stop a life trap


The lessons about life traps that I learned from billionaire Ray Dalio.

Nobody wants to be a loser, but why do many people always feel like being a loser in their life game? And what are the traps most people fall into in life?

These are the questions that I found out the answer to last week when I read the book “Principle “Life and Work” by the billionaire Ray Dalio.

From this great book, I learned 4 very valuable lessons.

It is not easy to be a winner all the time, but if you can understand what makes you fail, it makes the chance to be a loser become smaller and you have more opportunities to win your own games.

No.1 of life traps: Chase all the goals at the same time

This is the way how you will run out all of your energy even before you can get the first win.

And it’s also a very popular trap that many people fall into.

It looks like you are joining a buffet party, where you can find various kinds of foods you want.

And they look so yummy to put into your mouth all.

At that moment, you seem to forget a reality that your stomach is limited to have all at the same time.

If you can join the same buffet party for a whole week, maybe you can try all of the things you want without worrying about your stomach capability.

But the reality is you just can join this buffet for a few hours this night, not the whole week as you wish.

So knowing what you really want to eat and prioritizing your choices is the most important thing you need to do to enjoy the buffet the most as you can.

And it’s not about what you put in your hungry stomach, it’s more about what’s your priorities to eat first.

It’s the same psychology in choosing your goals.

The goals are the food at your buffet party. And your time is your hungry stomach.

Within the limitation of time you have each day, you need to set your own goals more affordable and specific to achieve.

But the problem with many people is they have a lot of goals they want to achieve in a short period of time. And when they focus on the number of goals to get, the quality of their completed tasks normally be reduced as these people try to reach the quantity rather than the quality.

To avoid this trap, what you should really focus on is choosing what is the most important goal that you really want to achieve first. Then put all your attention and energy to achieve this goal before moving to another one.

As Ray Dalio said

“If you just keep doing, you will burn out and grind to a halt.”

It means that if you fail in finding your priority, you will come up with burnout all your energy even before you can achieve your first achievement.

How to avoid this trap

  • Having your own prioritized checklist

This list will include all the goals that you want to achieve in a specific period of time. For me, I have lists of specific goals I want to achieve daily, monthly, and yearly.

The list to be arranged with the most important goal needed to achieve be located at the №1 position, and then the second most important goal, the third one,…

For daily goals, I always set a limit of a maximum of 3 goals I need to achieve instead of putting too many goals and making me feel overwhelmed.

And this technique is what I learned from Thomas Oppong, a very successful writer on Medium who is my idol in positive writing.

Whenever I complete a goal, I will make a tick on it. This creates an exciting and fulfilling feeling for me when my brain be noticed that I completed a goal.

For monthly and yearly goals, I set up 5 big goals to achieve.

Because this is an affordable number for me, not too little to lose motivation but not too much to make the goals be overwhelming.

No.2 of life traps: You are misunderstanding between goals and desires

The goal is the things you want to have and work on it to achieve.

The desire is the things you want to have, but you don’t really work on it to complete the tasks you need to make.

As the example that Dalio writes in his book

Your goal is to have a healthy body.

While your desire is to eat your favorite snacks like cakes, fried potatoes.

And if you really want to achieve the goal of having a healthy body, you need to learn to quite your desire of having your snacks.

Any of us have a lot of desires in life. But converting the desires to be the goals and really working on them to achieve them is not an easy game.

It requires us to have a high discipline character and follow the rules to make good desires consistently appear and work on them to make them come true.

While the losers are very good as the step to create a lot of desires for themselves. The step to turn these desires to be real actions normally be ignored and makes the desires just be desires; then never can come true.

In contrast, the winners are the people who have many desires and doing well in turning these desires into real actions to make them become their achievable goals.

And the more desire you have and be turned into the goals, the more success you will gain.

How to avoid this trap

1. Give yourself time to consider

It means that when your mind pops up with any new desire, let give yourself a little bit of time to consider if this really deserves to be your goal.

For me, this is one morning/afternoon/evening time for a desire to be considered. And for the big desire, it normally is considered after a day. If this desire makes me feel excited enough, I will keep it and start to write a map on how to achieve this goal.

It helps you to be more selective in the goals to achieve and the desires also become more clear and trustworthy.

2. Make your desires equal your goals

If you have too many desires and don’t have the ability to turn all of them to become real, you will make yourself feel frustrated with yourself.

And this is a very dangerous situation when you make your mind start to learn to admit your failure in turning your desire to be an achievable goal. It loses your self-confidence and belief in achieving the goals.

So when you have desires, let carefully consider if you can make it be your goal or not. And don’t build up a lot of desires for yourself while you still haven’t completed your first goal. As C.S. Lewis says

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

But let make sure to complete your desired goal before having the next one, to make all the desires to be a reality, not just your dream.

No.3 of life traps: Choose the wrong motivation

What is your motivation for doing what you are doing?

This is the question that each of us needs to spend time thinking seriously about it.

The wrong goal will lead to wrong results.

While the wrong motivations will lead to a lack of ability to win the goal.

As Ray Dalio said

If the motivation for someone is just the money — big numbers on the bank account, the person will hardy to understand and achieve the fulfilling of completing their goals.

Photo by Alejandro Barba on Unsplash

One of the popular life traps is money. Although money is important, the final goal never should be all about money. Because this is just numbers and you will never feel enough with the numbers.

What really makes sense is the feeling of fulfillment, the values that you can contribute to society, and your feeling of happiness when you can achieve the goal.

How to avoid this life trap

Let ask yourself these questions whenever you come up with your motivation to work on something you want

a. If the money is not the motivation, what else could be the main motivation for you to achieve this goal?

b. Why you really want to achieve this goal?

c. What is the most regrettable thing that you will have if you can’t achieve it, except money?

d. Does your motivation make you feel happy and positive every time you think about making this goal come true?

These questions are what I use to ask myself every time I find the motivation for my new goal.

It helps me to figure out what I can use as a true motivation for myself to achieve the goal (instead of just using money as the main goal all the time).

In many cases, the motivation for happiness, love, friendship, the family is more important than the financial motivation for us to achieve the goal.

And when you can figure out the right motivation for yourself, you can achieve the goal faster and feel fulfilled about your achievement.

If you want to know more about personal finance topics, especially how to spend your money, let check this blog “5 good ways to spend money wisely and how to do it”.

No.4 of life traps: Don’t dare to dream high

We all have the same 24h. It means that we have the same opportunity to use time to achieve our dream.

So while we don’t choose to have a big dream and achieve it instead of having the small one that we also need the same time but make the smaller results?

This is one of the key points that Ray Dalio presented in this book.

He showed a cruel reality is that many young people are having now. This is about losing the ability to dream high.

They were afraid to set big goals and focus their attention on the negative impacts that can happen when they fail the big game rather than thinking about how great it will be when they can achieve it.

And when thinking about the successful people in the world, we all can see the normal people with the big dreams that lead them to achieve massive success in their life, from Mark Zuckerberg to build the biggest social media platform in the world, or Tony Robbins to build the best personal development course on the planet, or Elon Musk to make the best electric cars in the 21st century,…

You can’t find a successful person with a small dream but you can find a lot of people who have a big dream but unsuccessful.

Because it’s not only about how high and big your dream can be, it’s more about how much you commit to achieving this big dream as well. As Walt Disney says

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

How to avoid this life trap

1. Have a big goal that is achievable, not unrealistic.

Have a plan for your little wins, not only the big one.

If you are having an income of $3,000/month and now want it to turn to be $30,000 in the next month. This makes you feel exhausted and stressed rather than being your motivation to achieve this financial goal.

It means that having a higher goal is good but having an unrealistic goal is very dangerous.

Instead of moving rapidly, your goal is to be 10x higher in just a month because you see your friend achieved this level already and want to catch his level quickly. Let put the goal to 1,5–2x higher than your present instead.

It makes your goal become more achievable and avoids the trap of aiming the goal too high.

As Lao Tzu said

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”

Don’t worry about the destination of a thousand miles journey, let walk on and win the steps first.

The final thoughts

The book “Principle “Life and Work” is a great book that I read last week. This book is not only teaching me about how I should live my life but also about many valuable lessons related to the working environment.

And through the “4 life traps that make you become a loser in life and how to avoid it”, I hope that this article gives you some valuable lessons about the way how you can avoid falling into the trap of failure because of choosing the wrong things to focus on that I learned from Ray Dalio.

To sum up, let make a note of these 4 traps and practice reading them every morning after you wake up (put it in front of your mirror will be an ideal one, as I did) to remind yourself daily.

Author Photo

1. Don’t chase all the goals at the same time.

2. Don’t misunderstand between goals and desires.

3. Choose the wrong motivation.

4. Don’t dare to dream high.

And let them be your guideline to avoid life traps while increasing the opportunity to be a winner.


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