Self-Directed Living

Surprising Ways Investing in Yourself is the Best Decision You’ll Ever Make

 

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Total Reading Time:  5 minutes.
Greetings. I’m Arman Assadi. Welcome to our very first… I don’t know what we’re going to call these. It’s not quite a podcast. It’s like a minicast, an audiocast. We’ll call it a minicast. How about that? Welcome to our first minicast. Today’s topic is really important — about what the number one thing you need to be investing your money and hard-earned cash into.
You work, you work, you work, you make money, and then you have to decide how to spend it. What do you spend it on?
Use your hard earned money to invest in yourself

What I Discovered From the Rich

I recently wrote another post titled—I Discovered What the Rich Know About Wealth and I Can’t Keep It to Myself.
The first thing you need to understand about investing is that you should always be transferring or moving your dollars. Now you may not have dollars. You could have some other currency. But you need to be moving your dollars or cash into assets.
There are two types of assets. Assets are things that grow, they’re more valuable than cash. Assets are what the rich invest in. They’re always investing. It’s not about how much cash is in the bank, it’s about how many assets.
Now I divide these assets in two different classes.
The first class is real, tangible things that you can invest in like real estate and stocks and precious metals. There’s a lot of different things you can invest in. You can invest in a company, you can invest in anything.
Now the other class of thing that you can invest in is yourself.
When you invest in yourself, if you are always on a trajectory of growth, if you are a self-directed learner and you’re constantly growing, you have to invest in yourself.
The number one thing that you should be investing in is education.
Let me explain why…

Education is Key

The more you learn and the more information and knowledge you have, the more you can actually turn that into more cash and more opportunities. You then complete that cycle of taking the knowledge and turning it into some sort of strategy where you implement and take action and do something in your life.
I’ll give you an example.
I have an insane appetite for reading. If I could do anything all day long (and this is actually what I’m working toward) it’s to literally have a life where all I do for work is read and write all day. The input is reading and maybe listening to podcasts and things like that, but that’s an input. That input is in the form of education.
The output is articles, videos, even minicasts like this. That’s  ultimately the direction I want to go because that’s my craft. I already know this is my life’s craft. It’s because I know and I feel alive in that moment, especially when I’m helping people, especially when I take that information and knowledge and make it tangible; make it actionable for somebody else.
I see the difference it has in their lives.
The value of education for you could be something different, but what you have to understand is that the education always becomes something.
It’s always tangible.
You can always do something with that education. In my opinion, investing in yourself through education is even more valuable than investing in tangible assets.
Assets have a fixed growth rate. You cannot control how quickly your stocks grow. You invest and you hope that this grows over time. Generally they do. It’s a smart investment to have actual assets that are growing over time.

Investing in Yourself

By far the number one thing you can do is invest in yourself.

You do that through education. You do that by attending that conference that you’re not sure you should attend. You do that by taking online classes. You do that by investing in personal development and self-development in yourself.
I attended my first Tony Robbins event (Unleash the Power Within—basically like his elementary school, pre-school-level event) four years ago, after I left Google. It completely transformed my life and allowed me to really understand my craft, to allow me to get over some limiting beliefs.
It was a good time. I had a really awesome time and it really transformed the direction I was moving in my life.
Four years later I attended again in order to take some family members, in order to take some really close friends of mine, and decided that it was time to go to the next level. Now this next level event starts at $6,000. That is a major amount of money. Long story short, I was able to negotiate that down to around $4,000, between you and I, by putting a group together. That’s what I’m going to be doing.
Next year I’m going to be going to Australia to the Gold Coast to attend his Date With Destiny event. It’s $4,000. There was a moment that I hesitated. There was a moment that I thought, “Is this the smartest thing to be spending my money on? $4,000? Holy shit!”
The reality is that is going to compound more than anything else ever will, more than any stock ever will, because those little shifts, those little ah-ha moments, as you know, rapidly change your life.
Invest in yourself.
That’s just one example of a way I’ve invested in myself. I’m constantly investing in myself. It doesn’t always require money. Just by getting around the right people you’re investing in yourself and your education.
Ramit Sethi asked his audience, “what is the best investment you’ve ever made.” You can see the answers here. Notice how many of them are people investing in themselves, including Ramit’s personal example:

In college, I flew across the country to meet Seth Godin, which led to an internship, which led to 2 published books, TV exposure, and much more.

Another great article Royale Scuderi over at Lifehack talks about 3 valuable ways to invest in yourself, and gives some great tangible examples that align perfectly with this article.

Conclusion

Note from Arman: I’m back from the event now and I can say the investment has already “paid off”. Everyone’s experience is different since we all go for different reasons/outcomes, but for me it’s delivered a positive ROI through a few specific work initiatives I’ve implemented (which is what most people want to know) and delivered a massive increase in self-development and awareness. Plus, this is only the beginning. An investment in yourself delivers massive “compound interest” over time. 

Always look for ways to educate yourself. There is nothing more valuable in this world.

Information without implementation is absolutely useless.

That is all for today’s minicast. Hope you enjoyed that one. Make sure to take action on it. In any way you can, implement this idea into your life today.

Photo credit: Macro MoneyCC license

Why a Sabbatical Can Massively Boost Your Focus

Total Reading Time: 6 minutes.
I’m going on a blog publishing sabbatical. Before you get sad and feel like you just stepped in a puddle and have wet sock (worst thing ever), allow me to share some reasons why you may want to do the same. I’ll also share my own motivations for doing this toward the end of the article.
I once learned from a brilliant man—Eben Pagan, creator of my favorite program for work effectiveness Wake Up Productive—that it’s critical to be deliberate with our time. Eben is the archetype of the modern-day internet entrepreneur. He has made tens of millions of dollars selling information products, and built a virtual business and team that spans the globe.
He does things that might seem silly to some, like having a dedicated person in his life he calls the meter fairy, who makes sure he always has enough quarters in his car glove compartment to pay for street parking. One of the biggest business-related lessons I’ve learned is how to focus on only the most important tasks.
I’ve been using the method below for a couple years, but have only recently begun to understand its true power. We must be very self-aware of how we spend our time. There is a simple formula we can use to help monitor our activities.

Increase Productivity with Simple Time-Management

All of your time can be divided into these two chunks:
1. High-dollar or high-lifetime-value activities
This is where our priority should be. The most important aspect is what tasks we’re actually working on. High-dollar value tasks are the ones that generate you the most revenue/sales. High-lifetime value tasks are creative activities to help toward your pursuit of grander, long-term goals—and can also lead to more income.
Are you creating a new report in Google Analytics or a spreadsheet for your website? Are you calling your email list hosting company to troubleshoot a problem? These are not high-value tasks. Are you putting together a document for your client? Are you attending a conference in your field to get an education and meet like-minded people? There you go—these are high-value tasks. Do more of this, and cut the rest.

2. R3: Rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation
Yes—the rest of your time should be spent—resting. “This is blasphemy, Arman! You’re promoting laziness.” I understand this goes against standard logic for most of us. It’s easy to believe that if you’re not busy hustling 24/7 it means you’re lazy. This attitude and approach work for some people, like Gary Vaynerchuk, who has created a movement around hustling.
In order for you to be effective at what you do (the high-value tasks), you need to keep your mind and body in an optimal state. Taking care of yourself and disconnecting from work is critical. Spending a little time by yourself isn’t a bad idea either, my experiment from an entire year of solitude changed my life. Relaxation is also a time to build the creative muscle.
Meditating, or simply slowing down the mind, can do magical things for your creativity.
I value presence over productivity, and first learned about this from the incredible Maria Popova. The method above does promote productivity, but at its core it promotes a presence and effectiveness that other complicated productivity solutions can’t offer. Alan Watts also spoke of this often and highlighted how our society lives to work, his famous talk on Work vs. Play explains this beautifully.

What to Do with All the Other Tasks

The question of how to cut the rest is an entirely different one, but here’s a quick primer:

  1. First work on saying no to yourself. Then get better at saying no to other people without being rude.
  2. Now work on identifying the tasks you should not be doing (the ones not in line with your craft and strengths as a solopreneur).
  3. And finally, outsource these tasks to a virtual assistant or intern. I love Fancy Hands and use them daily (here’s a full review of the service).

Why You Should Take a Sabbatical

Now you understand the foundation for how you can approach your work. As always, experiment with this and see if it works for you. Now how do sabbaticals (not the type your professor takes, but a self-imposed break) tie into all this? At times we may find ourselves working too many projects. It’s easy to get caught up saying yes to exciting opportunities, which means it’s no longer possible to dedicate enough time to the high-value tasks.
A sabbatical is a way to say—that’s enough. A sabbatical can be a complete disconnect. Or simply taking a break from a specific business, project, or task in your work. In my case, I’m taking a publishing sabbatical, which means I’m not planning on publishing any content directly on the site, but of course, I will continue communicating with my readers and sharing insights through my email newsletter.
By choosing to go on sabbatical you can disconnect from a task (or everything else) to focus on a bigger opportunity. Or, it can help to regenerate your creativity and enthusiasm for the work. James Clear talks about taking a sabbatical from his writing around twice a year—something I think every writer should consider.
In my case, I’m working on multiple huge projects (the biggest of my life so far), which is both high-dollar and high-lifetime-value work. It would be irresponsible of me to take time away from this, especially since it aligns directly with my grander vision and helps me better serve my readers (you) much better.
Sometimes we just have to go all in. By turning off the mind when it comes to other tasks, we can be fully immersed in a new world and spend more time carefully crafting the new project. That’s what I’m doing right now, and if it resonates with you, I recommend you consider it too. Be specific about what really matters. Focus on a single brand promise and message, then deliver on it with laser focus.
It wasn’t easy to make this decision, in fact, I was initially feeling guilty just considering it. In the end, I asked myself a simple question: would my readers rather receive a few new articles, or will they gain more from the multiple projects I’m working on that I’m certain will provide 10–100X more value in the long-term? Easy answer.
How long will I go on this publishing sabbatical for? The current plan is around 60 days. How much time will I save? You might be wondering how blogging takes away from this—after all—how long does it really take? A 1,000–3,000-word post (the typical length of my articles), takes anywhere from two to eight hours to research and write, and even longer to edit and publish. But I actually spend even more time promoting my articles to reach new audiences than on the creation process—another 10–20 hours a week.

Conclusion

So—think about your own life, your projects, and your goals. Are you avoiding working on the highest-value work? Would a project-specific sabbatical help? If so, start re-structuring your daily plan right now. Keep it to a maximum of 2–3 tasks per day, and focus all your energy and effort around that.
Sometimes all we need is a jolt to realize we’ve been avoiding the real thing all along. Or perhaps you’ve been unintentionally procrastinating, feeling disconnected from your craft, or simply too busy to make an impact. Either way, a sabbatical could be just the thing you need.
To learn more about my projects and get behind-the-scenes insights, make sure you get access to my private email list.
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Photo credit: Unsplash

10 Must Have Apps for the Travel Lover

Total Reading Time: 5 minutes.
It was the late Summer of 2013 and I had just finished traveling all throughout Southeast Asia for 97 days. This was my first experience with traveling while working, and many lessons were learned. The most difficult aspect of these nomadic 3+ months was not knowing who or what to trust when it came to: accommodations, transportation, and general information.
Whether you have to occasionally travel for work, or are a location-independent entrepreneur, full-time vagabond, digital nomad, or travel junkie—there are a handful of apps and services that are critical to your survival. The issue is knowing which ones.
As we already know—there is an app for just about everything—although we’re still waiting on the one that prints greenbacks. Every day a new app company launches looking to earn the trust of the travel community.
Since my initial overseas voyage, I’ve been averaging around one trip every two weeks. Sometimes these travels are domestic, while other times they’re international. At this point, I’ve tested enough services and apps to know what is essential, and what is superfluous.
In this guide I’ll outline the best and top must-have apps for the frequent (or occasional) traveler. I’ll also include sign-up links, and where available, I’ll include codes to discounts and bonuses for signing up.
 

Travel Accommodations

1. Airbnb

Airbnb travel app
 
It’s only fitting that this is the first app listed, because it’s also my favorite. Airbnb is indispensable. I’ve used this incredible service all around the world to find beautiful homes, beach bungalows, modern apartments, and even private rooms. And I’ve also been a host, so I know and trust them inside and out.
If you don’t already know about this app, you’re in for a treat.
Use this link to sign up now and get $25 toward your travel.
 

2. Hotel Tonight

hotel tonight travel app
 
If you like to travel last minute like me (or just happen to need a place to stay ASAP), Hotel Tonight is your new best friend. This wonderfully designed app gives you incredible deals at hotels worldwide. The app now also allows you to book in advance, not just the same day.
You can download the app here and use my promo code AASSADI3 to get $25 off your first booking.
 

3. Booking.com

booking.com app
Similar to Hotel Tonight, this app from Booking.com is essential for travelers and lets you book both in advance and get access to last minute deals. What I like most about this app is the abundance of choice. While Hotel Tonight hand picks just several deals for each day, Booking.com provides access to a wider variety.
You can download the app here.
 

4. Hostelworld

Hostelworld travel app
Hostels can be a fantastic way to meet other travelers, and a great way to get to know a city. There are some incredible hostels in various parts of the world, and Hostelworld has been my go-to app for this. While there are other competitors in this space, this app has been my favorite.
You can download the app here.
 

5. Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing
Couchsurfing is first and foremost a community. If you’re on a low budget and still want to travel the world, or simply enjoy meeting interesting people, Couchsurfing will be your new favorite travel app/service.
I’m often asked if this is safe and trustworthy. Close friends have used the service to travel the world for free and made lifelong friends. Plus, there are verifications and a review system.
You can check out the service here.
 

Transportation

6. Lyft and Uber

The two big giants of ride-sharing, Lyft and Uber, are essential for travel. The days of traditional car rentals are long gone, and the on-demand economy is here to serve our every need. Want a car to pick you up from anywhere in minutes? You need these two apps.
Lyft
As the first ever official Lyft user/passenger (yes, seriously, and I still have no plaque for this cough) I tend to favor Lyft when I can. I also find that the drivers are more sociable, and the experience is similar to getting a ride from a friend of a friend.
The app you use depends on your style and its availability, so give both a try if you can. Lyft is currently only in the U.S., but expanding globally. Here’s a full list of cities.
You can download the app here and you’ll also receive $20 in Lyft credit towards your first ride.
UBER
Uber is available in 58 countries. Not cities. I used Uber all throughout Rome, Italy during a recent trip for cheaper than a taxi. Here’s a full list of cities. I find Uber to be professional and fast.
You can download the app here and even claim a free ride worth up to $20.
 

7. Getaround and Turo (formerly RelayRides)

While Uber and Lyft are great for on-demand rides, sometimes you’ll want to rent a car for a few hours, or even days. Why not borrow someone’s car for a fraction of the price? That’s where car-sharing comes in. No membership fees, and a wide variety of cars available on-demand.
Tesla anyone? I no longer use traditional rental car services, thanks to the two apps below.
turo_logo
 
Turo is fully available in cities throughout the U.S. Here’s a full list of cities.
Getaround
Getaround is currently available in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego, Austin, Portland and Chicago. Sign up for the service here, and you’ll also receive $25 of driving credit.
 

8. Zipcar

Zipcar
Car sharing is great, but the service is still expanding. If you need a car and want it done quickly, Zipcar is the way to go. They do have a membership fee, but what I love most about Zipcar is its wide availability in most cities throughout the U.S., Canada, and even some in Europe. Here’s a full list of cities.
You can sign up here and download the app, plus receive a $25 bonus toward your account.
 

Travel Information

9. TripAdvisor

tripadvisor travel app
This app does it all and can be used all around the world in even the most remote cities/countries. Find reviews for just about anything, get a list of top things to do, plan and book your trip, check flights, download maps for offline use, and much more.
You can download the app here.
 

10. TripIt

tripit travel app
This all-in-one travel app stores your entire itinerary and all pertinent information in an easy to use interface. Stop sifting through your email to find your flight number or hotel’s address—TripIt can handle it for you.
You can download the app here.
 

Information & Resources

11. Fancy Hands

fancyhands
With all these apps you may start to get overwhelmed with the planning and researching side of things. Did I mention I don’t actually do any of it myself?
I use a virtual assistant service called Fancy Hands that handles it all.
When most people hear personal assistant they think, “I can’t afford that!” Well, it’s not expensive to get started, they’re only $29.99 a month. And you can also get 50% off your first month with this link—so only $14.99 to start. Do it.
Here’s my complete review on Fancy Hands along with best practices and tips for getting started.
 

12. Snapchat

snapcode Arman Assadi
This is my Snapcode! Just point your Snapchat camera at this image to add me.

Not a travel app you say? I beg to differ. No wanderlust-driven excursion is complete without the best social media app available right now. What better way to connect with your family, friends, followers, and share stories in the moment?
I’ll be exhibit A. Just click here to add me or point your Snapchat camera at the image above to add me on the Snap and get ready for a mix of off-the-dome philosophical rants, random voice impressions, and adventures around the world.
 

Photo credit: Lost AdelaideCC license

Floatation/Isolation Tanks: The Odd New Secret to Upgrading Your Mind, Body, and Soul

Total Reading Time: 14 minutes.
Let’s get weird. Float tanks. Sensory deprivation tanks. Isolation tanks. I’m not one to argue over nomenclature, so let’s keep it simple with float tank. Well, they’re here, and they’re taking over every hipster neighborhood in the world by storm. Facetiousness aside, this topic is exploding and for good reason.
Float tanks vary, but in general you will find a large tank filled with warm, body temperature water and around 1,000 pounds of epsom salt (here’s the Wiki). They are designed to shut out all light and sound, i.e., you are fully isolated and disconnected. You’re left with nothing but your bare naked body and your mind, all floating on top of warm water in a pitch-black tank. Interested yet?
My first experience at a float tank was well over a year ago. A very good friend of mine (who’s opinion I trust) was raving about his experience. I didn’t know much about these tanks at all. In fact, I had only heard about it once before from another float evangelist friend of mine through a couple Facebook posts.
One day my friend offered to take me with him to a place called Zazen in San Francisco. Being the overtly adventurous person I am, I made the prudent decision to say yes. Like any good friend, he gave me no other background about the adventure ahead other than to “let go”.

What to Expect from This Post:
Below you’ll get a 360 degree view of floating: what to expect, its benefits, and how to have a solid experience. My aim will be to distill this practice down to the essentials. I’ll also share my actual personal notes and give you a detailed account of my first experience. While no two experiences are ever the same, you’ll get a first-hand read on just how deep the rabbit hole can go (and this was just my first attempt). Trust me.

What to Expect When Visiting a Floatation Tank

There are a few different types of float tanks. The ones at Zazen are called the Samadhi Floatation Tank, and I like these because of their size and spacious nature. They’re very well made and quite industrial looking. The more commonly found tank is a pod style.
Many people are also building these in their homes, and there seems to be quite a cost-benefit to doing so. Joe Rogan swears by floating. If you want to get inspired, watch the short clip below. He talks about this on nearly every other episode of his Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeqmKwsvM58?&showinfo=0&rel=0]
Your local float tank facilities should have a shower. You should shower before your float, but especially after because if you’re like me it will be one of the most relaxing showers you’ve ever taken (plus you’ll want to rinse all the salt off). After the shower you can head in the tank, close the door (all the way, don’t be scared), and lie on your back in the water.
But wait, is the water clean? Yes, after each float all the salt water in the tank is cycled through an advanced filtering process. In addition, the 1,000 lbs. of epsom salt that are dissolved into the water acts a natural disinfectant.
Okay, now you’re in. This is where the fun begins. Don’t worry about feeling claustrophobic, there is plenty of space in these tanks. At first you may have difficult relaxing, and this is a process that will take some time, around 10–20 minutes for most people. Once you relax enough, time may slow down and you can begin to finally disconnect from the outside world (and your thoughts if you let go enough).

What’s the Point of Floating?

It’s different for every person. Don’t expect anything, keep an open mind, and just let go. At best you will end up traveling through a rabbit hole to other dimensions. At worst you will have an incredibly relaxing experience so you can disconnect and let your mind and body relax.

Benefits of Floating

  • Epsom salt does wonders for your body – improve your circulation, improve your body’s ability to use insulin, ease muscle pain, and regulate electrolytes.
  • Promising in tackling “problems involving the autonomic nervous system, such as insomnia, stress symptoms, dysfunctions of the skeleto-muscular system, chronic headache, and the like.” – According to Dr. Peter Suedfeld in a Men’s Journal article.
  • Reduce stress by lowering cortisol levels
  • Manage chronic pain, injury, and illness
  • Fight addiction and depression
  • Elevate mood
  • Improve sports performance
  • Increase in the positive theta brain waves (this is the part of the brain that gets activated during meditation)
  • Conditions improved: anxiety, insomnia, back pain, depression, pre-menstrual tension, and post-natal depression

How to Have an Optimal Flotation Experience

  • Let go of your body and mind.
  • Expect nothing.
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal beforehand. Why? You may hear your stomach rumble in the incredibly quiet environment.
  • Don’t shave immediately beforehand.
  • Use earplugs to block out sound if you’re comfortable with them. Most floatation facilities will provide these.
  • Close the door all the way to block out all light.
  • Don’t be concerned about your safety or not being able to open the door. When your time is up, an attendant will knock on the door.
  • Have an outcome or problem you want to solve? Feel free to use this time for that. Your thoughts will be incredibly clear.
  • Want to learn something? A friend of mine listens to audiobooks on hyper-speed while floating.
  • Let your body take over. You may find that your body naturally stretches or wants to move in certain directions throughout your float. Go with it.
  • Optional: Some floating evangelists and patients use cannibus prior to floating to help relax and slow down the mind. Obviously, I’m not telling you to do anything illegal, this is for patients or those living in places where it is legal.
  • Optional: Meditate. Here’s a video for beginners on how to do that.
  • Optional: Direct your thoughts toward specific areas of your life, or let go and allow them to take you on a ride.
  • Let go. Did I say that already?

Personal Notes from My First Float Tank Experience

Note: These notes are raw, and almost entirely unedited. I had no intention of ever sharing these notes. My hope is that by doing so I will be providing a glimpse into what’s possible. Please do not expect to have a similar result, it’s important to be open-minded about your experience. I transcribed my thoughts immediately after the float using my iPhone’s voice dictation. Please excuse the poor grammar and stream of consciousness style thoughts.
So first I went in and struggled for what felt like a long time. I was constantly trying to move around and find a new position that wouldn’t hurt my arms, they kept aching.
I was going through a lot of pain in general throughout the process, and could intensely feel all the spots in my body that have ever held pain before. I could pinpoint precisely where I have been holding a pain. I began to feel it in a couple different areas my of body, and realized I’ve been holding it in these spots for about a year and a half now.
I then started to relax a little more and really feel my body float. I let go more, then I started going through all these random thoughts thoughts about everything. Thoughts about family, friends, work. The first major profound thoughts I started having were about authenticity and needing to be myself. I kept focusing on this idea of why I am I’m not just being me 100% of the time.
Yes, I’m a genuine person, but I need to always be in that state and nothing less. Do I change who I am around certain people to please them? I had thoughts like this before, but actually feeling them is different. Overall, it was like someone was sitting next to me with a file cabinet and going through all the different areas of my life. Going through all the different things that they’ve learned, and just organizing all the different events in my life and connecting the dots. Showing me how X led to Y, and how it’s all tied together. Showing me how all my thoughts were actually premeditating my future.
Everything just started clicking and coming together. After my thoughts about authenticity, I started going through my different senses—the first one being my vision—my eyes. I started to imagine this huge beam of light in the shape of a triangle going in between my eyes in my head, and just bursting outwards. I saw all sorts of different shapes and colors—everything was very vibrant.
I started to focus a lot on my body and completely let go for the first time. In the beginning I was telling myself to let go physically, but it wasn’t happening completely. I knew this for sure because I had an experience where I began letting go of my body centimeter by centimeter, inch by inch, to the point where my face shape and muscles began to change as I went into a more relaxed state.
My mouth started to relax and my lips were coming together. Then my jaw started settling together. Slowly but surely my body began forcing me to let go and relax muscles I didn’t even know I was flexing or had tension in.
All of a sudden everything shutdown and this session was done. I could feel my nervous system twitch and actually felt my body twitch, and this signaled that it was the end of that episode. Crazy. Next I went through an episode where I thought about nothing but love. That love was the answer to all of the conflicts and different scenarios in my life. I could see how love was more than just an emotion and how it was an answer to many of our grandest problems—this had never occurred to me before.
I then went through very long episode where all I thought about were my fears. I went through them individually, every single one, and realized why I had built walls around each one. One of the fears (or rather should I say excuses) that I’ve been making is that it’s the not the right time to start certain projects and I need to delay because a later time will be better, even though it’s clearly a part of my vocation.
I realized that has literally been the real reason for my inaction, and felt ridiculous about it. I realized that this is because of a fear of success.
Around this time I also started to experience episodes where my body would align, and I would feel my neck expanding, my arms expanding, my body stretching out, and areas of my body that I had left cramped for years were finally letting go.
I realized that the pain I was feeling in my body was a way for my body to hold onto certain emotions [see: tension myoneural syndrome (TMS) for studies on this, and I could literally see this essence of myself trying to protect me by holding inside certain stresses and thoughts inside of my body.
I could feel the pain leaving my body, and I could also visually see it leave. It was extremely intense, I could watch and observe each area of pain being destroyed and just flowing out of my body like a toxin.
I felt degree of certainty that I’ve never felt before in my life, and it was different from other similar times I’ve felt the emotion. It’s different to study something and learn it, but to actually actually know something for the first time through physically feeling it is incredibly different. There were certain topics that didn’t make sense before, but were extremely clear while I was floating inside the tank.
The next episode was seeing me, Arman, in the best physical shape I’d ever been in, standing tall and feeling strong. I was watching myself growing and expanding into this Arman. As I felt this growth I started to also feel the energy and matter inside my body expanding. Suddenly, I could feel my body expanding and becoming one with everything all around me, throughout all of the universe. It was pure ecstasy. 
The biggest episode was experiencing for the first time what many refer to as the third eye. For no reason at all my eyes started to close and went towards the back of my head. I could feel my eyes going further and further back. At first I was a little hesitant and fought it. The force was powerful, as if my eyes were going to be pulled into the back of my brain.
I finally let go again and this force pushed my eyes backwards and backwards. They started wandering and shaking a lot. My eyes were practically pointed directly upwards, and they were shaking to the point where finally this third eye started to open up. And while this is subjective I say this because I had read about the third eye before and it was the only thing I could compare it to.
All this energy that was very positive and strong. It was flowing directly in between my two eyes, through my head, and through my body. It was one of the most pleasurable experiences I’ve ever had. And that brings me to another point. There was so many moments where I had to say things out loud, or laugh out loud, because of pure pleasure or brilliant ideas that hit me.
When something would suddenly make sense I would laugh or say something like:

Are you fu*king kidding me! I can’t believe I hadn’t realized that this entire time!

It was magical, mesmerizing, uplifting, and spiritual. More than anything it was just pleasurable to truly know yourself in a deeper way than you ever have before. It was like being connected to some source power again and being revitalized with fuel.
The climax was incredible. I was giddy, happy, excited, relaxed, and energized all at the same time.
[Later that day…]
It’s been three hours since the float. I am so pumped and energetic, I can barely control my energy, it’s kind of crazy. I keep laughing and getting excited about little things. There’s definitely a huge burst of energy and focus after a float.

How to Start Floating

  • Find a flotation tank facility using this search tool. If there are none near you, visit when the next time you’re in a major city (like Zazen in San Francisco).
  • Buy a float tank. Zen Float crowdfunded the first affordable float tank. Samadhi also sells them.
  • Build one yourself.
  • Buy a pre-owned one.

Conclusion

Floating is a unique experience unlike any other. If you have an opportunity to try it, I’d recommend giving it a shot. There are many benefits, and at the minimum it is an opportunity to relax and disconnect from the outside world.
It may not be for everyone, but from my experience I’ve found that most people do get something out of it when they are open-minded enough. My first experience was a wild one, so please don’t expect to have one like it. But know that adventures like this are possible.

Bonus: My Favorite Floatation Center in San Francisco (plus, a Discount Code!)

Being that I’m now a floating lover, I asked the owner of my go-to floatation center—Zazen—if I could send my friends (you!) to visit. He agreed, and was even kind enough to offer a discount code.

  • Here is Zazen’s website.
  • Make an appointment by calling directly. You may also be able to use their online booking system.
  • Use discount code “member floats” and mention Arman Assadi sent you to receive a float for only $45, that’s 40% off. Floats are normally $75 for 60 minutes.

Additional Resources

Photo credit: Down the rabbit holeCC license


So, are you going to give floating a shot? 🙂

Have You “Made It”? Musings on Goals Post-Amalfi Coast

Total Reading Time: 2.5 minutes.

It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living. – Echkart Tolle, from The Power of Now (Tweet this!)

Home again. Visited 10+ different cities/sites in about two weeks all throughout Italy, and now slowly been getting back into the normal rituals until the next trip.
Florence was by far my favorite. But this was only until the conclusion of the trip—which ended with the beautiful wedding of my close friends in Ravello—a small town on the Amalfi Coast.
It was magical. The scenery and architecture is the stuff of Oscar winning romantic films. Pulling into the square with our quintessential Italian driver Salvatore is already a memory I’m sure I’ll tell my future grandchildren about over a glass of Chianti Classico.
 

My I’ve made it moment.

As a child I remember dreaming of a trip to the Amalfi Coast and imagining myself racing through the mountains in a Ferrari with a massive smile on my face, thinking “I’ve made it!”. After seeing the windy roads fit for nothing more than a miniature Fiat I can now see that was an awful idea, but the trip was still incredibly significant.
Do you have an “I’ve made it” moment like this in your mind?
Instead, it was during a walk through the ancient, mazy streets of Ravello that I took the time to reflect on the trip and its meaning. I recorded my thoughts (literally out loud), and then journaled about it some more to ensure thoughts and memory stayed with me.
 

The big takeaway.

I’ll address this upfront and directly: there is no moment when you can truly say “I’ve made it”. In fact, it’s almost certain that the more you wait for that special day, the more disappointed you’ll be by the time it comes.
Goals and milestones are great, but they should be used as a tool for exercising your inherent need for growth (not competition!). What’s more important is creating memories and continuously living like a fulfilled rockstar, which is like mixing a state of appreciation and with a let’s get weird crazy fun attitude.
Furthermore, it’s imperative that you are doing something to positively impact the lives of others. This shouldn’t wait until you’ve made it, and this is where most people go wrong. Believing that once you have it all—financial freedom, the ultimate lifestyle, the dream woman/man, the perfect career—that you’ll finally begin to contribute something is wrong.
What makes you think you’ll suddenly change the entire foundation of your thoughts, words, and actions? You won’t. We must begin now to both create the habit and begin seeing the truth. True masters know that everything they give out comes right back to them.
If we (all life) is truly all one, then aren’t we actually giving to ourselves?
All that matters is deciding who you are, and then just taking steps to experience that. We’ve already made it. It’s just a matter of living that way.
After seeing the Colosseum in Rome I revisited some ancient wisdom from nearly 2,000 years ago:

Our life is what our thoughts make it. – Marcus Aurelius, from Meditations (Tweet this!)

Photo credit: Amalfi CoastCC license
Do you have an I’ve made it moment? I’d love to hear about it. More importantly, I’d love to know if this post has changed your thinking around this topic and how you’ll move forward now.

The Ultimate Guide to Dealing with Social Anxiety and Increasing Your Confidence

Total Reading Time: 19 minutes.
“We’re not all extroverts”, my friend and former co-worker said to me once. “We’re not?”, I sarcastically replied. Too often we forget that the lens through which we see the world is not the only one, and this is a topic I often neglect for that exact reason.
We often find that online entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, freelancers, writers, and bloggers are actually introverted by nature. And whether we’re extroverted or introverted, there are a few mental myths that most of us subscribe to. That’s where Katrina Razavi comes in.
Katrina first reached out to me as a reader of the site, and shared her mission of wanting to help self-described nerds improve their communication skills and confidence. Of course I told her to pursue the path, and she has.
Note: This is a guest post on tackling the mental myths that are holding you back from living your best life, written by Katrina Razavi. If you’d like to write a similar guest post for the site and reach a highly engaged audience, see our guidelines here.
Here’s Katrina…

Do you have control over that voice in your head?
The overwhelming majority of us do not.

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I have interviewed dozens of successful business people who struggle with social anxiety and confidence. The common theme they always bring up is this constant self-analysis:

  • How did that conversation go again?
  • What is that person thinking right after I said a silly remark?
  • Geez, I guess I’m not wired to be an [entrepreneur, businessman, engineer]
  • I wish I could do that but… [insert lame excuse]

I want to address the four mental myths that are holding you back from living your best life, and show you how to get over them.
This can apply to social skills, your business, or making a change in your life. I want to share some of my personal experiences and also give you some strategies on how you can begin tackling some of these mental obstacles.

Mental Myth #1: Impostor Syndrome

In a nutshell, this is when you think you are a fake.
Wikipedia describes it as:

A psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds…Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.

This myth really hits home for me because this is something I struggled with for a while (and still do to a certain degree). It also happens to be common amongst high-achieving women.
I have spoken to dozens of entrepreneurs who struggle with social anxiety or awkwardness and this always comes up. We are talking about smart, ambitious people who work hard and believe in what they’re doing. They’ve accomplished awesome stuff and have the guts to take the entrepreneurial leap, but they still don’t feel like they’re a success—crazy.
You may feel this way if you’re constantly attributing your success to things outside of your control, or you’re worried that you will be found out one day.
I tackled a lot of my personal struggles with social skills and communication by starting my own business. The number one thing holding me back from approaching people and talking about my idea was that I had told myself I was a fake for no good reason.
It wasn’t until I seriously thought about what was holding me back and identified it as impostor syndrome (although at the time I didn’t even know this was a thing) that I started changing my perspective.
Impostor syndrome is harmful for many reasons, but it impacted me severely because I was constantly operating from this place of fear. A constant fear that I’d be found out, even though I wasn’t faking anything.
Don’t fall into that trap. Here’s how you can begin tackling impostor syndrome:

1.    Take credit where credit is due

A telltale sign of impostor syndrome is perceiving your success as luck or chance rather than crediting your own efforts. I like to tackle this in two ways: the first one is to take about an hour to reflect on things that you have accomplished and write them down. It could be something from high school up until today, big or small.
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Writing down your success will help create a neural connection in your brain so you can relive that feeling of achievement. The act of recalling and writing down these important moments will jog your memory to think of what you did to make this happen.
The next step is to figure out what personal characteristics led you to success. Was it persistence? Deep focus and drive? Learning a new skill you didn’t think was possible when you started?
Try to identify what got you to success.
Moving forward, be sure to start taking note of things you have achieved in all areas of life. I keep a journal and at the end of each week, I’ll note down the things that I’ve accomplished both at work and personally [Arman’s note: I do a thorough weekly review. I feel superhuman when I do it, and awful when I don’t. You can see the full post and even download a summary guide and template here].
Doing this helps me link what I’ve done to my own natural skills and hard work. It also makes me feel good that I spent the week working on things that I perceive to be high-value and high-impact. Finally, when I track the items that lead me to progress I can replicate them to come up with more positive results in other areas of my life.

2. Don’t let fear take you over

When I launched my online startup I was constantly in fear. I was fearful that we’d never raise capital, fearful of pitching my idea and approaching potential investors. This fear constantly led to stress and a constant state of feeling overwhelmed. When I spoke to a mentor, he advised me to stop operating from a place of fear. I was taken aback. I didn’t even realize that’s how I was acting because it became the norm.

Picture3One of my favorite strategies from Tony Robbins is the power of asking questions. He advises us to ask empowering questions. These types of questions lead to solutions rather than directing our focus towards more problems. For example, the types of questions I used to ask were things like:

  • How can this business go wrong?
  • What will happen if we can’t raise money?
  • Am I really smart enough to make this work?
  • Will this VIP think my startup idea is stupid?

Contrast this with the types of questions I should have been asking:

  • How can I make this the most impactful business on the web?
  • How can I exceed customer’s expectations?
  • What would extreme success look like?
  • How can I start approaching VIP’s with more confidence?

Start analyzing the types of questions that you’re asking yourself.  Ask yourself questions that drive you towards solutions rather than ones that shift your focus to the negative. The power of questions is that it directs our focus—instantly. Changing a few habitual questions can become a game changer.

If you struggle with social confidence, stop asking yourself debilitating questions and start asking questions like:

  • What would my life look like if I improved this area in my life?
  • What’s the best person I think I can be?
  • What does success look like?
  • How can I start taking action today?

 3. Create your own definition of success

Personally, I felt like an impostor because my definition of success was distorted. Taking cues from the media, I started confusing success to only mean superficial things like making a ton of money or knowing the right people.
I felt like I was a phony if I didn’t raise a ton of money or make millions of dollars. What I should have been focusing on was providing value and having fun while doing it. I should have been enjoying the journey and not the destination.
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You don’t have to learn the hard way. By honestly identifying your strengths and your areas for growth you can create more realistic expectations of who you are and what you truly want to achieve. Don’t limit yourself by any means, but don’t paint a picture of success that is solely superficial.
Go deeper. Think about the types of values that are important to you. Allow taking the journey to be part of what you perceive as success rather than just the destination.
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For example, I just started a blog. Rather than falling into the same traps I did before, I’m now focusing on the value of helping people. Helping people is what encourages me to write posts that take me hours and hours to write, but knowing I can provide a ton of value to my readers is success enough, regardless of where I live or what type of car I drive. I feel better, I work happier, and I work harder. Try it out.

Mental Myth #2: Others have more [blank] than I do

Someone, somewhere in the world will always have more IQ points, money, charisma, skills or knowledge than you—and that’s fine. This is what makes the world an interesting place.
In the same vein, there’s someone else somewhere in this world who would die to have the things that you take for granted like clean water, a functioning car, a good job, etc.
Do you ever compare yourself to either of these groups of people?

In psychology this is called upward and downward social comparing.

  • Upward social comparisons – are when we compare ourselves to people who we perceive to be better off than us. This may cause frustration and jealousy, but it can also serve as a motivator like when you put a picture of a fit person on your fridge to encourage you to eat better and exercise
  • Downward social comparisons – are when you compare yourself to someone worse off than you. They may have fewer resources than you or may be going through tougher times. Generally, doing this will increase your self-regard and make you feel better.

Knowing this, we may be tempted to compare ourselves to those who we perceive as worse off than ourselves, but I urge you to do your best to stop comparing altogether.
Here are some ways to stop comparing yourself to others:

1.    Love what you got

Like Sheryl Crow says “It’s not having what you want. It’s wanting what you’ve got.”
Studies have proven that expressing gratitude leads to more positive benefits in other aspects of life like exercising, mood, goal attainment and more:

In a sample of adults with neuromuscular disease, a 21-day gratitude intervention resulted in greater amounts of high energy positive moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic ratings of one’s life, and better sleep duration and sleep quality, relative to a control group.

These studies prove that expressing gratitude is a keystone habit. Charles Duhigg defines a keystone habit as “small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives.”
Developing the habit of gratitude can create positive ripple effects in other areas of your life, like sleeping, mood, and energy levels. It also forces you to focus on yourself and the things that you have rather than trying to analyze what others have.

If you want a few ideas of how to cultivate gratitude, try these tips:

Journal – On a daily or weekly basis take just ten minutes to write down the things you’re grateful for. I find that writing things down is more effective than just thinking about it, because it strengthens your neural connections to those thoughts, and writing makes it 30% more likely that you’ll remember what you wrote down. It’s also fun to look back on past entries from a year or a few months ago to see what you jotted down.

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Meditate – Arman has written about the importance of meditation in a morning ritual and Tony Robbins explains here that he also takes a few minutes out of every morning to meditate. One of the things he meditates about are the things that he’s grateful for, and he always makes it a point to be grateful for one tiny but significant thing—like the sun or a bird chirping.
Reach out to friends – Whenever I’m in a crappy mood I force myself to call a close friend. I don’t overthink it, I quickly just dial a good friend and get into a conversation with them. Human relationships are the cornerstone to a meaningful life and reminding yourself that you have those connections is sometimes enough to feel grounded and appreciative. It can be a friend, family member, or anyone you’re close to.

2. Reduce unnecessary time on social media

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To kick the comparison habit try decreasing time spent on social networks.
We all have those friends on our feed who are partying around the world, jumping off cliffs in Hawaii or driving a Ferrari. Passively following people who have these lavish lives has been proven to lower people’s life-satisfaction levels.
This study showed that more than one-third of respondents reported predominantly negative feelings after using Facebook. They were also more likely to feel envious and experience lower levels of life satisfaction.
Researchers said, “Passive following triggers invidious emotions, with users mainly envying happiness of others, the way others spend their vacations and socialize.
Social media is a fantastic tool, but it can also be a tool that tempts you to compare yourself to others. If you find it hard to kick the social media habit there are some awesome tools to curb your use like RescueTime or MinutesPlease.

3. Realize that we are small

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The world is a huge place with problems that are way bigger than us. Keeping this in mind is a great way to stay grounded and stop worrying about what other people have. When you get caught up in your own bubble, do your best to get out of it.
Try encompassing yourself within nature. Go find a body of water, mountains, trees or anywhere where you can look around and gain a perspective of being tiny. Sometimes all we need is a new way of looking at things to get out of these negative mental habits.

Mental Myth #3: Analysis Paralysis

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Analysis paralysis is the concept that over-analyzing decisions leads to no decision. In essence, the opportunity cost of not making a decision is worse than taking no action. Have you ever analyzed a simple decision more than you needed to?
Some things do deserve a mulling over to decide, but when we over-analyze a situation it can turn into a negative experience because you associate negative feelings towards it.
Here are a few ways you can fight analysis paralysis:

1.    Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your feelings

When we are analyzing decisions, we trick ourselves into thinking we’re doing so from a totally rational perspective. Modern neuroscience has proven that wrong.

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Thomas Damasio, a well-known University of Iowa neurologist, has shown that decision-making happens in more than one part of your brain. Prior to his research, most neuroscientists believed that decision-making only occurred in the rational and most highly evolved part of our brains, the prefrontal cortex.
Damasio acknowledges that the prefrontal cortex is involved in decision-making, but so is the limbic system, which is a much older part of our brain responsible for emotions. It’s the part of our brain where we make value judgments as to experiences, memories, and if they’re pleasurable or not. These various parts of the brain work together to make decisions.
Decision-making can be difficult, especially when it comes to business decisions, where we tend to only focus on the data and the rational side of things. But don’t discount your emotions, they’re an essential and natural part of decision making, so try embracing them.

2. Understand your limits

Humans have limited willpower. In a classic experiment by Baba Shiv, a Stanford professor asked a group of people to remember a two-digit number, and another group to remember a seven-digit number. They were then walked down the hall into a room with two choices of snacks: either cake or fruit. Those who had to remember a seven-digit number chose cake 63% of the time, rather than the two-digit group who chose cake 42% of the time.
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The experiment showed that it’s harder for people to make better decisions when cognition and willpower is used up. What can we take away from this?
Try to make decisions earlier in the day when you have ample willpower, after you have slept well and feel satiated. The point is not that you shouldn’t analyze, but that you should do it effectively and efficiently, which leads us to the next tip.

3. Timebox it

Give yourself a deadline to make the decision. Get accountable by asking a friend or colleague to enforce the date you choose, and put it on your calendar so it’s staring you in the face every day. This will force you to make a decision rather than procrastinate and not take any action at all.
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4. Always take action

This is another action item I took from Tony Robbins who says, “never leave the scene of a decision without taking an action to make it a reality.
The decisions we make may be right or wrong, but whatever you decide go full force! You can do this by taking at least one action step to make it happen.  Make sure it is in line with your decision, makes an impact, and has a deadline. It doesn’t have to be a huge step, just one in the right direction.
Remember, when we make the wrong decision we can always course-correct, but not taking any action at all can lead to stagnation. Many times it’s better to make the wrong decision than to not make a decision at all.

Mental Myth #4: You think that people and/or the world “sucks”

I’ve done a lot of digging around in different forums, namely around social confidence and anxiety, and a common theme I come across is complaints about how people or the world sucks.
There’s a lot of crappy stuff that happens in this world, I won’t deny that. But the question is: what you do with those experiences? Do you replay those experiences in your mind over and over again? Do you blame those experiences for your shortcomings?
One of my students had a really negative experience at a networking event and she kept replaying the experience in her mind. It decreased her social confidence and stopped her from attending more events and meeting more people, which was essential to her startup business. She associated those types of negative experiences with all networking events.
Don’t let those types of experiences hold you back.
It’s easy to do, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Think about ways to come up with solutions rather than focusing on your problems. Realize that replaying these experiences in your mind only holds you back.

1.    Change your lens for just one day

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If your typical state of mind is that the world is sh*tty, try changing that lens for just one day. It will be extremely difficult if you’re used to telling yourself the world is a mess, but give it a go.
Every time you catch yourself going into a negative frame of mind, force yourself to snap out of it and re-affirm that the world is a great place. You may want to say a phrase out loud when you catch yourself doing it, something to interrupt your pattern like, “wait a minute, let me reframe!”. You can even whisper it to yourself if you prefer, this will force yourself to interrupt your normal mental habits.
Another solution is to change your body language. Try smiling more than you usually do. When something pisses you off, send your body a totally different signal than you’re used to. Instead of frowning…smile! Sometimes extreme attitudes need to be combated with the opposite extreme attitude. Your physiology and facial expressions can deeply affect your mood, so take advantage of it.
After doing this for a full day, take some time at the end of it to identify how you feel.

  • How was your day different?
  • How did you treat people?
  • How did people treat you?

2. Focus on the now

The popular book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle explores the importance of being present in the now. This means leaving the past behind and only using the past for practical, present matters—to inform the now. This will help you from reliving traumatic experiences that never serve you.
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Tolle distinguishes what he calls clock time and psychological time.

  • Clock time – is the practical matter of time including learning from the past, goal setting and doing our best to predict our future based on our experiences
  • Psychological time – is the psychological construct of time that gets in the way of being in the now and turns into negative self-talk.

His advice is so important I will quote from him directly:

…if you made a mistake in the past and learn from it now, you are using clock time. On the other hand, if you dwell on it mentally and self-criticism, remorse, or guilt come up, then you are making the mistake into me and mine: You make it part of your sense of self…which is always linked to a false sense of identity.

The point is that you don’t have to identify your sense of self with your past mistakes or experiences. You can use them to inform your present, but you don’t have to overanalyze them and berate yourself.
Focus on being in the moment and feeling the real presence of even the tiniest tasks, like washing the dishes or cleaning your house.

3. Don’t be selfish

Instead of focusing on how the world is treating you, why don’t you think about how you’re treating the world? Rather than making yourself the center of the world, think about how you can serve the world around you.
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A negative perspective is contagious and can spread to those around you via emotional contagion and mirror neurons. By accusing the world of rallying against you you’re making yourself a victim rather than taking control of your life.
Put your ego aside. Stop judging other people and the world around you.  Approach the world by offering up value you can provide. How can you make the world a better place? What are you excited about?
I recently interviewed Jason Comely, inventor of rejection therapy. He struggled with social anxiety and rejection his entire life, and recently got over a lot of these obstacles. One thing he mentioned was that he wished “he was more focused on being useful and charitable to others and less focused on (his own) struggle. A person who is charitable and useful to others will always have friends and social opportunities.”
By focusing outwards and providing value to the world you move away from an egocentric view of the world and this permeates to those around you. Remember, winners want to hang out with winners. So, make yourself a winner. It’s within you.

Conclusion

Many times the greatest thing standing in our way is ourselves. If you’re suffering from impostor, syndrome start taking credit for what you’ve achieved, operate from a place of security, and make sure you’re defining your own version of success.
If you are always comparing yourself to others, start being grateful for what you already have, try cutting back on unnecessary social media, and gain some new perspective. By proactively changing the way you view the world and make decisions, you can combat these negative mental myths and start living your best life.

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This is a guest post by Katrina Razavi, founder of CommunicationforNerds.com. If you found this post helpful, visit her site and get your free eBook: 5 Ways to Avoid Awkward Conversations NOW!
Katrina helps people who struggle with social anxiety and social confidence by sharing strategies using change psychology, confidence building and habit transformation.

 

References

  1. Robbins, Tony. Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny! Free Press: 1992.
  2. Tolle, Eckhart. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. Namaste Publishing: 2004.

Photo credit: AnxietyCC license

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