Why You Need a Self-Care Plan

Author Article

Roi_and_Roi/Adobe Stock

Over the past few weeks of our Self-Care Series, we’ve defined self-care, examined the reasons why it’s so hard to consistently engage in self-care practices, and made a case for why self-care does not need to be an individual pursuit. We’ve agreed to begin looking at self-care as a long-term pursuit, one in which taking care of our inner and outer selves are equal parts of the equation. We’ve also learned how to develop coping strategies that can help us and others in our community weather the struggles of self-care with grace and steadiness.

The unsung common thread running through each topic we’ve covered over the past 6 weeks is that everyone needs their own Self-Care Plan, otherwise known as a Coping Strategy.

Three Reasons You Need a Self-Care Plan

A Self-Care Plan is an intervention tool that keeps you from being completely sucked into the vortex, saving you when you find yourself standing on the precipice gazing into the dark abyss. It’s a fail-safe, reated by you, and filled with your favorite self-care activities, important reminders, and ways to activate your self-care community.

1) Customizing a Self-Care Plan is a preventative measure. By designing a roadmap that is unique to you, in moments when you’re NOT in crisis, you’re directing your best self to reflect on what you may need (and have access to) in your worst moments. The reality is that only YOU know how intense your stress levels can get and what resources are available to you. Write that sh*t down.

2) Having a plan takes the guesswork out of what to do and where to turn in moments of crisis. From a mindfulness point of view, it helps you respond instead of react to the situation at hand. When you have a plan in place, you’ll feel more in control of your circumstances and life won’t feel quite as chaotic. (It also makes it easier to ask for help from those you share your plan with.

3) A Self-Care Plan helps you stay the course. You’ll find it far easier to stick to your personal care strategy and avoid falling into the trap of making excuses. Having a plan helps you establish a routine, ensuring that you and your self-care partners don’t wind up in isolation, but rather check in with each other, hold each other accountable, and share the responsibility to support one another.

How to Create A Self-Care Plan

Your Self-Care Plan is a roadmap that you can carry in your back pocket. It’s there to help you walk your talk as well as help you find your way back to equilibrium by providing a clearly defined route back home if you find yourself on off-track.

Creating and following a plan helps you balance your mental, physical, and emotional needs while reminding you of the important people in your support system and the self-care goals you wish to accomplish.

How do you begin creating a Self-Care Plan?

1) First, create an activity list organized around different parts of your life: I’ve found that the easiest way to start is by breaking up this daunting task into several categories, for example:

  • Work
  • Physical Fitness
  • Emotional Life
  • Relationships & Community

For each area above, write down the activities or strategies that you can call on, that are authentic to you and contribute to your wellbeing.

Some examples we’ve discussed over the past weeks include spending time with friends, eating healthy, being active, mindfulness meditation, and finding the confidence to create healthy boundaries. Have fun, be creative, and most impprtatnly, be real with yourself about what works for you and what doesn’t.

2) Second, note any barriers that may be in your way and how to shift them. As you write down each activity, ask yourself what barriers might get in the way of you being able to accomplish it. Then, try to strategize ways that you might be able to shift these barriers (FYI, this works even better when you do so with a friend, partnerm or community!).  If you find that you can’t shift the barriers, feel free to adjust the activities. Your Self-Care Plan is NOT written in stone! It’s meant to be a living, breathing guide that adapts as your life circumstances and demands change.

3) Third, share your plan with your closest friends. Don’t forget to rely on your network of self-care buddies, your community of care. Share a copy of your Self-Care Plan with them and ask them to hold you accountable. Encourage them to create their own Plan and share it with you so you can do the same for them.


Example Self Care Plan

Category: Emotional Life

Activities

1) Develop friendships that are supportive

2) Write down three good things that you do each day

3) Do something that brings you joy (Go to the movies, sit in a café, hit the beach, or set off a hike)

4) Regularly meet with your social group/community of care

Barriers

1. Your friendships are not equal in “give and take.” Shift it: define expectations with your closest friends. Don’t assume your friends know what you need from them.

2. You’re in the habit of negative self-talk. Shift it: every time you catch yourself saying something negative to yourself say the exact opposite to yourself.

3. Don’t have a babysitter or the ability to get away for the evening. Shift it: Activate your self-care community

4) My friends or self-care network don’t have time to meet. Shift it: Set up a meet-up in advance and regularly. Create a monthly calendar.


Make it Visual

I always suggest that, if possible, you make your Self-Care Plan visual. Think of it as your very own personal self-care infographic:

Try this:
1) Start by jotting down a list of keywords or phrases from the activities list you created—choose whichever words resonate with you the most.
2) Then, grab a white piece of paper or a posterboard and transform these into graphic elements. Go ahead and use different colors, drawings, photos, whatever works for you to create visual cues that resonate with you and your pla.

Once you complete your masterpiece, put it somewhere you’re sure to see it every day because doing so will help you think about and (re)commit to your strategies.  A byproduct of keeping it visible is that others will see it, too, and this will encourage them to ask about it, reflect on it, support your efforts, and, just maybe, even get them thinking about creating their own self-care vision. (By the way, I love to see these, so if you create one, please share it in our self-care group!)

Sticking to Your Self-Care Plan

Just like an athlete who trains for a competitive event, Self-Care Plans require that you practice the activities regularly. Be realistic with yourself by remembering that it takes time for a new practice to become a routine. There will be moments when you falter and that’s okay. We’re all human. Don’t punish yourself, but instead refocus and recommit to your plan. This way, if you find yourself on the edge of that void, staring it down, you’ll be prepared. How do you get yourself back on track when you falter? The answer to that question will be different for everyone, and will depend on what’s in your self-care plan. Here’s what works for me:

When I realize I’m beyond the edge in a black hole this is LITERALLY what I do: I have an old fashioned egg timer (you can use your phone timer, too) and I set a timer and allow myself 30 minutes (whatever time works for you) to feel really sorry for myself and mad at myself and beat myself up if I need to. Sometimes I even write it all down. It’s ugly. Usually, by 15 minutes in I’ve exhausted myself. And then I MAKE myself do something that makes me happy even if I’m not in the mood. Last week it was playing Al Green’s “Love and Happiness” in the kitchen super loud and dancing. Sometimes it’s pulling my husband in to swing dance to the Stray Cats with me.

When you just allow yourself to be in the vortex and really lean into it you are usually ready to finally extract yourself. And by having a plan in place for those moments when all seems lost, you can more easily find your way back to center.

As Louis Pasteur once observed, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”

The 3-Keys To Daily Well-Being

Author Article

Tom Rath is a researcher, author, and filmmaker who studies the role of human behavior in business, health, and well-being. The bestselling author of Are You Fully Charged? and Strengths Based Leadershiphe’s also a senior scientist and advisor to Gallup. Since age 16, he’s been successfully battling a rare disease that causes cancer cells to appear throughout his body. He joined Susan CainNew York Times bestselling author of Quiet, for a conversation on the secrets to living a healthy, happy, and meaningful life.Susan: At only age 39, you’ve lived a pretty extraordinary life. And you’re well known for your natural humility. How do you channel all that quiet modesty into your work?

Tom: One of the lessons I learned very early in life, from my grandfather, is that it is an extraordinary waste of time to try to be someone you are not. So while I aspire to have a positive influence on other people, I know I’m not going to accomplish that by being the loudest or most charismatic person in a room. What I can do is read, learn, and listen as much as humanly possible and channel my findings into something productive. This is the part that comes naturally to me.

My challenge is that all the knowledge in the world does little good for others until it is shared in a practical form. This is why I have spent quite a bit of time trying to become a semi-competent writer over the past decade. There is so much amazing research being conducted today that could influence people’s lives. But that knowledge has to meet people at a time of need in order to have any chance of influencing a person’s daily choices.

Susan: At age 16, you were diagnosed with VHL disease, a rare genetic disorder that causes cancer cells to appear in various parts of your body. Since that time, you’ve been researching and experimenting with various ways of slowing down the growth of those tumors. What have your most important findings been?

Tom: An essential learning for me is that anyone can dramatically improve their odds of living a long and healthy life by making better choices. Just look at the physical aspects. If you get a good night’s sleep tonight, it gives you a clean slate for tomorrow, where you are more likely to be active throughout the day and make better food choices. Perhaps most importantly, this starts an upward spiral, where you feel progressively better as each day goes by.

The broader learning for me, after battling cancer for a couple of decades, is: you have to do something today that will continue to grow after you’re gone. I may have a more constant threat to my mortality than the average person, but in reality the only thing any of us can count on with extreme certainty is that we have today to do what matters most. When I orient my days around this simple thought, it makes it easy to spend even more time doing things for other people each day.

Susan: What do you do when you feel scared or anxious?

Tom: It helps me to simply acknowledge the fact that I am feeling anxious. In most cases, this keeps my physiological response in check so it does not exacerbate the problem. I think a majority of things we allow to create anxiety in our lives are a reflection of how we choose to respond to external circumstances. Another thing that helps me is focusing on everything that isgoing right. Simply bringing the thought of my children’s laughter to mind induces a smile almost instantaneously.

When I am anxious as a result of larger stressors, I tend to tackle the problem right away. Life is too brief to let fears—that are often unfounded—erode entire days or weeks. Especially for someone like me who needs a lot of thought time, it would be easy to let fears consume far more bandwidth than they should.

Susan: In recent years, and especially in your latest book Are You Fully Charged?, your focus shifted to daily well-being. Why that shift?

Tom: Looking at what improves well-being in the moment is infinitely more practical. In the past, most research focused on asking people to reflect on their lives overall. That is like inquiring about the quality of someone’s career by asking them to read their resume. It misses almost all of the richness and emotion that occurs in the thick of a typical day.

This is why I’ve been deeply encouraged by a lot of smart research around daily well-being or what researchers call “daily experience.” When you look at what really matters on a moment-to-moment basis, it is things like brief interactions with loved ones that matter significantly more than how much money we make or whether we live in a wealthy country.

Susan: What are the three keys to daily well-being?

Tom: The first key is doing some type of meaningful work today.

The second key is having far more positive than negative interactions.

The third key is having the energy you need to be your best today, which starts with eating, moving, and sleeping well in combination.

Susan: What are the essentials of meaningful work? And can most people, who are already overwhelmed with paying the bills and supporting their families, afford to think in these terms?

Tom: It’s important to note that I am defining meaningful work as doing something that benefits another person. If you think about it in terms that are this basic, even small acts that have a little positive value for society count. In this context, I would argue that meaningful work is more of a basic necessity than a luxury for those who can afford it.

Meaningful work is also a lot more practical than I ever thought before I did a deeper dive on this topic. I had always assumed things like meaning, mission, and purpose were higher level needs, but the more I learn, the clearer it becomes that meaningful work is a basic human need that cuts across professions and income levels.

Susan: You write about the importance of positive social interactions. What does this mean for introverts, who often prefer their social time in smaller doses, with closer friends, and punctuated by solitude?

Tom: There is nothing more appealing to this introvert than a combination of solitude and a little time with my closest friends. Perhaps this is why the research around ratios of positive to negative interactions has always resonated with me. The quality of social interactions matters far more than the frequency of those interactions. Based on what I have studied, we need about 80% of our interactions with other people to be more positive than negative. This is simply because negative interactions carry much heavier load and outweigh positive ones.

I have also learned to leverage my more analytical and inquisitive personality to create better interactions. It is a lot easier for me as an introvert to ask a good question than it is to initiate a story or other banter. So I ask a lot of questions, listen well, keep my electronic devices stowed away, and learn as much as I can during each interaction. In a world where attention is so incredibly fragmented by voices and devices, I have a feeling that some of these things introverts naturally do better will be even more highly valued in the future.

This article originally appeared on Heleo.

How To Be Resilient: 8 Steps To Success When Life Gets Hard

Author Article

GETTY IMAGES

“Stick with it!”“Be resilient!”“Never give up!”I see a lot of stuff about resilience, persistence and grit. What I don’t see is a lot of legitimate info on how to actually increase those qualities.How can we be more resilient? How can we shrug off huge challenges in life, persist and — in the end — succeed?So I looked at the most difficult scenarios for insight. (Who needs resilience in easy situations, right?)When life and death is on the line, what do the winners do that the losers don’t?Turns out surviving the most dangerous situations has some good lessons we can use to learn how to be resilient in everyday life.

Whether it’s dealing with unemployment, a difficult job, or personal tragedies, here are insights that can help.

1) Perceive and believe

“The company already had two rounds of layoffs this year but I never thought they would let me go.”

“Yeah, the argument was getting a little heated but I didn’t think he was going to hit me.”

The first thing to do when facing difficulty is to make sure you recognize it as soon as possible.

Sounds obvious but we’ve all been in denial at one point or another. What do people who survive life-threatening situations have in common?

They move through those “stages of grief” from denial to acceptance faster:

Via Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why:

They immediately begin to recognize, acknowledge, and even accept the reality of their situation… They move through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance very rapidly.

What’s that thing doctors say when they’re able to successfully treat a medical problem? “Good thing we caught it early.”

When you stay oblivious or live in denial, things get worse — often in a hurry. When you know you’re in trouble you can act.

Nobody is saying paranoia is good but research shows a little worrying is correlated with living a longer life.

(For more on how a little negativity can make you happier, click here.)

Okay, like they say in AA, you admitted you have a problem. What’s the next thing the most resilient people do?

2) Manage your emotions

Sometimes when SCUBA divers drown they still have air in their oxygen tanks. Seriously.

How is this possible? Something goes wrong, they panic, and instinctively pull the regulator out of their mouth.

Via Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why:

M. Ephimia Morphew, a psychologist and founder of the Society for Human Performance in Extreme Environments, told me of a series of accidents she’d been studying in which scuba divers were found dead with air in their tanks and perfectly functional regulators. “Only they had pulled the regulators out of their mouths and drowned. It took a long time for researchers to figure out what was going on.” It appears that certain people suffer an intense feeling of suffocation when their mouths are covered. That led to an overpowering impulse to uncover the mouth and nose. The victims had followed an emotional response that was in general a good one for the organism, to get air. But it was the wrong response under the special, non-natural, circumstances of scuba diving.

When you’re having trouble breathing what’s more natural than to clear an obstruction from your mouth?

Now just a brief second of clear thinking tells you this is a very bad idea while diving — but when you panic, you can’t think clearly.

Rash decision making rarely delivers optimal results in everyday life either.

Resilient people acknowledge difficult situations, keep calm and evaluate things rationally so they can make a plan and act.

Via Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why:

Al Siebert, in his book The Survivor Personality, writes that “The best survivors spend almost no time, especially in emergencies, getting upset about what has been lost, or feeling distressed about things going badly…. For this reason they don’t usually take themselves too seriously and are therefore hard to threaten.”

(For methods Navy SEALS, astronauts and the samurai use to keep calm under pressure, click here.)

So you know you’re in trouble but you’re keeping your cool. Might there be a simple way to sidestep all these problems? Yeah.

3) Be a quitter

Many of you might be a little confused right now: “A secret to resilience is quitting? That doesn’t make any sense.”

What do we see when we look at people who survive life and death situations? Many of them were smart enough to bail early.

Via Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why:

“…It’s a matter of looking at yourself and assessing your own abilities and where you are mentally, and then realizing that it’s better to turn back and get a chance to do it again than to go for it and not come back at all.” We are a society of high achievers, but in the wilderness, such motivation can be deadly…

The best way to take a punch from a UFC fighter and to survive a hurricane are the same: “Don’t be there when it hits.”

You quit baseball when you were 10 and quit playing the piano after just 2 lessons. Nobody sticks with everything. You can’t.

When the company starts laying people off, there’s always one guy smart enough to immediately jump ship and preemptively get a new job.

And some people are smart enough to realize, “I am never going to be a great Tango dancer and should double my efforts at playing poker.”

And you know what results this type of quitting has? It makes you happier, reduces stress and increases health.

Via Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain:

Wrosch found that people who quit their unattainable goals saw physical and psychological benefits. “They have, for example, less depressive symptoms, less negative affect over time,” he says. “They also have lower cortisol levels, and they have lower levels of systemic inflammation, which is a marker of immune functioning. And they develop fewer physical health problems over time.”

You can do anything — when you stop trying to do everything.

(For more on how to determine what you should stick with and what you should abandon, click here.)

Okay, so maybe you can’t bail and really do need to be resilient. What does the research say you can do to have more grit? It sounds crazy …

4) Be delusional

Marshall Goldsmith did a study of incredibly successful people. After assembling all the data he realized the thing they all had in common.

And then he shouted: “These successful people are all delusional!”

Via Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success:

“This is not to be misinterpreted as a bad thing. In fact, being delusional helps us become more effective. By definition, these delusions don’t have to be accurate. If they were totally accurate, your goals would be too low.” Goldsmith noticed that although illusions of control expose people to risk of failure, they do something else that is very interesting: they motivate people to keep trying even when they’ve failed… “Successful people fail a lot, but they try a lot, too. When things don’t work, they move on until an idea does work. Survivors and great entrepreneurs have this in common.”

Crazy successful people and people who survive tough situations are all overconfident. Very overconfident.

Some of you may be scratching your head: “Isn’t step one all about not being in denial? About facing reality?”

You need to make a distinction between denial about the situation and overconfidence in your abilities.

The first one is very bad, but the second one can be surprisingly good. See the world accurately — but believe you are a rockstar.

Via Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success:

Denying or distorting a bad situation may be comforting in the short term, but it’s potentially harmful in the long run because it will be almost impossible to solve a problem unless you first admit you have one. In contrast, having an especially strong belief in one’s personal capabilities, even if that belief is somewhat illusory, probably helps you to solve problems… A useful, if somewhat simplistic, mathematical formula might be: a realistic view of the situation + a strong view of one’s ability to control one’s destiny through one’s efforts = grounded hope.

(For more on what the most successful people have in common, click here.)

So this is how superheroes must feel: there’s definitely trouble, but you’re calm and you feel like you’re awesome enough to handle this.

But we need to move past feelings. What actions are going to see you through this mess?

5) Prepare … even if it’s too late for preparation

Folks, I firmly believe there is no such thing as a “pretty good” alligator wrestler.

Who survives life threatening situations? People who have done it before. People who have prepared.

Now even if you can’t truly prepare for a layoff or a divorce, you can work to have good productive habits and eliminate wasteful ones.

Good habits don’t tax your willpower as much as deliberate actions and will help you be more resilient.

How do you survive a WW2 shipwreck and shark attacks? Keep preparing for the future, even when you’re in the midst of trouble.

Via Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience:

As the days went by, he continued to concentrate on strategies for survival. At one point, a rubber life belt floated by and he grabbed it. He had heard that the Japanese would use aircraft to strafe shipwrecked Americans. The life belt could be blown up through a rubber tube. He cut the tube off and kept it, reasoning that if the Japanese spotted them, he could slip under water and breathe through the tube. He was planning ahead. He had a future in his mind, and good survivors always concentrate on the present but plan for the future. Thus, taking it day by day, hour by hour, and   sometimes minute by minute, did Don McCall endure.

One caveat: as learning expert Dan Coyle recommends, make sure any prep you do is as close to the real scenario as possible.

Bad training can be worse than no training. When police practice disarming criminals they often conclude by handing the gun to their partner.

One officer trained this so perfectly that in the field he took a gun from a criminal — and instinctively handed it right back.

Via Make It Stick:

Johnson recounts how officers are trained to take a gun from an assailant at close quarters, a maneuver they practice by role-playing with a fellow officer. It requires speed and deftness: striking an assailant’s wrist with one hand to break his grip while simultaneously wresting the gun free with the other. It’s a move that officers had been in the habit of honing through repetition, taking the gun, handing it back, taking it again. Until one of their officers, on a call in the field, took the gun from an assailant and handed it right back again.

(For more on how to develop good habits — and get rid of bad ones, click here.)

You’re expecting the best but prepared for the worst. Perfect. Is now the time to de-stress? Heck, no.

6) Stay busy, busy, busy

What’s the best way to survive and keep your emotions in check when things are hard? “Work, work, work.”

Via Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience:

Remember the saying “Get organized or die.” In the wake of trauma, “Work, work, work,” as Richard Mollica wrote. He is a psychiatrist at Harvard who studies trauma. “This is the single most important goal of traumatized people throughout the world.” The hands force order on the mind.

When things go bad, people get sad or scared, retreat and distract themselves. That can quell the emotions, but it doesn’t get you out of this mess.

Resilient people know that staying busy not only gets you closer to your goals but it’s also the best way to stay calm.

And believe it or not, we’re all happier when we’re busy.

(For more on what the most productive people in the world do every day, click here.)

You’re hustlin’. That’s good. But it’s hard to keep that can-do attitude when things aren’t going well. What’s another secret to hanging in there?

7) Make it a game

In his book “Touching the Void,” Joe Simpson tells the harrowing story of how he broke his leg 19,000 feet up while climbing a mountain.

Actually he didn’t break his leg… he shattered it. Like marbles in a sock. His calf bone driven through his knee joint.

He and his climbing partner assumed he was a dead man. But he survived.

One of his secrets was making his slow, painful descent into a game.

Via Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why:

Simpson was learning what it means to be playful in such circumstances: “A pattern of movements developed after my initial wobbly hops and I meticulously repeated the pattern. Each pattern made up one step across the slope and I began to feel detached from everything around me. I thought of nothing but the patterns.” His struggle had become a dance, and the dance freed him from the terror of what he had to do.

How does this work? It’s neuroscience. Patterned activities stimulate the same reward center cocaine does.

Via Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience:

And tellingly, a structure within the basal ganglia is activated during feelings of safety, reward, and simply feeling great. It’s called the striatum and drugs such as cocaine set it off, but so does the learning of a new habit or skill and the performance of organized, patterned activities…

Even boring things can be fun if you turn them into a game with stakes, challenges and little rewards.

And we can use this same system for everyday problems: How many resumes can you send out today? Can you beat yesterday?

Celebrating “small wins” is something survivors have in common.

Via Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why:

Survivors take great joy from even their smallest successes. That is an important step in creating an ongoing feeling of motivation and preventing the descent into hopelessness. It also provides relief from the unspeakable stress of a true survival situation.

(For more on how to increase gratitude and happiness, click here.)

You’re a machine. Making progress despite huge challenges. What’s the final way to take your resilience to the next level? Other people.

8) Get help and give help

Getting help is good. That’s obvious. But sometimes we’re ashamed or embarrassed and fail to ask for it. Don’t let pride get in the way.

What’s more fascinating is that even in the worst of times, giving help can help you.

By taking on the role of caretaker we increase the feeling of meaning in our lives. This helps people in the worst situations succeed.

Leon Weliczker survived the Holocaust not only because of his resourcefulness — but also because he felt he had to protect his brother.

Via Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience:

When his fifteen-year-old brother Aaron came in, Leon was suddenly filled with love and a feeling of responsibility for the two boys. He was shedding the cloak of the victim in favor of the role of the rescuer. Terrence Des Pres, in his book The Survivor, makes the point that in the journey of survival, helping someone else is as important as getting help.

Sometimes being selfless is the best way to be selfish. And the research shows that givers are among the most successful people and they live longer.

Via Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why:

Helping someone else is the best way to ensure your own survival. It takes you out of yourself. It helps you to rise above your fears. Now you’re a rescuer, not a victim. And seeing how your leadership and skill buoy others up gives you more focus and energy to persevere. The cycle reinforces itself: You buoy them up, and their response buoys you up. Many people who survive alone report that they were doing it for someone else (a wife, boyfriend, mother, son) back home.

(For more on how helping others can also help you, click here.)

So once the threat is passed, once the dust has settled, can we have a normal life again? Actually, sometimes, life can be even better.

Sum up

So when life is daunting and we need resilience, keep in mind:

  1. Perceive And Believe
  2. Manage Your Emotions
  3. Be A Quitter
  4. Be Delusional
  5. Prepare… Even If It’s Too Late For Preparation
  6. Stay Busy, Busy, Busy
  7. Make It A Game
  8. Get Help And Give Help

To live full lives some amount of difficulty is essential.

Via Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience:

Richard Tedeschi, a psychologist who treats post-traumatic stress, said that “to achieve the greatest psychological health, some kind of suffering is necessary.”

You can meet life’s challenges with resilience, competence and grace.

And when the troubles are over, science agrees: what does not kill you can in fact make you stronger.

Join over 320,000 readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

This article first appeared on Barking Up The Wrong Tree.

How Habits Become Your Destiny

Author Article
By Susanna Newsonen

Habits are a part of everyone’s life. We all have them, we all know of them, and most of us tend to complain about them. Yet not many of us take the time to learn about them. If we did, we would be a lot more successful with building good habits and eliminating bad ones.

With 40 percent of your daily behavior being based on habits, it’s important to stop and take stock of what they actually are. Imagine if 90 percent of that 40 percent is all bad habits, or habits that are holding you back? That’s not a fun nor productive place to be.

That’s why it’s important to become your very own social scientist for your own life. Explore what your habits are, how they have been built, and whether they are good or bad for you. This is where you have to start. Without the self-awareness and the breaking down of the habits, it’s very difficult to start changing your habits or adding new ones in.

To help you get started, I have three questions for you to use when you start exploring your habits:

1. Is this habit helping me to be happier, healthier or more successful?

If the answer is no, it’s obvious you’ve got to let it go. The only tricky part is you can’t just eliminate it because it’s an existing neural pathway in your brain. Instead, you’ve got to dress that bad habit in new overalls to turn it into a good habit you want to keep.

2. How is my habit formed?

Without understanding what your habit consists of it’s impossible to change it or adapt it. This is where Charles Duhigg’s habit loop comes in, with each habit having a cue (a consistent time, location, emotion, person or activity), a routine (the actual behavior) and a reward (some sense of satisfaction). The key is realising that even the bad habits have a reward even though we might not label them as such.

3. Do I want to change one or more habits in my life?

No one can tell you what habits you should or shouldn’t have. You know what is best for your body and being, and you know what habits you are happy to involve in your life. When you’re deciding whether to change a bad habit or to add a new good habit into your life, make sure you have a clear why behind it. Doing it “because someone said so” isn’t going to keep you motivated through your habit change.

The most important thing to remember is that habit change is possible. Even though it’s difficult at the start, the more you stick with it, the easier it becomes. There are lots of different tools and strategies to test when it comes to changing habits and building new ones successfully, but before all that comes the understanding of what habits actually are, how they are formed, and how you can override the neural pathways of bad habits.

Then, like Aristotle said, you’ll be on your way to excellence: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

The Best List You’ll Ever Make To Be More Effective

Author Article Here
By MARY LEE GANNON

We all have to-do lists, project objectives, metrics and planners to help keep us on track in our daily lives. Each year we set high expectations and even with these tools we find ourselves frustrated because we don’t have the structure, systems, or accountability in place to achieve our goals. Couple that with doubt and indecision and you have a perfect recipe for anxiety. In the worst case this leads to action paralysis.Let’s talk about the best case. Most people know what they need to do to be happy, effective and thrive just not how to do it or what to do with doubt and fear. We spend enough time telling ourselves how we are not equipped to succeed and armoring up against failure by being risk averse. We wallow proficiently on what it is we need to do but spend less time feeling what it would be like to actually live the dream and executing a plan to get there. Guarding against danger is how we have evolved as a species and not become extinct.

We are Jedis at searching the environment for danger. We are not innately good at promoting ourselves into opportunity. Opportunity isn’t essential to stay alive. Staying safe is. Let’s reverse the pattern.

The purpose of creating this list is: 1) to give you definition around the areas where you thrive so that you can spend more time there especially when challenged, and 2) to build self-awareness around opportunities for growth that increase your executive presence and effectiveness.

The best list you’ll ever make to be more effective

Create two columns, side by side, on a sheet of paper numbered one to 10. A word document is good for this exercise so that you may modify it as time goes on.

 FIRST COLUMN: Label this “I AM THIS”

  1. Think of a time from your childhood when you were at your very best – happy, included, a star.  Write down 3 words that describe who you were in that situation.  What were you doing, thinking and feeling and how were you behaving? Examples: Listening, Planning, Being Vulnerable, Compassionate, Gentle, Strong, Tenacious, Resourceful, Confident, Capable, Open.    
  2. Think of a time professionally when you were at your very best and write down 3 words that describe what you were doing, thinking and feeling and how you were behaving.
  3. Think of a peak personal moment where you felt appreciated, respected, effective and write down 4 more words that describe who you were in that situation.

SECOND COLUMN: Label this “NOT THAT”

    1. Next to each entry in Column 1 write what you are doing when you are NOT at your best specific to the corresponding behavior beside it. This should reflect what you exhibit or the feel when you are NOT leading from that point of strength. If your point of strength is ‘Tenacious’ what are you doing when you don’t feel that? Weak? Ineffective? Examples for NOT THAT words are: Threatened, Criticized, Afraid of ____, Distracted, Losing Control, Abandoned, Disappointed, Challenged.

The list on the left is who you truly are at your core. This list on the right is what happens to you when you don’t feel that way. Knowledge is power so be honest when you create the list. Now when you feel one of the negative feelings or exhibit one of the negative behaviors from the second column revisit the first column to see precisely what you need to focus on to get back to a position of strength. For more career strategies get the FREE report: 31 Success Practices for Leaders in the High Stakes Corporate World. https://www.maryleegannon.com/31-success-practices-for-leaders

 Challenging situations occur in everyone’s lives that often impart feelings of despair. Fear can set in followed by repeated defensive behaviors that draw you away from your ability to thrive in your career, goals and relationships with confidence.  Post this list where will you will see it every day to remind yourself of where your strengths lie and what to focus on when negative feelings or behaviors surface. 

Next time you are feeling anxious look at this list and the correlating positive word that is at your core. That is the very thing you want to reflect on, meditate on, create a plan around. Now you have an actionable strategy to reverse the negativity!

The Morning Routine That Can Completely Change Your Productivity Levels

See Author Article Here
By Jack Canfield

In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Jack Canfield talks about some of the small tweaks in your morning that can lead to more success.

A few habits successful people to each morning may sound familiar to you: meditation, exercise and something uplifting.

Another habit Canfield emphasizes is the tendecy of being an early riser. Canfield mentions that many successful business leaders wake up before the sun rises, mainly to get ahead of their days or begin diving into reading early. This habit feeds into Canfield’s personal habit of a morning power hour. Canfield explains that this slice of time has drastically improved his mental health, as well as empowered him to make better decisions.

Canfield ends with this: Small changes in your routine can have a big impact on your daily results.

Click the video to hear more about the optimal morning routine.