So much of being more effective has to do with being more rational, in the literal sense of the world.
Being rational is very hard to do. Cognitive biases and emotional walls abound.
CFAR, the Center for Applied Rationality, has a solid checklist that can be used to get better.
Some of their recommendations, as well as my thoughts, below.
1) Dealing with Cognitive Pain
Cognitive pain is caused by thoughts that hurt. Thoughts could hurt because a colleague is disagrees with a strong belief of yours; you realize a relationship is not what you though it was; you realize your career is not where you want it – or any of a variety of other painful thoughts.
CFAR has good advice on the mindsets required to deal with cognitive pain:
2) Fighting to Keep Your Mind Open
It is very, very difficult to explore all potential options and evaluate them without prejudice.
CFAR points to some key issues:
3) Moving From Arguing to Testing
In so many cases, we don’t know enough to come to conclusions. Rather than debate, we must test:
4) Quantifying Over Time
One of my favorite hacks is the 10/10/10 rule: consider how something will make you feel in ten days, ten months, and ten years.
CFAR expands on this:
5) Admitting Environment Matters
When you’re trying to change, you can’t just say: tomorrow it will be different. You need to reconstruct you environment to bring about the change.
The road to be our best selves, of course, runs straight through our minds.
If we can make our minds better, we can better.
Personally, I’m focusing on facing cognitive pain whenever it occurs.
While difficult to do, to date it has made my life better.