How To Optimise Actions

In my previous post I elaborated mapping from the MAKS model. We learned how to draw a map of a problem that will help to action. The second item on the MAKS model is more than taking action; it is a small cycle that repeats a couple of times and it consists of:

  1. Action
  2. Observe
  3. Adjust

If we stick to a cycle of mapping and action we will end up doing the same thing over and over again. The cycle turns into a habit and over time conditions will change and we continue our habit. But if the conditions change then the habit will not serve our purpose and it will end up obstructing development. To prevent this I suggest that we observe what we do and evaluate the outcome.

E.g. if I write an application for something and it is rejected, then I will not get closer to success by writing another one. I have to observe and evaluate the process and see if there is anything I can do better to optimise my application.

If we observe something we can change then we can optimise our actions by adjusting the path we chose, and then try again. Maybe we get success or maybe we fail again. If we cannot see anything we can do better, then it is time to take the next step in the MAKS model – knowledge.

How To Map Your Situation

In my post about how to take action I presented the MAKS model to you. In this post I will elaborate the first item on the list: Mapping.

Follow these 6 simple steps to visualise your problem and solution. You can use mapping in any situation in life whether it is small or big matters. There is no right way to do it and do not try to be perfect. Mapping is a way to visualise your situation, it is not a piece of art for evaluation! I have made an example with numbers that correspond the items below. It took me about 15 minutes to make on the backside of an old time schedule I had in my bag and scanned it with my iPhone.

Mapping example

  1. Sketch your world and pin your location. After doing this many times you my have different locations on your map that symbolise e.g. job; family; school; sports etc.
  2. Zoom in and draw your location in the landscape (e.g. mountaintop; valley; water)
  3. What is your problem? – Be very concrete and narrow your problem down. If you are unhappy (abstract) then ask why you are unhappy? Put it down in one or two words.
  4. What do you want instead of this problem? Write that down too.
  5. How do you get there? Draw possible ways to get there and name them.
  6. Choose your path

In my next post I will show how to walk the path you chose; i.e. the second item in the MAKS model: Action, observe, adjust.

How To Take Action

“To be surprised, to wonder, is beginning to understand,” said the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset. To be surprised we need to act, we have to do something that will foster astonishment. It is not enough to read, to think or to observe what other people do. “The more we live by our intellect, the less we understand the meaning of life,” said Leo Tolstoy.

To find the meaning of life and to define ourselves we need to interact with other people. Do not isolate yourself! If we live in isolation we will find ourselves on a lonely mountaintop in stagnation and tedious boredom. When we feel down or bad we tend to isolate, but what we really need to do is interact with other people, we have to do something that will bring surprise and understanding.

Based on action learning I have made a model that can lead to action and understanding; I call it the MAKS model.

  1. Mapping
  2. Action, observe, adjust
  3. Knowledge
  4. Sharing

The MAKS model serves to give an overview of a situation and helps to create reflection and action. When we reflect on our actions we reach understanding and that is the most important part to get on a good life path. We start by mapping the situation (see mental maps) by defining the topic we need to learn about. Then we choose at good way on the map and clarify what we expect to experience on this path.

Next we take action and test our theory in practise. On our way we observe the results of our actions and if the outcome does not agree with what we expected, then we adjust the map and try again.

Finally we reflect on the experiences the path has presented and share these reflections with our social environment. This will create feedback that we can use to map a new situation that will take us even further in life.

In my following posts I will elaborate each item.

How To Get Peace Of Mind

Climb a mountain and sit there alone for five years and you will gain abundance of wisdom – but will that make you happy or just plain bored? It is important to find a balance. In my posts about mental maps I have suggested that we see our life as a boundless landscape full of mountains. To get what we need in life we have to climb a mountain and optimise our way through life. When we get to the top we see another mountaintop that we would like to climb.

Sometimes the climbing seems overwhelming and we just want to stay where we are and get some peace of mind. It makes good sense to slow down now and then to reenergise, but be careful not to strike root in that mountaintop. Staying on that mountaintop will give peace of mind, but only for a while since the human nature is to strive for something better. At the top we will be happy at first but after a while we will notice other mountaintops that seem more attractive.

We need to slow down to get peace of mind, but we cannot allow ourselves to come to a standstill. If we do, then stagnation and idleness will occur and that will be destructive for our life. Much to often people stay where they are because it seems more secure to stay in something known than to leap into something unknown – even if the unknown is better then people hesitate.

We want security and stability but at the same time we want to be happy. To be happy we need to go new ways and choose other mountains to climb. These needs seem to conflict but remember that nothing in our world is static; everything is dynamic and in constant movement. This means that you need to find a good balance between idleness and change.

  1. Climb a mountain
  2. Rest at the top, find peace of mind and find out where you want to go next.
  3. Set off and climb down again and climb a new top.

This is a simple cycle that will optimise your life path: Take action, recover, take action, recover … etc.

In my next post I will explore happiness.

How To Optimise A Choice

The sum of all the choices we make will tell if we chose an optimal path through life. But there are so many combinations of choices that we cannot possible know which combination makes up the best path. That is why we have to settle with, what seems to be a good choice. We base a good choice on experience and intuition and by taking action when the opportunity presents itself.

In biology the genes ability to reproduce is illustrated by the concept of fitness landscapes. We can use this concept when optimising our choices in life. A fitness landscape is full of mountains and valleys, just like I described the mental map. Each mountain has its own optimum and each valley has its own minimum, but only one mountain is the highest and only one valley is the lowest.

On a fitness landscape all other mountains and valleys each represent a local optimum or minimum. We can optimise our path through life by choosing to climb the highest mountain that we can see from where we stand at that moment. When we have climbed that mountain and reached a local optimum we might see that there is an even higher mountain behind it. To climb that mountain we have to climb down again. This illustrated that life goes up and down and there is no easy way. We can choose to go around the mountains but then we will always be in the valleys and choose the poorest choices in life.

In a landscape with million of local optimums we cannot know which combination forms the best path in life unless we have tried to live out all possible lives. We only have one life and that is why we have to optimise our choices and accept these choices and focus on the good experiences they will bring.

  1. See your mental map as a fitness landscape.
  2. Make what seems to be a good choice at a given moment in life.
  3. Focus on the good things that choice will bring.
  4. Do not worry about the choices you did not make.
  5. See all the new mountains that present themselves and make a new choice

This will guarantee a good path in life!


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