Your fingers tracing

She came to learn
dreams can come,
at too high a cost;

But she was brave &
took that risk,
though all was lost;

Now she chooses
dreamless nights &
hollow voids;

There she shall remain
till peace comes
crawling once again.

 

 

MOON’S RIVER

We sat by the light of the orange moon, that night
We stared at the eyes of twinkled stars so bright,
Then we fell into the thought of catching falling stars
As the night caught the gentle beat of both our hearts.
We stared at the moon in the sweet, silent sky,
Looking for a face that we could recognize
We saw the eyes on the moon, we saw the smile.
Our hearts connected to the love from way up high,
Then the moon trickled light to meet our needing eyes,
Came flowing now as roots from dark and silent skies,
Connected to our hands and feet as tiny lines,
We felt the truth of moon’s beam that amazing night.
The moment gone, moon drifts away from sight,
The night hides away as morning lights
And there on the ground we wake to find
A star twinkling, fallen from the skies.
This truth can’t be felt from other’s eyes
But we hold that truth forever of our night.
Some things must be experienced to know,
No matter what belief we speak and show.
These moments live as stories to the crowd,
The tale is told by those who speak out loud,
But all of us have moments where we feel
The magic of this dream that is so real.
I hope one day you look to skies above
And feel those stars connected to your love.
I hope you feel the pull and that you too
Touch the truth from your rivers of the moon.

10 Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself Every Day

 

There are myriad psychology models and theories on what motivates us to do the things we do: how we respond to incentives, achievement theories, and so on.

I look at motivation as excitement. So how can you remain motivated in a simple way that works every single day? Here are 10 ways.

1. Take a break–you deserve it.

The only way we can perform at an optimal level is create time for rest. The moment you know you can’t take any time off is usually when you need it most.

So take that long delayed vacation, and return to your business with renewed enthusiasm.

2. Keep your cards close to your chest.

Finally running that marathon? Excited about your new diet? Bursting at the seams over your new project? Good. Keep it to yourself.

Announcing your intent to do these feats will backfire. Resist the urge to reap the barrage of Facebook likes, and gushing comments. The positive feedback you receive from your network will trick your brain into thinking you’ve already accomplished your goal, sabotaging your once-motivated brain to do said feat.

So keep it to yourself and share the good news once you’ve already done it.

3. Confront death, and define your legacy.

Death is a powerful motivator. We get bogged down in mindless activities. They make us feel like we’re accomplishing things, when in reality we’re just spinning in circles.

Knowing that you have finite time on this planet helps sharpen your focus. Everything we do is another step in defining our legacy. This may seem like heady posturing, but both can be powerful motivators.

4. Celebrate the little wins, no matter how small.

Little wins may seem like just that–little.

Celebrating these wins can help to create positive habits. You break the inertia of mediocrity by teaching everyone around you how to win. They get the chance to bask in that emotion.

Vishen Lakhiani, CEO of Mindvalley, has gone so far as implementing what he calls the “awesome bell.” Which he rings (you guessed it) anytime something awesome happens.

5. Slash your to-do list in half.

Slashing your aggressive to-do list in half will allow room for success. Knowing that it’s realistic for you to complete the list is empowering.

6. Be gentle with yourself.

Stop comparing the accomplishments in your life with those of your neighbor. The story you create in your head will never be as good, and the reality will never be as bad.

There are many people who are smarter than you. The moment you can embrace this notion, you’re free. Free to explore. Free to follow what excites you. Free to ignore what they do, or how they do it, and focus on you.

7. Hack the way your brain perceives your new habits.

Recently, I began waking up two hours earlier than usual during the week. Instead of viewing it as two hours less I get to sleep, I view it as two extra hours to my day, allowing me to add a full workday per week.

8. Embrace vulnerability.

We live in a culture where we horde Instagram followers, and Facebook likes. The perception of our lives being anything less than perfect is a daunting notion. The glossy Facebookification of our lives can create a dangerous facade of success.

Sharing defeats and admitting failure is a powerful cultivator of motivation, allowing you to move past the failure. Work through the emotion instead of taking it out on someone else. Then move on to something more constructive.

Sharing these vulnerable moments also cultivates deeper connection with peers.

9. Do what you love (sort of).

Find what it is you love to do and get proficient at it. Success dwells at the fulcrum of passion and excellence.

But be careful. Make sure that you can make a living from your passion. I’m passionate about a lot of things that I know I’m not so amazing at and that I definitely can’t make a living at. I love playing guitar. My daughter loves when I play songs from the movie Frozen. It’s fun. I’m never going to be a rock star.

10. Focus.

There is a an anecdote I’ve heard about Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Gates’s father at a dinner party. A guest asked them what the most important quality for success was today and all three responded “Focus” at the same exact time. They all smiled and laughed to each other because they hadn’t really prepared the answer.

We are all inundated with texts and emails. These are no longer just work interruptions. Because of the mini-computers we carry around in our pockets, the flood of information distracts us wherever we happen to be, 24/7.

So turn off your iPhone, stop trolling your ex-lover’s Facebook page, and get to work.

4 of the Most Important Skills of the Future

 

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.

12 behaviors that leaders should avoid

 

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.

 

50 New Year’s Resolution Ideas And How To Achieve Each Of Them

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[1], 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[3]. 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[4].

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[5]! 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[6]. 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[7] 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[9] 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!

 

 

8 Health Benefits From Having More of Them

“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.

  • Start slowly.
  • 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.

 

 

How to Let Go of the Stress and Pressure That Weigh You Down

“Stress is not what happens to us. It’s our response to what happens, and response is something we can choose.” ~Maureen Killoran

 

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:

Shame/guilt:

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.

Fear:

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.

Anger:

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.

Emptiness:

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:

Yoga

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!

Tai Chi

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.

 

6 Things You Should Never Do First Thing in the Morning. The perfect morning routine–for you–should also include a ‘not to do’ list.

The perfect morning routine–for you–should also include a ‘not to do’ list.

 

Morning routines. Everyone has them. Everyone wants a better one.

But instead of adding items to your morning in hopes of starting your day more productively, consider eliminating a few things from your routine. Consider it addition by subtraction.

What should go on your not to do list for first thing in the morning?

1. Don’t plan out your day.

Instead, make a to-do list the night before. That accomplishes a number of things.
One, you’ll sleep better. As David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, says, “Your head is for having ideas, not holding ideas, and it’s certainly not for filing things away. Without exception, you will feel better if you get stuff out of your head.” Deciding what you’ll do tomorrow — especially deciding what you’ll do first — instantly relieves a little stress and anxiety.

And ensures you don’t waste time deciding what to tackle first. Or mistaking the seemingly urgent for the truly important. Or wasting time gathering up whatever you need to actually work on what you want to tackle first.

Try it.

Before you end your workday, list what you need to get done tomorrow. Then determine the single most important thing you need to get done tomorrow.

Then, before you step away, set up your workspace (which, if like mine, is simply your computer’s desktop) so you can hit the ground running first thing in the morning. Have the reports you need open. Have the notes you need handy. Make sure you have answers to your questions.

Starting your day with a productive bang creates natural momentum — and provides the motivation you need to move on to whatever is next on your to-do list.

So, yeah: Don’t make a plan. Have a plan.

2. Don’t make unimportant decisions.

Malcolm Gladwell only drinks five kinds of liquids: water, tea, red wine, espresso, and milk. Why?

As Gladwell says, “There are so many other things I would rather do with my time than agonize endlessly about those kinds of trivial decisions.”

Plus, we all have a finite store of mental energy for exercising self-control. Some of us have less, some have more, but eventually we all run out of willpower steam.

That’s why the more choices you need to make during the day, the harder each one is on your brain — and the more you start to look for shortcuts. That’s when you get impulsive. That’s when you make decisions you know you shouldn’t make.

The fewer decisions you have to make, the better the decisions you will make when you do have to make a decision.

Maybe you’ll start having the same thing for breakfast. Or always working out before you start work. (More on that in a moment.) Or scanning the same key metrics.

Or, as President Obama once told Vanity Fair, “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Automate as many decisions you have to make in the morning as possible, especially when they don’t improve your efficiency and effectiveness.

3. Don’t forget to exercise.

Research shows that as little as 20 minutes of moderate exercise boosts your mood for the next 12 hours. (Keep in mind “moderate” means an average heart rate of between 110  and 120 beats a minute. So, no: You don’t have to go all HIIT on yourself.)

Not only will a short workout increase your energy level afterward, it will also put you in a better mood for up to 12 hours.

Which means exercising first thing lets you take full advantage of the “happier” 12 hours that science says follow.

4. Don’t forget to include protein in your first meal.

In The 4-Hour Body, Tim Ferriss recommends consuming 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up. At least one nutrition professor recommends consuming at least 30 grams of protein for breakfast.

Why? Protein tends to keep blood-sugar levels steadier. Protein tends to help prevent hunger spikes. Most important, research shows dopamine regulates motivation, helping you to “initiate and persevere.”

Which is exactly what you need to do first thing in the morning: get started and keep going.

Granted, knocking out 30 grams of protein might sound daunting, so try a protein bar or protein shake. That’s what I do: My first meal is always a protein bar and a glass of water.

Decision already made, protein consumed. Win-win.

5. Don’t forget to take the right breaks.

Generally speaking, we can only focus on any given task for 90 to 120 minutes. After that, we need a 15- to 20-minute break so we can recharge and be ready to perform at a high level on the next task.

So do this: Split your day into 90-minute windows. Instead of thinking an 6-, 8-, or 10-hour workday, split your day into four or five 90-minute windows. That way, you will have, say, four or five tasks — or chunks of tasks — you will get done a lot more efficiently.

Just make sure you take the right kind of break. Sitting and chilling is fine, but taking a break to knock out a few relatively mindless tasks could be just as useful (and leave you feeling a little more productive).

Think of it this way: Momentum is everything. Breaks should reinforce your sense of activity and accomplishment. So take a quick walk. Grab a drink or a snack.

Or, if you feel the urge to stay Type A, pick a few productive tasks you like to perform — and gain a sense of accomplishment from — and use those for your “breaks.”

6. Don’t stick blindly to the same morning routine.

Maybe you’ll need to wake up a little earlier to take advantage of “quiet time” to complete your first task. Maybe you’ll need to wake up a little later so you’ll feel more rested.

Maybe you’ll need to exercise later in the day after all, or adjust what you eat, or change a few of your other “automatic” decisions.

To be more productive, you can’t do what you’ve always done.

Nor should you slavishly stick to the new routine you create. Every once in a while, take a few minutes to evaluate what’s working and what’s not. And adjust as necessary.

Because the key is to do what makes you most successful.

Which, over time, is likely to change.

So make sure you change with it.