Summer is upon us! That means sunny cookouts, river dips, outdoor concerts, vegan ice cream experiments, and fun with friends! Hooray! It also means you’re probably getting a summer bucket list ready.
WHY SUMMER A BUCKET LIST IS OVERRATED
Many of us make a big summer bucket list every year, only to stroll into fall having completed almost none of our goals. If you look through my old journals, you’ll see wild lists titled Summer 2015, Summer 2016 and Summer 2017, all crammed with ideas, projects, trips, and self-improvements I’d like to make over the three month season.
And almost every year, I completed almost none of them.
No one wants to end the summer feeling like a failure. So this summer, don’t get caught in that same overambitious trap. When your summer bucket list looms too large, it can actually make you less productive and less successful.
The very act of planning to accomplish too many goals can be the thing that stands in our way. Here’s what you should do instead.
SET ONE BIG, SLIGHTLY SCARY GOAL FOR YOUR SUMMER. JUST ONE.
Yes, we all have a lot of goals, but summer is not the time to wear all those hats. Choose one big goal for yourself instead of creating a whole, daunting summer bucket list
Sorry, you can’t give full attention to all of them. That will leave you deep in September with a handful of half-baked ventures—having read only a book and a half, eaten a few more veggies, and journaled for three weeks about how you could start your business. That’s not really the change or success any of us are looking for.
If you truly want to progress, you need to choose only one goal and dedicate your summer to it, whole-heartedly.
That could mean setting aside a dedicated one to five hours a week to work on a project or being even more immersive and taking time off work. But if you want to succeed, you need to narrow your focus and set one massive summer goal for yourself. There will never be a better time.
MAKE IT SPECIFIC AND ATTAINABLE.
Don’t just claim you want to run faster. That’s a loose goal. Say you want to run a five-minute mile.
Don’t just casually tell friends that you want to learn German. Anyone can learn a few phrases and claim they learned some German over the summer—that’s an easy out. Say you want to be conversational in German by the end of the summer.
If you truly want to succeed, be specific about your goals and know your limits. The more specific and honest you are with yourself, the less wiggle room you leave for failure in a few months.
BUT ALSO A LITTLE SCARY.
If your goal didn’t take you a little bit out of your comfort zone, you probably would have done it already. Stop playing things so safe and take a little risk. You are capable of incredible things. You just need to build the confidence and trust in yourself.
Challenge yourself to leave your comfort zone this summer, whether it’s a professional artist’s workshop halfway across the globe or learning how to swim despite your fear of water.
Scooting just beyond your comfort zone is the best way to ensure personal growth. And that’s all success really is, isn’t it?
More isn’t always better. Dream big, and use these three months to make one vision a reality. Not only will you feel more accomplished, you’ll actually be more accomplished than you would if you had tried to tackle your entire list. So go get it! Ditch the summer bucket list, take charge of your summer and achieve one of your dreams!
This article was written by Jordyn Cornier, a freelance filmmaker, writer, dancer-choreographer, and founder of Whimsy Media.
Have you ever heard someone say, “I wish I had that kind of willpower,” when her friend orders the salad instead of the fried chicken? It’s as if they are convinced some people were born with supreme self-control. But self-discipline is a learned skill, not an innate characteristic.
A lack of self-discipline can be a real problem. According to the 2011 Stress in America Survey, 27% of people believe a lack of willpower is the biggest barrier to making healthy lifestyle changes.
Interestingly, most of the respondents thought they could increase their willpower. But they though they needed more free time to do it.
There’s no evidence however, that increased leisure time equates to increased self-discipline. In fact, it doesn’t matter how much time you have. What matters is what you choose to do with your time.
Similar to building physical muscle, developing mental muscle requires intentional exercise. Over time, your self-discipline muscles can be built.
Here are six exercises that will increase your self-discipline:
1. Acknowledge your weaknesses.
Ignoring your pitfalls won’t make them go away. So whether eating cookies is the downfall to your weight loss or checking social media sabotages your productivity, acknowledge your weaknesses. Recognizing your weaknesses is the first step in creating positive change.
2. Create a clear plan.
You won’t magically wake up one day with superhuman willpower. Instead, you need a strategy to help you build mental muscle.
Whether you want to increase good habits–like going to the gym more often–or you want to eliminate bad habits–like watching too much TV–you’ll need a plan to turn your intentions into action. Outline clear action steps you will start taking on a daily basis.
3. Remove temptations.
You won’t gain self-discipline to lose weight if you keep your house stocked with junk food. Instead, you’ll wear yourself out trying to resist every cookie, brownie, and chip.
Limiting temptations can help you slowly build more self-discipline over time. If your weakness involves checking social media every two minutes, find an app that blocks access to Facebook. Or, if you can’t resist overspending when you go to the store, leave your credit card at home and carry cash only.
4. Practice tolerating discomfort.
It’s natural to try to avoid pain. But avoiding short-term discomfort often leads to long-term problems. And every time you give in, you’ll reinforce to yourself that you can’t handle distress.
Practice allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable and prove to yourself that you can stand it. Whether that means running on the treadmill for one more minute than you thought you could or resisting the urge to pick up a cigarette, train your brain to see that pain isn’t the enemy.
5. Visualize the rewards.
Remind yourself of the things you stand to gain when you resist temptation. Visualize yourself meeting your goals and reaping the benefits of self-discipline.
Write down a list of all the things you’ll gain when you stick to your goals. Read over the list when you’re tempted to give up. Spend a few minutes picturing yourself being successful and remind yourself how you’ll feel when you succeed.
6. Recover from mistakes.
If you’re stressed about a big presentation, you may talk yourself into skipping your workout. Or, if you’re excited about a big deal you closed, you may convince yourself to let your good habits slide.
Progress doesn’t usually come in a straight line. And just because you make a mistake doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Making mistakes is part of the process to becoming better.
The way you recover from those mistakes is what matters most. Learning from your missteps and committing to doing better next time can help you build self-discipline.
Keep Trying and Reap the Rewards
Boosting your self-control is the key to creating a better life. With a little mental strength training, everyone has the ability to develop more willpower. The best news is, improving self-control in one area of your life can lead to increased willpower in other areas of your life.
This article was written by Amy Morin, a psychotherapist, a lecturer at Northeastern University, and a mental strength trainer. She’s also an international bestselling author. Her books, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do and 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do, have been translated into more than 30 languages.
What you do when you first get to the office sets the tone for the rest of your day. Learning how to prioritize and laser-focus can mean the difference between knocking out your to-do list before noon or getting knocked out by it. Instinctively, the first thing most of us do is check our email. And that’s a huge mistake, says Julie Morgenstern, a time-management expert who literally wrote the book on this (seriously, it’s called Never Check Email in the Morning).
Doing so first thing in the a.m. is the fastest way to make a detour into distraction city and kill your productivity. Email is reactive, not proactive, which lets outside forces control your time and agenda. So the real question is: What exactly should we be doing? To get answers, we asked super successful people killing it in business, fitness, and life in general what they do to be productive (and resist the siren call of their inbox) the second they step foot into work.
1. Trap your anxieties on paper.
“The first thing I do when arriving at ‘work’ (which is usually my wooden table next to a living wall in my house) is journal. I use a notebook like The 5-Minute Journal to clarify my goals and priorities for the day, as well as perform a basic gratitude exercise. If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll drink pu-erh tea [a type of fermented dark Chinese tea] and free-associate for another two or three pages in a separate notebook. This often allows me to trap my anxieties on paper so I can be more productive with less stress throughout the day.” — Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek and host of the podcast The Tim Ferriss Show
2. Get your energy up with some movement.
“The first thing I do is take a walk. (We just got a new puppy!) Then I spend the next hour checking all my social media. I know experts advise that we don’t waste our morning alertness on low-value work like email and checking Twitter, but I know that I can’t focus on more challenging work until I’ve checked in on all the various forms of communication.” — Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before
3. Go over your to-do list.
“The very first thing I do—even before I power on my computer—is enjoy a cup of coffee while reviewing my to-do list, which I make before going to bed every night. This helps me get pumped and organized. After that, I’m ready to take on the day!” — Joy Bauer, R.D.N., nutrition and health expert on NBC’s Today Show and founder of Nourish Snacks
4. Do quick check-ins with team members.
“The first thing I do is say a quick hello and check in with one or two members of my team. It’s important to me because it helps me start the day on a happy, positive note, and it lets me take the temperature of our group. Plus, it’s a good thing for overall productivity as creative teams run on good personal relationships and positivity. And in the event something is off or tense, it gives me a chance to find out what’s up before things go off the rails. Mostly, though, I just do it because I enjoy it. I am lucky to work with great people who are a lot of fun to be around.” — Pilar Gerasimo, founder of Experience Life magazine and author of Being Healthy Is a Revolutionary Act
5. Complete the task that requires the most mental focus.
“I pour a cup of coffee and get to work writing. I’m fierce about not letting anything interrupt that time. I write for two or three hours and then go to the office for meetings or teaching or student appointments. If I write every day, even for just an hour, there’s a momentum that works for me. I can just pick up where I left off. I don’t write quickly, but the consistency makes it all add up.” — Marion Nestle, Ph.D, professor of nutrition at NYU and author of forthcoming book, Soda Politics
6. Make (and use!) a really effective calendar.
“The first thing I do in the morning is check my calendar. It is far more effective than a to-do list. This approach radically reduces the number of decisions I have to make every day because I don’t have to decide what to do. I just do it. The calendar also has something called buffer days where I handle small things, focus days where I do things that matter the most, and free days where I do whatever I feel like that isn’t work. This is the only way I’ve found that makes sure I get time for myself, for family and friends, and for my company.” — Dave Asprey, creator of Bulletproof Coffee and author of the forthcoming Bulletproof: The Cookbook
7. Hydrate…with a kick.
“We have a morning trifecta that works like a charm each day to make us feel alert, connected, and energized as soon as we hit the office. First, we always check in with our team, face-to-face. This interaction in the morning grounds us and connects us to our purpose as a united, productive team. Second, we prep our desks with huge mason jars of water. That way, once we sit down, we can be productive without interruption. Plus, getting hydrated first thing in the morning gives us energy and keeps us healthy. Finally, we sip on a little caffeine, like coffee or tea, for a little boost.” — Kirsten Potenza and Cristina Peerenboom, creators of the POUND workout and the POUND Rockout Results System
8. Express gratitude for who (and what) is working.
“I like to start my day with a little gratitude. I walk all the way through the office to the kitchen at the back and say hello to the people on my incredible team, making sure to let each one know how much I appreciate them!” — Kathryn Minshew, founder and CEO of The Muse
This article was written by Charlotte Andersen, author of the book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything which has been featured in Shape, Fitness, Prevention, and Women’s Health UK among others. She runs the popular health and fitness website of the same name, where she tries out a new workout every month, specializing in exercise, body image and oversharing.
There are many paths to personal growth. Friedrich Nietzsche is quoted as saying, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” and this can absolutely be true. But challenges that nearly destroy us aren’t the only path to greater personal development.
Setting goals for your own personal development can be an effective (and less stressful) way to grow emotionally and intellectually. Setting goals that can help you to succeed as a person in the ways that are important to you can help you to streamline your life, minimize stress, and really become the person you were meant to be in far less time. They can also help you to stay mentally sharp as any lifetime learner can tell you.
Goals Worth Going After
Personal growth means different things to different people, but the following goals can be widely helpful in creating a life filled with healthy habits, greater happiness, and meaning in life.
Learn What Is Most Important to You
We all have values that are a vital part of who we are. To some people, artistic expression is an indispensable part of who they are, and they fare much better if they are creating, at least some of the time, in their lives. To some, helping others is something they must do, and the meaning it brings to them and others is what makes life valuable. Others need to be solving problems to feel alive.
The reason it matters to realize this is that many people fill their time with things that are important but aren’t aligned with their values, with what they value most in life. If you analyze what is important to you, you can set goals to ensure that you make this a greater part of your life.
Pinpoint Where You’re Limiting Yourself
Many people self-sabotage in one way or another without realizing it. Perhaps you don’t believe that you’re capable of achieving things that you really want to achieve, and you limit yourself by not trying. Perhaps you’re not allowing yourself to devote enough time to your goals because you’re getting bogged down by other things in your schedule that are less important but that you feel “must” be done. Maybe you just spend too much time on social media and not enough on going after what’s important to you in life.
One way to identify this subtle self-sabotage is to focus on living each day as though it were pivotal to your success in life. Is everything you’re doing important, and contributing to your success? If you view things through this lens, it’s easier to identify energy drains and time wasters, as well as those things that hold you back.
Take Care of Your Health
When your health is compromised, it’s more challenging to focus on your goals in life. This is obviously true when facing serious health conditions, but it’s also true of less serious types of health compromises.
For example, most of us feel far more stressed and are not at our best when we haven’t had adequate sleep for a few nights in a row or have eaten unhealthy food for a few days. Focusing on taking care of your health can make a huge impact on the rest of your life.
Use Your Time Wisely
Time management is an important goal in itself. When you manage your time wisely, you have more energy and a far greater ability to pursue other things in life that are important to you. Time management enables you to maximize time spent in activities that feed you, motivate you, and help you develop yourself as a person.
Develop One Habit a Month
You may not be able to transform yourself in a few weeks, but focusing heavily on creating new habits on a regular basis can be transformative over the course of several months or years. The trick is to get into the habit of forming habits. Focus the bulk of your energy on making something new a standard part of your life, and then move on once you’ve become comfortable with it. This is the time to create a new habit.
Surround Yourself With Role Models
Have just one friend who is farther along on the path you hope to travel. Life coaches refer to these people as “expert friends” and they can be life-changing as they’ll have tips and inspiration you can pick up just by watching them be themselves. With these friends, watching becomes doing. This is also supported by social learning theory, which explains how it makes things easier when you have a friend to help you along the way.
Develop a Supportive Group
Using the momentum of a group can really help you to reach your goals. This is because peer pressure can be a strong influencer, so using it to your advantage is wise. Having people who can cheer you on when you win and help you to feel better when you lose can make all the difference with your success.
Unfortunately, not all friends are able to support you in this way. Some people naturally feel envious when their friends succeed too much,. So if you notice a friend being less than supportive when you reach a goal (and you have been supportive with them), you may want to simply avoid sharing your successes with this friend and move on to friends who are genuinely thrilled with your success and able to support you when you aren’t as successful as you’d like to be.
Remember to be this kind of friend as well. Another great idea is to find a group already focused around the goals you’re trying to attain. You’ll have built-in support, enthusiasm, and practical tips.
Learn Something New Each Month (or Year)
Self-development takes real focus. Learning a new language, for example, or developing a new skill can take time, and focusing the bulk of your energy toward immersing yourself in the pursuit of a goal is a great way to reach it. This is great when you want to really go deep in your knowledge and ability.
Follow Your Passion
You don’t have to pursue your hobbies as a career in order to fully explore them. It’s wonderful if you can make money doing what you love, but it doesn’t have to be a profession to be worth your time. Activities like this allow you to experience a sense of “flow,” which can increase your happiness levels and decrease stress as well. This means that you’ll experience benefits far beyond the mere acquisition of a new pastime.
How to Maintain Goals
Identifying goals to go after is an important first step. However, it’s also important to know how to pursue your goals. There are a few tricks to maintaining goals or adopting healthy habits.
- Set the right goals
- Take small, concrete steps
- Reward yourself along the way
- Consider slip-ups to be part of the process
Maintaining goals can be a little more involved than that, but this is the basic process. The vast majority of people who try to set personal growth goals tend to abandon them because they set their goals too high (or the wrong goals for their lifestyle), try to make too big of a change in too short of a time, don’t congratulate themselves for making progress on their goals, and give up if they have a slip. True success comes from breaking your goals down into smaller steps, rewarding your progress and, perhaps most importantly, trying again if you find yourself slipping up.
Setting personal goals that can really improve your life, and then sticking with them can help you to live the life you always hoped to have.
This article was written by Elizabeth Scott, a Stress Management Expert, a wellness coach, an author, and a award-winning blogger. She is the author of 8 Keys to Stress Management, part of W.W. Norton’s popular 8 Keys to Mental Health Series, edited by bestselling author and trauma recovery expert Babette Rothschild.
I believe everyone heard about the question, “How do you eat an elephant?”
This is a great question that reminds us about how we tackle huge tasks in life. If your dream is big, how are you going to accomplish it?
The answer – One bite at a time
Every huge success is the result of taking one small step at a time. If you want to lose 10 pounds, you will have to lose your first pound. And to lose your first pound, you will have to either push away the junk food or workout in the gym.
Let’s take exercise and working out at the gym as an example. How do you workout in the gym? How do you do the pushup? One at a time.
Every move and every action started with just one small simple step.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
And all you need to do is to identify the step and then do it.
One Step At A Time
When I look back at my life when I first started blogging, I can’t even get a 500 words article publish. It was very difficult for me because English not my main language and even until today, you can find grammatical errors in my article. Nobody is perfect I guess.
However, that did not deter my spirit to blog. I continued on and I learned to type every single day. Starting with my first paragraph, and then the second paragraph and then the third paragraph and it continues.
And eventually, I got a 500 words article. Today, I can go for more. If you have been following my blog here, you will see that most of my articles are 2000 words and above.
It may still be very challenging for me to come up with such a long article. This is especially true when I’m talking about topics that I’m not really familiar or passionate with. I have to do my research just like many normal people.
The same principle applies in every part of our lives.
If we want to get good at something, we need to do it one step at a time. If we want to achieve our dreams and reach our goals, we have to take one action at a time.
Every master you knew was once a disaster. Nobody was born perfect and nobody achieves overnight success. Even if they did, the success will never be long.
The Chain Effect
When it comes to taking action, you have to understand why we need to focus on taking just one step.
Everything you do in life has a chain reaction. What did you do after you wake up from your bed each morning? Do you go into the bathroom automatically without thinking much?
Did you brush your teeth after you pee? And what do you do after brushing your teeth? All the actions are in the chain.
Just like for some people once they reach their office, they will make a cup of coffee, and then they will check their emails, and then they will talk to their colleagues, etc.
These are the chain of actions that lead you from one thing to another.
When you do 1 pushup, it leads you to the next. And the second pushup will lead you to the third and so on.
This is why taking one small step is important. It will lead you to the next step.
And this is how successful people build up their amazing results. They take small steps each day and that lead them somewhere else, their small steps bring them to the bigger results that they want in life.
Every Step Counts
No matter how small the step, every step counts.
Imagine that you are trying to build a million-dollar business and you started with $50,000 capital.
In the first year, you lost $40,000 because you spent that money on building and growing your business. Your mistakes cost your too while learning.
In the second year, you lost another $10,000 but you feel like you are doing much better than the first year because things started to move.
And at the third year, you make $100,000. You feel ecstatic and you know you are onto something. So you continue to march forward.
Finally, at the fourth year, you reach your goal and make $1 million from your business.
Now, I would like to ask you, do you think that the first and second year contributed to your success and reaching your goal?
The answer is an absolute YES.
Unfortunately, this is what most people never notice. They thought that they can skip the first 2 years and go straight into the third year, which is the earning year.
When you try to hit the wall with a hammer, what would happen? Well, probably nothing will happen to the wall except for the loud ‘bang’ noise you make.
What if you continue hitting the wall, one time, two times, three times, four times…
And when you reached the 1,000th times, the wall started to break and you have just made a hole in it.
Do you think the previous 999 times contributed to making the hole? You better bet it is.
This is why every step counts. Sometimes we may not see the effect because the step is small, but somehow, the small step is definitely contributing your success.
So take small steps each day and one day, you will see the result accumulate and your hard work will come to fruition.
Be Consistent And Keep Going
You may not see the result coming your way right now, but whatever you do, be consistent with it and keep it going.
Successful people are successful because they are consistent in what they do. They do it every single day, day in and out, day and night, and they work longer hours than normal people.
What you do every single day is more important that what you do once in a while.
Thus, when you see someone achieves an amazing result in life, it is usually not because they are lucky, but because they have been doing it for a long time. They have been taking the small steps every day, for a long time.
Another very important key to remember about being consistent is to never change your goals too often.
Just like eating an elephant, if you take a few bites of elephant A and then change it to elephant B, elephant A will be left unfinished. So stop changing your goals that often.
Majority people who want to build a successful online business make this mistake. They started project A with website A. They put in some effort but when they do not see the result after a month, they switch to another project.
And when the other project is not working, they do something else. They are never consistent with their goals and what they want. They keep changing and they keep jumping from one business to another.
Never let this happen to you. If you want to build a successful business or produce remarkable results in life, you should focus on just a few goals and work on them until you reach them.
Can you imagine Lionel Messi suddenly said wanted to quit football and to play tennis, do you think he would have created the amazing results he had today?
So stick to your dreams and your goals. Work on them until you reach them. You can improve and upgrade your strategy but try not to change your goals that often.
Identifying Your Most Important Goal
So here’s what you can do. Identify your most important goal, break it down into smaller actionable steps and act on those steps each day.
You can have a lot of goals, but you must identify one that is the most important to you and work on it.
When you have too many goals, they may distract you from what you want. So find out what the most important goal that you want to accomplish.
Is it your financial goal? Or is it your health goal? Or maybe your relationship goal?
So do you know how to reach your goal now? One step at a time. And how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Imagine just taking 5 small little actions a day, you will have 5 small victories. After a year, you will have accumulated 1825 small victories; you will be 1825 steps closer to your goals and your dreams.
Do you think you can achieve what you want in life if you acted this way?
This article was written by Shawn Lim, a blogger, writer, and also an internet entrepreneur, who founded Stunning Motivation.
Most westerners believe you can achieve more by setting goals. But why is this such an accepted practice?
Psychologist Edwin A. Locke and his colleague, Dr. Gary Latham, are credited with popularizing the modern concept of strategic goal making. Their work, research that spanned 25 years, confirmed the ancient notion that people are more successful when they set goals. They also identified the methods of goal making that are the most effective.
Lock & Latham’s Goal Setting Theory in Five Principles
Locke & Latham’s 1990 culminating publication “A Theory of Goal Setting and Task Performance” reaffirms their premise and defines five principles for successful goal setting.
This is where SMART goals draw most from is the concept of setting clear, “specific” goals for best results. Those who set a goal of “make more sales” are less successful than those whose goal is “make 5% more sales than last year.” A clear goal is easier to measure and easier to appreciate when you reach that goal. This makes the entire process more inspiring.
Goal setting theory indicates that people are more successful when they set challenging goals. Any initiative requires effort and discipline. When you set the goal too low, you’re less likely to feel like the payoff is worth that effort, undermining motivation. By contrast, setting a challenging goal balances effort with reward and generates motivation. Just be careful not to confuse “challenging” with “unrealistic.”
This principle particularly applies in organizational settings where the goals in question are achieved by a group. Personal ownership is critical for success. Managers must deliver proper preparation and gain “buy-in” from each member of the team before the task is accepted or “owned” by the group. Team members who do not feel an internal ownership may not work with the diligence required, even with external motivation (or threats).
Feedback or asking questions allows for clarification and course correction. This is particularly important if the first principle has clearly defined. A goal might be either too difficult or too easy. A team leader may discover that there are members who have not bought in as needed and will need to do the work to build ownership. If all is going well, the only feedback required might be to measure progress and confirm that the goal is on task to be met.
- Task Complexity
This principle takes into account the observation that some goals require more complexity to achieve. “Working out 3 times a week” is a goal that requires only identifying a preferred place or form of exercise. “Making 5% more sales” may involve many more tasks to reach – marketing plans and collateral, incentive plans for salespeople, research, lead nurturing, etc.
Locke’s theory indicates that people are least effective at achieving their goal when they are inexperienced at performing a required complex task and feel pressured to perform well immediately. If you are undertaking a complex task, build in and allow time for training. Identify and set learning goals instead of focusing on performance metrics. Identify areas where you need additional training. As managers, take complexity into account and generate goals and timeframes accordingly.
Many self-help books, business coaches and management resources claim that their methods generate “amazing” results and many do. If you want to “stick with the basics” however, Locke and Latham’s Goal Setting Theory is backed by decades of research that emphasizes and acknowledges human behavior over the latest trend in goal setting.
This article was written by Tepring Crocker, a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant. Her projects include everything from course development and webinars for business training clients such as Fred Pryor Seminars to email, website, and content marketing strategy for small businesses in the Kansas City area.