How to Keep From Hitting Your Breaking Point

Author Article

Though life has not been easy, you’ve always found ways to keep moving forward. But now it all feels like too much, and you might even feel like you are coming apart. Maybe you encourage yourself to just push through–“No pain. No gain.” But it’s not working and you feel weak and like a failure. Many people get stuck in this dilemma, not seeing a solution. The reality is that there is a way out, but it’s counter-intuitive. To reach new heights, you must accept your limitations.

This may sound like accepting failure, but it’s not. If you are someone who likes to think you can do anything you put your mind to, you may be setting yourself up for feeling like a failure. We all have very real limitations that will cause pain and suffering when we deny them. Just try putting your head through a brick wall and you will smack into that very hard reality.

One area where many people deny their limitations is in taking on increasingly more tasks and responsibilities as though they can do anything and extend themselves limitlessly. But we all have the same number of hours each day to accomplish tasks– no matter how well we manage our time. We are all limited by how much we can realistically control in our lives. And, whether we like it or not, none of us can lay claim to an endless fund of knowledge and abilities. So, there are times when we undoubtedly benefit from accepting these limits.

This can be one of the most difficult “accomplishments” in your life. Yoga teacher David Swenson explains that doing yoga is most difficult when, for whatever reason (such as being injured or too tired), people choose to leave out parts of their practice. Noting how people are often self-critical when this happens, he says, “Much of our experience will be determined by how we choose to perceive the situation we are in.” And so it is with the rest of life.

When you repeatedly hit against a limitation, it won’t help and will certainly hurt – just as surely as it would if you keep trying to pound your head through a brick wall. At those times, it’s good to remind yourself, Doing that hurts! Stop it! Then, to paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, when you eliminate trying to do the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, is a true path forward. And that path may include learning how to find a bridge from where you are to where you want to be.

For instance, Helen repeatedly attempted to get her partner to stop demeaning her, but her efforts seemed to have no effect and she was becoming increasingly unhappy. Finally, by accepting her limitation of not being able to make him change (no one can make others do anything), she was left with having to consider an alternative path. She thought about either trying couples therapy or just ending the relationship so she could open herself to a healthier one.

Sharon faced a similar moment of choice in the work arena. When her supervisor directed her to use information collected by their software to develop of marketing plan, she panicked. She was not sufficiently proficient in using their software to do this well, and she was terrified of being found out. But once she reasoned that she didn’t need to know the software better until this point, she could accept this limitation as simply a fact – not as proof of her incompetence. Then she knew what she had to do – either find someone to teach her the software or partner with someone who knew it well enough for this project.

In the end, it is your choice – be self-critical of your limitations or accept them as part of being human. When you stop trying to get out of a room by knocking your head through the wall, you may notice an open window, or even a door. If you don’t, you can at least recognize that hitting your head is not going to help. Who knows – maybe when you stop the self-abuse and drop to the floor in frustrated disappointment, your new perspective will reveal a trapdoor. Whatever your situation, not only can acknowledging your limitations provide clarity, but you may also save yourself from a terrible headache!

How To Make Yourself Do Something You Don’t Want To Do

Author Article

How to make yourself do something you don’t want to do
[Photo: Olga1205/Pixabay]

I am so grateful that I get to write for a living. I also really, really don’t want to start writing right now.

That’s more or less my constant mind-set. When I manage to get started I get a lot done, but I rarely want to get started on something that I know will take a lot of time or effort. This leads to me to fall back into the dopamine-rich environment called “internet,” where algorithmically designed distractions devour time until it’s 5 p.m. and oh well, I’ll seize the day tomorrow.

You’ve been there. We’ve all been there. There’s a “thing” you should be doing, but for some reason just can’t get started on. Maybe the thing is setting up a website. Maybe the thing is a coding project you’ve been putting off. Maybe the thing is something small like a phone call you need to make. Whatever the thing is, you just can’t get started.

I can relate. Which is why over time I’ve found ways to force the issue on myself. Here are a few tricks I and a few of my coworkers use to get started, even when we really don’t want to do the thing. In other words, how to motivate yourself to start a task when you don’t feel motivated.

SCHEDULE THE THING ON YOUR CALENDAR, SO YOU ACTUALLY DO IT

I’m very good at feeling like I have plenty of time to get things done. When I feel this way I take it easy, only to wonder at the end of the day where all of my time went. That’s why I started planning things in advance. Every workday morning, after breakfast, I look at my to-do list, my inbox, and my calendar. I then figure out how I’m going to use my unscheduled time in order to accomplish what needs accomplishing by putting each task on my calendar.

This does two things. First: It forces me to see my time as a resource I have to allocate. Second, adding things to my calendar means notifications on my phone and computer throughout the day, reminding me of the intention I set for myself. It’s amazing how that reminder can keep me motivated.

TELL SOMEONE ABOUT THE THING SO THEY’LL KEEP YOU ACCOUNTABLE

I’m really good at lying to myself. I can convince myself that watching a YouTube video right now will help me get this article done because it will help me relax, which will make it easier for me to write. I can then convince myself that the next video will help me relax even more, and so on and so forth.

You know who doesn’t fall for that? Literally anyone outside my own brain. Which is why telling someone else about the thing I need to do is a good idea. Find someone you trust to keep you accountable and tell them what you intend to do.

DO SOMETHING ELSE (THAT YOU WANT TO DO EVEN LESS THAN THE THING)

Still can’t make yourself do the thing? Find some chore you like even less than doing the thing, then do that instead for a while. You’ll be itching to do the thing in no time.

The idea is that you’ll hate doing whatever chore it is you’re doing so much that you’ll be excited to do the thing instead. Cleaning is a particularly good task for this because it’s almost totally mindless, meaning your brain can wander a little while you’re doing it. That scattered thinking is perfect for brainstorming, helping you think up ideas that will come in handy when you finally get back on task.

Don’t open your browser when you’re struggling to get started. Clean the bathroom instead.

TELL YOURSELF YOU’LL DO THE THING FOR FIVE MINUTES

In your head the thing is a massive project that you will never, ever finish or will be painful to do, so you don’t even want to get started. But can you handle working on it for five minutes?

Next time you don’t feel like doing a thing, simply set a timer for five minutes. Force yourself to work on the thing for those five minutes. Everyone can focus for five minutes, right? But the trick is that by the end of those five minutes it won’t feel too bad to keep going.

Oh, and if you’ve got something on your list that will only take two minutes, just do it. Now. Make a habit of doing small tasks immediately, and they will never clutter up your to-do list, leaving you with more mental energy to tackle the big projects.

BREAK THE THING INTO SMALLER THINGS

It’s easy to put off big projects and instead focus on smaller, more manageable tasks, which is why your kitchen looks so clean during tax season. But every overwhelming project consists of smaller, more manageable tasks.

If the thing you keep putting off is some large project, consider breaking it down. Outline all the small steps you need to do in order to complete the thing, then get started on one of those small steps. You can do this using a to-do list application, a text document, or even a pen and paper. Just take the time to break the thing down into smaller things. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to get started on something small.

BRIBE YOURSELF FOR DOING THE THING

Every dog owner (and parent) knows that bribery is a very effective way to reward good behavior. Use that on yourself. Promise yourself something, then only let yourself have that treat if you actually do the thing.

Food works, sure, but so does the promise of time outside, a TV episode, or a phone conversation with a friend. Reward yourself for getting things done and you’ll find getting started that much easier.

This same strategy is the thinking behind the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working for 25 minutes then taking a five-minute break. The five-minute break is a reward for getting through the 25-minute work session.

ASK YOUR COWORKERS FOR HELP WITH THE THING

Are you still not doing the thing? Why not ask your coworkers to help you brainstorm about the thing. The ideas you generate could help you bring new energy into the task, which will make it more likely that you’ll get started.

Okay, you caught me. I couldn’t motivate myself to get started writing an article about getting started at doing a thing (and the irony was not lost on me). I turned to my coworkers for help, asking for ideas. It worked.

People need each other. There’s no shame in it. If you’re stuck in your own head, unable to start doing the thing, ask the people around you for ideas. It will help.

It’s Never Too Late To Succeed—And Here’s The Secret

Author Article

Everett Collection
Julia Child was 50 when she hosted her first TV show.

This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org.

In his new book, “The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success,” Northeastern University professor of network science Albert-László Barabási offers lessons we can learn from men and women who’ve achieved success after 50 based on his research. The following is an excerpt from this book.

When, at the age of 50, John Fenn joined the faculty at Yale, he was old by academic standards. He was 35 when he got his first academic appointment, at Princeton, where he started working with atomic and molecular beams, research that he continued to pursue at Yale. Though Fenn was hardworking and diligent, he was largely a low-impact scientist. His department chair must have felt some relief when Fenn turned 70 and they could force him to take mandatory retirement.

Yet Fenn had no interest in stopping. Three years earlier, at 67, he was already semiretired at Yale, stripped of lab space and technicians, when he published a paper on a new technique he called “electrospray ionization.” He turned droplets into a high-speed beam, allowing him to measure the masses of large molecules and proteins quickly and accurately. He saw it as a breakthrough and he was right.

A late-in-life Nobel Prize

After idling at Yale, he relocated to Virginia Commonwealth University and opened a lab. What he did in these later years was revolutionary. Improving upon his initial idea, he offered scientists a robust way to measure ribosomes and viruses with previously unbelievable accuracy, transforming our understanding of how cells work. In 2002, in his mid-80s, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Fenn’s story embodies a simple message: Your chance of success has little to do with your age. It’s shaped by your willingness to try repeatedly for a breakthrough. Realizing this was transformative for me — I started seeing Fenns everywhere.

There’s Ray Kroc, who joined the McDonald’s MCD, +1.02%   franchise at 53; Nelson Mandela, who emerged after 27 years in jail and became his country’s president at 76. There’s Julia Child, who was 50 when she hosted her first TV show.

Key to success: the Q-factor

But these late-in-life successes had something else in common besides tenacity. Their pathways to success were guided by a hidden factor that unveiled itself throughout their careers. My team and I named it the Q-factor, and it helped us answer the question: Where do highly successful ideas and products come from?

Your ability to turn an idea into a discovery is equally important, and that varies dramatically from person to person. A person’s Q-factor translates the process of innovation into an equation. Each of us takes a random idea, with value r, and using our skill, we turn it into a discovery or “success” S, which captures its impact on the world. Multiply your Q-factor by the value of your next idea, r, and you get a formula to predict its success. Written as a formula, it is: S = Qr

In other words, the success of a product or a deal, or the impact of a discovery, will be the product of a creator’s Q-factor and the value of idea r.

Give your work qualities a chance to shine

Once my team and I figured out how to measure a scientist’s Q-factor, we learned it remained unchanged throughout her career. That’s right. The data was clear: We all start our careers with a given Q, high or low, and that Q-factor stays with us until retirement.

Well, I had a hard time believing that I was as good a scientist when I wrote my first research paper at 22 (the one with absolutely zero impact) as I am now. And you probably feel you weren’t anywhere near as good a teacher, writer, doctor or salesperson in your 20s as you are now. However, we spent six months rechecking our findings, and we came to the same conclusion.

The key to long-term success from a creator’s perspective is straightforward: let the qualities that give you your Q-factor do their job by giving them a chance to deliver success over and over.

In other words, successful people engage in project after project after project. They don’t just count their winnings; they buy more lottery tickets. They keep producing.

Prime example: J.K. Rowling

Take writer J.K. Rowling, who followed “Harry Potter” by creating a successful mystery series (under the name Robert Galbraith). Each time she publishes a new book, her new fans go back and read the older volumes as well. Each new book, then, breathes life into her career, keeping her whole body of work present and relevant.

A high Q-factor, combined with Fenn-like persistence, is what drives the engine for career-long success. People like Shakespeare, Austen, Edison, Curie and Einstein are not remembered for a single work that changed everything. They tower over their fields thanks to their exceptional Q-factors — and their willingness to test their luck repeatedly.

Stubborn creativity, combined with a John Fenn—like tenacity, not only gives our lives their essential meaning, it also provides the true secret to career-long success.

Stubborn creativity + tenacity = career-long success

The Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai is one perfect, parting exemplar of that. “All I have produced before the age of 70 is not worth taking into account. At 73 I have learned a little about the real structure of nature,” he wrote at 75. What followed made my day. “When I am 80 I shall have made still more progress. At 90, I shall penetrate the mystery of things. At 100 I shall have reached a marvelous stage, and when I am 110, everything I do, whether it be a dot or a line, will be alive.”

Hokusai lived to be 89, and he created his most memorable works in the final decades of his life, including the iconic woodblock print “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” The image is of an enormous white-capped wave that slowly unfurls over a half-drowned skiff, dwarfing Mount Fuji in the background. It’s an apt depiction of how success ebbs and flows over a lifetime, building sudden momentum and crashing over us, only to start all over again.

Albert-László Barabási is a Northeastern University professor of science and author of “The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success.”

Excerpted from the new book “The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success by Albert-László Barabási.” Reprinted with permission from Little, Brown, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. Copyright © 2018 by Albert-László Barabási. This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org, © 2019 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.

12 Lessons You Learn Or End Up Regretting Forever

Ladders Article

Sticking your neck out and taking charge of your career is no trivial matter. Whether that’s switching careers, going back to school, or walking away from a j-o-b to start your own business, it takes a lot of guts.

But guts will only get you so far. Once you build up the nerve and make the leap, you’re no more than 5% of the way there. You still have to succeed in your new endeavor, and trying to succeed is when your worst fears (the ones that made you hesitate in the first place) will come true.


Follow Ladders on Flipboard!

Follow Ladders’ magazines on Flipboard covering HappinessProductivityJob SatisfactionNeuroscience, and more!


I’m going to assume you’re like me and don’t have a brilliant mentor, a rich uncle, or some other person who is going to show you the ropes and explain each step you need to take to take charge of your career.

You see, it’s been almost 20 years since I last had a boss. I went from working in a surf shop to striking out on my own, eventually starting TalentSmart (with a partner) before I’d finished grad school.

When I set out on my own, I had all the gumption and appetite for risk that I needed to take charge of my career. At the time I thought that was all I needed to succeed.

It wasn’t. I also needed guidance. Without it, I learned some difficult (and often painful) lessons along the way.

I’d like to share some of my biggest lessons learned with you so that they can help you as you take charge of your career (in whatever form that takes). As I look back on these lessons, I realize that they’re really great reminders for us all.

1. Confidence must come first

Successful people often exude confidence — it’s obvious that they believe in themselves and what they’re doing. It isn’t their success that makes them confident, however. The confidence was there first.

Think about it:

  • Doubt breeds doubt.Why would anyone believe in you, your ideas, or your abilities if you didn’t believe in them yourself?
  • It takes confidence to reach for new challenges. People who are fearful or insecure tend to stay within their comfort zones. But comfort zones rarely expand on their own. That’s why people who lack confidence get stuck in dead-end jobs and let valuable opportunities pass them by.
  • Unconfident people often feel at the mercy of external circumstances.Successful people aren’t deterred by obstacles, which is how they rise up in the first place.

Confidence is a crucial building block in a successful career, and embracing it fully will take you places you never thought possible. No one is stopping you from what you want to accomplish but yourself. It’s time to remove any barriers created by self-doubt.

2. You’re living the life that you’ve created

You are not a victim of circumstance. No one can force you to make decisions and take actions that run contrary to your values and aspirations. The circumstances you’re living in today are your own — you created them.

Likewise, your future is entirely up to you. If you’re feeling stuck, it’s probably because you’re afraid to take the risks necessary to achieve your goals and live your dreams.

When it’s time to take action, remember that it’s always better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than at the top of one you don’t.

3. Being busy does not equal being productive

Look at everyone around you. They all seem so busy — running from meeting to meeting and firing off emails. Yet how many of them are really producing, really succeeding at a high level?

Success doesn’t come from movement and activity. It comes from focus — from ensuring that your time is used efficiently and productively. You get the same number of hours in the day as everyone else. Use yours wisely. After all, you’re the product of your output, not your effort. Make certain your efforts are dedicated to tasks that get results.

4. You’re only as good as those you associate with

You should strive to surround yourself with people who inspire you, people who make you want to be better. And you probably do. But what about the people who drag you down? Why do you allow them to be a part of your life?

Anyone who makes you feel worthless, anxious, or uninspired is wasting your time and, quite possibly, making you more like them. Life is too short to associate with people like this. Cut them loose.

5. Squash your negative self-talk

When you’re taking charge of your career, you won’t always have a cheerleader in your corner. This magnifies the effects of self-doubt. The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them. Most of our negative thoughts are just that — thoughts, not facts.

When you find yourself believing the negative and pessimistic things your inner voice says, it’s time to stop and write them down. Literally stop what you’re doing and write down what you’re thinking.

Once you’ve taken a moment to slow down the negative momentum of your thoughts, you will be more rational and clear-headed in evaluating their veracity.

6. Avoid asking “What if?”

“What if?” statements throw fuel on the fire of stress and worry, which are detrimental to reaching your goals. Things can go in a million different directions, and the more time you spend worrying about the possibilities, the less time you’ll spend taking action and staying productive. Asking “what if?” will only take you to a place you don’t want — or need — to go. Of course, scenario planning is a necessary and effective planning technique. The key distinction here is to recognize the difference between worry and strategic thinking about your future.

7. Schedule exercise and sleep

I can’t say enough about the importance of quality sleep. When you sleep your brain removes toxic proteins from its neurons that are by-products of neural activity when you’re awake. Unfortunately, your brain can remove them adequately only while you’re asleep.

So when you don’t get enough sleep, the toxic proteins remain in your brain cells, wreaking havoc by impairing your ability to think — something no amount of caffeine can fix.

Your self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough — or the right kind — of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present, which are a major productivity killer.

Ambition often makes you feel as if you must sacrifice sleep to stay productive, but sleep deprivation diminishes your productivity so much throughout the day that you’re better off sleeping.

A study conducted at the Eastern Ontario Research Institute found that people who exercised twice a week for 10 weeks felt more competent socially, academically, and athletically. They also rated their body image and self-esteem higher.

Best of all, rather than the physical changes in their bodies being responsible for the uptick in confidence, it was the immediate, endorphin-fueled positivity from exercise that made all the difference. Schedule your exercise to make certain it happens, or the days will just slip away.

8. Seek out small victories

Small victories can seem unimportant when you’re really after something big, but small victories build new androgen receptors in the areas of the brain responsible for reward and motivation.

This increase in androgen receptors increases the influence of testosterone, which further increases your confidence and your eagerness to tackle future challenges. When you have a series of small victories, the boost in your confidence can last for months.

9. Don’t say “yes” unless you really want to

Research conducted at the University of California in Berkeley shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression, all of which make it difficult to take charge of your career.

Saying no is indeed a major challenge for many people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield.

When it’s time to say no, avoid phrases like “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.

10. Don’t seek perfection

Don’t set perfection as your target. It doesn’t exist. Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible.

When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure that makes you want to give up or reduce your effort. You end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and what you should have done differently instead of moving forward excited about what you’ve achieved and what you will accomplish in the future.

11. Focus on solutions

Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems that you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions which hinder your ability to reach your goals.

When you focus on the actions you’ll take to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and improves performance.

12. Forgive yourself

When you slip up, it is critical that you forgive yourself and move on. Don’t ignore how the mistake makes you feel; just don’t wallow in it. Instead, shift your attention to what you’re going to do to improve yourself in the future.

Failure can erode your self-confidence and make it hard to believe you’ll achieve a better outcome in the future. Most of the time, failure results from taking risks and trying to achieve something that isn’t easy.

Success lies in your ability to rise in the face of failure, and you can’t do this when you’re living in the past. Anything worth achieving is going to require you to take some risks, and you can’t allow failure to stop you from believing in your ability to succeed.

When you live in the past, that is exactly what happens, and your past becomes your present, preventing you from moving forward.

Bringing it all together

I hope these lessons are as useful to you as they have been to me over the years. As I write them, I’m reminded of their power and my desire to use them every day.

Travis Bradberry is the coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and the cofounder of TalentSmart.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

10 Things You Should Do Every Day To Improve Your Life, According To Science

Ladders Article

These are the 10 things that scientific research shows can help improve your life.

1. Get out in nature

You probably seriously underestimate how important this is. (Actually, there’s research that says you do.) Being in nature reduces stress, makes you more creative, improves your memory and may even make you a better person.

2. Exercise

We all know how important this is, but few people do it consistently. Other than health benefits too numerous to mention, exercise makes you smarterhappier, improves sleepincreases libidoand makes you feel better about your body. A Harvard study that has tracked a group of men for more than 70 years identified it as one of the secrets to a good life.

3. Spend time with friends and family

Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert identified this as one of the biggest sources of happiness in our lives. Relationships are worth more than you think (approximately an extra $131,232 a year.) Not feeling socially connected can make you stupider and kill you. Loneliness can lead to heart attack, stroke and diabetes.

The longest lived people on the planet all place a strong emphasis on social engagement and good relationships are more important to a long life than even exerciseFriends are key to improving your lifeShare good news and enthusiastically respond when others share good news with you to improve your relationships. Want to instantly be happier? Do something kind for them.

4. Express gratitude

It will make you happier.

It will improve your relationships.

It can make you a better person.

It can make life better for everyone around you.

5. Meditate

Meditation can increase happinessmeaning in life, social support and attention span while reducing anger, anxiety, depression and fatigue. Along similar lines, prayer can make you feel better — even if you’re not religious.

6. Get enough sleep

You can’t cheat yourself on sleep and not have it affect you. Being tired actually makes it harder to be happy. Lack of sleep = more likely to get sick. “Sleeping on it” does improve decision making. Lack of sleep can make you more likely to behave unethically. There is such a thing as beauty sleep.

Naps are great too. Naps increase alertness and performance on the job, enhance learning abilityand purge negative emotions while enhancing positive ones. Here’s how to improve your naps.

7. Challenge yourself

Learning another language can keep your mind sharp. Music lessons increase intelligence. Challenging your beliefs strengthens your mind. Increasing willpower just takes a little effort each day and it’s more responsible for your success than IQ. Not getting an education or taking advantage of opportunities are two of the things people look back on their lives and regret the most.

8. Laugh

People who use humor to cope with stress have better immune systems, reduced risk of heart attack and stroke, experience less pain during dental work and live longer. Laughter should be like a daily vitamin. Just reminiscing about funny moments can improve your relationship. Humor has many benefits.

9. Touch someone

Touching can reduce stress, improve team performance, and help you be persuasive. Hugs make you happier. Sex may help prevent heart attacks and cancer, improve your immune system and extend your life.

10. Be optimistic

Optimism can make you healthierhappier and extend your life. The Army teaches it in order to increase mental toughness in soldiers. Being overconfident improves performance.

This article first appeared on Barking Up The Wrong Tree

 

12 Lessons You Learn Or End Up Regretting Forever

Author Article

Sticking your neck out and taking charge of your career is no trivial matter. Whether that’s switching careers, going back to school, or walking away from a j-o-b to start your own business, it takes a lot of guts.

But guts will only get you so far. Once you build up the nerve and make the leap, you’re no more than 5% of the way there. You still have to succeed in your new endeavor, and trying to succeed is when your worst fears (the ones that made you hesitate in the first place) will come true.

I’m going to assume you’re like me and don’t have a brilliant mentor, a rich uncle, or some other person who is going to show you the ropes and explain each step you need to take to take charge of your career.

You see, it’s been almost 20 years since I last had a boss. I went from working in a surf shop to striking out on my own, eventually starting TalentSmart (with a partner) before I’d finished grad school.

When I set out on my own, I had all the gumption and appetite for risk that I needed to take charge of my career. At the time I thought that was all I needed to succeed.

It wasn’t. I also needed guidance. Without it, I learned some difficult (and often painful) lessons along the way.

I’d like to share some of my biggest lessons learned with you so that they can help you as you take charge of your career (in whatever form that takes). As I look back on these lessons, I realize that they’re really great reminders for us all.

1. Confidence must come first

Successful people often exude confidence — it’s obvious that they believe in themselves and what they’re doing. It isn’t their success that makes them confident, however. The confidence was there first.

Think about it:

  • Doubt breeds doubt.Why would anyone believe in you, your ideas, or your abilities if you didn’t believe in them yourself?
  • It takes confidence to reach for new challenges. People who are fearful or insecure tend to stay within their comfort zones. But comfort zones rarely expand on their own. That’s why people who lack confidence get stuck in dead-end jobs and let valuable opportunities pass them by.
  • Unconfident people often feel at the mercy of external circumstances.Successful people aren’t deterred by obstacles, which is how they rise up in the first place.

Confidence is a crucial building block in a successful career, and embracing it fully will take you places you never thought possible. No one is stopping you from what you want to accomplish but yourself. It’s time to remove any barriers created by self-doubt.

2. You’re living the life that you’ve created

You are not a victim of circumstance. No one can force you to make decisions and take actions that run contrary to your values and aspirations. The circumstances you’re living in today are your own — you created them.

Likewise, your future is entirely up to you. If you’re feeling stuck, it’s probably because you’re afraid to take the risks necessary to achieve your goals and live your dreams.

When it’s time to take action, remember that it’s always better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than at the top of one you don’t.

3. Being busy does not equal being productive

Look at everyone around you. They all seem so busy — running from meeting to meeting and firing off emails. Yet how many of them are really producing, really succeeding at a high level?

Success doesn’t come from movement and activity. It comes from focus — from ensuring that your time is used efficiently and productively. You get the same number of hours in the day as everyone else. Use yours wisely. After all, you’re the product of your output, not your effort. Make certain your efforts are dedicated to tasks that get results.

4. You’re only as good as those you associate with

You should strive to surround yourself with people who inspire you, people who make you want to be better. And you probably do. But what about the people who drag you down? Why do you allow them to be a part of your life?

Anyone who makes you feel worthless, anxious, or uninspired is wasting your time and, quite possibly, making you more like them. Life is too short to associate with people like this. Cut them loose.

5. Squash your negative self-talk

When you’re taking charge of your career, you won’t always have a cheerleader in your corner. This magnifies the effects of self-doubt. The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them. Most of our negative thoughts are just that — thoughts, not facts.

When you find yourself believing the negative and pessimistic things your inner voice says, it’s time to stop and write them down. Literally stop what you’re doing and write down what you’re thinking.

Once you’ve taken a moment to slow down the negative momentum of your thoughts, you will be more rational and clear-headed in evaluating their veracity.

6. Avoid asking “What if?”

“What if?” statements throw fuel on the fire of stress and worry, which are detrimental to reaching your goals. Things can go in a million different directions, and the more time you spend worrying about the possibilities, the less time you’ll spend taking action and staying productive. Asking “what if?” will only take you to a place you don’t want — or need — to go. Of course, scenario planning is a necessary and effective planning technique. The key distinction here is to recognize the difference between worry and strategic thinking about your future.

7. Schedule exercise and sleep

I can’t say enough about the importance of quality sleep. When you sleep your brain removes toxic proteins from its neurons that are by-products of neural activity when you’re awake. Unfortunately, your brain can remove them adequately only while you’re asleep.

So when you don’t get enough sleep, the toxic proteins remain in your brain cells, wreaking havoc by impairing your ability to think — something no amount of caffeine can fix.

Your self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough — or the right kind — of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present, which are a major productivity killer.

Ambition often makes you feel as if you must sacrifice sleep to stay productive, but sleep deprivation diminishes your productivity so much throughout the day that you’re better off sleeping.

A study conducted at the Eastern Ontario Research Institute found that people who exercised twice a week for 10 weeks felt more competent socially, academically, and athletically. They also rated their body image and self-esteem higher.

Best of all, rather than the physical changes in their bodies being responsible for the uptick in confidence, it was the immediate, endorphin-fueled positivity from exercise that made all the difference. Schedule your exercise to make certain it happens, or the days will just slip away.

8. Seek out small victories

Small victories can seem unimportant when you’re really after something big, but small victories build new androgen receptors in the areas of the brain responsible for reward and motivation.

This increase in androgen receptors increases the influence of testosterone, which further increases your confidence and your eagerness to tackle future challenges. When you have a series of small victories, the boost in your confidence can last for months.

9. Don’t say “yes” unless you really want to

Research conducted at the University of California in Berkeley shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression, all of which make it difficult to take charge of your career.

Saying no is indeed a major challenge for many people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield.

When it’s time to say no, avoid phrases like “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.

10. Don’t seek perfection

Don’t set perfection as your target. It doesn’t exist. Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible.

When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure that makes you want to give up or reduce your effort. You end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and what you should have done differently instead of moving forward excited about what you’ve achieved and what you will accomplish in the future.

11. Focus on solutions

Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems that you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions which hinder your ability to reach your goals.

When you focus on the actions you’ll take to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and improves performance.

12. Forgive yourself

When you slip up, it is critical that you forgive yourself and move on. Don’t ignore how the mistake makes you feel; just don’t wallow in it. Instead, shift your attention to what you’re going to do to improve yourself in the future.

Failure can erode your self-confidence and make it hard to believe you’ll achieve a better outcome in the future. Most of the time, failure results from taking risks and trying to achieve something that isn’t easy.

Success lies in your ability to rise in the face of failure, and you can’t do this when you’re living in the past. Anything worth achieving is going to require you to take some risks, and you can’t allow failure to stop you from believing in your ability to succeed.

When you live in the past, that is exactly what happens, and your past becomes your present, preventing you from moving forward.

Bringing it all together

I hope these lessons are as useful to you as they have been to me over the years. As I write them, I’m reminded of their power and my desire to use them every day.

Travis Bradberry is the coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and the cofounder of TalentSmart.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

 

The Meditation Technique That Totally Transformed My Sleep

Author Article

Some aspects of healthy living just get easier with time. Meal prepping on Sundays, waking up early to exercise, avoiding single-use plastic—I’ve found it can all become second nature with enough practice and repetition.

I’ve always been daunted by one part of wellness, though, no matter how often I try to whittle away at it: meditation.

The benefits of the practice are what kept me in hot pursuit of it. Nearly every night for the past year or so, you could find me in my bed militantly repeating a mantra in an effort to quell anxietyincrease compassion, and refine my focus. And every night, after a few minutes of futile attempts to reel in my mind, I inevitably opened my eyes frustrated.

The point of meditating before bed was to let go of negative thoughts and worries from the day, but sometimes it left me even more stressed. I had the sneaking suspicion that I was somehow doing it “wrong.” I expected to start craving these nightly meditations after a while, but closing my eyes and coming back to the breath just remained another task on my to-do list.

The meditation technique that changed my relationship to the practice.

A few weeks ago, in the thick of my mindfulness rut, I journeyed to Costa Rica for a week of doing nothing but yoga, breathwork, and—you guessed it—meditation.

Expecting to meet the same kind of resistance in the jungle that I did in my Manhattan apartment, I figured I could just pretend to meditate during longer sits. (Nothing I hadn’t done before!) But on day two, a strange thing happened: Our leaders Erica Matluck, N.D., FNP, and Paul Kuhn, who put on healing retreats focused on the seven chakrascalled Seven Senses, told the group to essentially forget everything we knew about meditation.

For that day, which was spent in silence (no talking, no eye contact, no writing, no reading—no looking outside of yourself as a distraction), we were to leave our mantras and body scans at the door. These, too, Matluck, a naturopath and seasoned integrative medicine practitioner, explained, could be a way to turn the attention away from the self.

Instead, we were told to breathe normally and simply notice the physical sensation underneath the nostril, above the upper lip. That was it. The only directive.

Just like that, we were off. With nothing but a curtain of palm trees as a distraction, I was fully prepared to become restless and frustrated after a few minutes. But 10 minutes passed, and I was still content sitting with that feeling under my nose. Then 20, then 30. We were invited to stay for another 30-minute sit. And, much to my own surprise, I did.

It felt so much more gentle, so much less rigid, than what I thought meditation was supposed to be.

Instead of forcing my breath to be rhythmic, I allowed it to do whatever it wanted. Instead of clutching onto a mantra (and cursing myself when it escaped from my grip), I politely paid attention to the super-subtle sensations on that one area. It felt so much more gentle, so much less rigid, than what I thought meditation was supposed to be. It wasn’t a task but a delight—to catch my thoughts wandering and then happily return them to the moment at hand.

It’s the first time that I didn’t want a meditation to end.

Afterward, Kuhn, a sound healer, told us that this study in sensation was a reminder that physical feelings—like thoughts—are fleeting.

This lesson from Matluck and Kuhn, one of what felt like hundreds I picked up that week, really brought home the idea that thoughts don’t need to carry so much weight and power. Instead, we can choose to let them pass over us like a tickle on the skin.

How I’m keeping up with it.

Thousands of miles removed from the Pura Vida life, I’m still trying to keep up with this breath awareness. Since my trip, my nightly meditation routine has become less of a chore and more of a respite after long days.

I’m reminded of what mbg Collective member and class instructor Light Watkins said when he talked about making the breath an anchor. By tuning into the physical feeling of the breath, it has become easier for me to sit with. Some nights, if I’m lucky, I’m transported back to that special place where all there was to think about was the rustling of the jungle and the sensation of being alive. And what a meditative space that is to be.

How To Practice Yoga At Home If You’re An Absolute Beginner

Author Article

PHOTOGRAPHED BY MOLLY CRANNA.

There’s an image that comes across my Instagram feed about once a day of a wellness blogger in their light-filled apartment, surrounded by house plants, doing yoga and looking very casual about it. The thought of doing yoga at home sounds ideal; you don’t have to deal with people, spend any money, or even leave the house. But in actuality, when I try to do yoga at home, I get distracted and end up scrolling my phone in child’s pose on a yoga mat.

“One of the best things about yoga is that it can be done almost anytime, anywhere — including at home,” says Jade Alexis, a yoga trainer on the audio-based workout app Aaptiv. The problem is, without a yoga teacher around, or a proper app to walk you through the workout, it’s tough to know what exactly to do. You need to at least have a plan or intention each time you flow at home.

So, whether you also aspire to be an at-home yogi, or you just want to do yoga in private, ahead are some tips from Alexis and Sinikiwe Dhliwayo, yoga instructor and founder of Naaya Wellness (New York), a wellness collective for people of colour. With a mat and the right attitude, you too can be a yoga-flowing homebody.


1. Know a few basic poses.

When you’re starting out with your at-home yoga practice, it’s a good idea to have a vocabulary of postures that you can work with. Alexis and Dhliwayo suggest learning: cat cow, child’s pose, downward-facing dog, plank, cobra pose, upward-facing dog, warrior one and two, chair pose, and low lunge. If you know those, you can piece them together a beginner flow, like Sun Salutation B, Alexis says. Look up videos or images of the poses to get a sense of how they’re supposed to be done, but try not to get wrapped up in what they look like; how you feel is more important.

2. Listen to your body.

Form is essential in yoga, but without an expert to guide you through the poses or make physical corrections, it can be difficult to know if you’re doing it “right.” The best way to make adjustments or tell if you’re making mistakes is to just pay attention to how you feel, Alexis says. “Regardless of wherever you are, it’s important to listen to your body,” she says. “If something doesn’t feel right, listen to your body and ease of the posture.”


3. Try an online class.

The internet is full of tons of free yoga classes and resources for you to take advantage of — arguably too many. Dhliwayo is a fan of yogis Sara ClarkRocky Heron, and Dianne Bondy. The beauty of taking an online class is that you can stop it at any time, or rewind a section if it gets confusing. And of course, the Aaptiv app has lots of audio yoga classes that you can try that are varying lengths, styles, and levels of difficulty.

 

4. Get some gear.

You don’t need much to do yoga, but ideally you’d have a clutter-free space to practice, a good yoga mat, and most importantly a positive attitude and patience, Alexis says. Blocks can also be super helpful if you’re just starting out, because they essentially bring the floor up to you, which is imperative if you don’t have flexibility yet, Dhliwayo says. Other props like blankets help you be more comfortable in a pose, and can be nice to have during a restorative practice, she says. Music and calming essential oils can also help make your home practice feel more special, but those aren’t must-haves.

 

5. Don’t stress the names.

Often in yoga classes, teachers will use the Sanskrit names to define yoga poses, which can make it seem way more confusing. “Many people are concerned with knowing the names of poses, but that comes with time and I tell beginners to not worry about names when they get started,” Alexis says. Instead, just find beginner classes that will walk you through the individual poses, she says. With enough repetition, it’ll eventually click.

The 3 Powerful Steps To Develop Your Daily Routine

Author Article

“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.” — Elizabeth Gilbert

The winter solstice recently passed and now, we find ourselves deep in the peak of shortened days, cold weather and lots of time inside with family and relatives. The lack of sun can really damper our moods and take away some of our energy. If we let it. Winter can make it challenging to find inspiration at times. But the days of less sunlight can also lead to great opportunities for solitude, reflection and contemplation.

While it may be tough to feel as inspired, I find that wintertime often is great for planning and refocusing our priorities. Some of my best ideas, as well as my most productive planning and actions have taken place at this time of the year. In fact, the majority of the writing that I did for my first book, The Value of You, occurred during the wintertime last year. It was a special time I’ll never forget.

Following the holidays, there are less distractions. And as a result, there are more reasons to find things that inspire and light the fire inside of our hearts.

In this vein, I urge you to develop an inspirational routine each morning. It may come through the power of meditation, prayer, genuine heartfelt interaction with those that you love or from your favorite song. It could be a video that plays back the piano recital you played to perfection that brought the house down.

It may be the words of this article or a book you find so profound and hold in such high esteem, you get the chills before opening the pages.

Develop your routine. I’ll show you what works for me and how you can integrate this into your life.

Here’s How to Develop Your Routine

“Great are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force — that thoughts rule the world.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Make your routine an every day thing. As I’ve climbed the mountain of productivity this year, I realize that I never want to come down. The ascension — the journey — has been a magical ride and it reassures me that all of my progress toward self-actualization, as well as greater harmony and rhythm in living the life of my destiny has been worth the pain and occasional doubts.

  1. Dedicate 10 minutes of contemplation time, ideally, at the beginning of each day. This sets the tone for your day and gets you feeling inspired. All you need are 10 minutes of deep, powerful thinking without distraction and with a beginner’s mind.
  2. Use this time alone in solitude, in a quiet place. Focus your thoughts on positive, stimulative thoughts such as: romantic love, sexual love for a partner, girlfriend/boyfriend, wife or husband. Also, music, friendship and envisioning yourself attaining success or fame. There’s tremendous power that comes through dreaming and seeing yourself standing “in the winner’s circle.”
  3. Get these positive thoughts going and keep them going. Write down these thoughts that come to mind. Keep referring back to them throughout your work day or school day. Think of them when you’re out in the social world, during moments of difficulty or times of joy. Look at them again before you go to bed at night and reset your mind. Then rest and get read for the new day with excitement, anticipation and a clear mind for fresh, new thoughts.

What has become truer for me by the day is the concept that we control our own destiny through the power of our thoughts. We emotionalize our ideas with the power of love, faith and hope. We take these thoughts and envision ourselves doing what we desire. And we put it into plan and take the action that we’ve dreamed of. It really is that simple. Do this and you will never be denied.

There is no shame in any idea, as long as you believe in it and feel it will add value to your life and the lives of others. Don’t concern yourself with the ingenuity of your idea. Your race, your cause is the one that speaks to the desires and dreams of your heart. That’s what makes you unique and special.

I’ve got a long way to go. Chances are, so do you. The way to cultivate and build momentum — which you can then transform into empowered thought and constructive action is through inspiration — the power of “fire” that lifts your spirit and brings you unbridled enthusiasm. Be inspired everyday.

A Story To Tell

Any idea, plan, or purpose may be placed in the mind through repetition of thought. — Napoleon Hill

This is a story I know well. It’s the story of my best friend, my brother, Kevin. These days my brother is seen on national television five nights each week on ESPN. He’s a broadcast journalist and celebrity in his own right. Everything he has can be attributed to his natural talents, perseverance, desire and faith in himself.

Kevin worked hard until he reached the pinnacle of his profession. He reached the top because he envisioned himself reaching the top. He dreamed big and thought prodigious, stimulative thoughts. He had the mindset of a winner. But keep in mind, Kevin’s success did not come overnight.

Kevin knew when he was in 8th grade what he wanted to do with his life. He started announcing sports scores over the intercom at our middle school. He did the same thing while in high school. Kevin used his basketball-playing ability to earn an athletic scholarship at the college level, where he attended a school with one of the top Radio & TV programs in the United States.

After graduation, he embarked on what is now over a 20-year career in sports broadcasting. He busted his tail for nine long years at a regional television station making meager money. There were moments of doubt, frustration and at times, loneliness. Kevin dreamed of being on national television or working in a big market. But it seemed so far away.

He concentrated on getting better each day. He surrounded himself with inspiring thoughts, stories and images of fellow broadcasters who made the big time, as well powerful stories of athletes. He kept going. Kept believing.

Finally, his big break came in 2006 when he accepted a job with WCBS radio in New York. Less than one year later, he was working on television for WCBS-TV. And in 2008, he reached the big time: he was hired by ESPN. 11 years after graduating from college, with a few lean years in between where he thought about quitting or changing professions, Kevin received an offer to work at the worldwide leader of sports.

Your Journey

Chances are, you will not find success or personal fulfillment in your first job. Few people are blessed with both the talent and foresight to know precisely what they want to do with their lives right after college. Even less people know and possess this ability at a young age. My brother, Kevin, is one of those precious few lads who did know.

We all have unique stories to share with the world. Where are you on your journey? Are you going through the doldrums of doubt and fear? Do you see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel — the end-vision of your goal? And if you do, are you running into road blocks of creativity? What are your mental challenges? What are your emotional battles?

Perhaps your path is as open as the Pacific Coast Highway at sunset in Laguna Beach. Maybe it’s a Midtown Manhattan traffic jam. It’s all a state of mind. We need inspiration to help us create the beautiful landscapes of limitless possibility in our mind that serve as the foundation for our magical journeys.

You are the creator of your world. When you are safe in the knowledge that you control your worldly destiny, nothing will ever stop you. Those with a winning mindset are never denied. They inspire themselves to achieve great things.

Be inspired. Enjoy this winter season and take some time for yourself to develop a routine that positions you for fulfillment and productivity. As St.Francis of Asisi once wrote, “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

This article originally appeared on Medium.

How To Spend The First Hour Of Your Work Day On High-Value Tasks

Author Article

Don’t begin the activities of your day until you know exactly what you plan to accomplish. Don’t start your day until you have it planned. — Jim RohnEvery morning, get one most important thing done immediately.There is nothing more satisfying than feeling like you’re already in the flow.And the easiest way to trigger this feeling is to work on your most important task in the first hour.Use your mornings for high-value workLean to avoid the busy work that adds no real value to your work, vision or long-term goal.

Low-value activities, including responding to notifications, or reacting to emails keep you busy and stop you from getting real work done. Make time for work that matters.

In his book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, David Allen says, “If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”

Research shows that it takes, on average, more than 23 minutes to fully recover your concentration after a trivial interruption.

Productive mornings start with early wake-up calls

“In a poll of 20 executives cited by Vanderkam, 90% said they wake up before 6 a.m. on weekdays.

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, for example, wakes at 4 a.m. and is in the office no later than 7 a.m.

Meanwhile, Disney CEO Bob Iger gets up at 4:30 to read, and Square CEO Jack Dorsey is up at 5:30 to jog.”

The first quiet hour of the morning can be the ideal time to focus on an important work project without being interrupted.

Don’t plan your day in the first hour of your morning

Cut the planning and start doing real work. You are most active on a Monday Morning.

Think about it. After a weekend of recovery, you have the most energy, focus and discipline to work on your priorities.

Don’t waste all that mental clarity and energy planning what to do in the next eight hours.

Do your planning the night before.

Think of Sunday as the first chance to prepare yourself for the week’s tasks.

Monday mornings will feel less dreadful and less overwhelming if you prepare the night before.

If you choose to prioritize …

There are one million things you could choose to do in your first hour awake.

If you choose to start your day with a daily check list/to-do list, make sure that next to every task you have the amount of time it will take to complete them.

The value of the of putting time to tasks is that, every time you check something off, you are able to measure how long it took you to get that task done, and how much progress you are making to better plan next time.

Get the uncomfortable out of the way

You probably know about Brian Tracy’s “eat-a-frog” – technique from his classic time-management book, Eat That Frog?

In the morning, right after getting up, you complete the most unwanted task you can think of for that day (= the frog).

Ideally you’ve defined this task in the evening of the previous day.

Completing an uncomfortable or difficult task not only moves it out of your way, but it gives you great energy because you get the feeling you’ve accomplished something worthwhile.

Do you have a plan from yesterday?

Kenneth Chenault, former CEO and Chairman of American Express, once said in an interview that the last thing he does before leaving the office is to write down the top 3 things to accomplish tomorrow, then using that list to start his day the following morning.

This productivity hack works for me.

It helps me focus and work on key tasks. It also helps me disconnect at the end of the day and allow time for my brain to process and reboot.

Trust me, planning your day the night before will give you back a lot wasted hours in the morning and lower your stress levels.

Try this tonight.

If you’re happy with the results, then commit to trying it for a week.

After a week, you’ll be able to decide whether you want to add “night-before planning” to your life.

Want to get more done in less time?

You need systems not goals. I’m creating a new course, Systems For Getting Work Done to help you create a personal productivity system to get 10X more done in less time. Sign up to be notified when it launches.

This article first appeared on Medium.

%d bloggers like this: