If taken seriously, short quotes can help us live healthier, happier, and more peaceful lives. Yet most of the time, all we do is get inspired for a few seconds and then move on with our busy lives.
Even though a spark of inspiration can be valuable, quotes only become truly powerful when we take time to reflect on their meaning and see how we can make use of them.
If used correctly, those tiny lessons can have a lasting effect on how we live, love, and make sense of life.
They can help us overcome challenges and spark hope when everything seems meaningless.
“If you resist change, you resist life. “ — Sadhguru
Most people waste their lives trying to “play it safe” because they fear changes and unexpected challenges.
Yet the truth is, you can’t run away from change because it’s a crucial part of life.
Life is an unpredictable journey and we can’t ever know what will happen tomorrow, next week, or even next year.
How to use this:
Instead of looking at change with fear, embrace it as a vital force in your life.
Things change all the time anyway — whether you like it or not. But instead of trying to resist, you can choose to welcome new opportunities with joy.
“If you’re always trying to be normal, you’ll never know how amazing you can be.” — Maya Angelou
We often hold ourselves back because we’re afraid of standing out and being different.
Instead, we try to fit in, even if that means feeling miserable deep inside.
The truth is, you were not born to “fit in.”
Yet, that’s not what society tells you. Instead, they tell you to live life a certain way: Go to school, graduate, get a “safe” job, get married, have kids, please everyone around you but yourself, retire, and die without ever fulfilling your own dreams.
According to most people, that’s the formula for a perfectly “safe” life. If you follow it, your parents and their friends might be proud of you.
But what about you?
Is that how you want to live?
Why do we normalize a certain way of living and demonize anyone who steps out of that boring pattern to live life according to their own rules?
How to use this:
Normality often seems the safest way, but it can quickly become the most dangerous path — especially if it doesn’t align with your needs.
You deserve to make your own choices based on your dreams, goals, and strengths.
Just because others are living life a certain way doesn’t mean that’s how you need to do it.
Step out of boring patterns. Do you.
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four-hour days.” — Zig Ziglar
When we say “I don’t have time,” we usually mean “It’s not a priority” or “I can’t make time for it.”
Yet the truth is, we all have enough time if we’re just careful about how we use it.
Surveys show that we spend almost 4 hours per day on our phones.
Just imagine how much more we could do if we minimized the hours spent scrolling through news feeds every day.
How to use this:
If you feel like “you don’t have time,” start to religiously plan your weeks and days.
On Sundays, plan the week ahead and set three core priorities that’ll help you achieve your long-term goals.
Each evening, set three specific goals for the upcoming day, which will help you accomplish your weekly priorities.
If you have no idea how you’re using your time, start tracking your productive hours with a simple time tracker.
“Only put off until tomorrow what you’re willing to die having left undone.” — Pablo Picasso
We often keep ourselves busy “doing things” yet procrastinate on the few tasks that would truly matter.
Most people are so afraid of facing the truths in life that they choose to keep themselves busy, so they never “have time” to do the hard things.
They don’t follow their heart, stay stuck in careers they hate, and barely show love.
Even though we all have goals and dreams, most of us never dare to fight for them and thus stay stuck in daily lives we don’t enjoy.
How to use this:
Instead of fighting through endless to-do lists, pause and ask yourself which important moments and conversations you’ve been putting off for too long.
Each week, make time for at least one such conversation or activity.
“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” — Gandhi
So many people believe they need to be bold and relentless to achieve anything valuable.
And quotes like “Nice guys finish last” just make our insecurities worse because we start to think we need to be mean to “win” in life.
Yet, as Gandhi preached more than 50 years ago, we can shake the world by being gentle, soft, and kind. And that’s mostly because shaking the world starts by shaking ourselves and those around us.
How to use this:
If you want to impact the world, start by first impacting your own life.
Stand up for yourself and show us what to do by doing it first.
Contrary to common belief, we can influence millions of people by being kind, compassionate, and caring.
In the 21st century, we’re all lacking love and deeper connection, so if you can show up and convince even just a few people of your good intentions, you’ll soon be able to start an entire movement that might shape more people than you ever thought possible.
“Everything we do is infused with the energy with which we do it. If we’re frantic, life will be frantic. If we’re peaceful, life will be peaceful.” — Marianne Williamson
Our energy shapes every aspect of our lives: It influences how we communicate, how we show up for ourselves, how we take care of our loved ones, how we get things done, and how we ultimately feel.
You can add energy and enthusiasm to the most mundane tasks of your life and ensure you stay on top of your game regardless of external circumstances.
How to use this:
There’s a saying that goes, “How you do one thing is how you do everything.”
The truth is, the majority of our lives aren’t exciting.
Most of our days are spent with basic, boring activities like work, cooking, eating, running errands, cleaning up, and so on.
Yet regardless of what exactly we do, we can always decide to show up and infuse our desired energy into our days.
Instead of being frantic, we can choose to be peaceful and calm.
Instead of being annoyed, we can choose to be compassionate and kind.
And instead of blaming ourselves when things go wrong, we can choose love and forgiveness.
“Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.” — Robert Holden
We often blame others for “not treating us right,” yet we’re usually the ones who treat ourselves worst.
We don’t take our needs seriously, prioritize others instead of ourselves, and barely take time to nourish our deepest needs.
And instead of looking within, we get mad at our partner, friends, or family for not taking care of us.
How to use this:
If you want to be treated with respect and love, you must first love yourself.
We’re teaching the world around us how we want to be treated by showing them how we treat ourselves.
Take time to explore your needs by reflecting and journaling.
Cancel appointments if you think they’ll make you feel worse instead of better.
Speak the truth and show up for your desires, even if they might sound ridiculous to others.
This is your life, and you only have one shot at creating a reality you truly enjoy. Trust yourself and give yourself the love you deserve before expecting anyone else to do it for you.
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” — Pablo Picasso
I’m an online writing coach and teach new writers how to build an audience by sharing their expertise or passion online.
One of the questions I hear a lot is: “What if it doesn’t work?”
And I usually reply by asking: “Well, what if it *does* work?”
Most of us are so used to “playing it safe” that we want to know our efforts will be “worth it” before even lifting a finger.
We don’t want to give more than we might receive. That’s also why so many people struggle with their relationships.
They expect 50/50, but the truth is, strong relationships aren’t always balanced.
Sometimes, you need to give 80 and only get back 20, while other times, it’ll be the other way around.
If you can’t deal with the fact that you’ll never know whether your hard work will pay off or not, you’ll struggle to break out of your existing patterns.
How to use this:
Big goals usually require big action and risks.
Whether that’s building your own business, getting a new job, or making fundamental changes in your relationships, you always need to do the work without knowing whether it’ll be worth it.
But instead of wondering, “What if it doesn’t work?” you can ask yourself: “Well, what if it *does* work out exactly how I want?!”
“Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.” — Dalai Lama
We want to “succeed” at all costs and ignore everything we need to give up to achieve our goals.
You can always go “the extra mile” and do a little more, but the question is: What do you need to give up?
The truth is, every decision we make comes with its own sacrifices.
Whenever you say yes to something, you’re saying no to many other things.
How to use this:
Next time you’re setting or reviewing goals, ask yourself what you’ll need to give up to achieve them and whether it’s still worth it.
If you have to give up your peace of mind, favorite hobby, and quality time with your loved ones to get a raise or build a side hustle, you might want to rethink that goal.
Each decision comes with its own effects. The earlier we consider those effects, the sooner we can avoid frustration in the future.
Be aware of your goals, but also be mindful of what you’re not willing to give up.
Did you ever scroll through social media profiles of influencers sharing their picture-perfect lives full of glamour and success and wondered how they got there?
If you’re anything like me, you later looked at your own life full of struggles, fears, and unaccomplished goals and felt frustrated about your own progress.
You might think of all the things you still need to take care of and wonder why your life feels so miserable while others seem so happy.
And most importantly, you feel like you’re massively behind in life.
You start to feel a little anxious. You believe you’ve made wrong choices and start to feel like a “failure.”
Sadly, wondering whether we’re “enough” is a common thought because comparing ourselves to others is now easier than ever before.
Social media and societal expectations make it hard to acknowledge our own progress because we’re so focused on what others are doing and achieving.
Yet the truth is, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, even if it might seem so at first sight.
We usually think that others are doing better because we only see the bright sides of their lives. And that’s partly because our perception of what a “good life” should look like is so screwed due to unrealistic expectations.
You might see someone’s big house and their fancy vacation photos, but you have no idea how peaceful or miserable they actually feel in that house or during that vacation.
Ultimately, “good” and “better” are based on your perspective. You can be happy with very little or own anything yet feel miserable.
The good news is, whether we’re doing well in life is mostly defined by small elements of our daily life:
You know what you *don’t* want
Most people will tell you, “you need to know what you want in life,” but the truth is, knowing what you don’t want is equally powerful.
If you know that you don’t want a typical office job, you’re a huge step ahead — even if you don’t know exactly what kind of job you want instead.
You might not know what your ideal relationship would look like, but you might know exactly what you don’t want based on your previous experiences. This information alone will help you make the right decisions too.
You can celebrate the wins of others
If you have a pure heart, you’ll be able to wish good for others and celebrate with them instead of feeling bad about their success.
So many people believe they need to constantly compete with their colleagues and friends while the truth is that we all can win.
We’re living in an abundant world full of options and opportunities for everyone, and it’s possible that we all do well in life.
You’re not hyped about every new trend
Here’s a truth most people will never accept: You don’t need to be up to date on every trend, and you can say no to materialism.
So many people’s purchasing decisions are based on what society and random ads tell them to buy. Similarly, their big life decisions are also shaped by those trends.
Escaping that cycle isn’t always easy, but it’s possible: You can live your life according to your own needs without following every new trend.
I used my last phone (a Samsung Galaxy S8) for almost five years until it broke down.
Phones are useful devices, but they can also be our greatest enemies. Most people spend way too much time staring at their screens anyway, so I consciously decide not to prioritize having the newest devices.
And I never understood why I should pay thousands of dollars for a new phone if I could get an older model for almost no money.
Once my old phone broke down, I extended my contract and got a new phone for free. It’s not the latest model but is a lot better than the previous one and does everything it should do. I’ll use it until it doesn’t get the job done anymore, and then I’ll get the next one.
The same is true for any other device I use in my daily life.
Most people live paycheck to paycheck because they’re drowning in small monthly payments for items they purchased to prove their social status.
If you can ignore those stupid games and make more thoughtful (and sustainable) choices, you’ll be able to detach yourself from that pressure to constantly buy things you don’t even care about and instead use your money to create a life you enjoy.
So many people think their material possessions will help them be happier or feel “more successful,” yet what truly happens is that they end up feeling miserable and drowning in consumer debt.
Luckily, genuine happiness isn’t rooted in “things” but in relationships and our inner emotions.
You’re a little skeptical
A healthy dose of skepticism helps you seek truth instead of shallow information.
Questioning life helps you look beyond the surface and find new paths you’ve never thought about before.
Most people do whatever they’re told to do without ever asking why. They act like puppets because they don’t want to take responsibility for their actions.
By doing the opposite, you’re stepping up for yourself and showing the world that you want more than the ordinary.
You feel connected
Research proves that meaningful connections are one of the most important elements of happiness. Plus, they even influence our health.
The good news is, you don’t need dozens of friends. In fact, the number of relationships we can nourish at a given time is finite anyway, and it makes more sense to maintain a small number of meaningful relationships instead of having shallow conversations with hundreds of people.
And if you don’t feel that sense of connection yet, you can now start to consciously build your circle with like-minded people. You could, for instance, join local events and clubs to meet people with similar interests.
If that feels too hard, you could even just start by joining online communities, which might later lead to real-life friendships as well.
You know how to step back to enjoy life
Even though a good life isn’t necessarily defined by what you accomplish, having certain goals and a vision of the future helps you stay energized and motivated.
Researchers even found that having a purpose can prolong our lives.
Having a strong purpose is also one of the common attributes of blue zones, which are five specific regions of the world where a great percentage of the population lives up to age 100 or more.
Yet, in Blue Zones, purpose isn’t necessarily defined by your work.
Their definitions are loosely translated as what makes life worth living. And if we’re honest, for most of us, our work isn’t what makes our lives more meaningful.
It’s our relationships, the voluntary work we do, or our hobbies that add meaning to our lives.
Yet more than half of America’s employees report that they lack proper work-life balance and work more hours than they feel comfortable with.
Working less and spending more time on other activities isn’t always easy because most of us grew up being told that we need to be hardworking to be worthy, yet it’s crucial.
And even just being aware of this fundamental truth is a step toward living a better life.
You’re not afraid of asking for help
Life can be so simple and good if we put our egos aside and ask for help whenever we need it.
We’re all good at certain things, yet we suck at others, and there’s no shame in being bad at something.
Whether it’s asking a friend or getting professional help — allowing yourself to get supported is the ultimate lifehack because it helps you save time and do things correctly instead of struggling on your own.
You can admit your mistakes
Peacefully accepting your mistakes and taking responsibility for your actions instead of blaming others shows that you can let go of the past. Plus, it also proves that you don’t let your ego dictate your future.
Blaming others is always easier and more comfortable, yet, it’s also what keeps us stuck.
If you can accept that it’s mostly your own choices and actions that have led you to your current life, you’re more self-aware and emotionally mature than most people will ever be.
You may not be where you want to be yet, but if you can stay patient and allow yourself to slowly discover new opportunities for growth, you’ll eventually end up exactly where you want to.
Even though we’d all like to have a little more stability and certainty in our lives, the truth is that we’ll never have it.
We’re all living for the first time, and each challenge we face just teaches us new lessons about ourselves and the world we’re surrounded by.
And even if we constantly want to improve ourselves and be happier, healthier, and wealthier, we need to stop sometimes and appreciate the progress we’ve already made.
At the end of the day, life is finite. So what’s the point of constantly chasing new goals if we never sit down and relax, never watch sunsets, or never dance until our feet hurt?
If you’ve ever felt like your emotions were “too intense” or “out of control” you’re not alone. Many people experience emotional intensity that seems excessive or disproportionate.
But the reason emotions feel out of control often has less to do with your emotions themselves and more to do with habits that magnify them…
The habit of worry magnifies normal fear into anxiety and panic.
The habit of self-criticism magnifies normal sadness into shame and hopelessness.
The habit of rumination magnifies normal frustration into anger and rage.
Mental habits take normal levels of emotion and make them far more intense and long-lasting. Which means…
If you want to feel more in control of your emotions, you must take control of the habits that govern them.
Learn to identify and eliminate these habits and you will discover that your emotions are far more manageable than you ever thought possible.
1. Relying on other people for comfort
Nothing could be more natural than to go to other people for comfort when you’re upset or in distress.
In fact, this is how most of us learn to deal with life’s difficulties — we have a supportive parent or caregiver in our life who is empathetic and comforting when we’re upset. The way they handle our painful emotions becomes a model for how we can deal with them as we mature.
Unfortunately, sometimes this process sometimes goes awry.
For all sorts of reasons, learning to self-soothe and effectively manage our own emotional struggles can get disrupted:
Some people, for example, have early traumatic events in their lives that sabotage this process of learning to self-soothe.
For others, they might learn at a young age that they can get relief faster and more easily by simply going to other people, and as a result, their capacity to self-soothe becomes underdeveloped as they age.
In any case, the core problem is this:
While it’s good to have other people as a source of comfort, it’s risky to rely on them.
When other people become your sole means of managing your emotional distress, it erodes your self-confidence.
This means difficult emotions will be themselves painful. But more than that, you’ll also have the fear of being inadequate to handle them yourself, which effectively multiplies the intensity of every painful emotion you experience. Being afraid of feeling sad, for example, will only make you feel worse.
The solution is to practice managing difficult feelings on your own even if you could get relief and comfort from someone else. Ideally, you would start with small things and gradually work your way up.
But regardless, you must strengthen your capacity to comfort yourself.
Your emotions will always feel out of control until you develop some confidence in your own ability to manage them well.
“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
2. Being judgmental of your own emotions
Just because your emotions feel bad doesn’t mean they are bad.
Unfortunately, most of us are raised to believe that this is true. We grow up being taught that painful emotions are problems — like germs we need to be rid off or problems that need to be solved:
That we’re weak if we feel sad and discouraged.
That we’re broken or malfunctioning if we get anxious and worry “too much.”
That we’re sinful or morally deficient if we feel angry toward people.
But there’s the thing:
Emotions aren’t good or bad any more than rain or snow is good or bad.
You may not like certain emotions. Some may be uncomfortable or painful. Some may make it hard to do certain things. But to place a value judgment on an emotion doesn’t make any sense.
And the reason? Because you can’t control your emotions. Not directly, anyway.
You can’t just decide to turn up your happiness meter any more than you can decide to turn down your anxiety dial.
Emotions don’t work that way!
But aside from not being realistic, there’s another problem with judging yourself for how you feel:
When you criticize yourself for feeling anxious, will you end up feeling guilty for feeling anxious.
When you worry about feeling sad, you will end up feeling anxious about feeling sad.
When you put yourself down for feeling angry, you will end up feeling angry about being angry!
When you get judgmental about your emotions, you only compound their intensity and duration.
Think about this: No one goes to jail for feeling really angry. You only get sent to jail for acting aggressively.
As a society, we don’t judge people by their emotions, only their actions.
If you want to start feeling less emotionally volatile, stop criticizing yourself for the way you feel.
“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”
— Joseph Campell
3. Believing your thoughts unconditionally
It’s a funny thing that we’re so trusting of our own thoughts.
Perhaps because our culture tends to glorify our capacity for thinking and problem-solving, we make the mistake of assuming our thoughts are always true and helpful.
This is especially the case when it comes to thoughts about ourselves or how we feel:
After a coworker makes a rude comment about you during a meeting, the first thought that pops into mind is “Great, now everyone thinks I’m an idiot…”
As you drive to your daughter’s soccer game, the thought pops into mind that with a single movement you could swerve off the side of the road and your whole family would die. Then you immediately think to yourself, “Oh my God, what’s wrong with me?” The assumption being that your thought about swerving off the road was somehow true or meaningful.
But here’s the thing:
Just because you have a thought doesn’t mean it’s true.
Many people’s emotions quickly start to feel out of control because they insist that everything in their mind is meaningful. As a result, they end up thinking endlessly about every little thought, feeling, mood, desire, memory, and emotion that pops into consciousness.
But for all its wonders, the human mind produces a lot of junk too.
Often a particular thought is just random mental noise. But if you insist on telling yourself a story about it and what it may or may not mean, you’re inviting in wave after wave of emotion — and often not the fun kind.
If you want to feel more in control of your emotions, practice being skeptical of your own thoughts.
If a thought seems obviously absurd or ridiculous, remind yourself that it could just be random noise — as meaningless and unworthy of your attention as an unexpected gust of wind.
“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.”
― Marcus Aurelius
4. Not taking care of your body
Ever since Descartes, we’ve been fixated on the idea that it’s brain and body, or worse, brain vs body. Think of the common sayings “mind over matter” or “it’s all in your head.”
Of course, this is ridiculous…
Your brain is part of your body. And your mind doesn’t work all that well without a functioning body.
Of course, this is obvious in the extreme case — deprive the brain of oxygen via a heart attack or stroke and your mind dies along with the rest of your body. But it’s also true on a much smaller scale….
The future is being built now with robotics, artificial intelligence, and all kinds of automation that will take over many of the skills we perform today. But there are some skills that we will need for the future, skills that can’t be automated. If you want to excel in the years to come, make sure you’re up to speed in these areas:
Communication. If you’re in leadership, how you communicate, what you communicate and—most of all—how you listen are all supremely important. In communication, it’s the tone that inspires and the spirit that motivates. No robot or machine could ever have the same effect as a leader with great communication skills. Knowing how to communicate is all about creating and clarifying expectations. It’s important to communicate not just what you want someone to do and (without micromanaging) how they should do it but also why you want it to be done and why the person you’re asking is the best person for the job. People want meaning, so communication will always be a crucial leadership skill.
Engagement. Gone are the days of a leader sitting at their desk with the door closed. That doesn’t work (and really, it never did). For any enterprise to excel and achieve its goals leaders need to value engagement, because great leadership begins with connection. When we understand that despite the ways in which we differ we’re all alike in our desire for acceptance and connection, we can recognize those needs in ourselves—and in others. That’s when we can truly make a difference, and it requires human connection.
Influence. Many sources contribute influence in our lives. Parents, other family members, teachers, friends, books we’ve read, discussions we’ve had, life experiences—all of these influences merge together to form our core values and build our character. In the years to come it’s predicted that our biggest commodity will be ourselves—that people will follow others because of who they are and what their character represents. That’s not something you could ever get from a machine, robot or automation.
Heart. Automation can never substitute for heart, care and love. When a leader demonstrates caring, it makes a difference in everyone they touch. The world is full of people who need to be exposed to a caring heart. Great leaders care about the people they lead above their own leadership; they are close enough to show they care but far enough ahead to also motivate. The future relies on this wisdom: leadership is not about being in charge but about taking care of those in your charge.
There are doubtless numerous skills you’ll need to build a successful future, but it’s these core skills that matter most.
Last fall, I had a person reach out to me who was in charge of a huge change initiative in his company. He asked if I would identify a number of behaviors that leaders should avoid at all costs.
I asked him if it wouldn’t be better to identify behaviors that would positively impact every leader’s effectiveness. He asked me why he should make the distinction. I explained that when we tell people what not to do, they usually end up doing the very things we told them to avoid.
He asked me how I knew that. When I was being trained as a ski instructor in my college days, we were told not to say, “If you get out of control, don’t look at the trees.” Rather, they asked us to tell people, “If you get out of control, look downhill where you want to go.”
When we tell our brain what not to do, it may do what we don’t want in absence of clear directions of the correct course of action. In the end, my client pressed me for my “don’t” list rather than a list of effective behaviors.
Here are 12 behaviors that leaders should avoid, along with ideas for what to do instead.
1. Don’t communicate clearly
Give your directions and let that be that. People should know what you mean when you tell them what to do. Also, don’t allow questions, expression of concerns, or ideas for improvements along the way.
What to do instead: You should do all you can to communicate clearly and distinctly. If you have any doubts, ask questions to clarify and check your understanding and theirs.
2. Don’t invite input
People should just do their jobs. You shouldn’t ask them if there is a better way of doing what they should already know how to do.
What to do instead: Ask for input. People who actually perform the tasks may have ideas of what works well and what doesn’t. Allowing people to make contributions will enhance performance and results.
3. Don’t invite people to identify what they need
If you are always asking people to identify what they need (time, people, equipment, or more money), you run the risk of giving them an inch and them taking a mile.
What to do instead: Offer support along the way. Identify what is working and where people are getting bogged down. Make any needed adjustments that will help with the completion of a project.
4. Don’t express appreciation
After all, you pay people for doing their jobs; why should you verbally recognize them and express appreciation for what they are supposed to do?
What to do instead: Smart leaders go out of their way to observe people and catch them doing the right things. They step up and express appreciation for the work people do and the value and contributions that they make.
5. Don’t take the time to get to know your people personally
Getting to know someone on a personal level is not necessary. You are better off keeping to yourself than wasting time talking with people about non-work topics.
What to do instead: People want to connect and know their leaders. Getting to know each person on your team, their history, their goals, and their aspirations will help you establish rapport and make personal connections. People generally want to know that co-workers care about them and respect them for their contributions to the team’s success.
6. Don’t jump in and assist when things don’t go as planned
You don’t have time to worry about how people are doing at their work; they’ll figure it out. If they don’t get good results, you can always blame them. Stay out of the way, and let them work things out on their own.
What to do instead: Being involved when assistance is needed demonstrates commitment and teamwork toward a team goal. You should never be afraid to offer suggestions, share your expertise or backfill when there are not enough hands to do the work. Offering support when it is needed will demonstrate your commitment to people’s success.
7. Don’t trust people to do their jobs
No one can do as good of a job as you can. Why take the chance that your team can do the work to your satisfaction if you don’t manage every step of the process? Constant supervision will ensure that even your poorest performers will turn in good results.
What to do instead: Demonstrate that you are willing to give complete autonomy to people to do their jobs. You can offer training, support and assistance during the entire life of a project. Until people clearly seek your help, assume their best intentions and allow people to do their work. If results are less than expected, you can work with the individuals as needed to strengthen the outcome.
8. Don’t offer feedback, especially when the desired results aren’t achieved
The negative consequences of poor results should be enough to motivate and help people course-correct their behavior.
What to do instead: People love feedback. They want to know when they did the right thing, and they want to know how to improve. Never underestimate the power of giving others feedback. Things won’t change or improve without the benefit of useful and specific feedback. Providing feedback should become a regular function of assessing the quality of your results.
9. Don’t worry about throwing people under the bus
If people are not performing and are to blame for poor results, then they deserve what they get. If you are the leader, it isn’t your fault when others don’t perform. People should take the blame if they are to blame.
What to do instead: Blaming others does not solve a problem. If people don’t get the results that you expect, the first person you should look at is yourself, the quality of your communication, and the clarity of your directions. Then you should hold a conversation to identify what went awry and what should be done to address the current challenge.
If you are the kind of leader who cannot take responsibility, then people will quickly learn that they don’t need to take responsibility, either.
10. Don’t take time to celebrate successes
Taking time and money to celebrate team or individual success is wasted effort. Usually, people are only interested being rewarded with something of monetary value. If you can’t give them that, why bother?
What to do instead: Any time your team meets a milestone, you should take the time to celebrate their success. There are many inexpensive ways to recognize people and their efforts. Taking the time to celebrate in some way sends the message that people are important and that their efforts are recognized and appreciated.
11. Don’t worry about developmental opportunities
You don’t have the budget to send people to training, and it’s a waste of resources. You don’t want people to get distracted from their job. People can worry about that on their own time.
What to do instead: People want to grow and develop. They also want to expand their skills and capabilities so they can do their job better. If you don’t know what each of your people wants in terms of personal growth opportunities and support them in their efforts, they will find an organization that will offer them what they want and need to develop.
12. Don’t worry about saying one thing and doing another
Things change and you have the right to change your mind. People should just fall in line and go with the flow. Sometimes keeping your commitments is impossible and people need to be adaptable.
What to do instead: Things change, and when they do, you should be the first one to alert people and explain why it will occur. If you can’t keep your commitments, you need to apologize, explain why, and reaffirm the importance of your commitment to them. Failure to do so will result in a lack of respect, trust, and loyalty.
Hopefully, you recognize the many false assumptions that I offered above as behaviors that leaders should avoid. Your success as a leader depends upon your ability to do the right things for the right reasons.
I’ve made a few suggestions of things effective leaders do; there are many others. Taking time to assess your personal effectiveness and making needed changes will boost your success as a leader and as a team.
The New Year is slowly nearing, and with the holiday season having just passed, many people are indulging in retrospection and reevaluating some of their life choices. New Year’s resolutions are the perfect opportunity for all those who have failed to start making the changes that they said they would make next week, next month, or perhaps when winter starts.
Well, now’s your chance to sit down and prepare a list of important lifestyle changes you want to make, and we’ve decided to give you a bit of help – because since the majority of people fail to stick to their resolution, you’ll need all the help you can get.
What follows is a list of 50 good New Year’s resolutions with a piece of advice. If you are looking for effective ways of changing your life for the better, then you’ll be sure to find tons of useful information here.
1. Get in Shape
Losing weight is the top resolution for Americans, and combined with “exercise more” and “stay fit and healthy” it is something that over a third of the population wishes to achieve. It’s easy enough to start an exercise and diet program, but the trick is to find a decent one that will give you steady results and will be easy to stick to in the long run.
2. Eat Healthier
This is usually an extension of the previous resolution. Switching to a healthier diet can be incredibly tricky when we are surrounded by cheap junk food. However, with a good amount of determination and some basic tips, you can slowly develop healthier eating habits.
3. Stop Procrastinating
The biggest barrier that keeps most people from reaching their goals is the desire to relax and do something fun instead of working hard. Once you get used to procrastinating, it’s difficult to snap yourself out of it, so you’ll need to put in a lot of work to change this bad habit.
4. Improve Your Concentration
People have been trying to find ways to improve their focus and cognitive capacities for thousands of years, and most ancient civilizations had some combination of mental exercise and herbal medicine to help them reach this goal.
5. Meet New People
When we get stuck in a rut, we usually end up staying at home most of the time, missing out on a lot of interesting opportunities for networking and having fun. Meeting new people can be beneficial to your mental well-being and help your career, so don’t be afraid to get out there and make some friends.
This is a good New Year’s resolution, but it can be difficult for shy people. Start by just saying yes when a friend asks you to go out one evening. This is a great first step toward meeting new people.
6. Be More Active
Some people don’t really have a big weight problem, and they even get some exercise a few times a week, but they just sit around the most of the time at home and at work, which can have a negative effect on their posture and health.
7. Develop Confidence
If you are confident, other people notice it, and it is much easier to have your opinions heard, ask people out on dates, and get ahead at work. A good dose of self-confidence will help you lead a much happier life overall.
Building confidence involves positive self-talk, focusing on your achievements, and seeing failure as an opportunity.
8. Earn More Money
Even billionaires are always looking for ways to earn more money, and we common folk can definitely use an additional source of income to make life a bit more comfortable.
9. Be More Polite
Good manners have always been an important part of a civilized society. They make it easier to connect with others, avoid offending people, and will ensure that others perceive you as a good and trustworthy person.
10. Reduce Stress
They say that stress is one of the biggest killers out there, and it can have a very destructive effect on your relationships, as well as your health, making this one of many good New Year’s resolutions. It may be an unavoidable side effect of our hectic modern lifestyles, but it can be effectively managed with the help of useful and easy-to-practice tricks for stress management.
11. Learn to Be Happier
Even those that are in decent shape, make a good living, and have stress under control can still be unhappy. It takes time and patience to learn how to find joy in the little things and not to let problems bring you down.
Showing gratitude can be a great way to build happiness. Try starting a gratitude journal to help you focus on the good things in life.
12. Get More Quality Sleep
With big TV’s, computers, smartphones, tablets and all sorts of gadgets with glowing lights and beeping alerts, it can be hard to get enough sleep at night. You should be shooting for at least 8 hours of sleep a night, and there are fairly simple ways to achieve this number if you make use of science and everyday hacks.
The first thing to do is set those gadgets aside for at least an hour before bed. This will let your mind slip into bedtime mode and make it much easier to fall asleep.
13. Give up Cigarettes
A bit of bad habit that a lot of people don’t know how to kick, smoking will not only endanger your health, but can burn a hole in your wallet as well. Just be prepared to dedicate a lot of will power to giving up cigarettes once and for all.
14. Watch Less TV
The average American spends nearly 8 hours a day watching TV, more time than they spend cooking and probably sleeping! That is time that could have been better spent developing skills, learning, or keeping your body active. Once you manage to cut down on TV time, you will realize just how long and productive a day can really be.
15. Read More
Books are an excellent way to gain a lot of knowledge on a huge variety of topics, and they are also great exercise for your brain. It’s not that difficult to go through 20 or more books in a year; you only need to make it a habit, discover your favorite type of book, and find a bit of time for reading here and there.
16. Find a Significant Other
We all need someone to hold at night, talk to, and share our deepest secrets with, but finding the right person is a matter of trial and error. We need to go out and get to know a bunch of potential partners before we can find the one that we can get along with really well.
17. Have Better Sex
Any healthy relationship requires a good deal of intimacy, and sex can actually help keep us mentally and physically healthy. The idea is to make it a fun and rewarding experience, and this is something that comes with practice and exercise.
18. Be Tidier
There are a lot of slobs out there who can’t really get their stuff organized, and a cluttered desk or chaotic home will negatively affect your productivity and even your mood, so it helps to clear the clutter, clean your house, and lead a tidier and more organized life.
19. Learn How to Dress With Style
The way you dress can say a lot about you, and wearing the right clothes can make you seem powerful and confident, which in turn can help you land a job, get promoted, and catch the eye of a lovely guy or girl. No matter if you’re male or female, find clothes that make you feel good and stand out in a crowd.
20. Spend More Time With People That Matter
There is just too little time in this life for us to waste it on insincere, duplicitous, and toxic people. We should focus on the people who we care about deeply and who care about us, as this is the best way to stay happy and lead a fulfilling life.
21. Drink Less Alcohol
While it is completely safe and healthy to drink one or two servings of an alcoholic beverage of your choice per day, not a lot of people can say that they can follow this rule effectively. Getting your drinking under control has plenty of benefits, but it can be a difficult process.
Start slow. If you’re used to having two glasses of wine after work, cut it down to one for a month, and then try only drinking one glass once or twice a week.
22. Get out of Debt
You can’t really move forward in life if you are weighed down by debt. The road to financial freedom is a rocky one, but it is definitely manageable with a bit of planning and self-restraint. Take a look at these strategies and methods to pay off your debt. You won’t believe how good it will feel.
23. Save Money
Once you have your debt under control, it’s time to start putting some money aside. A rainy day fund and some extra money that can go towards traveling abroad, fixing up the house or buying a new car are a welcome change of pace. Make use of these hacks and apps to save money efficiently.
24. Learn a New Language
Not only will learning a new language help improve your communication skills, but it will also look great on your resume and possibly open up some doors for you. These days there are plenty of resources that allow you to learn a language for free.
25. Volunteer and Give More to Charity
To devote your time and energy to helping those in need is a noble gesture and one of the genuinely good New Year’s resolutions in itself, but it is also an opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills, and boost your resume. Here’s how you can find time to volunteer in your busy life.
26. Pick up Useful Skills or Fun Hobbies
Just sitting around all day won’t get you anywhere. It is much better to use your free time in a constructive manner and pick up new skills while having fun at the same time. The future you will be glad that you did. No matter if you’re interested in communication skills or sports, find out how to learn new skills and hobbies in a short time.
27. Let Go of Grudges
Times can be hard, and it may take a lot to overcome adversity, but sitting around and moping about it is just counterproductive. If you have a big fight with someone and fall out or get hurt over a small issue, you will only lose a friend or life partner and remain sad and bitter. Forgiveness is a much healthier way to deal with issues that should be left in the past.
28. Adopt a Pet
There are tons of animal lovers out there that would be great at caring for a pet, but they often overthink things, while some people just rush out and get a pet without understanding the responsibility involved. Be sure you know what you are in for and find a pet that fits your living conditions and lifestyle.
29. Become More Organized
It doesn’t matter how much time you have on your hands; if you can’t manage it properly, you’ll just spend most of the day running around aimlessly, so make organization a priority on your list of New Year’s resolutions. When you get organized, there will suddenly be more time to spare, and things will start falling into place. Make it a habit, get help from apps and tools, and enjoy your new-found leisure-time.
30. Travel More
You’ll need to have your finances in order, get the right equipment, and invest some time and effort before you consider traveling across the globe, but there are ways of experiencing different cultures and visiting faraway places even on a tighter budget.
Watch some documentaries, try out a staycation, or start corresponding with a foreign pen pal to itch that travel bug.
31. Learn to Cook
Cooking is one of the essential skill that every man and woman should possess. It allows you to save money, eat the food you love just the way you like it, and impress dates with lovely meals shared under candlelight. If you go through useful tips, keep your kitchen clean, and avoid common mistakes, nothing stands between you an your 3-course-meal.
32. See Your Doctor More Often
Staying healthy should be your top priority, but many people seem frightened of doctors and don’t go nearly as often as they should, often waiting for their condition to significantly worsen. Regular checkups are a must, no matter how healthy you feel at the moment.
Remember, this includes taking care of your mental health, as well!
33. Reinvent Yourself
If you don’t feel quite happy no matter what you do, it is perhaps time to make some serious changes in your life as one of your good New Year’s resolutions. Reinventing yourself can give you a whole new perspective on life and take you in directions you may never have dreamed were possible.
34. Stop Being Late
Punctuality is a virtue that is held in high regard in our society, so this is a great New Year’s resolution to have. Being on time is a mark of a true professional, a dependable friend and caring partner, so it is a good idea to pick up a few tricks that can help you stay on time.
35. Be More Self-Reliant
Technology, a relatively decent government, and corporations offering cheap, ready-to-eat food and all manner of useful tools have made us somewhat spoiled, and we often get well into adulthood without having what it takes to be independent and self-reliant. Next time you face a problem, try solving it on your own instead of running to the nearest family member or friend.
36. Turn Your Hobby Into a Career
If we could all manage to marry fun and productivity, and be able to make money doing what we love, we’d be a much more content and well-balanced society. This may not always be possible, but there are cases where starting a new hobby can be turned into a lucrative career.
37. Get Over an Ex
It may be better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved, but it still hurts like crazy. Healing a broken heart is a process that takes time, but there are tricks to make it through this difficult time without too much pain, and it starts with self-care.
38. Learn to Control Your Emotions
Uncontrolled anger can get you into a lot of trouble, but things like jealousy and pride are destructive in all circumstances, so it’s a good New Year’s resolution to control your emotions. Gaining control over your feelings allows you to keep a level head and think more rationally, even during emotionally charged conflict situations.
39. Be More Responsible
A big part of growing up into a mature adult is the ability to think before making a decision. It is important to take responsibility for ones actions and avoid blaming everything on someone else, just as it is important to protect your family and help provide for them.
40. Learn More About Music, Art, and Culture
The best way to fit in when talking to a variety of people from different backgrounds is to have a well-rounded education. Topics like art, music, history, and culture often baffle people, but they can be easy to comprehend if you spend enough time learning about them using helpful websites and online courses.
41. Spend Less Time on Social Media
Some people might not spend hours in front of the TV, or playing video games, but social media has become a serious addiction among a wide range of demographics. It’s fine to stay in touch with friends and family, but if you consistently spend more than an hour every day on social media, it’s time to make a change and add this to your list of good New Year’s resolutions.
42. Learn How to Defend Yourself
Being able to ensure your own safety and the safety of those you love is a very important skillset to have. It’s not all about groin kicks and palm strikes, however. You need to learn how to conduct yourself and what kind of behavior to look out for in others.
43. Become More Romantic
Romance is often the first casualty in longer, more serious relationships, but it doesn’t have to wither away. A few romantic gestures here and there can keep the passion going for decades. It will be fun, even if you’re not the romantic type.
44. Remember Important Dates
Speaking about romance and keeping a serious relationship fun, you don’t want to keep forgetting birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates. There are plenty of memory tricks that take very little time to master, so you’ll never forget another date again.
45. Be More Social
Getting out and socializing has its perks. You get to have fun, meet new people, and find out interesting things, but you can also develop leadership skills and learn to work in a team, so this is a very good New Year’s resolution to add to your list. Even if you are an introvert or very shy and feel uncomfortable talking to others, there are ways to become a fairly active member of a community.
46. Develop More Creativity
There are times when we get mentally fatigued and our creativity just goes out the window. This is particularly bad if your job or hobby depends on you coming up with fresh ideas and thinking outside the box. As with anything else, there are many resources that help you spark your creativity in a number of different ways.
47. Express Yourself Artistically
While some of us are more logical, most people still have a bit of a creative spark in them. Expressing yourself in some creative, artistic way is a great form of stress relief and helps keep your mind sharp. Some of these activities will also help you stay active and burn some calories. So write, craft, make DIY projects—whatever makes your soul free.
48. Face Your Fears and Insecurities
You will find this particular point masked beneath other good New Year’s resolutions, but fear and insecurity are often the cause of several problems that we want to address. You need to think of it as surviving and controlling your fear rather than overcoming it, and it will enable you to shed off a lot of the insecurities that you have.
49. Start Writing a Book/Journal
You’d be surprised to know just how many people out there have an interesting story to tell but lack the confidence and skill to write everything down. Even if it is just a few random thoughts scribbled daily in a journal, you shouldn’t be afraid to give writing a go with a few tips and tricks.
50. Stick to the Healthy Habits You’ve Developed
The last and most important point to mention is that all the positive changes you make have to be permanent when you begin good New Year’s resolutions. You will need to work on sticking with the good habits you have adopted until they just become a natural part of who you are. That is how you achieve true self-improvement.
The Bottom Line
Above, you have an extensive list of advice, tips, and tricks to help you see your good New Year’s resolutions through and make some long-term changes in your life. Start with one, and if you feel like you’ve got the hang of it, pick up another. There’s no limit to how many positive changes you can make in life, but you have to start somewhere!
“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” – Benjamin Franklin
“One key to success is to have lunch at the time of day most people have breakfast.” – Robert Brault
There are many famous quotes by famous and influential people about rising early in the morning. But is there any strength to these quotes? This article talks about 8 benefits of being an early riser.
Early mornings for some can be a drag, and let’s be honest here, there will always be morning’s especially when it’s dark outside that all you will want to do is pull the covers over your head for an extra 5 minutes.
With so many benefits to waking up early, from enhancing your productivity in school or work, to being better able to stick to a diet plan to having more energy levels and better mood, it’s easy to see why many famous people swear by it attributing to their success, Richard Branson for example says he wakes at 5 am each morning.
Knowing this it is hard not to adopt this way of life to your daily routine. So let’s talk about some of these benefits and how to become an early riser.
1. Positive Outlook
According to studies early risers often tend to go to bed early as well, which means they are more likely to get the 7-9 hours recommended sleep for adults.
Sleeping the full amount regularly is said to help lead towards a healthier body and mind, which in turn has its own benefits, so it is easy to see why early risers may be less stressed and have more positivity in their lives.
2. More Energy
More rest equals more energy, plain and simple . If you get into the routine of rising early and retiring to bed early you are more likely to have a better sleeping pattern which leads to being more energetic throughout the day, helping you accomplish your goals and tasks in a faster and more productive manner.
3. Body System Reboot
Regular sleep is important for your general health. Not only does a full night sleep help to drop your blood pressure, helps your muscles to relax and repair, your breathing to slow and your body temperature to drop, but studies show that T-cells, which are the white blood cells that help to fight infection, tend to drop when you get a full night’s sleep. This is your immune system rebooting itself while you rest.
4. More Time to Exercise
After a busy day’s work, you can be both mentally and physically exhausted and the last thing you want to do is head to the gym or go out for a run. You make promises to yourself you’ll go tomorrow, only to have the same thing happen. Early risers have the benefit of being able to fit their workout in, before the madness of the day takes over. This also helps to kickstart the body and mind which will energize you for the day.
5. Become more Organized
Sometimes the saying “Not enough hours in the day” springs to mind.
We fall asleep thinking about all the things we are going to get done the following day, whether that be at work or at home, or both. Then something throws us off, we sleep in, forgot something on the way to work, or get delayed in traffic and our day seems to spiral after that.
Being an early riser means you can get a head start on the day and helps to kickstart your day off to a good start.
By planning and laying out some goals and tasks to accomplish the previous day can help you be more organized and make use of that early start.
6. Healthier Eating
No time for breakfast? Grabbing something quick and easy on the go while you
run out the door? Sound familiar? Rising later doesn’t give you the much needed time to break the fast from the night before and prepare a sustainable breakfast that will set you up for the day.
Recent research has found that late sleepers generally consume approximately 248 more calories than those who rise early. They tend to only eat half as much fruit and vegetables and twice as much fast food as their early riser counterparts.
7. More Productive
Your brain tends to be the most alert in the morning, so why not use that time wisely to focus on important tasks un-interrupted while the rest of your house and world sleep.
You tend to make better decisions and think more clearly in the morning, then at any other time of day.
Starting the day early also improves your concentration which means you can accomplish those goals and tasks that you set out the night before. It also means that by the time you get to work, you are fully awake and properly acclimatized to the day meaning you will be more alert during those peak hours.
8. Helps your Skin Look Healthy
Our skin tends to look its best in the morning after a full night’s restful sleep. And being an early riser means you can take advantage and take your time to make sure your skin looks its best.
People who wake up early also tend to have regular sleeping habits which help to ensure that your skin gets the proper time to rejuvenate itself.
Getting into the Routine
Ok, so we’ve outlined some tips on how to be an early riser, but how do we start getting into the routine, while also getting enough sleep. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Try waking just 15-30 minutes earlier than usual at the start. Get used to this for a few days, then cut back another 15 minutes. Keep doing this gradually until you get to your goal time.
Allow yourself to go to sleep earlier. You might be used to staying up late, but if you continue to do this while trying to get up earlier, sooner or later one is going to give. And if it is the early rising that gives, then you will crash and sleep late and have to start all over again. Try going to bed earlier, even if you don’t think you’ll sleep and read while in bed or mediate for a few minutes to help relax your mind. If you’re really tired, you just might fall asleep much sooner than you think.
Don’t have your alarm clock next to your bed
This is an important one, if it is within arms reach, the temptation is there to just reach out and hit the snooze button or worse still you could end up just turning it off.
By having your alarm clock far from your bed, you will have to get up out of bed to shut it off. Then, you’re up. Now you just have to stay up.
Open the blinds or curtains and get out of the room as soon as you turn off the alarm
By doing this you are less likely to talk yourself into getting back into bed, even if it is just for a few minutes.
Do not rationalize. If you allow your brain to talk you out of getting up early, you’ll never do it. Don’t make getting back in bed an option.
Have a good reason for setting that alarm:
Set something to do early in the morning that’s important. This will help motivate you to get up and do it. Once it is done, you’ll be awake and ready to take on the day.
Take advantage of all that extra time
Have a nice hot cup of coffee or tea. Read a book, Watch the sunrise or meditate. Don’t wake up early, to wander around and not make the most of your time. Find something that’s pleasurable for you, and allow yourself to do it as part of your morning routine.
Getting up early has many benefits for both your body and your mind. The hardest part is convincing yourself to do it, and then getting into a routine of getting up early every morning. If you start implementing these tips you will soon see that it gets easier and eventually you will find that your body starts to get used to it, and you end up waking even before your alarm goes off.
You all enjoy the melody of Nostalgia and Natalie song…Singing duet with Hasmik from Boston was a wonderful surprise. Hope you all will enjoy the remix and duet. I miss the good old days, here are no words to express this song!!
I don’t know about you, but I often find advice to release stress and pressure to be great on paper but incredibly difficult to apply.
Just say no more often! Sounds good, but my twenty-month-old son still needs constant care and I need to earn money, so there’s a lot I can’t just not do.
Get out in nature! I do try, but it’s been cold and grey, and often I don’t get time to myself until night—when it’s even more frigid.
Exercise more! I have the best of intentions, but I’m pregnant, frequently exhausted, and there’s that whole time thing again. I just can’t seem to create more of it, try as I may.
I suppose this is true of most good advice: It’s far easier to make a list of great ideas than it is to actually apply them. And it’s hard not to resist all those well-intentioned suggestions as overly simplified and maybe even unrealistic.
That, I’ve realized, is my biggest problem—one that you can perhaps relate to as well: While my circumstances can be challenging and limiting, most of the stress and pressure I feel originates with some form of internal resistance. Resistance to what was, what is, what might be, what I’m doing, what I could be doing, who I am… the list goes on.
And it might look like this:
Rehashing the past (and pressuring myself to somehow fix my mistakes)
Dwelling on worst-case scenarios (and pressuring myself to find ways to avoid them)
Fighting my current reality (and pressuring myself to change it)
Worrying about what I have to do (and pressuring myself to do it perfectly)
Obsessing about what I should be doing (and pressuring myself to figure it out)
Fixating on what I can’t do right now (and pressuring myself to get around my limitations)
Wishing I had more time for myself (and pressuring myself to somehow create it)
Judging myself in comparison to others (and pressuring myself to be better than I am)
Agonizing about what people think of me (and pressuring myself to meet their expectations)
If you’ve done any of these things yourself, I’m sure you know they’re exhausting.
That’s not say we are the sole cause of our stress. Sometimes life demands that we do more and deal with external challenges beyond our control—job loss, health issues, financial troubles, divorce…
And it’s true that there are lots of little things we can do to relieve some of the tension. But the first thing we need to do is relieve the pressure where it’s generally the most intense: within our own minds.
How to Relieve the Mental Pressure
There are two things I’ve found to be highly effective in quieting my inner voice of resistance.
1. Allow yourself to feel the feelings under your thoughts so that you can calm and release them.
All too often we get caught in a thought loop as a way to avoid feeling our feelings, because stressful as it may be, thinking about our circumstances allows us to avoid facing our deepest wounds. But we have to face them to heal them. As they say, the only way out is through.
I’ve found that underneath my varying forms of internal resistance, there’s usually:
About things I think I’ve done wrong, about who I am (when I mistakenly assume my poor choices define me), about expectations I failed to meet or might fail to meet (my own and other people’s). And this triggers my core childhood wounds that led me to believe I’m fundamentally bad.
When I feel it:
When I’m rehashing the past, judging myself in comparison to others, and agonizing about what people think of me.
Of the unknown, failing, succeeding then somehow ruining it, losing control, not doing enough with my life/making the most of my time, not living up to my potential, hurting or disappointing other people. Once again, this triggers my childhood wounds that led me to believe I’m not good enough, and never will be.
When I feel it:
When I’m dwelling on worst-case scenarios, worrying about what I have to do, and obsessing about what I should be doing.
Toward myself for what I think I did wrong, toward other people for how I think they did me wrong, toward for myself for maybe causing them to do me wrong (because I often find a way to blame myself), toward life for being unfair. This triggers my core belief that life should be fair, formed, you guessed it, in childhood, when life felt very unfair.
When I feel it:
When I’m rehashing the past and fighting my current reality.
Because I’m not connecting with myself, others, my passions, the world at large, or anything that would fulfill me.
When I feel it:
When I’m fixating on what I can’t do right now and wishing I had more time for myself.
When I can get below the thoughts and identify one of these feelings, I can sit with it. I can cry it out—the ultimate release!
I can empathize with myself and tell myself what I need to hear—that I’m a good person who’s always done her best, that I will do my best in the future and can handle what’s coming, that everyone else is doing their best, and we all deserve understanding and forgiveness.
And I can also do what I really need to do to feel better:
Maybe take a warm bath if I’m feeling ashamed to remind myself that I deserve comfort even when I think I’ve messed up.
Maybe do something fun and childlike if I’m feeling afraid of the future to help me find joy in the present moment.
Maybe write a forgiveness letter if I’m feeling angry to help me empathize, accept, and let go.
Maybe call someone I love, journal, or do something creative if I’m feeling empty, to meet my need for connection.
The point is, after we feel our feelings, we can do something to address the specific root cause of our stress in a moment instead of arbitrarily choosing an activity from a one-size-fits-all list of stress-relievers.
So ask yourself: What am I thinking that’s stressing me out? What’s the feeling underneath it? What does that feeling have to teach me? What does it need to hear? And what can I do to help ease that pain?
2. Get out of your head (and perhaps into your body or a state of flow).
It’s ironic but true that two pieces of seemingly contradictory advice can be equally helpful and powerful, and such is the case when it comes to relieving stress. Or at least it has been for me.
On the one hand, it can benefit us to look closely at what’s going in our minds so we can understand it, challenge it if necessary, and calm the feelings underneath our thoughts.
On the other hand, sometimes we simply need to disengage from our mind’s stories—about our unfulfilling work, our mounting bills, our insensitive relatives, and so on. To recognize we’re getting caught up in a mental maze from which we may never escape unless we consciously choose to get out—and then make that choice.
Our brain’s default mode network (DMN), which is designed to protect us, tends toward negativity, often focused on the past, the future, and the intentions behind others’ behavior. Research has shown a link between a disproportionately active DMN and depression and anxiety—and has also shown that meditation can help influence the default network.
That’s why it’s so important that we learn to get out of our heads, either through traditional meditation or by getting into our bodies or a state of flow (when you’re so consumed in a task that you forget about everything else and lose track of time).
It’s not just about temporarily quieting our thoughts. Mindfulness can actually change patterns of brain activity over time, enabling us to more frequently get out of the default mode network—where we inevitably feel stressed!
How do we get out of our heads and into our bodies or a state of flow?
Here are a few ways to practice mindfulness through movement:
As you sync your breathing with your movements and focus your attention on the subtle muscle shifts required to get into and hold each pose, you’ll find your mind naturally quieting. There are lots of different styles of yoga. My favorites are vinyasa and Bikram, since I find the heat particularly soothing.
You can find all kinds of yoga videos on YouTube, and odds are, when life gets closer to normal again, you can find a free or donation-based class near you. I personally find it easier to practice in a class than on my own, since the presence of other people holds me accountable, and there are fewer cookies and TVs nearby to distract me!
I have less experience with Tai Chi, but I did practice for a while in college, as part of an acting class. Acting requires you to get out of your judging mind, and Tai Chi is a perfect practice to facilitate that, since it’s all about integrating mind and body through slow, low-impact, controlled movements and breathing.
Tai chi is less physically taxing than most yoga practices (aside from restorative yoga, which is incredibly relaxing), which makes it perfect for anyone who’s more physically limited. It’s particularly popular among the senior crowd, since it’s easy on the joints, but it’s a powerful and effective mindfulness practice for anyone, of any age!
Mindful hiking or walking
Any form of movement can be meditative if you focus your attention on the sensations in your body, and hiking and walking outside bring the added benefit of immersing you in nature—a natural stress-reliever!
Studies have shown that just twenty minutes in nature can significantly lower your stress hormones. And it can also stimulate all the body’s senses, as we tune in to the sound of running water trickling nearby, the scent of pine (known to lower depression and anxiety), the colors in a picturesque sunrise, the feeling of leaves crunching beneath our feet, and the taste of a freshly picked piece of fruit.
Here are a few ways to get into a mindful state of flow (suggested by flow researcher Steven Kolter):
Through social triggers
We often think of flow as something we achieve individually, but group activities bring the added benefit of facilitating deep connection as we move in sync or work toward team goals. This might mean getting into a collective state of flow as part of a sports team, dance troupe, or through synchronized swimming.
I remember one particular piece of choreography from a community theater show I did as a kid. There were at least twenty of us, seated, doing clapping motions with each other’s hands, tapping our own and each other’s legs. We all needed to move perfectly in sync to get it just right, which required intense focus, and I have to say it was deeply gratifying to move as part of a whole—to lose myself in the group and become immersed in something bigger than myself.
Through creative triggers
Any creative activity can get us into a state of flow if we enjoy it and lose ourselves in the task. Painting, playing an instrument, dancing, jewelry making, even doodling—pick whatever calls to you so deeply you can’t help but concentrate on the present, losing your sense of self-consciousness because the act itself is so fun and rewarding.
Through environmental triggers
Rock climbing is a perfect example, since you need to be fully absorbed in the moment to safely navigate the rock formation. As you push yourself to your physical limit, balancing and adapting to the changing terrain, you’ll find yourself going deeper and deeper into a state of flow.
Though I’ve never done outdoor rock climbing—which I imagine is all the more thrilling, since it’s riskier and you’re totally immersed in nature—I participated in a climbing course as an experiential therapy treatment for bulimia in my early twenties. I remember all my worries falling away as I focused on not falling off the beam, and I recall appreciating my body for what it could do instead of judging myself for everything I thought I was doing wrong.
The beauty of most of these practices is that we can adapt them to our needs and available time. You can take an hour class or just practice for ten minutes. You can work on a painting for two hours or sketch for a brief window before bed.
Easier said than done? Of course! It’s far easier to watch Netflix in our one free hour of time or mindlessly scroll in that brief window before bed. (Guilty as charged.) When I do that, all my heavy unfelt feelings fester, settling deep into my brain and my bones and suffocating me like an invisible straitjacket.
But I know when I do something that’s good for me, I feel it—and I want more of it. And my resistance to doing it naturally fades away, along with my stress.
So really, we just need to show up once—really show up. Be so present that we allow ourselves to fully live that moment so we can love that moment, and that love will bring us back. Back to the practice, back to our bodies, back to ourselves. Our deepest selves, underneath the stress and pressure. The true self who knows we don’t need to be more, we don’t have to do more, we just have to let ourselves enjoy more. Because within that enjoyment there’s peace and healing. And no matter what our negatively biased brains tell us, we absolutely deserve it.
Goal setting is a fantastic skill to develop, and how you design your own future. A life best lived is a life by design. Not by accident, and not by just walking through the day careening from wall to wall and managing to survive. If you can start giving your life dimensions and design and color and objectives and purpose, the results can be absolutely staggering.
Goal setting gives you the chance to experience the power of your imagination. Think about it. Imagination builds cities. Imagination conquers disease. Imagination develops careers. Imagination sets up relationships. Imagination is where all tangible values and intangible values begin. So what you’ve got to learn to do is use this powerful resource.
Tapping this resource of imagination for goal setting involves thinking about your future, thinking about tomorrow or the rest of the day, thinking about the rest of the year or five years or 10. You can use your imagination to start prospecting for the future, for what could be possible for you.
5 Things That Affect You, Your Life and Your Goals
But before you can do that, you need to know the five primary things that affect all of us:
1. The Environment
It doesn’t hurt to make a simple contribution to the environment; a little contribution costs nothing. Pick up a piece of trash and throw it in the receptacle. If everybody did that, what a better world it would be. If everybody contributed, what a difference it would make!
Think of any big event of local, national or global significance. There are small events and daily events and family events and community events, too. Events affect all of us—some small, some big, some personal, some national, some global.
Here’s a good phrase to jot down: Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is tragedy. Ignorance is devastation. Ignorance creates lack. Ignorance creates disease. Ignorance will shorten your life. Ignorance will empty your life and leave you with the husks, nothing to account for. No, ignorance is not bliss.
Here’s another note to make: What you don’t know will hurt you. What you don’t know will tragically affect your life. What you don’t know will leave your life empty. What you don’t know will leave you without a relationship.
We’re affected by whatever we know or don’t know.
Whether it’s business or personal, we’re all affected by results. Disciplines undone in the future give us poor results. Disciplines managed well give us good results.
5. Our Dreams
We’re affected by our dreams—our vision of the future.
The Pull of the Future
Some people live in the past. They let their life be continually pulled and influenced by it. Although we must remember and review the past to make it useful to invest in the future, here’s the key: Make sure that the greatest pull on your life is the pull of the future.
If you’re skimpy on your dreams, or your objectives and your purposes aren’t very well planned, then that doesn’t pull very hard. You might have more of a tendency to be pulled apart by events or circumstances. So in order to save yourself from being pulled apart by distractions or pulled back to the past, you need to start designing the future.
Goals are like a magnet—they pull. And the stronger they are, the more purposeful they are, the bigger they are, the more unique they are, the stronger they pull.
High dreams pull you through all kinds of down days and down seasons. They pull you through a winter of discontent. They pull you through distraction on every side. A bad day can almost overwhelm you if you don’t have something really purposeful to go for on the other side of that day.
If you’ve got excellent goals, though, they’ll pull you through all these things and very little of it will attach itself to you. You’ll be able to get through some of the most difficult times if you have this spectacular vision ahead of you of where you’re going and what you’re going to accomplish.
Learning to Set Goals
Learning to set goals can transform your life forever. There is power in reaching out into the future, designing something to the best of your ability, refining it as you go, tearing it up periodically if you want to, setting a whole new list. It’s your life. It’s your future.
3 Components of Powerful Goals
The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes you do to accomplish it. This will always be a far greater value than what you get. That is why goals are so powerful. They are part of the fabric that makes up our lives.
Goal setting is powerful because it provides focus, shapes our dreams, and gives us the ability to home in on the exact actions we need to take in order to get everything in life we desire. Goals cause us to stretch and grow in ways we never have before. In order to reach our goals, we must become better—we must change and grow.
Powerful goals have three components:
They must be inspiring.
They must be believable.
They must be goals you can act on.
Life is designed in such a way that we look long term and live short term. We dream for the future and live in the present. Unfortunately, the present can produce many hard obstacles. Fortunately, the more powerful our goals (because they are inspiring and believable), the more we will be able to act on them in the short term and guarantee that they will actually come to pass.
4 Tips for Setting Powerful Goals
So, what are the key aspects to learn and remember when studying and writing our goals? Here’s a closer look at goal setting and how you can make it forceful and practical:
1. Evaluation and Reflection
The only way we can reasonably decide what we want in the future and how we will get there is to first know where we are right now and what our current level of satisfaction is. With our focus on goal setting, the first order of business is for each of us to set aside some serious time for evaluation and reflection.
2. Dreams and Goals
What are your dreams and goals? Not related to the past or what you think you can get, but what you want. Have you ever really sat down, thought through your life values and decided what you really want? This isn’t what someone else says you should have or what culture tells us successful people do or have. These are the dreams and goals born out of your own heart and mind, goals unique to you and that come from who you were created to be and gifted to become.
3. SMART Goals
SMART means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive.
Specific: Don’t be vague. Exactly what do you want?
Measurable: Quantify your goal. How will you know if you’ve achieved it or not?
Attainable: Be honest with yourself about what you can reasonably accomplish at this point in your life while taking into consideration your current responsibilities.
Realistic: It’s got to be doable, real and practical.
Time: Associate a time frame with each goal. When should you complete the goal?
The word accountable means to give an account. When someone knows what your goals are, they help hold you accountable. Whether it is someone else trying to reach the same goal with you or just someone you can give the basic idea to, having an accountability partner will give you another added boost to accomplishing your goals.
So, evaluate and reflect. Decide what you want. Be SMART. Have accountability. When you put these four key pieces together, you put yourself in a position of power to catapult toward achieving your goals and the kind of life you desire.
Evaluation and Reflection
The basis for knowing where we want to go is knowing where we came from and where we are. It is also knowing how well we have done achieving things we have previously set our eyes on. This is the essence of evaluation and reflection. We need to understand how to look at what we have done and then use that as a platform for what we want to do next.
The process of evaluation is relatively simple but can be varied a bit. The important point is having a process. Here is the basic process for evaluation and reflection:
1. Find a quiet place.
Reflection is best done away from distraction. It gives your mind space to think.
2. Take regular time.
Whether it is once a week, every other week, once a month or quarter, be sure to set aside a regular time at regular intervals to evaluate and reflect.
3. Look back.
Look at what you have accomplished and where you are. Be specific. Be truthful. Be ruthlessly honest.
4. Write it down.
Keep a record. This gives you the chance at the next stage of evaluation to see exactly where you were last time and keeps it as objective as possible.
5. Look forward.
Set your next goal. Stretch yourself according to what works for you.
The purpose of evaluation is twofold. First, it gives you an objective way to look at your accomplishments and your pursuit of the vision you have for your life. Second, it shows you where you are so you can determine where you need to go. Evaluation gives you a baseline from which to work.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” To evaluate and reflect brings us face to face with who we are. More important, it allows us the time to dream and create a vision for what we want to become. Only when we take time out of our busy schedules can we get into the state of mind and quietness of heart we need in order to find that inner place.
Those who never take time to evaluate and reflect will blow to and fro through this life, living by the forces of culture, circumstances, societal pressures and, unfortunately, personal weaknesses.
In contrast, those who take the time to evaluate will find they are like an oak tree in a storm: They have a firm foundation, they know where they are going, they know how to get there, and, ultimately, they will get there no matter what comes their way.
Take a couple of hours this week to evaluate and reflect. See where you are and note it in your journal so that as the months progress and you continue a regular time of evaluation and reflection, you will see just how much ground you’re gaining—and that will be exciting!
Dreams and Goals
One of the amazing things we have been given as humans is the unquenchable desire to have dreams of a better life and the ability to establish and set goals to live out those dreams.
We can look deep within our hearts and dream of a better situation for ourselves and our families. We can dream of better financial, emotional, spiritual or physical lives. We have also been given the ability to not only dream, but pursue those dreams—and not just pursue them, but the cognitive ability to lay out a plan and strategies to achieve those dreams. Powerful!
What are your dreams and goals? This isn’t what you already have or what you have done, but what you want. Have you ever really sat down and thought through your life values and decided what you really want? Have you ever taken the time to truly reflect, to listen quietly to your heart, to see what dreams live within you? Your dreams are there. Everyone has them. They may live right on the surface, or they may be buried deep from years of others telling you they were foolish, but they are there.
You have to ask the hard questions to get excited about your dreams, and then you have to translate that excitement into strategic action to pursue all that you want. These are the disciplines that will help unleash the power of the dreams inside of you:
Listen to yourself.
How do we know what our dreams are? This is an interesting process and relates primarily to the art of listening. This is not listening to others; it is listening to yourself. If we listen to others, we hear their plans and dreams, and, at times, others will try to put their plans and dreams on us. If we listen to others, we can never be fulfilled. We will only chase elusive dreams that are not rooted deep within us.
Instead, we must listen to our own hearts to hear the dreams born out of the passions and desires we each uniquely possess. Just like when you are quiet enough to hear your own heart beating within your chest, your dreams have their own rhythm. All you have to do is get quiet enough to hear the beat.
Take time to be quiet.
Taking the time to be quiet is something we don’t do enough in this busy world. We rush, rush, rush and are constantly listening to noise all around us. We must not get faked out by just being busy. Instead, we must constantly ask ourselves the question, “Busy doing what?” In other words, are the activities you are participating in moving you toward your goals? If not, then work to eliminate those things and replace some of that time with quiet.
The human heart was meant to have times of quiet reflection, allowing us to peer deep within ourselves. It is when we do this that our hearts are set free to soar and take flight on the wings of our own dreams. Schedule some quiet “dream time” this week. No other people. No cellphone. No computer. Just you, a pad, a pen and your thoughts.
Think about what really thrills you. When you are quiet, think about those things that really get your blood moving. What would you love to do, either for fun or for a living? What would you love to accomplish? What would you try if you were guaranteed to succeed? What big thoughts move your heart into a state of excitement and joy? When you answer these questions, you’ll feel terrific because you’re in the “dream zone.” It is only when we get to this point that we can truly realize and begin to experience what our dreams are.
Make a list and prioritize.
Write down all of your dreams as you have them. Don’t think of any as too outlandish or foolish— remember, you’re dreaming! Let your thoughts and pen fly as you take careful record.
Now look at your list and prioritize those dreams. Which are most important? Which are most feasible? Which would you love to do the most? Put them in the order you will actually try to attain them. Remember, we are always moving toward action, not just dreaming.
Why am I asking you to take part in this exercise? It’s because life is too short not to pursue your dreams. At the end of your life, all you will be able to do is look backward. You can reflect with joy or regret. And we all know that joy from discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.
Those who dream, who set goals and act on them, are those who live lives of joy and have a sense of peace when they near the end of their lives. They will have finished well and possess a sense of pride and accomplishment, not only for themselves but also for their families. That feeling is priceless!
Remember: These are the dreams and goals born out of your heart and mind, goals unique to you, and they come from who you were created to be and gifted to become. Your specific goals are what you want to achieve because they will make your life joyful and bring fulfillment for both you and your family.
The acronym SMART is one of the key aspects of goal setting because we want to be smart when we set our goals. We want to intelligently decide what our goals will be so that we can actually accomplish them. We want to set the goals that our heart conceives, that our mind believes and that our bodies will carry out. Let’s take an even closer look at each of the components of SMART goals:
Goals are no place to waffle. They are no place to be vague. Ambiguous goals produce ambiguous results. Incomplete goals produce incomplete futures. When we are specific, we harness the power of our dreams and set forces into action that empower us to achieve our goals. We then know exactly what it is we are shooting for—there is no question.
As we establish our priorities and manage our time, we do it for a specific goal, to achieve the results we expect. There is no wondering or guessing. The future is locked into our minds, and we see it—specifically—and that is powerful! Never underestimate just how important it is to have very specific, concrete goals. They act as magnets that draw you toward them. A SMART goal is specific.
Always set goals that are measurable—“specifically measurable” to take into account the principle of being specific, as well. Our goals should be such that we know when we are advancing and by how much. Whether it is by hours, pounds, dollars or some other scale, we should be able to see exactly how we are measuring up as we journey through life using our goals. Imagine if you didn’t measure your goals. You would never know which way you were going, or even if you were going anywhere. A SMART goal is measurable.
One of the detrimental things many people do—and they do it with good intentions—is to set goals that are unattainable. While it’s very important to set big goals that cause your heart to soar with excitement, it is also imperative to make sure they are attainable.
An attainable goal is one that is both realistic and doable in a shorter period of time than what you have to work with. “Attainable” doesn’t mean easy. Our goals should be set so that they are just out of our reach, so that they challenge us to grow as we reach forward to achieve them. A SMART goal is attainable.
The root word of realistic is real. A goal has to be something that we can reasonably make “real” or a “reality” in our lives. There are some goals that are simply not realistic. You have to be able to say, even if it is a tremendously stretched goal, that it is entirely realistic—that you could make it. You may have to say that it will take X, Y and Z to do it, but if those happen, then it can be done.
This is in no way to say it shouldn’t be a big goal, but that goal must be realistic. This is, to a great degree, up to the individual. For one person, a goal may be realistic, but for another, unrealistic. Be very honest with yourself as you do your planning and evaluation. It might be good to get a friend to help you, as long as that friend is by nature an optimist and not a pessimist. This can go a long way toward helping you know what is realistic.
Knowing that perhaps you could use a bit of help differentiating between attainable and realistic, here is an example: Let’s say you are overweight and need to lose 150 pounds to get to your ideal weight. Is that goal attainable? Yes, if you also make it realistic. For example, it isn’t realistic to think you can do it in five months. Eighteen to 24 months would be more realistic (with hard work). Thus, losing 150 pounds in two years is both attainable and realistic, while losing 150 pounds in five months is neither attainable nor realistic. A SMART goal is realistic.
One of the powerful aspects of a great goal is that it has an end, a time in which you are shooting to accomplish it. You start working because you know there is an end, and as time goes by, you work because you don’t want to get behind. As the deadline approaches, you work diligently because you want to meet that deadline. It’s a good idea to break a big goal down into different parts of measurement and time frames. Set smaller goals and work them out in their own time. A SMART goal has a timeline.
Now let’s look at how to apply the SMART test to your goals and ensure they are powerful.
As a contract with yourself or someone else, accountability is a vital key in the goal-setting process. Accountability puts some teeth into the process. If a goal is set and only one person knows it, does it really have any power? Many times it doesn’t. At the very least, it isn’t as powerful.
When someone knows what your goals are, they follow up and hold you accountable by asking you to “give an account” of where you are in the process. Human nature is such that when we know someone else is going to ask us about it, we are much more motivated to get it done—if for no other reason than we don’t want to look lazy and uncommitted. This is why having an accountability partner is so important.
In the basic sense, there are two kinds of accountability: internal and external.
Internal accountability is essentially the level of integrity you maintain not only throughout the evaluation process but also in life. It means that when you look at yourself, you judge yourself with honesty. This is where you hold yourself accountable to doing what you said you would do. If you’ve messed up, say, “I’ve messed up,” but if you’ve done well, then you can celebrate your progress. Let the internal accountability prod you and spur you on to greater action in pursuit of your achievements.
So, first and foremost, it is our responsibility to hold ourselves accountable. We answer to ourselves. We take charge of ourselves. How do we do that? Here are a few ideas:
Write down your goals so they become “objective.” You can’t go back and say, “That wasn’t really my goal.”
Be ruthlessly honest with yourself when you assess whether or not you have met the goal. Of course, if you were specific in setting your SMART goals, you won’t have much wiggle room here, anyway.
If you fall short of your goal, or if you are falling short while on the way, knuckle down and hold yourself accountable to do what it takes to make up the ground so that you can hit that goal!
Set a time frame in which you will evaluate your progress and hold yourself accountable.
Find someone else or a group of others to hold you accountable. When we commit to giving an account to someone else for our actions and goals, we take it to the next level.
The external part of accountability will not work without the internal aspect. If you are not honest with yourself, then you will probably not be honest with others. Asking someone to hold you accountable and then knowing you won’t be completely honest with them will never work.
Having an outside source of accountability is a powerful force if done right. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you set up an accountability partner:
Choose someone who cares about you but can be tough and honest with you. They need to care about you—and you have to know and feel that care—because you become vulnerable by making yourself accountable to them. They need to be tough and honest, though, because you don’t want to have them shy away from telling you to get on the ball when you’re slacking, getting behind or not doing the job. The expression “tough love” would fit appropriately here. In essence, they love us enough to be honest with us about our progress.
Tell them specifically what your goals are.
Commit to being honest with them.
Give them permission to speak words of encouragement, as well as words of challenge when the situation calls for it.
Agree on a reasonable time frame in which you will allow them to evaluate your progress and hold you accountable.
Follow up on their words when they challenge you or call you to action.
Accountability can be a tremendous thing. There is an old proverb that says one can put a thousand to flight, but two can put 10,000 to flight. When we have someone holding us accountable, we bring others onto our team who will make us stronger, who will make us soar higher and who will cause our lives to be much richer because of their involvement.
Take a moment and really consider who you will make yourself accountable to in the pursuit of your goals. Now, go back through the words above and begin to work this process out in your own life. You will be extraordinarily glad you did.
Goal Setting Challenges You
Let your goals challenge you to become a unique person of incredible dimensions, not necessarily in anyone else’s eyes, but in your own eyes.
It doesn’t matter whether someone thinks I’m short or tall, but it matters if I stand tall in my own eyes—because I know my disciplines, I know what I’m doing, I know whether I’m doing it or not doing it. I know that I’m paying the price and that I deserve the applause and I deserve the prize. That’s what’s exciting. That’s why this goal setting is so important. It challenges you to grow. It challenges you to become more than you are, to move up to the next level. And that’s key.