Your approach to life is influenced by so many factors – your genetics, upbringing, culture, beliefs, values, and more. As a result, everyone has a unique approach to life that is either slightly or vastly different from your own.
Some people go through life doing just enough to get by. They’re the make doers who are perfectly happy making do with whatever happens. At the other extreme are the perfectionists who strive to do everything perfectly no matter how complicated the process is.
In the more sustainable range are the following:
- Simplifiers (who do everything the easiest way possible even if adding that little extra would produce better results).
- Optimizers (who look for the best solution even if it’s more complex and increases the odds for complications).
- Maximizers (who never cease to educate themselves and learn from others so they can excel at what’s important).
Actually, a balanced life involves all of the above, except for perfectionism, which only brings you stress from having unrealistic expectations of yourself. The trick is to know how to approach life on the terms that serve you the best in your present circumstances with the least amount of cost (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual). The good news is that you can choose to alter your approach to life whenever it suits you.
But how do you know which approach is the best at any given time?
You’ve no doubt heard the phrase about “knowing when to pick your battles”. Some things just aren’t worth fussing about. While others things matter a great deal. Often you don’t know what you’re dealing with until you’re well into the project. That’s why it’s so important to be flexible, resilient and adaptable.
However, as a general rule of thumb, whenever possible choose simplification, because it maximizes and frees up your personal energy. You’re not worn out from one task, so you have plenty of energy for the other activities that the day brings you.
Doing things simply makes it easier for not only yourself but for everyone involved. And it’s a huge time saver and keeps your stress level down. It’s best to avoid complicating something if there’s no need for it.
If you can simplify, streamline and document any system, you won’t have to expend the time and energy to re-figure it out in the future. This kind of simplification pays off in a big way. It even allows you to delegate tasks to others knowing that they’ll do the work to your satisfaction.
By simplifying your daily life as much as you can with supportive routines and habits, you have the luxury to optimize, or even maximize, the things that really matter to you. Instead of doing it so-so, you can truly master what you’re passionate about.
This principle works in all aspects of life and business. Just get started doing what needs to be done, step-by-step, and when you have the luxury of time, come back and master what’s really important. Over time, you may find that what you thought needed careful, meticulous attention doesn’t really need it, while things you neglected need your undivided attention.
When you’re mindful about reviewing your day, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and you’re tuned in to your own feelings and those of the people around you, you develop the flexibility and creativity to make course corrections in your approach to life as needed.
If you feel like you need to make some adjustments in your approach to life, please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to partner with you as you discover new ways to live life to the fullest.
“If you want something done, ask a busy person.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Isn’t it true that the world is full of people with good intentions? Yet the ones who accept a task and execute it promptly are rare. In that way, they become indispensable at work or in any relationship because you can count on them to follow through and not let you down.
Is that the kind of person you’d like to be known as?
First, it’s important to determine what’s getting in the way of executing your goals. Do you procrastinate or get distracted? Too often our minds are so full of “stuff” we lose focus. Or maybe you don’t know something, so you get stuck on the “how” and stall out.
Perhaps your past is getting in the way? Maybe you’ve been discouraged by a lifetime of others putting you down. On the other hand, overindulgent parents might have spoiled you, making you think the world owes you a favor. Just remember, those behaviors are their choices, not yours.
You have a choice to make: blame others or build a fire in your soul for developing the attitudes and habits that make you indispensable. How?
It all starts with developing the character to view everything you do as worthwhile. No matter what the job is, do it cheerfully. Appreciate the opportunity to see your strengths and make note of them.
When you work at excelling at everyday tasks, extraordinary opportunities will come your way. When you use each assignment to hone your natural talents, you can turn them into a discipline that you master. This may well become your “calling” in life, if it brings you great joy and it serves the needs of others.
The secret to becoming indispensable is to take action without hesitating. Practice the following steps until they become a deeply imbedded system in your life:
- Accept the assignment and get started. Don’t wait for all of the answers. As you proceed, you’ll often find better solutions than if you had mapped it all out at the beginning.
- Ask for clarification. Asking a question isn’t a sign of weakness. Work out what you can and then ask the right questions to fill in the blanks.
- Outline a plan of action. Keep in mind your ultimate objective; strategies for achieving it; breaking it down into manageable bits; making a step-by-step checklist; and measuring your progress.
- Don’t be afraid to expend some resources and ask for help. Worthwhile objectives usually cost money, time, and help from others. If it’s worth doing, do it right.
- Measure your progress. When you get stuck, show what you’ve done so far and ask for feedback. If you’re off course, this will put you back on track. Even if you don’t answer to anyone, review your progress and see if you’re still on course.
- Set reasonable expectations and always exceed them. If you want to be trusted with vital tasks, develop a reputation for getting the job done better, sooner and at a lower cost than expected.
- Accept mistakes as the cost of learning. Perfection is unrealistic. Mistakes are simply information not judgments on your character. Reflect on what they teach you.
- Be proud of your work. Remember your wins. Find the harmony between action and fear. Courage isn’t the absence of fear but rather the ability to act despite it.
You will become indispensable when you’ve integrated these action-oriented habits and attitudes into your life. If you’re ready to accelerate your rise to excellence so you become indispensable, respected and trusted, please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to partner with you on this journey.
“Like a human being, a company has to have an internal communication mechanism, a ‘nervous system’, to coordinate its actions” ~ Bill Gates, co-founder Microsoft
Are systems really that different than goals? On the surface they sound similar, don’t they? Yet how many goals have you set but never achieved? How does that make you feel? Like you’ve failed and are always starting over, right? In contrast, systems for life are daily habits, routines, processes, or practices you implement to support your intentions. And day-by-day, you reach your desired result in a much softer way.
For example, perhaps you set the goal of losing weight by a certain date. You may achieve that goal, but soon the pounds creep back on. Why? Going on a diet implies that at some point the diet ends. A lifestyle change, on the other hand, is a system of healthy eating and exercise that is ongoing and has lasting results.
Over the years, I’ve focused a lot on setting and achieving goals, developing small measurable steps and developing a buddy system. All of this is important, but it’s not effective if my strategies to achieve these goals aren’t successful ones.
What does it mean to develop systems for life?
Let me give you another example: Imagine that you want to go to the gym at 6am three times a week and you commit to doing that. You prepare your gym clothes and shoes the night before so getting dressed in the morning is a breeze. Your gym bag is ready and your water bottle is full and available.
It looks like you’ve set yourself up for success, right? But what if you decide to stay up late because you want to read 10 more pages of your book, or your friend calls and wants to talk about her ex one more time? Will you be successful at getting up when the alarm goes off the next morning?
And what if deep down you hate the gym? How long will you be able to sustain your commitment? When you associate displeasure with exercise, you unintentionally train yourself to stop doing it. If you force yourself to do it you end up using your limited supply of willpower. So what happens as a result? When you’re tempted to eat junk food you give in, negating the good that you accomplished at the gym.
How much better to create a system for being active every day at a level that feels good, while experimenting with different methods of exercise until you find the one you love. Maybe it’s something as simple as using a pedometer to count your steps. Before long your body is trained to crave that psychological boost. It builds a natural inclination for challenges that gently nudges you toward becoming more active. 10,000 steps today…12,000 steps tomorrow. That’s a sustainable system!
Don’t get me wrong. Goals are fine for getting a project finished. But they have their limitations…
- Goals remind you that you’re not good enough. You’re starting from that negative state and basing your happiness, not on the present, but on a future, which you may or may not achieve.
- Goals make you feel guilty when you don’t achieve them.
- Goals foster a yo-yo of short-term results, instead of a steady flow toward long-term progress, because as soon as the goal is achieved you revert back to previous practices.
- Goals make you feel powerless when you have setbacks. When you have systems for life you know you can pick it up again tomorrow when you feel better.
- Goals make you focus on one thing while de-emphasizing others things you’re committed to. Consequently, you’re more likely to miss out on opportunities that could be far better than your goal.
The interesting thing is that if you never set another goal, but have a variety of systems for living an excellent life, you’ll still achieve what really matters to you. When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can mindfully enjoy the moment, while making improvements at the same time.
If you’re having trouble sorting out which system you need to implement first, feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype.
“You can do anything you set your mind to!” Did you ever hear these encouraging words from a parent or teacher as you were growing up? Did you believe it then? Do you still believe it? Or somewhere along the way did you quit believing because you started telling yourself self-limiting stories?
Too many times we’ve replaced the encouraging voice in our heads with ones that tear us down and keep us little. They come from our own fears and insecurities or we’ve actually heard them from other people who abusively denigrate and belittle. We’ve heard it so often that we begin to believe it ourselves.
The self-limiting stories we tell ourselves are usually focused on generalizations, negativity and comparisons with others. You can recognize them, because they often start with statement like these…
“If only I was … I could …!”
“I’m not good at…”
“I’ve never been …”
“Who do you think you are…”
“He gets … because he’s gifted. He doesn’t know what my life is like.”
Just because something doesn’t come easily to you or you’re inexperienced, doesn’t mean you can’t do it well. Perhaps you’re not the most talented speaker today. Your story doesn’t have to be that you’re not a gifted speaker. Your story can be that you want to be a talented speaker and you’re willing to do a lot of hard work and preparation in order to influence people with your message. And that’s a new story you can create for yourself.
This shift begins when you become aware of the self-limiting talk running through your mind. Think of that commentary like a Narrator – the voice in the background that is giving substance to the story. Most people are oblivious to it. But with greater mindfulness you can stop yourself from automatically saying, “No, I can’t”, and just listen to the objections in your mind. Without judgment, write them down in your journal.
Ask yourself if it’s true. You may think, “I’m so stupid!” But you’re not. You many have made a mistake, but that doesn’t define who you are as a person. Evaluate it. You’ll see that the Narrator is only offering one perspective, based on previous experiences. You don’t have to accept what the Narrator is telling you, especially if it’s disempowering. See all the good things you have accomplished.
Affirm what you know is true. Maybe you don’t know how to do something. But you have the ability to learn. We’re all a work in progress, adding layers and layers of experience to our core values. And that experience is valuable. Set your intentions for how you want to live each day. Stay in touch with your values and you’ll stay aligned with your purpose.
Tweak your story. You don’t have to totally reinvent yourself. Take the parts that don’t serve you any longer and overwrite them with choices that create the best possible story. Daily reflect on how your choices fit into your greatest purpose.
It takes mindful effort to process through the stories you tell yourself. But you can change your story and you can change your life. I would love to partner with you as you go through the process. Please feel free to schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation so we can explore your options. I’m happy to meet in-person, by phone or via Skype.
If you’re an adult there’s no doubt that the world has changed significantly since you were a child. We didn’t grow up with smartphones, Twitter, Snapchat…
But how have you dealt with this ever-changing world we live in? Hopefully, you learned some basic survival skills from your parents – like how to adapt, deal with change, and basically be prepared to face any challenge head on.
When I think back to my childhood I see how my parents prepared me in some important ways for life in the 21st century. Yet there were other key skills I had to learn the hard way. As you read this article, think about how you can strengthen some of these psychological survival skills in yourself. It’s really never too late! If you’re a parent, teacher, or mentor of children think about how you can instill them in the next generation.
Here are five basic skills that we need to not just survive, but thrive:
- Self-discipline. A meaningful and fulfilling life is built gradually and purposefully. There are no shortcuts. I recently shared how important making your bed every morning is – this habit requires self-discipline and I’m grateful I learned that as a young child since it has served me well ever since.
- Emotional literacy. This one is huge! Our emotions affect everything we do. They influence our perceptions and opinions about ourselves, and others. When we can identify our prominent emotion, we’re less likely to project that emotion onto the situation. We’ll recognize that yes we’re sad, but the weather isn’t really worse than normal, our spouse isn’t being insensitive and we aren’t lazy because we didn’t workout yesterday. Practice labeling your emotions and teach your children to do the same and you’ll be far more objective and reasonable with yourself and others.
- Stress management. Our natural inclination, as children and adults, is to avoid pain. But meeting difficult challenges is how we grow as human beings. Make a practice of looking for ways to challenge your mind with mental obstacles and your body with physical obstacles. If you have children, don’t immediately solve all their problems. Let them experiment with various solutions so they learn to tolerate stress and gain confidence in their problem-solving abilities.
- Dealing with change. Life is full of uncertainty and change. If you’ve learned how to deal with change, your attitude, outlook, and ability to function in the real world will benefit, despite what happens. So try to view life as an adventure. When an unexpected change comes your way, lean into it and embrace it. The best way to teach this to your children is to model an adaptable, flexible attitude.
- Gratitude. Most of us learned to say thank you as children and we’ve probably taught our children to do the same. But true gratitude goes far beyond a perfunctory “thank you”. Gratitude means a deep awareness of why we are thankful and appreciative. I recommend you keep a gratitude journal and daily enter at least five things for which you’re grateful and encourage your children to do the same. When you begin and end each day with gratitude, your whole life shifts in a more positive direction.
Did you see areas where you could strengthen your skills? Don’t be discouraged. As I mentioned earlier, it’s never too late to enhance these life skills. Or maybe this article got you thinking about your child? Do you see her struggling in a certain area and you want to coach her through it? Please consider joining me at my upcoming Foundations of Life Coaching and NLP class in March. This is your opportunity to work with me personally and learn life-long skills so you know how to coach both yourself and others. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about whether this training is a good fit for you personally.