Thursday, 16 April 2020

Nothing can compete with the speed of a determined individual

Even in times of profound turmoil, like those we are experiencing today, prosperity and happiness seem to be directly proportional to your determination to move forward, find opportunities, and seize them without hesitation. Individuals with initiative, decisiveness and persistence tend to achieve more than those who behave timidly.

Childhood experience plays a role in building one's personality, but you cannot do anything to change the past. If you wish to increase your ability to advance your cause, you are going to have to use your determination. You cannot change the past, but you can take action in the present, even in situations where it seems that no action is possible.

Some gurus recommend repeating encouraging phrases to yourself, but that's something I do not endorse. Why? Because blind repetition will seldom produce lasting effects. Monotonous messages tend to dull the mind. You cannot brainwash yourself into success and happiness, but you can put yourself to sleep. The repetition of mantras will result in boredom, not in a dynamic personality. So, what's a better alternative?

At the time of this writing, millions of people spend their days agonizing about the possibility of catching some virus. Do not follow their example. Even if those people were given a perfect technique for avoiding the virus, they would solve today's problem, but would not increase their success and happiness in the long term.

The virus is just today's issue. The issue will be solved, or it will pass. It will soon be forgotten. Another difficulty will arise, creating new threats and new opportunities. Some problems seem so large that you might feel overwhelmed. Don't. If you focus on improving your situation day after day, you will find solutions. Your constant alertness will enable you to detect opportunities that most people won't even see.

The three strategies that, in my own experience, have proven to work well for increasing one's personal effectiveness are the following: desensitization to danger, risk reduction, and working by numbers. You may have instinctively used some of these methods at one time or other, but if you employ them in a conscious and regular manner, you can substantially enhance your results.

1. Desensitization to danger

Worry is best vanquished by means of realism, not by self-delusion. If you live in fear of some threat, you should invest the necessary time to overcome your anxiety. A progressive loss of sensitivity to danger (real or imagined) is the basis of learning to ride a bicycle. At the beginning, you will move slowly and hesitatingly. With practice, your body begins to take control by realizing that the situation is less dangerous and unstable than it feels. Intelligent desensitization through small steps is the ideal method for accelerating your success.

If you are worried about catching some virus, go online and do some research. How is the virus transmitted exactly? How can you protect yourself? How can you strengthen your immune system, and reduce your chances of falling ill, or if you do, increase the speed of your recovery? The more you know, the more self-reliant you will become. Your alertness will increase, and your overall results will improve accordingly.

2. Risk reduction

Although history shows the many advantages of stock market investments, millions of people are terrorized of the idea of placing their savings at risk. Purchasing shares of a corporation is viewed right now as a disproportionate exposure to chance.

Acquiring knowledge about economics can help you assess the benefits of investing in the stock market, but will seldom push to you take the decisive step. How can you overcome your fear? In cases where the problem is to cross the line for the first time, risk reduction proves a more powerful tactic than accumulating theoretical knowledge.

The first-time investor should simply open a brokerage account, and make a small purchase of some conservative securities. During the following weeks, he will tend to check the price of his stock ten times a day, but as time goes by, he will get comfortable with the level of risk and be willing to purchase shares of other corporations.

At this very moment, when the stock markets of the world have collapsed, it does not take long to find amazing bargains. I would not be surprised if the stock market made considerable gains within the next five years. Nonetheless, most people cannot look so far into the future. They are so worried about today's problems (which may have been blown out of proportion) that do not make the effort to look down the road.

3. Working by numbers

Facts and numbers provide us with the necessary perspective to overcome fear. A candidate who is rejected at a job interview might become needlessly depressed if he contemplates the event as a major disaster. In contrast, job-seekers who are aware of the statistical odds against them tend to be more resilient. Once they acquire a realistic view of the amount of effort it takes to find a good job, their temporary lack of success will not diminish their self-reliance.

During an economic downturn, there can be dozens of applicants for each vacancy. Working by numbers means realizing that you might need to apply for a large number of jobs in order to land a desirable position. Internalizing that knowledge is bound to increase your serenity and render you more effective.

The same applies to the fear of catching some virus. Millions of people are deeply distressed by this possibility, but what are the real risks? In less than an hour, you can perform sufficient research online to know the real data, the real level of risk and its severity. You might be surprised to see that it is lower than you had thought. The knowledge will give you peace of mind, and strengthen your motivation to make the best use of your time.

Attaining a higher level of personal effectiveness takes effort, but most of the obstacles are purely psychological. Ignore the noise. Do not listen to the barrage of defeatism you are daily bombarded with. Even if the general situation is problematic, you can do much better than the average. Focus your time and energies on looking for opportunities and seizing them. Remember that nothing can compete with the speed of a determined individual. Nothing.


Image: Photograph taken by John Vespasian, 2019.

For more information about rational living, I refer you to my books

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