Matthew Michalewicz – Life in Half a Second


My notes

Do you have a bucket list? No? Then make one and do it now, while you still can, while there’s still life and strength in your veins. If you only had one year to live, you’d do it now.   

Successful people get what they want out of life because they know what they want. To achieve success, you must know what success looks like. You must define it.   

Success is defined by what you aim for – by what goals you set. If you think big, aim high, and set large goals, then your success will be large. If you think small, aim low, and set small goals, then your success will be small. But in either case, it’s still success.   

Instead of having your attention scattered across the daily ongoings of life, you begin moving through each day focused on people and events that are relevant to your goals. You quickly discover new opportunities because you’re now looking for them!   

Success cannot be “that stuff”. It must be the “vanilla yogurt”. Instead of wanting to “lose weight”, set a goal of losing five kilograms in two months.   

I believe that any goal can be turned into numbers.   

So when you visualize an act, your brain tells your neurons to “perform” the act, creating a new neural pathway that primes your body to perform in a way consistent with what you imagined.   

For this reason, make your goals so clear and precise that you can see them, feel them, and hear them. Spend a few minutes each night visualizing your goals. Not “thinking” about them, but actually seeing them.   

You are going to define your goals, write them down, and review them. And then you’re going to do something more, something that will give you an edge over the top 1% of goal-setters: you’re going to share your goals with other people.   

Do you know why some people achieve astonishing success while others look on with envy? Why some people set sporting records, build multi-million-dollar companies, file patents for inventions, write books and poems, make scientific breakthroughs, while others stand by and watch? It’s because they desire their goals with an intensity akin to fervour, obsession. That is the secret.   

Have you ever wondered what the odds of success are? The likelihood of achieving your goals? Then measure your desire – that’s the answer, that’s the probability of success. The more you desire something, the more likely you are to achieve it.   

If your desire for a goal is low, then the amount of effort you’ll put into achieving that goal will also be low, leading to a low probability of success. For this reason, there’s no point in setting goals you don’t truly desire. These are the wrong goals for you, and you’re unlikely to achieve them.   

But the process of aligning your goals and desire doesn’t have to be messy or mysterious; there are a number of exercises you can employ. One of my favorites is writing down the five most negative things in your life – that’s right, the five things you hate most about your life.   

Are your goals aligned to the list? Do your goals directly address the negative forces in your life? If so, you have alignment. Your desire to change these negatives will be high, and for that reason, the probability of achieving your goals will also be high.   

Another way of aligning your goals and desire is by assigning a “desire score” to your goals. “10” for musthave goals, where the thought of failure is unbearable, and “1” for nice-to-have goals, where failure doesn’t bother you one bit.   

Are we ever pulling at the stars, tugging, reaching, promising we’ll be there soon? Or are we resigned to life, fate, the way things are?   

Try it, I dare you: What would you do if you couldn’t fail?   

The only constant in life is change. Don’t be afraid to set goals because there’s change in your life; stop waiting for the “right time”. There’s no such thing as the right time, it doesn’t exist. The only time that matters is now – your half second is ticking.   

What does all this mean? It means what you believe to be real is more important than what is real. It means you are defined by what you believe – that belief defines your reality.   

What you must believe in – and what I am talking about here – is believing in yourself. 46 How else can you possibly succeed?   

Self-belief is critical to success – even more critical than your actual capabilities.   

Our reality – with all its inherent limits, barriers, and boundaries – is almost entirely defined by what we choose to believe.   

To fully appreciate Jim’s observation and its impact on your financial situation, take a piece of paper and list the five people you spend the most time with. Then, next to each name, estimate that person’s annual income. In other words, take an educated guess at how much money those closest to you make. Add these numbers together, divide by five, and the result will closely approximate your annual income.   

In whatever you want to achieve – whether it’s financial success, weight loss, a promotion at work, you name it – the people around you will either help or hinder you.   

If you want to achieve your goals, surround yourself with people who have similar goals, or better yet, who have already achieved them.   

As for that reason, the key to the Door of Belief is to change your environment.   

Become conscious of your environment – become conscious of what you put into your head.   

What you put in your mind has the same effect as the people you spend time with. Positive material can send your self-belief soaring – all you have to do is spend some time online, at the library; there’s a world of information at your fingertips.   

Are you fully awake yet? completely conscious? Take a look at your goals and then your environment. With a critical eye, assess what you read, watch, and who you associate with. Everything exerts influence – books, television, friends, family, school, everything. Is your environment helping you or hindering you? Are you surrounding yourself with successful people – people who have achieved what you want to achieve? Are you reading their biographies? Subscribing to their blogs? Going to events where they speak and lecture? Are you living in the right place? Receiving the right kind of education? Filling your RSS feeds with useful information? If not, what are you going to do about it?   

There should never be a time when there’s nothing new for you to move on to. Even if financial independence or retirement is your top goal, once achieved, it should drop to the bottom of your next pyramid,   

The goal pyramid works. It doesn’t rely on gimmicks or mind tricks. And everything I do in life – whether it’s writing a book or building a business – I do in the same way: I set goals that are aligned to my desire; I change my environment to increase my knowledge and self-belief; I map out the paths to success and evaluate the trade-offs; I create a goal pyramid and define the milestones; and finally, I get to work on my weekly tasks!   

You are your greatest asset. Not your business, house, job, or retirement savings, but you. You’ve created all those things in your life, you’ve made them happen. And so if you’re going to invest in anything, invest in yourself, the greatest asset you’ll ever have.   

“So, you want to become financially successful? Then you need to invest in real estate, the stock market, become an entrepreneur, write a book, or something, to become an owner – because you’ll never get wealthy by being a worker. Never.”   

Nothing you do in life will amount to anything unless you take action. The preceding four doors are interesting, thought-provoking, but without action they won’t change your situation. Only action can turn your goals into reality.   

For your actions to be effective, to move you toward your goals, you must walk through all the doors of success. Not one or two, but all of them. And if you have clarity, desire, belief, knowledge, and still hesitate at the final door, then there’s only one reason left: fear.   

fear = progress. Whenever I felt fear, it meant I was making progress, I was moving toward my goals. And because my goals were always something new, something I had never done or achieved before, I was always leaving my comfort zone behind and finding myself in a perpetual state of discomfort.   

Those who succeed with eyes wide open, unflinching, are those who have learned to overcome their fears. You must learn to do the same. Fear is inevitable on the path to success – you must control your fear or else your fear will control you. And so the last key to the last door of success is to conquer your fear.   

But in the same way that fears are learned, they can also be unlearned. They’re not permanent characteristics of your personality or psyche – they’re malleable, changeable, conquerable.   

By visualizing something a number of times in your mind, your fear is reduced when it comes to the real thing. You’re more at ease because you know what comes next – you’ve seen it before in your mind.   

So be honest with yourself and replace “can’t” with “don’t want to” in your vocabulary. “Can’t” is for the lazy, the weak, those who like to be victims and make excuses. Get rid of “can’t” from your life. If you don’t do something – whether it’s changing careers, starting a business, getting married, or losing weight – it’s not because you “can’t” but because you “don’t want to”. Because your desire isn’t strong enough.   

But changing your environment can also alleviate fear, because it’s easier to take action around people who are doing what you fear doing.   

Such backup plans make action easier because you know what will happen if you fail – your backup plan will happen.   

The greatest failure you can experience in life is not trying.   

If you try and fail, your regret will be short-lived. But if you never try, your regret will be life-long.