How the C.I.A. Can Increase Your Productivity, Energy and Outcomes

CIA | Hari Kalymnios | The Thought Gym

A bold claim.

What does the CIA have to do with any of that? Simply this. CIA doesn’t (in this blog) stand for Central Intelligence Agency. No. Rather it stands for Choices In Advance.

What I mean by this is that you can benefit greatly by making choices in advance. Many high performers I’ve looked at have this common trait. They make their choices ahead of time.

Steve Jobs always wore a black turtle neck and jeans, Mark Zuckerberg his grey t-shirt, jeans and trainers. Why?

Because deciding every day what to wear uses up decision making power and muscle that is best left to running billion dollar companies.

Think about you? When you’ve already chosen to go to the gym after work instead of delaying until the time and choosing then, are you more or less likely to go?

I use this CIA idea all the time. I have already decided – made the choice – in advance that I’m going to drink some water immediately upon waking. So my bottle of water is there ready for me. I don’t have to think about going to the tap and turning it on, getting a glass or anything.

I’ve already chosen what I’ll be having for breakfast. I’ve already chosen to finish my bottle of water before leaving the gym. I’ve already chosen that I’m going to go to certain gym classes on certain days so I don’t have a choice to make.

We only have a limited amount of willpower and decision making abilities a day. It wears out – you get fatigued.

If you can eliminate as many of the choices you might have, but choosing in advance and having repetitive choices when necessary, you’ll be able to make better choices in the moment for things you couldn’t have anticipated.

This C.I.A. idea was something I used when I managed big IT change plans. I didn’t leave it to the time that something came up before deciding whether we would roll the change back or not. When we were all energised, level headed and not lacking in sleep – the stakeholders and I would choose a plan of action under certain circumstances.

This meant the choices we made were better than making a choice at the time (when we might be hungry (affects decision making ability), tired, wanting to get the job finished – or whatever).

Try it out for yourself.

What kind of choices can you make in advance? 

Maybe like writer Neil Strauss, you choose to have your favourite lunches delivered each day while you are working on an important project so you don’t have to choose each day what you’re going to eat. And then you can focus on the job itself.

What do you think about this C.I.A. concept? Do you already apply it to some elements of your life? 

Let me know below. 


What do you think?