost sight of what you were once after.

I Know Eating Salad for Lunch Creates Weight Loss: Why Didn’t I do it?

I used to be very slim and last year (when I really lost focus on my goals and life) – although I was working very hard, I let my myself “Go to the Dogs” and put on an incredible amount of weight.

In fact, I put on 12 kg! It was totally disgusting and my clothes changed sizes multiple times.  I have reclaimed much of this now and have about 4kg to go to get back to normal. I am well on track now, but I am sitting her thinking back to “Why the hell did I do that?”.

Although I am very glad that things are going the right way for me, I look back on my behaviour and am really pondering what on Earth made me do that?

It wasn’t lack of knowledge.  I think everyone knows “Eating Salad for Lunch” will help with weight loss.  Everyone knows that eating lots of chocolate is a great strategy for becoming a porker.

Yet I did all the above + more. Looking back on this bad experience, I realized what I did.  I didn’t have clear goals at the time and my life wasn’t going the way I wanted.  Instead of just turning around and working on this and putting a plan in place, I just “Went with the flow” and:

– Did what I felt like with my eating, compared to:

– What I must do with my eating.

This screw up of mine taught me a valuable lesson in that quite often “We Know Exactly What to Do”.  It’s just that when we lose focus of our life, goals or whatever it maybe and “Go With the Flow” bad stuff is likely to happen.

I then thought about this more.  If you head to the Supermarket or turn on the TV or open a magazine – it’s completely amazing how much money and effort is being pushed at you to over eat or buy crap. The obvious cliche example are the Chocolate Bars at the Registers – those cunning Marketers are taking their final shot at you!

This has really got me thinking in that in our Society, there are people who are really trying hard to “Control” us to behave in way that suits them.  Even if it means the destruction of our own health.

Now, I know what you are thinking (and honestly a part of me thinks like this) – that Ed is just blaming the Food Companies and is not taking responsibility. You are actually right (to a point).  It’s completely my fault as I know my behaviour was destructive, but man think about it – with all the Advertising Dollar thrown at us – it’s not a very fair game! It reinforced the old lesson to me – it’s dangerous to “Go with the flow” these days.

If you don’t have your own plan and stick to it, someone (generally to your disadvantage) is only to happy to enlist you in theirs.

Bastards!