Categories
Life Progress Self-awareness

From Chaotic to Harmonized Mindset

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It’s 2020, and a lot of things happening now might seem very chaotic and confusing. Brexit inescapably happened. Man-caused global warming is changing landscapes. Oceans are flooded with plastic. The Covid19 pandemic brings risk to our lives and limits our mobility. Wildfires in Australia and the USA kill live beings. People are still experiencing discrimination and brutality because of skin color. Moreover, you might believe in some conspiracy theories that add to stress and anxiety about the current world situation. But do you want to stay under that stress, or would you instead want to have peace of mind?

First of all, what you can do is think about whether you can change any of that? Is it in your scope of control, or is it outside of your abilities? If you can’t control something, detach yourself from it. It is as it is. You have to adapt to it, but there is no necessity to keep worrying about it day after day.

If adversity happens to you directly and you are affected badly, you have to calm down and focus on what you can do to solve your situation. For example, if you lost a job due to Covid19, you have to find another one. Maybe even get some skills in another area than what you know already. Don’t panic. Clear your mind and surroundings at first.

If you have a chaotic mind, you probably also have a messy home. Start cleaning up your mind by cleaning up your home. Define places for each thing you want to keep. Get rid of or hide the things that bring you bad memories and emotions. It might take hours or days, but you will finally have a system for something you see every day.

Take a problem you want to solve and plan the way how you are going to solve it. Divide the path to the solution into multiple steps that you can take one by one. For example, you were in a restaurant business but decided to learn software development. So you will borrow some money, take online courses on some technologies, create a project for a friend, work on your LinkedIn profile, and apply for a junior position at a chosen IT company.

If you feel down, maybe you are lack of brain fuel. The human brain runs on glucose and needs at least 420 kcals per day to maintain normal function. That’s 42 grapes or cherries, 4 bananas, or 4 big apples a day. It can as well be more or less depending on your body mass and the mental work intensity.

To have a harmonious mind, make sure to spend time with people you care about. But also have some time alone. You need both: a feeling of connection and love; and time for meditation or prayer, journaling, and exercising.

When doing something, try not to multitask. Focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking brings you more stress and makes you less productive. If you have several or many things to do in a day, create time blocks for each of those things. For example, you will spend two hours reading and answering emails, one hour for the industry news, and one hour for an online meeting. Try to stick to your plan.

Simplify your life. It is recommendable to choose up to three most important tasks every day and only focus on them. Quality is more important than quantity. When you work a lot, you have a risk of mental burnout. That’s especially often in the tech industry.

Try to get information in your head classified. Either connect the points of knowledge in your head and group them into categories. Or read more about your interests and find some categorizations on Wikipedia or other resources. This gives you more trust in yourself and your opinions.

Get an essential objective in your life. It should be a big aim worth pursuing. Then make a plan for how you will achieve your dreams. And try to progress towards it. Know that failures will happen on the way. But focus on the process and enjoy the ride.


Cover photo by Hello I’m Nik.

Categories
Life Self-awareness

What Was Your Name Again?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Whether your first name is James, Mary, or X Æ A-Xii, your name not only identifies you but also shapes your character and influences how other people will accept you. With the wrong name, you could have problems with being accepted by the society you are living in. With the wrong name, you can have difficulties getting a partner or job you want. With the wrong name, you can have a weight of associations that people bring to it. When you are about to have a baby, don’t give them the wrong name.

Our story

My wife and I are from Lithuania, and we are living in Berlin, Germany. Before the births of our kids, we did some name researches to find names that would be well accepted in Germany as well as being Lithuanian. I wouldn’t be a programmer if I wouldn’t take 500 most popular names in Germany and filter them using Python programming language to see the ones with Lithuanian word endings. From that point, we got just a handful of names and intuitively chose the ones that we liked most. I hope that Joris and Laura will enjoy the names they got at birth and will live integral and successful lives.

If we didn’t trust our intuition, we could have used the strategic prioritizer 1st things 1st to analyze a few names by multiple aspects. Let’s see how we could have done that.

Using the prioritizer

At 1st things 1st, you can evaluate anything (like first names) by multiple criteria (like aspects) and get calculated priorities. The workflow looks like this:

  1. You define your criteria or aspects.
  2. You list out your things, like first names.
  3. You evaluate each name by each aspect.
  4. You explore the prioritized first names.

Step 1. Define your aspects

Let’s brainstorm for some aspects that we can use to evaluate first names:

  • Both parents like it
  • Easy to pronounce
  • Easy to spell
  • Sounds good together with the last name
  • Doesn’t have negative associations
  • Has a nice meaning
  • Unique
  • Traditional
  • Globally recognized
  • Authentic in your native country
  • Ethnically appropriate
  • Doesn’t prompt negative nicknames
  • Doesn’t sound foolish for a middle-aged person
  • Some relative has it
  • A person you admire has it
  • A favorite book or movie character has it

I will choose the ones that are most important to me and enter into the prioritizer.

Both parents like it
Easy to pronounce
Easy to spell
Globally recognized
Doesn't sound foolish for a middle aged person
Bulk-add all the aspects into the prioritizer

Here they are all added to the tool:

Essential aspects for prioritizing first names added to 1st things 1st

Step 2. List out the first names

Now let’s list some first names that you thought could be good candidates, let’s say, for a daughter:

  • Lina
  • Laura
  • Ada
  • Lara
  • Emma
Several female first names listed for evaluation

Step 3. Evaluate each name by each aspect

Then I go through the list of aspects and names and rate how each name matches each aspect.

Evaluating first names by 5 most essential aspects

Step 4. Explore the prioritized names

In the last step, I get all first names prioritized by how much they match all the aspects. “Laura” is in the first position with a 100% match. Other names got fewer points, so they are less recommended to choose. 

Last thoughts

If people call you by another name already or you want to start a new chapter in your life, you can still officially change your first name in some countries. But if you care about your kids’ well being, choose their names wisely as soon as they come into this world.


Cover photo by Yoann Boyer

Categories
Progress Self-awareness

The Magic of Math Behind “1st things 1st”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I am an intuitive thinker! I don’t like overanalyzing or changing my mind too often. The first choice that I make usually gets the most power. I trust my gut feeling. But sometimes there are choices to make, which depend on too many variables. I used to be lost in such cases. Some options have some benefits; others have other advantages. How can I make the right choice when I have multiple decisions depending on several criteria? Nowadays, for long-term multidimensional decisions, I use the strategic prioritizer “1st things 1st”. I will describe its formula in this article.

How would you use the “1st things 1st”?

Strategic prioritizer “1st things 1st” lets you bring multidimensional priorities to light. It allows you to make intuitive decisions for each criterion and uses a formula (that I will describe in a moment) to calculate the priorities:

  1. At first, you define your criteria.
  2. Then you list out things to prioritize (for example, activities).
  3. Then you rate each thing by each criterion.
  4. At last, you explore your calculated priorities.
Workflow of prioritization: criteria, things, evaluations, priorities

Relative weights of criteria

Each criterion has a relative weight in percentage. By default, these weights are spread evenly. For example, if you have 4 criteria, each of them will have a weight of 25% – the sum of relative weights is always 100%.

Just recently, a possibility to adjust the relative weights was added to the prioritizer. If we look at the project about finding your Ikigai which was the first prioritization example in this blog, you can decide to give the criterion “Am I good at it?” a lower relative weight (10%) than “Do I love doing it?” (30%), “Can I be paid for it?” (30%), and “Does the world need it?” (30%). Because practice makes perfect, and the skills can be gained over time.

Adjusting weights for criteria

Evaluations

Whether you evaluate the things by each criterion with yes/no answers, probabilities, stars, or percentages, behind the scenes they are all saved as numbers between 0.0 and 1.0 and can be represented as percentages between 0% and 100%.

The formula

“1st things 1st” uses the weighted average formula to calculate the priorities.

To see how much a thing matches all of your criteria, you would sum all criterion weights multiplied by corresponding evaluations:

A = w1 × e1 + w2 × e2 + w3 × e3 + w4 × e4

No worries, you don’t need to calculate anything yourself. You just do the ratings, and all the computations are delegated to the computer – that’s what computers are for.

Here is an Excel template laying out the calculations: 

Prioritization spreadsheet template

Our example with Finding Ikigai would look like this:

Prioritization example in a spreadsheet: Ikigai

As you can see from the last column named “Match”, programming, writing, teaching, and driving a car would be among my top priorities. Even when I can’t drive. Yet.

Final words

When making decisions, sometimes you can trust your intuition and the first thought that comes to your mind. And sometimes, the decision has to be analyzed and calculated. Why not leave those calculations to the computer? “1st things 1st” does that for you.


Cover photo by Michael Dziedzic

Categories
Life Self-awareness

How to Choose a Guided Meditation for Daily Practicing

Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you want to stay happy and peaceful, you probably practice meditation. Tried a series of different guided meditations, you would find it useful to have a meditation track on your iPhone so that you can practice it in a park, at the workplace, or even in public transport. Meditation apps like Soulvana, Omvana, Calm, or Headspace are cool, but maybe they are not your thing, and all you need is a simple MP3 with the guidance that you can listen to at any place.

You did your research and selected several guided meditations. Now you want to decide which of them to choose. Your guided meditation must meet several criteria you have. To help you prioritize, 1st things 1st comes into play.

Using 1st things 1st to prioritize guided meditations

At 1st things 1st, you create prioritization projects, where you perform these four steps:

  1. Define criteria.
  2. List out meditations (or other things).
  3. Rate each meditation by each criterion.
  4. Explore priorities.
The workflow of prioritizing guided meditations

⚙️ Project setup

At first, you will add a new project to your personal account. You will choose “Blank” from the project templates.

Choosing a blank project template

The project creation wizard will guide you through the essential questions:

1. The project Title and Short description – you will probably call the project “Guided Meditations”. Next!

Entering the project title

2. Then you will set how to name things. You will change the Things to Meditations.

Deciding how to name things

When you created the project, you will go to the main steps of prioritization.

🧭 Step 1. Add criteria

In the first step of prioritization, you will add the list of criteria and their evaluation types.

  • Can be saved on your iPhone because you want to access it anywhere. 
  • Takes a short time because you don’t have much alone time during the day.
  • Improves well-being because that’s what matters to you.
  • Boosts energy because you need to relax and gain the focus back.
  • Performed in a kind tone because you don’t want to listen to unpleasant guidance regularly.

Choose Bulk add criteria and enter these criteria one per line. Set their evaluation type From “definitely not” to “definitely”

Bulk adding criteria

The criteria will be added to the prioritizer. Now you can edit them and change their importance.

Criteria listed

💡 Step 2. Add guided meditations

In the next step, you will list out your guided meditations.

After choosing Bulk add meditations, you will enter them line by line:

Bulk adding guided meditations

The meditations will be added to the prioritizer. You can then edit them individually.

Guided meditations listed

🎚 Step 3. Evaluate meditations by criteria

Now it’s time to evaluate all guided meditations by all criteria.

For example, you can save most of these meditations on iPhone either as MP3 or as offline Spotify tracks, but “15 Minute Guided Meditation by Boho Beautiful” is from Youtube, extracting sound from it would be complicated. 15-minute meditations are probably not short, but you can practice the others in 10 minutes or less. “Arriving Meditation by Connected Business” and “6 Phase Meditation by Vishen Lakhiani” definitely improves well-being and boosts energy, whereas others are not so effective.

Evaluating guided meditations by each criterion

📊 Step 4. Explore priorities

The prioritizer will show you calculated and sorted meditations grouped into the ones:

  • to choose for sure,
  • to consider, and
  • to skip.
Exploring priorities

“Arriving Meditation by Connected Business” might be at the top, matching your criteria at 95%. That will be the track that you will transfer to your Music app and listen to it regularly to calm your mind and restore energy. “6 Phase Meditation by Vishen Lakhiani” could also be pretty close, matching the criteria at 85%. It’s worth having on your iPhone for more random and longer rest times.

Final words

Whether you evaluate meditation tracks or meditation apps, prioritizer 1st things 1st might be handy for you. Check it out now and make rational decisions about things that matter to you!


Cover photo by Jared Rice.

Categories
Self-awareness

How to Find the Meaning of Life. Part 3

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Earlier I described how people are different by finding meaning either in having, or being, or doing. And then, I introduced you to the Ikigai concept and ways to figure out your Ikigai. This time I want to explore more of the territory of meaning. You shouldn’t necessarily have one true calling, monetized, and useful for others, to live a meaningful life.

Care about yourself

It is challenging to be happy with your life if you are always disappointed about yourself and your achievements. You have to love yourself and not attach your happiness only to success. Life is a rollercoaster. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But you must try your best as much as you can.

Health

Take care of your health. The life will be more fulfilling if you are fit and healthy when your body is sound, and your mind is clear.

Finances

Save some money. Have some savings at least for half a year of expenses. You never know when you might need to spend extra.

Spirituality

Learn to understand yourself at your deepest. Learn to control your attention. Calm down the storms in your head. Live life as peacefully as you can. You can!

Inspiration

Travel. Visit galleries, museums, theaters, and movie theaters. Browse exciting information online. Try foods and drinks. Explore nature. Get hobbies.

Challenges and adventures

From time to time, try doing something that you haven’t done before. Visit a new country. Sing karaoke. Try a new sports activity. Speak in front of a group of people. Challenge yourself doing something for 30 days to form new habits.

Home

Clean up the mess at your home. Make your bed in the morning. Clean up your desk. Don’t keep things that bring you negative emotions in front of your eyes, but gather things that bring you joy.

Care about others

Being content with yourself is crucial, but even more important is what you do interacting with others while being self-contented.

Family and Relatives

Respect your parents and elders. There were lots of times when you got help from them. There will come a time when you will have to help them. Call or visit them regularly. Keep contact.

When or if you have children, love them and be a role model to them. They are the ones who will continue the circle of life.

Romantic Relationships

Don’t waste yourself. Try to find meaningful relationships. And when you do, cherish and appreciate the moments.

Friends

Once in a while, meet your friends. Party together, have in-depth conversations, travel as a group. Show them your most authentic self. Keep their secrets. Support them in difficulties.

Pets

If you choose to have a dog, a cat, or a chinchilla, you must take care of them no less than of your other family members. Provide food for them, take care of their health, allow them to live a joyous life.

Neighborhood

Know and respect your neighbors. Keep your stairway and yard clean. Participate in the events of the neighborhood. When you party, inform your neighbors in advance about the possible noise. If they party, be the last one to call the police.

Communities

Be a member or a board member of your local, regional, and global communities of interest. Provide help when you have time and resources, or money otherwise. 

Causes

Whether you care about human rights or animal wellbeing, local communities or remote disaster relief, arts or sport, science achievements or religion; there is always some organization that acts in that area and needs your financial help. Donate some money now and then to support your cause.

Help communities and organizations with make-impact.org

You will be able to choose an organization of your interest and support them financially at user-centered donation platform make-impact.org. Until it is ready, you are welcome to do that through other channels, like their direct websites, Facebook fundraisers, or crowdfunding platforms. Use your chances to make a positive impact around you.

My Case

Do I live my full potential? I don’t get or experience everything all at once. But I try to seize the day as much as possible. If not now, then when?

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Cover photo by  Miguel Perales.

Categories
Self-awareness

How to Find the Meaning of Life. Part 2

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Previously, I was describing how different people find meaning either in having, or being, or doing. Taking into account that doing plays an essential role in our lives, as it is what creates progress, I would like to introduce the Ikigai concept.

Ikigai Concept

Japanese have a concept of fulfillment that they call Ikigai. It combines what you are good at, what you like doing, what is good for the World, and for what you could get money. We could illustrate that with the following Venn’s diagram: Ikigai appears where all those areas cross each other.

Ikigai

To live a more fulfilling life, you might monetize one of your hobbies, find something likable in your current work activities, market what you are already doing to broader audiences, or find a niche where your products or services have a higher value. Don’t worry! Everyone’s situation and maturity are different. Maybe you won’t have your Ikigai in your twenties but will live your full potential in your fifties.

But how to find the thing about which you are genuinely passionate and would like to continue working on it if you do a lot of different joyful activities? What is the one true calling that would describe the deepest you?

One way to find that is to use the prioritizer – 1st things 1st, that I built to help people crystallize their thoughts and choices.

Using 1st things 1st to clarify your Ikigai

At 1st things 1st, you have something to prioritize and criteria by which to evaluate. When you rate each item by each measure, the tool calculates and sorts the elements from the most important to the least one.

Criteria

In the case of the searching of your Ikigai, you could have these criteria:

  • Do I love doing it?
  • Am I good at it?
  • Can I be paid for it?
  • Does the world need it?
Ikigai: define your criteria

There is a project template for that.

Activities

Then you would add all the activities that you have ever done that are very specific to you. Remember things from selling ice cream on the beach at your childhood to carving wooden figures in your free time, from enjoying movies on Netflix to visiting far-away secret locations of the World.

Ikigai: list out your activities

Evaluations

The next step would be to rate the activities by each criterion. For each activity, you would answer those questions with answers like:

  • definitely
  • probably
  • possible
  • probably not
  • definitely not

Only you know what you like doing most and how good you are at that. Be open-minded and creative when deciding how much the World needs your activities and how much profit you could get out of it. In the age of the Web, there are many more possibilities than before.

Ikigai: evaluate your activities

Ikigai: evaluate your activities

If you don’t agree with my evaluations, that’s OK. You would evaluate your activities according to your worldview.

Priorities

And then it would be the time to unveil your Ikigai. In the end, the tool would list you out the most valuable activities on which you should proceed to work.

For example, according to my choices and evaluations, my Ikigai is programming and writing. It is one of the reasons why I write this and other blogs, published a book about programming with the Django framework, and work on web projects.

Ikigai: see your priorities

Let me help you to find the meaning of your life at www.1st-things-1st.com.


Cover photo by Content Pixie

Categories
Self-awareness

How to Find the Meaning of Life. Part 1

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The meaning of life is personal. There is no global meaning that works the same for everybody. Everybody has their definition, and either recognize it, or believe that it is something to achieve, or still seek it.

I would put the meanings of life for different people into these categories:

  • What I have
  • What I am
  • What I do

Every person aligns with one or more of those categories.

What I have

People from this category ask questions like these: Do I have a diploma? Do I have an Instagram account? Do I have a family? Do I have enough experience points on my CV? Do I have a house? Do I have a car? Do I have enough money for whatever I decide to get?

What I am

People from this category ask questions like these: Am I a University graduate? Am I an expert in my field? Am I a loving husband, wife, father, mother, sister, brother? Am I a social-media influencer? Am I a good person? Am I the right person? Am I handsome, beautiful, stylish, cool, experienced? Am I rich and famous?

What I do

People from this category ask questions like these: Do I do at work what I love? Do I travel as much as I want? Do I care about others? Do I live a fulfilling family life? Do I have in-depth conversations with friends? Do I go out enough? Do I enjoy nature, arts, or parties every weekend? Do I get enough income for what I need and like doing?

My attitude

At this point in my life, I believe that not having, and not being, but action gives the most pleasure, happiness, and fulfillment. To do something that I like and find meaningful or at least fun is something that drives me to get up and enjoy another day again and again. Of course, there will be hard days now and then. But at those moments, I can stop, look at what I have, and think what I became. I should express gratitude to the universe for letting me be where I am. And the next day I go forward again.

Using 1st things 1st to clarify your priorities

But how should we decide where we should draw the most of our thoughtfulness and care? Do we live a meaningful life already, or do we still lack something?

The strategic prioritizer 1st things 1st can help you sort out what to do or have by your values. Then you can align your decisions and become a better version of yourself by your definition.

Subscribe to the RSS feed or the newsletter to find more information about the strategic prioritizer and get notified about other posts in this blog.


Cover photo by Daniel Kuruvilla.

Categories
Self-awareness

About Subjectivity and Objectivity

Reading Time: 3 minutes

People see, hear, and feel the world differently

It may be hard to believe, but people experience the same facts differently. When someone sees, hears, tastes, smells, or touches something, they filter that through their perception and make corresponding conclusions: I like it, I hate it, this is good, this is bad, this is interesting, this is dull, etc.

Previous experience forms the perception. The more happenings a person has and the more conscious a person is while experiencing; the more subtle will be the conclusions.

On the web, there are intriguing examples that are interpreted differently by different sides of people.

For example, there is a photo of a dress that looks like striped gold and white dress to some people, and it looks like a blue and black dress to some other people.

The thing is that some people expect there to be light colors in a shadow, and some others expect a photo of dark colors with high exposure.

In another example, there is a mysterious track, where some people hear “laurel,” and some other arguably hear “yanny”. 

I can explain that too. The track is built from both sounds at different frequencies: some people hear higher pitches better than lower ones.

Or let’s have a look at the picture in the cover. What are the colors of this shoe? White and pink or cyan and gray? 

Opinions, attitudes, mindsets

Fact interpretations are contextual. The same gray buttons will look lighter on a dark shirt, darker on the light shirt, or even colorful on a colored shirt. As people add contexts to facts by their previous experiences, they make different interpretations of the same events and make different conclusions.

So opinions are formed. Repeated opinions develop attitudes. Finally, attitudes create mindsets, which are later more and more difficult to change.

Cultural norms, rules, laws

As people communicate with each other, they form collective opinions, attitudes, and mindsets. So cultural norms are created. Some of those norms become rules and regulations. If the rules are good enough for the communities and society, they become governmental laws.

There are some laws that are more difficult or almost impossible to change compared to governmental laws. And these are the laws of nature, universal laws, or scientific laws.

  • You can’t change your genes to become someone else than you are.
  • You can’t make gold out of elements that don’t include gold atoms.
  • You can’t resist gravitation and float in the air.
  • You can’t take a thing and copy it without using resources to build it. 

Can you?

So what is subjective and what is objective

The observable things and happenings that are around us are the facts. They are objective. They just are. They just happen. They have explainable known or unknown causes to happen.

But any interpretation of the causes is subjective. It’s like modeling a picture of reality in our heads, trying to understand it. It’s like coloring the facts in the colors we are given from past experiences.

All the subjectivity we have is there to serve us or go against us. It’s for us to decide. It’s for us to choose when we should keep fighting for what we believe and when it is time to release the blocks and change our perceptions, attitudes, and shift our mindsets towards more objectivity and wisdom.

Clarify what is the most important to you using 1st things 1st

I built the 1st things 1st for you to choose which of the activities, ideas, thoughts, wishes, items, pieces of art, are the most important to you so that you could spend more time and energy on them, but lose the clutter. Why spend ten years on everything that just happens, when instead you could spend that time to build expertise in your field or live your dream.

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