In poker and in life, doing less of something might often be a lot more critical to your success than doing more. The simple fact is,
everyone doesn’t start from the same baseline when striving for a goal. For example, let’s say that 10 people want to quit their jobs and play poker full time, professionally. All 10 people want to make somewhere around $50,000-$60,000 a year, playing 30 hours a week. Now on the surface, this seems like a very attainable goal, and all 10 people are fully committed to achieving it. However, the problem lies in the fact that most people are starting their journey with a ton of negative habits weighing them down. Doing less of these activities is, for many people, the absolute best thing they can do before they even start on their poker journey. Let’s dive into it.

1) Less Impulsive Cravings, More Planned Activities

Dopamine is a great feeling, it’s a ton of fun, and it’s prebuilt into every single one of us. Learning how to control it? That’s the difficult part. Activities that cause dopamine spikes can be referred to often as “instant gratification” and the problem is, for most people it’s a first instinct instead of planned relaxation. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not the “fun police” and I’m not telling you to work 24/7 until you pass out. Dopamine is healthy in doses, and it is definitely part of a balanced lifestyle. Learning how to control it and do less of it is a significant step towards reaching your goals.

Instant gratification can come in many forms. Toxic friends who have no goals or vision in life pressuring you to quit working early and hit the bars, Social Media filling up 5-6 hours of your day with mindless scrolling, Drugs, Alcohol, Porn, Fast Food, the list goes on.

The crazy thing is, sometimes you don’t even notice you’ve gone off track due to chasing a dopamine rush from one of these things. This is because pretty much everyone will compulsively want the instant gratification of one of these activities, and will have to fight against it in order to get anything done in life. Boredom is a very common trigger to these things, because most people’s first instinct is typically to find a release in some form of instant gratification. There is no easy fix to this, it’s been pre built in society as it stands today. With a world of information overload, people’s attention spans have shrunk to nothing. Jumping from one craving to another, satisfying that need for instant pleasure. Something that can certainly help you cut back from these things is simply planning your day in advance. Whether you like to plan by the day, week, month or year, simply writing out a few tasks you want to accomplish the next day before bed will give you something to latch onto instead of falling into the dopamine traps surrounding you.

You can use this strategy to allocate time specifically for fun activities. You want to spend a night partying with your friends? Plan it in advance and use it as a reward for accomplishing your tasks that day. Set up checks and balances by asking your friend or significant other to hold you accountable. Not only will this help you get a lot more done, and help you reach your goals much quicker and easier, but it will rid you of that guilty feeling you get while you are relaxing and enjoying time with friends, TV, video games or alcohol. Do less of these activities and plan them in advance, and once you’ve begun on your path to correcting these mistakes, start taking a look at the second thing you should be doing less of, studying.

2) Less Information, More Focus

Okay, so don’t take that too seriously, I’m not telling you to stop studying poker. Obviously that is an integral part of your long term success. However, the way you study may need to be altered a bit, to allow more focus and less distraction. Ask yourself, how many different poker sources do you get your information from? This includes, but is not limited to: Books, Courses, YouTube Channels, Websites, Forums, Study Groups, Articles, etc. The reality is, we have the exact opposite issue than what we had 20+ years ago, we have too much information. If you are starting to really dig in and try and improve your poker game in this day and age, you probably have experienced this. Information overload is a very real thing and can cause a ton of subsequent issues such as mental fatigue and over analyzing everything. For example, let’s say someone is trying to lose weight. This person has a goal, and wants to achieve it, but has no idea how. They’ve never worked out, gone on a diet or learned about nutrition. They start reading every article and book, enroll in a course, get a membership at a gym, and start watching 15 different YouTubers in the fitness niche. Quickly a problem arises where they simply don’t know where to start, or who to listen to. One person says workout for an hour every day, another person says that will hurt you, and you should only workout 3 days a week.

One book told you to go vegan, one book told you to load up on lean meats. Soon the information that’s been input into this person’s brain overloads, mental fatigue sets in, and they simply want to give up all together. Have you ever heard of the phrase “paralysis by analysis”? It simply means getting so caught up in trying to decide what to do, that you eventually become paralysed and forget to do anything at all. Don’t worry, this phenomenon happens to literally everyone at some point or another. “Should I go for a run?” “Should I start a business?” “Should I ask this girl out?” We over analyze the situation to the point of insanity, without actually ever doing anything. A common trigger of “paralysis by analysis” is information overload, or listening to too many people at once. When you are looking to level up in your poker career, you should find 1-2 sources for knowledge and information and stick to them, and them alone. Challenge yourself to really focus in and study the skills and tools that allowed the instructor to find success. Focus and learn what they are telling you, then turn around and immediately start implementing it. Don’t get caught up in analysis, but instead find a trustworthy source and apply what you are taught. This is the quickest way to find success, in poker and in anything in life.

3) Less Instant Decisions, More Slow Adjustment

When you look at your life, you can probably see more than one issue that needs fixing. That’s totally normal for us as humans, we all have problems that we need to work through, adapt around and overcome. What you want to be wary of is trying to fix everything at once, because it simply will not work.

Instead of trying to do a complete 180° and instantly change your entire identity, simply choose 1-2 things and focus on cutting back and doing a little less of them. If a big problem for you is watching too much TV, start planning when you can watch it and dial back on the number of days you watch it. If you watch TV 7 days a week currently, plan 4 days over the next week where you can watch it. Then the next week, dial that back to 3. Then 2, the 1, you get the point. If you drink too much alcohol, start slowing dialing that back in increments, again planning when and how you will indulge. Making the conscious decision as to when and how you will relax and enjoy yourself will have a great impact on your success in life as well as poker.

With these things in mind, I challenge you to find one thing that you should probably be doing less of, and plan out how you will enjoy that activity over the next month. Write out for each week how often you want to do the activity and for how long. What time of day will you do it? Will you do it before or after you work or study? Will you do it on weekends only? Find someone to hold you accountable to it. Beginning to work this out consciously will also quite possibly allow you to enjoy the activity more, because you planned it in advance so you will have no guilt in doing it. Start with one simple thing, work slowly towards improving and planning that area of your life, and you’ll find yourself slowly becoming the person you need to be in order to reach your goals.

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If you would like to listen to BenCB talk through all these issues and more, make sure you check out “Why Doing LESS Can Help You Succeed” from the Raise Your Edge Channel Below.