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How to get pumped up and finish hard tasks

Filed under: Podcasts — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

Popular author Daniel Pink has begun a new podcast and the first of two episodes is particularly good. It’s embedded below.

Pink interviews Dan McGinn, author of a new book titled Psyched Up – The Science of Mental Preparation. The interview is really cool. Want to know what Stephen Colbert does every night before his show to get pumped? Check it out.

McGinn says when he looked across the preparation rituals of all kinds of high-performing people, he found that they all did different things to fill the following three needs.

1. Reduce anxiety
2. Increase confidence
3. Elevate your energy level (often with music)

I loved this interview, and just happened to listen to it as I was walking back to my office to tackle something I really dreaded working on. Something that made me feel a lot of anxiety.

What I did was this: I spent 5 minutes writing, with pen and paper, about my anxieties around the task. I’ve done that with a number of fears lately and it’s worked great to put things in perspective and help me turn down that anxiety. Then I spent just a couple of minutes visualizing the last time I successfully did the thing. It felt great. Then I put on some Bassnectar radio on Pandora and turned the volume up high. I told myself I’d do one Pomodoro of the task at a time, but once the first 25 minute period was complete – I was flying high.

Try your own steps to fill those 3 needs. I’m pretty excited about this model as a new tool.

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