By Dr. Charles R. Hall
“People don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan.” In a survey of 1,100 executives, more than 80 percent said they were dissatisfied with their career progress and level of effectiveness. Why? They lacked the planning skills to aim for and achieve reasonable, attainable goals.
Planning is central to the attainment of all goals. It’s true for short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals, as well as those of either a personal or professional development nature. And, needless to say, an individual’s effectiveness at planning often has great impact on that individual’s effectiveness at achieving goals.
But despite the importance of planning, many managers shy away from it, believing it requires too much time. (And yet, somewhat ironically, these same managers are often the ones called upon to help create five-year plans for their companies!) Planning does take some time, but it needn’t be excessive if approached correctly. In fact, when done effectively, planning represents time well spent in that the “benefits” well exceed the “costs”.
What Planning Is and Isn’t
Perhaps some common misconceptions of what a plan is and what it does have caused many people to shy away from the planning process. First, planning is not deciding each step in detail in advance and then blindly following through. Nor is it taking a leisurely stroll through the mind in hopes of coming up with a loosely connected stream of thoughts.
Good planning lies somewhere in between these extremes. What’s more, a good plan should be looked on as a means for achieving goals, not as an end in itself. As Eisenhower once put it, “Plans are nothing, but planning is everything”. While it’s impossible to completely avoid crises and unexpected events either in business or in your personal life, you should still try to plan as much as you can. Good planning pays off by creating direction, excitement, and motivation. It also increases your ability to manage those around you.
Turning Goals Into Action
A key consideration in effective planning is learning how to transform goals into attainable steps (actions). Many businesspeople have trouble with this; consequently, many of their goals (especially long-term goals) may never get addressed adequately (or at all).
However, there is hope. By developing effective monthly, weekly and daily plans, businesspeople can more clearly see the attainable steps needed to fulfill their goals. And there are several approaches that can be used for this. One simple four-step method for converting goals into actions includes:
- Pinpoint intermediate “target” to hit.
- Decide on tangible measures to identify when each “target” has been reached.
- Create a plan to reach those tangible measures.
- Break the plan down into daily actions.
A similar way to transform goals into a workable plan of action is with “planning inventory.” First, list five major goals you’d like to achieve in your lifetime either regarding your business or personal life. Select the goal you’d like to achieve first. Next, identify the steps you must take to reach that goal, moving in chronological order. Finally, break down the first step into one-day tasks you can accomplish. Subsequent steps can be used to develop subsequent daily plans.
What you can realistically hope to attain each day is a matter for your own judgment. But you can make it easier by regularly referring to your planning inventory, and carefully assessing the tasks that go into the steps needed for achieving each goal. In a sense, these steps are interim targets, and they provide a good measure of your progress.
The Planning Process
The more often you plan, the better and more comprehensive those plans will become. As much as possible, try to integrate your short-term,, medium-term, and long-term goals. The following process, which details planning at all levels, can help bring all those goals together.
Step 1: Yearly planning. The best way to find time for important but easy-to-delay tasks is to include those chores in your annual “time budget”. Start by making a yearly plan that includes the long-range projects enough time so that you can make steady progress toward completing them. Then assign specific dates so you know when to work on these projects, what you will accomplish each time you work on them and how much time you’ll need. Mark those target dates in your calendar, and don’t break them! Keep the plan close at hand so you can easily check your rate of progress.
Step 2: Monthly planning. At the end of each month, take an hour to decide what you want to accomplish over the next month. Decide on plans for reaching those goals on a week-to-week basis. Include items from your list of long-range goals.
Step 3: Weekly planning. Every week, decide and list what tasks you want to accomplish; the priorities for each task; ant the time, effort and materials required to complete each task. Once a week (Friday is best), select the goals for the following week, and work up a plan for reaching those goals. Break the upcoming week’s goals down into lists of daily objectives, and detail these objectives on daily “to do” lists.
Step 4: Daily planning. Use the same procedure you used for weekly planning to sketch out each day. Start on the highest-priority task, working at it until you have finished it or can’t go any further. Then move on to the task with the next-highest priority. Be sure to leave 25-50 percent of you day unscheduled. Unexpected tasks or emergencies may arise that require you immediate attention. These types of top-priority tasks generally can’t be put off.
Many types of planning aids are available to help keep you on course. In addition, they can often help you manage an abundance of other information. Examples include pocket planning books, electronic planners, computer programs, simple “to do” lists and wall charts.
Rather than going overboard and buying the whole nine yards, you should examine each of these options carefully. Then choose the one that best fits your needs. Some people are happy with traditional pocket diaries, while others swear by the new electronic time management gadgets. Businesspeople who spend much time in their offices often opt for time management programs they can use on their computers. In any event, pick a planner based on your needs, and if it doesn’t work, try something else.
Whatever method you choose to log tasks, make sure you maintain your list! Little is gained if you buy a fancy notebook, mark down all of the next month’s projects and then forget about everything three weeks later! As the days and weeks pass, add or subtract items according to your needs and available time.
Starting a “To Do” List
A “to do” list, whether kept in a notebook or an electronic planner, is the key component of any time management planning method. Get in the habit of writing down what you want to accomplish. The 5 or 10 minutes you spend making out this list will help you reap enormous time management and productivity benefits.
First, make up a list of all the tasks you need to complete in the next week. Then develop priorities for the tasks on this list. As needed, include notations of calls to make, people to see, letter and reports to write, deadlines, assignments and priorities.
Of course, the most important items on this list are the tasks that need to be done that day. Make sure these tasks receive that highest priority! Include the deadlines for those tasks, as well as the estimated time it will take to complete the work and notations of any special requirements (“write a summary memo,” “send by overnight courier,” etc.).
Write out the list first thing in the morning or at the end of the previous workday. The latter generally works better, because you can arrive at work knowing what needs to be done. It’s a great way to help reduce stress.
The list can be as detailed or simple, as creative or straightforward as you like, although a certain amount of detail helps avoid confusion later. If a list merely says “Make follow-up call,” with no further elaboration, you may wonder hours later who it is you’re suppose to call! Some list keepers even go so far as to write the phone numbers of the people they’re supposed to call, to save time on having to look up the numbers later.
Periodically, consult the week’s master list of things to do, and update it as needed to reflect any relevant changes, such as that pressing new project that’s just been handed to you. But keep in mind a word of caution: Don’t get caught in an “activity trap,” wherein you’re doing tasks just to keep busy. Schedule some time for some of the less-tangible tasks that are hard to define – improving your work, planning for the long-term, developing creative ideas – and may be easy to put off.
The key to managing time is setting, starting and then finishing high-priority tasks. But how do you determine which tasks fall under that heading? The trick is to develop a ranking system:
“A” tasks have a high level of importance. They must be completed right away or by day’s end.
“B” tasks are of moderate importance. They should be done sometime, but not necessarily right away.
“C” tasks are of low-level importance. It would be nice to finish them, but getting them done isn’t essential. They can often be skipped or delegated.
According to Pareto’s Principle, 80 percent of the value or benefits will come from 20 percent of the activities you do. That’s why it’s important to set priorities and tackle the vital projects first. When setting priorities, determine which activities have the greatest effect on profits or success, and place them first. Focus on results, not activities. Don’t become so involved in finishing tasks or “busy work” that you lose sight of the real priority – completing high-payoff tasks.
One of the benefits of keeping this type of list is the satisfaction of crossing off each of item. Remember, a simple check mark or line drawn through each item is better than marking it into oblivion; you may want to look back at the list to see what you’ve accomplished (this will help you improve your ability to estimate time requirements for future projects). But, perhaps most important, ending the day with a list that is pretty well crossed off provides a great lift – and a great sense of accomplishment.
You miss 100% of the shots you never take. ~ Wayne Gretsky
Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all of your energies on a limited set of targets. ~ Nido Qubein
Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible. ~ Anthony Robbins
Write it down. Written goals have a way of transforming wishes into wants; cant’s into cans; dreams into plans; and plans into reality. Don’t just think it—ink it! ~ Author Unknown
Nothing happens unless first we dream.~ Carl Sandburg
When a goal matters enough to a person, that person will find a way to accomplish what at first seemed impossible. ~ Nido Qubein
The most important key to achieving great success is to decide upon your goal and launch, get started, take action, move. ~ Brian Tracy
Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. ~ Author Unknown
Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement. ~ Brian Tracy
Life takes on meaning when you become motivated, set goals and charge after them in an unstoppable manner. ~ Les Brown
Goals are not only absolutely necessary to motivate us. They are essential to really keep us alive. ~ Robert H. Schuller
It is more important to know where you are going than to get there quickly. Do not mistake activity for achievement. ~ Mabel Newcomber
Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal. ~ Elbert Hubbard
If one does not know to which port is sailing, no wind is favorable. ~ Seneca
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. ~ Henry Ford
The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man’s foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher. ~ Thomas Henry Huxley
Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible. ~ Doug Larson
Goals are dreams with deadlines. ~ Diana Scharf Hunt
To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.~ Kofi Ann
All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible. ~ Orison Swelt Marden
First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end!~ Aristotle
It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy of life lies in having no goal to reach. ~ Benjamin Mays
The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the far greater value than what you get.~ Jim Rohn
I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.~ Jimmy Dean
What is not started today is never finished tomorrow. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Every day you spend drifting away from your goals is a waste not only of that day, but also of the additional day it takes to regain lost ground.~ Ralph Marston
Goals are simply tools to focus your energy in positive directions, these can be changed as your priorities change, new one added, and others dropped.
~ O. Carl Simonton
If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things. ~ Albert Einstein
By losing your goal, you have lost your way.~ Kahill Gibran
What do you dread at work? Maybe it’s filling out expense reports. Making a cold call to a sales lead. Giving a long-delayed performance review to T.J. (aka “the Crier”). You dread it, you avoid it, you procrastinate. You check out Google News instead.
There’s a way out of this cycle, and it comes from self-help books. (We read them so you don’t have to.) Start by thinking about housecleaning, the most unpleasant part of our everyday existence, other than forwarded kitten emails. Here’s a surefire way to fight chore inertia. It’s called the 5-Minute Room Rescue, and it was proposed by the FlyLady, a “home executive” turned organization guru. You set a kitchen timer to five minutes. Then you rush to the dirtiest room in your house — the one you’d never let a guest see — and, as the timer ticks down, you start clearing a path. When the timer finally buzzes, you can stop with a clear conscience. Doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
The trick, of course, is that the dread is always worse than the thing that’s dreaded. So once you start cleaning house, you probably won’t stop at five minutes, especially when you see progress. You’ll get Big Mo on your side — or at least Big Mop — and an hour later, things will look great. By scaling down the goal — just five minutes! — you can overcome your own inertia.
In One Small Step Can Change Your Life, Dr. Robert Maurer of UCLA’s School of Medicine writes about his patient Julie, a divorced mother of two, who was 30 pounds overweight, depressed, and fatigued. He knew that the solution to her problems was exercise. He also knew that talking about thrice-weekly aerobics was likely to get him slapped. So he gave her a challenge: “How about if you just march in place in front of the television, each day, for one minute?”
That was the kick start she needed. One minute of low-intensity exercise did nothing to improve her health but everything to improve her attitude. When she came back for her next visit, she asked, “What else can I do with a minute a day?” Within a few months, as Dr. Maurer slowly stepped up Julie’s challenges, her resistance to a serious exercise program disappeared.
We’re all used to hearing about stretch goals, and when you feel empowered, stretch goals are useful ambition teasers. But when you feel overwhelmed, stretch goals are a recipe for paralysis. Michael Phelps needed a stretch goal. Julie needed a whisker goal, a target that was a hairsbreadth away from the status quo. We need these more modest steps because they help us get past the “startup costs” — the apprehension and fear — that deter us from doing the tasks we hate.
Ken Blanchard, author of the classic The One Minute Manager, knew that managers hated having to give feedback to employees. So he gave managers a whisker goal that he called “one-minute praisings.” He pointed out that most managers put off giving feedback until something goes very wrong, and then they swoop in with criticism. He called it “seagull management”: Managers fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everyone, and then fly out. He challenged managers to give frequent, quickie assessments. Concentrate on catching your employees doing something right, he counseled, and then reinforce it with immediate, specific praise.
Whisker goals are particularly well suited to our current moment. Adversity taps our strength. When you’ve just laid off someone, it feels like too much to bear to offer constructive criticism to another employee. When you’ve given up your bonus and had your budget cut, it feels like too much to consider going back for that master’s degree. In hard times, we retrench. We maintain. We certainly don’t stretch.
But retrenchment is the wrong response to adversity. Adversity calls for change, and change doesn’t arrive via a miracle: It arrives via a kick start. During World War II, the government needed to orchestrate a massive increase in industrial production at the exact same time as its most talented industrial minds were being called away to fight. Government officials trained new people to look for tiny steps forward, not big leaps. A training manual advised workers to “look for hundreds of small things you can improve. Don’t try to plan a whole new department layout — or go after a big new installation of new equipment. There isn’t time for these major items. Look for improvements on existing jobs with your present equipment.”
Change can start with small measures, and it can be rewarded with small prizes. Maurer cites a Toyota employee-suggestion program. The carmaker receives 1.5 million employee suggestions every year, and it holds an annual awards ceremony to celebrate the single best idea. The lucky employee gets a fountain pen. (Lehman Brothers handed out million-dollar bonuses. How’d that work out?)
Dread and inertia are the enemy. But you have a powerful ally: the kitchen timer. Set it for five minutes and get to work clearing a path.
By DAVE JOHNSON
What does it take to be successful? Genetics? A brilliant, innovative mind? Not really. Based on anecdotes from famous successful people, it is often the little things, applied routinely and diligently, that can push you over the edge. Lifehack recently rounded up a slew of productivity tips from famous names, and some of their advice is brilliant in its innocuousness. Here are some intriguing examples:
Vladimir Nabokov used 5-by-8 inch notecards to lay out his novels. The cards allowed him to compose and reorder his scenes quickly and efficiently.
Stephen King’s voluminous output is not, as most people suspect, due to a deal with Satan. Instead, King says that he writes 10 pages a day. Every day — including holidays.
Bill Gates cites being impulsive as a powerful attribute. He says that when you have a good idea, you should act on it right away.
Benjamin Franklin was notorious introspective. He self-assessed daily — each morning, he would ask himself “what good shall I do today?” Every evening he concluded with, “what good have I done to-day?”
Playwright Henrik Ibsen worked best by constantly reminding himself about the competition. His desk contained a portrait of his arch-rival August Strindberg.
Build in stress release. Bavaria’s King Otto began each day by going shooting. In this case, the details are a bit more complicated — he hunted his peasants, though he fired blanks and his advisors acted out getting shot for his entertainment. Perhaps you could just play Angry Birds.
By Jeff Nickles
I feel strongly that these are good habits that everyone should adopt to be more successful.
Students go to school to get an education for a better, more prosperous life. However, many of the good habits needed to truly be successful are learned outside the classroom. Developing good habits that will help individuals of all ages succeed can never start too early. These routines will help us create success for the rest of our lives. They are the tools we need to live life to the fullest!
Good habits everyone needs for success!
This list of good habits will serve you well whether you are a parent, student, entrepreneur or just a regular person. Learning these habits now will help everyone get ahead in life.
1. Get on a good schedule.
We need structure and routine in our lives. Our bodies expect it. They perform best when we operate on a regular schedule. We especially need to eat and sleep about the same time each day. If you are the parent of a young child, it is your job to teach this habit early. This routine stays with a person their whole life and helps them to develop good work habits. Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it!
2. Eat a healthy diet.
Our brains need the right food to perform at their peak. Don’t go to school or work on an empty stomach. Students need to train themselves early to eat a balanced and healthy diet. We tend to carry the habits we learn when we are young forward with us for most of our lives. Learning to eat right now can avoid many health issues down the road.
3. Learn to exercise.
We need physical activity to stay healthy. The benefits of regular exercise are well documented. We need to find exercise routines that are fun and match our individual tastes. Developing a good exercise routine is a habit that will increase both the quantity and quality of your life.
4. Practice gratitude.
It is so easy to get in the bad habit of envying what others have. The grass often seems greener on the other side of the fence. It is vitally important to learn gratitude. Practice thinking about the things you have to be thankful about. I do this with my daughter each evening when I put her to bed. I ask her to recall the good things that happened that day. We then take a few minutes and give thanks for those things. This helps us both to train ourselves to be grateful.
5. Develop good study habits.
Studying effectively is a skill. People that live life to the fullest are lifelong learners. They never stop trying new things. One needs to study and gather new knowledge in an effective and efficient manner. Learning how to study and acquire the knowledge to succeed doesn’t just occur naturally. It needs to be taught. Take a study skills course or ask others for tips on improving your study habits.
6. Never give up!
I remember being told in school that, “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” I think this is a Vince Lombardi quote and it is certainly true. It takes perseverance in life to enjoy any kind of success. I also remember hearing, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” These sayings come back to me time and again when I feel like giving up. Perseverance is a habit. It is one that can be developed just like any other.
7. Manage money wisely.
Why don’t they teach a good personal finance class in school? Students need to learn to earn, save, budget, track, and wisely spend money to be successful in life. Good money habits can never start too early. There are a lot of good resources out there to help. I recommend taking a look at what Dave Ramsey has to offer for various ages. Of course, you can also find a lot of fantastic money tips reading blogs!
8. Respect the environment.
It seems to be hip to be “green”, but being a good steward of our environment is really not that new. Wise parents have been teaching these principles to their children for ages. We only have this one world and we depend on it for our survival. Every person needs to do their part to protect what we have. Develop habits now that will help you to be a good environmental citizen for a lifetime!
9. Strive for excellence!
Why do a job if you aren’t going to do it right? We need to develop the habit of giving every task our best effort. Excellence should be the standard we strive for in all we do. We can’t start letting ourselves or our children do the least possible to get by. If we do, then they are going to receive less than the best results from their work. Teaching excellence now will ensure habits for success will carry forward.
10. Live the Golden Rule.
“Do unto others…” is a guideline we should all follow. Think of the conflict and tragedy that could have been avoided if people simply applied the Golden Rule in all their relationships. If we make this a habit, then we will find a lot more success in life. Respecting people of all races and beliefs is a hallmark of living life to the fullest.
11. Practice good hygiene.
You really can dress for success! Habits like brushing your teeth twice a day and washing your hands regularly not only contribute to health, but also lead to routines that give one a sharper appearance. First impressions are powerful and are mostly derived from the way a person looks. Like it or not this is true. Start today to ensure you do what it takes to leave a lasting good impression.
12. Always tell the truth!
The truth often comes out whether we want it to or not. Lying generally just complicates the situation and makes us look bad. Look at the scandals many of our politicians fall into because they fail to admit the truth. It is much better to just develop the habit of telling the truth even when it is difficult. This will save you a lot of heartache and misery in life.
13. Ask for what you want.
Develop the habit of asking for what you want. How else are you going to get it? It is really that simple. Often, when I ask, I am amazed at how quickly I get exactly what I wanted. Just give this one a try. If you are a parent, teach your children to ask others for what they want. This is truly a behavior you want to come naturally. It will build confidence and self-esteem that will serve your kids forever!
14. Be a regular reader.
Being a good reader is a skill that often separates the good students from those that struggle. Becoming a good reader takes practice. The more you read and are read to, the better you get. Reading has numerous benefits. It builds one’s vocabulary, expands the imagination, and rekindles creativity. Make reading a routine!
15. Be punctual.
Arriving on time is important to one’s success. People always notice when you are late. It is an indicator of whether you mean what you say and can be trusted. Do not introduce doubt about this into people’s minds by showing up later than expected. Create the habit of being punctual now and you won’t have to worry.
16. Respect authority.
Failure to respect those in authority positions can lead to all kinds of problems in life. It doesn’t matter whether it is your boss, a police officer, or a university dean. People in authority have a job to do and often worked hard to get into the position they are in. They deserve to be treated with proper manners and reverence. Learning to say, “Yes ma’am” and “Yes sir” will get you noticed in a positive way.
17. Tend to your spiritual needs.
We cannot ignore our spiritual needs and truly live a full and rewarding life. We must recognize that there is a higher power and pursue our faith regularly. We may not exercise our beliefs in exactly the same way, but I encourage you to find what works for you and explore it to it’s depths. A solid spiritual life will serve you well.
Good habits developed now will last a lifetime!
These are good habits you want to set in concrete now. The quicker you make these habits that you live by, the better life you will experience. If you are a parent, then print this list and work on it with your children. Back to school is an excellent time to focus on new habits that will last a lifetime!
“If you want your life to be more rewarding, you have to change the way you think.”
“For everyone of us that succeeds, it’s because there’s somebody there to show you the way out.”
1. Keep your focus in the right place.
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
This is a pretty clever tip that can have a larger influence on your life than you may imagine. Within your mind there is something called Reticular Activation System (or RAS). It can help you because what you focus your thoughts on this system will start to try to find evidence of in your surroundings.
Since you can only take in a small part of all impressions what you focus on becomes very important.
In fact, changing what you focus on can seem to change your world radically.
When you focus on what you have and appreciate it or focus on what you want a lot of things will start to “pop up” in your reality. It was actually there all along.
But you can only see it when you shift your focus. If you focus on what you don’t have your RAS will only help you to find evidence of that.
By being thankful and making appreciating a regular habit you cannot only quickly change a sour mood into a positive one. You can also have more of what you want and kinda automatically find solutions and useful information that can help you to achieve what you are focused on. An external reminder or two – for instance post-it notes on your fridge – can be helpful to keep your focus in the right place in your day to day life.
2. Redefine failure.
“I do not believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process.”
“Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.”
“I believe that one of life’s greatest risks is never daring to risk.”
One of the big things holding people back from getting what they want is the fear of failure. But as written many times before, failure can be a very helpful learning experience. In fact, without failure you’ll probably never learn the things you need to achieve the success you dream of. So, instead of seeing failure as something big and scary, redefine it in your mind as a learning experience. Two more tips for dealing with failure in a useful way are:
- Create an abundance mentality. A scarcity mentality tells you that there is always a lack. An abundance mentality tells you that there is always an abundance. That there are always more goals that you can score, business opportunities to find and dates to be had. If you miss one, then learn what you can from it. But don’t let it drag you down. Use the first tip in this article and bring your focus back to what you want once again. Focus on the abundance. This will not only make it easier to take a chance on something but is also a good thing to focus on to reduce those negative feelings, those fears of failure that to a large degree is created within your mind because of a perceived lack.
- Focus on the process. What this means is that you just focus on what you are doing. You don’t think about the possible outcomes of what you are doing when you are doing what you do. You detach from that. You just keep your mind focused on doing the work. You don’t think about how you may fail, disappoint yourself or have great success. You don’t think about how you may disappoint, amuse or in some other way be seen through the eyes of others. You just focus on what you do. And so what you do becomes enjoyable even though it may contain some stumbling or failures. You can read more about focusing on the process and detaching from the outcome in The Relaxifying Secret to Success.
3. You are fuelling your own fear.
“Whatever you fear most has no power – it is your fear that has the power.”
Fear is mostly just a loop of thoughts that you are feeding with new energy. When you accept what is and face your fear then you stop feeding it and it dissipates.
So the key is to accept. Accepting what is stops the flow of energy back into the fear. One way to do this is by surrendering to the emotion. And then to take the action that you fear. By surrendering you remove or at least weaken the negative emotion that is holding you back. By taking the action your mind gets the proof that whatever you feared wasn’t really that scary.
Here’s one way to surrender to your emotion:
When you feel a negative feeling then accept that feeling. Don’t try to fight it or to keep it out (like many of us have learned throughout life). Say yes to it.
Surrender and let it in. Observe the feeling in your mind and body without labelling or judging it. If you let it in – for me the feeling then often seems to physically locate itself to the middle of my chest – and just observe it for maybe a minute or two something wonderful happens. The feeling just weakens and sometimes vanishes completely.
4. Do the right thing.
“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.”
This is a real interesting one. But how do you do it? How do you keep doing the right thing when nobody’s looking and checking up on you? I certainly don’t have a complete answer for that but two useful things I’ve found are these:
Make your own rules. It seems to me that if you are to stick to doing the right thing then you need to take your eyes from the rules and values set by people around you. You need to define yourself and what you’re about. If you play by other people’s rules then you’ll be answering to those people. And it will be pretty easy to slip up or cheat when no-one is watching. But if you make your own rules then you answer to yourself. When you are accountable to yourself instead of the world around you it will be easier to do what you feel is right more consistently.
Get off dependence on external validation. If you are dependent on external validation – people telling you that you are doing a good job etc. – then it will be hard to play by your own rules. You’ll constantly be looking outward to see how you are doing and adapt to what people are telling you. And if you’re hooked on such validation then it will be tempting to just cheat or skip doing the right thing when nobody is watching, because there is no-one there to praise you anyway. You can read more about external validation – and about replacing it with internal validation – in 9 Great Ways to Make Yourself Absolutely Miserable.
5. You get what you give. In more than one way.
“What I know for sure is that what you give comes back to you.”
This is of course a classic piece of advice. And I believe it’s pretty accurate. People tend to adapt and reciprocate. They treat you as you treat them. But lately I’ve also been thinking about how this seems to work in another way.
It seems to me that what you do to others you also directly do to yourself. If you pour out a lot of negativity out into the world then you also pour that energy into yourself. For the moment, it may feel good to gossip about your boss. But I believe that much of the negativity that you find in your life is caused by this behaviour. It may not be directly tied to what you said or did. But it seems to me like you cannot hurt someone without, in some way, hurting yourself too.
The more negativity you dole out the worse you tend to feel in your everyday life. The more problems you find and cause. The more you overreact and feel a sad funk arising from nowhere in particular. Maybe it’s because giving out much negativity causes you to focus your RAS more on the negative things in your life.
6. Let go of the past. Live in the present.
“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.”
One of the best things you can do to improve your life and feeling of wellbeing is to let go of what has happened. To not be dwelling on whatever negative things that happened in the past for too long. But how do actually you do it?
I have found a few good tips so far. They work well, and will probably work even better as time passes and I get better at using them.
The first one is to ask yourself throughout the day or when you feel like you’re spiralling down into negative thoughts: what’s in it for me? What is in for me by thinking about these thoughts?
I often realize that there is very little in it for me. Negative thoughts or replaying a negative memory over and over in my mind isn’t helping that much. Sure, you can derive a sort of pleasure – a sort of importance – by feeling like a victim or by hating someone and secretly plotting for some kind of revenge. But really what you are doing is wasting your time and energy.
That’s what’s in it for you. For instance, someone who is hated might not feel good about it. Or s/he may on the other hand not even notice it. It is always the hater that suffers the worst, that carries around the self-imposed curse. S/he spends hours, days or months in a cloud of negative thoughts that spill over into the rest of his/her life too.
You have already read about the second tip: focus on what you want. And focus on the abundance instead of the scarcity.
The third tip is to learning to spend more and more time in the present rather than the past or a projected future. And the best practical way I have found so far to do that is ties back to the beginning of this article. Pick up a copy of Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” and if you like, start watching/listening to the webinars.
7. It’s up to you what happens.
“We are each responsible for our own life – no other person is or even can be.”
When we are young other people are responsible for our lives. I think that one sign of a mature person would be that he or she takes 100% responsibility for his/her own life. Still, there is often a lingering feeling that we may want someone else to still be responsible for our lives.
One way that this manifests is in how people go looking for magic pills. Instead of buckling down, taking responsibility for their own life and working step by step towards a goal there is a need for a book, a program, a pill or something we can buy that will make our problem go away. Like how mom or dad used to fix your problems and make them go away.
Now I’m not saying that I haven’t been looking for magic pills. Maybe everyone needs to go through such phases. But I think that when you can let go of such searching then you are probably on a road that will bring you better results than your search for magic pills did.
Why? Well, you realize that you need to be behind the wheel and in control. And when you stop spending time looking for the next magic pill you become focused. You realize that no book can give you more than the knowledge. You realize that you need to take action in your life and create your life in the way you want it.
And now all those books you bought may become more useful. Because you are no longer looking at them as a magic pills that will “fix you”. You see them as roadmaps that can guide you along your path.
By Lynn Bode
While you can’t wave a magic wand and make your resolution come true, there are some easy steps to take that will make it easier to fulfill your promise to yourself.
On average only about 20% of us keep our New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, some of the biggest failures are found in fitness resolutions. But don’t let the statistics get you down. By following the tips above you’ll be better equipped to fall into the successful 20% category.
By Katie-Anne Gustafsson
Where do you want to be 5 years from now, 10 years from now, or even this time next year? These places are your goal destinations and although you might know that you don’t want to be standing still in the same place as you are now, it’s not always easy to identify what your real goals are.
Many people think that setting a goal destination is having a dream that is there in the far distant future, but will never be attained. This proves to be a self-fulfilling prophesy because of two things. Firstly, that the goal isn’t specifically defined enough in the first place, and secondly, it remains a remote dream waiting for action which is never taken.
Defining your goal destination is something that you need to take some time to think carefully about. The following steps should get you started on a journey to those goals.
- Make a list of your goal destinations. Goal destinations are the things that are important to you. Another word for them would be ambitions, but ambitions sound like something which outside of your grasp, whereas goal destinations are certainly achievable if you are willing to put in the effort working towards them. So what do you really want to do with your life? What are the main things that you would like to accomplish with your life? What is it that you would really regret not doing if you suddenly found you had a limited amount of time left on the earth? Each of these things is a goal. Define each goal destination in one sentence.If any of these goals is a stepping stone to another one of the goals, take it off this list as it isn’t a goal destination.
- For each goal, you need to think about the time frame you’d ideally like to have accomplished this goal. This is where the 5 year, 10 year, next year plan comes into it. Some goals will have a “shelf life” because of age, health, finance, etc, whereas others will be up to you as to when you would like to achieve them by.
Now comes the more intense part of the goal destination setting – devising the planning of your journey towards arriving at each of your goal destinations. Follow the step by step plan for each of your goals individually.
- Write each goal destination at the top of a new piece of paper.
- For each goal write down what is it that you need and don’t have now that will allow you achieve that goal.This could be some kind of education, career change, finance, a new skill, etc. Any “stepping stone” goals you removed from part 1 of the goal destination identification process will fit into this exercise. If any of these smaller “goals” have sub-goals, go through the same process with these so that you have precise action points to work with.
- Under each item listed in 2 above, write down the things that you will need to do in order to complete each of the steps required to complete the goal.These items will become a check-list. They are a tangible way of checking how you are progressing towards reaching your goal destinations. A record of your success!
- Using the time frames you created in part 2 of the goal destination identification process, on each goal destination sheet write down the year in which you will complete the goal by. For any goal which has no fixed completion date, think about when you would like to have accomplished it by and use that as your destination date.
- Working within the time frames for each goal destination, make a note of realistic dates by which you will complete each of the small steps.
- Now take an overview of all your goal destinations and make a schedule of what you need to do this week, this month, this year – in order to progress along the road towards your goal destinations.
- Write these action points on a schedule so that you have definite dates on which to do things. At the end of the year, review what you have done this year, mark things off the check-lists for each goal destination and write up the schedule with the action points you need for the next year.
Although it may take you several years to, for example, get the promotion you desire because you first need to get the MBA which means getting a job with more money to allow you to finance a part-time degree course, you will ultimately be successful in achieving your goal destination because you have planned out not only what you want, but how to get it, and have been pro-active towards achieving it. Congratulations!