Archive for the 'Success' Category

New Year’s Resolutions – How To Keep Them

January 3rd, 2012 by

If you’re like most people, you have a “make-‘em-and-break-‘em” attitude toward New Year’s resolutions. Your intentions are noble—you believe you will make more time for yourself this year, and lose two pants sizes, and take a brisk walk every evening after dinner. No more couch potato lifestyle for you—2012 is the year when you will, as Oprah coaxed us, be your best self!

Nearly half of us ring in the New Year with visions of a thinner, fitter year ahead. Unfortunately, a recent survey found, 35 percent of Americans break their resolutions by the end of January. The key to success, according to the American Council on Exercise, is to swap grandiose ambitions for a sweeping health overhaul for two or three smart, specific and attainable goals. That means making promises you can keep. Here’s a look at five of the most popular resolutions—plus tips for making them work.

1) Lose weight. One strategy that makes it easier to shed those stubborn extra pounds is tracking what you eat. In a study by Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research, people who kept a daily food diary had double the weight loss of those who didn’t keep any records. It’s also important to avoid diet foods, surprising as that may sound: Research shows that eating low-fat foods doesn’t lead to overall calorie reduction, while a new study by University of Texas Health Science Center shows that people who drink two or more diet sodas daily have up to five times the increase in waist size over a decade than those who avoid diet drinks. Instead, down two glasses of water before each meal. A new study found that people who do so lose more weight—and are more likely to keep it off a year later—than those who don’t increase their water intake.

2) Fit in Fitness. The idea of exercising every day for the rest of your life can be daunting, so take a smaller view. Say you’ll do it for a month—and at the end of that 30 days, try to take that success forward for another 30 days. Also figure out what would make exercise more palatable to you—would dancing to music make it more of a “fun break”? Would an exercise buddy help—or even a group session? Making a commitment to another person to exercise together can improve motivation. And think of simple ways to move: if you use the bus to commute, get off one stop early and walk the rest of the way. March in place during TV commercials, or lift free weights during those short breaks. Walk your kids to school. And wear a pedometer: Doing so causes people to take about 2,000 extra step (one extra mile) per day, a study at Stanford University found.

3) Quit smoking. Contrary to what you might think, it’s possible to snuff out this deadly addiction without gaining weight, a recent study of Air Force recruits found, if quitting is coupled with a healthy diet and vigorous exercise. To cope with the hand-to-mouth habit of smoking, try chewing on a cinnamon stick, sugarless gum, carrots, or celery sticks. A key reason why people overeat after quitting tobacco is a craving for “oral gratification.” It’s also helpful to brush for two minutes after each meal and snack. Use mouthwash twice a day and enjoy the clean sensation in your mouth. Quitting smoking cuts risk for periodontal disease and brightens your smile.

4) Tame tension.  Chronic stress takes a toll on every organ in the body, including the heart, by repeatedly activating the well-known “fight-or-flight” response. Listening to joyful music is both relaxing and beneficial to blood vessel function, a study at University of Maryland reports, while an earlier study by the same researchers found similar benefits to laughter. Try laughter yoga, a popular exercise program that combines self-triggered mirth with yogic breathing to draw oxygen deep into the body. Also try the cuddle cure: Researchers from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that holding hands—or even a 10-second hug from your significant other—significantly reduces tension, heart rate, and blood pressure. And it feels good!

5) Learn something new. Like your body, your brain needs exercise. Research shows that highly educated people are less likely to suffer memory loss, perhaps because keeping the brain active boosts “cognitive reserve,” allowing it to work efficiently even if some cells are damaged. Among the activities that help keep neurons nimble are learning a foreign language, taking courses at a community college, and mastering a new skill. Think totally outside your comfort zone: If you like to read, consider photography lessons. And ask questions: Letting your curiosity guide you is the number one way to learn something new every day.

by Lisa Collier Cool

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How To Get More Done — Much Faster

November 28th, 2011 by

While your co-workers start every day enjoying a cup of coffee together in the break room, you’re barely able to find time to call your doctor. While they’re taking lunches, you’re rushing through another meal at your desk. Sound familiar? Here’s the good news: This apparent discrepancy may not mean you’ve got a bigger workload or that you’re a harder worker. Instead, it may mean that they’ve mastered certain time-saving skills and habits that you haven’t—until now. From prioritizing your workload to learning which projects don’t need to be perfect, read on to discover eight workplace habits that’ll boost your productivity and lower your stress levels.

1. They make it a point to take breaks.
Americans seem to think that constantly working is synonymous with being productive, but unless your brain is functioning at its maximum level, you may not be getting as much work done as you think. “[Taking breaks] is like hitting the reset button. It helps you empty out your ‘brain cache’ so you have room to refill it,” says Christine Hohlbaum, author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World. First and foremost, she recommends taking lunch every day—and leaving your desk to do it. “When you have a ‘working lunch,’ it’s just not very efficient. At some point you’re going to lose attention,” she says. Ultimately, eating while you work will cause you to suffer on two fronts: you won’t be able to pay attention to your food—a surefire way to overeat—and you won’t be giving your work the proper attention it deserves. In addition to a “real” lunch break, Hohlbaum suggests allotting time for other breaks as well. She recommends taking five minutes in the morning, before starting work, and at least a 10- to 15-minute break in the afternoon. Whether you take a short walk, read a book or stare out of the window with a cup of tea, it’ll help you recharge and improve your overall productivity. “It’s really important to take time off because otherwise your brain will reach a saturation point,” Hohlbaum says, explaining that when this happens, it becomes hard to focus on even the simplest task. “At that point, you need to push away from your computer and take a break.”

2. They start their day off on the right foot.
According to a recent study at the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University, if an employee is in a bad mood when they arrive at work—whether because of familial problems or a stressful commute—it can decrease their productivity by as much as 10% that day. So unless you come in to the office every day in a great mood (and who does?), start your day with 5 to 10 minutes of time dedicated to decompressing. “Create a ritual. Maybe it’s meeting in the coffee break room or going around the office to greet everyone. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you foster a sense of connection [with your coworkers],” Says Holhbaum. “Swinging by to say ‘hi’ to your colleagues when you walk in gives you a sense of focus. When you feel you’re part of a bigger effort, you feel more connected to why you’re there and that can make all the difference in the world.” Re-focusing your mind at the beginning of the day will also create a sense of calm, helping you to disregard outside stressors and zero in on your daily tasks. “If we’re actually able to start the day centered, then we’ll have a longer tolerance period before we get off track,” Holhbaum says.

3. They make mindful food choices.
You are what you eat, and eating a heavy mid-day meal will often make you feel lethargic for the rest of the afternoon. “Consider what you’re eating at lunch. If you’re having that post-pasta slump at 2 p.m., and need java or cookies to pep back up, maybe you should try a salad or something a bit lighter so you won’t lag,” suggests Hohlbaum. The key is keeping your blood sugar levels steady throughout the day, according to Kari Kooi, RD, corporate wellness dietician at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, who recommends three light meals and two snacks at regular intervals. “Heavy meals can make you feel sluggish because they require more energy to digest,” Kooi says. “[A quality lunch] will consist of a fiber-rich carbohydrate, like water-rich veggies, and a lean protein, like chicken or fish,” she says. And what does Kooi suggest you avoid? “A highly processed meal, like some of the frozen meals in the grocery store, will not give you the sustainable energy you need. The less processed the better when it comes to keeping your energy levels up.” When you hit that midday slump, Kooi suggests going for proteins like mixed nuts and fruit instead of the usual energy-zapping pretzels, cookies or candy, which cause your blood sugar levels to spike and then drop and may even make you hungrier, according to Kooi.

4. They keep a flexible to-do list.
Making a daily list of to-dos is a great way to stay on top of your work. However, there is one pitfall—it can make you inflexible. “A lot of people feel their day’s been wrecked if they have to change their plan, but the most effective people understand that’s part of the job,” says Vicki Milazzo, author of Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman. “I always start my day with a plan, but by 9 a.m. I’ve busted that plan.” However, according to Paula Rizzo, a master list-maker and founder of, it’s important to keep some form of a to-do list, no matter how much your day changes. For example, Rizzo begins her days with a master list, which she continually updates throughout the course of the day to note the items that haven’t been done or to add tasks as they crop up. Before leaving work, Rizzo will make a fresh list for the next day. The key, she says, is referencing the changing list throughout the day to keep herself on course. “Just putting a little extra work into it will keep you on track.”

5. They use technology with intent.
In today’s 24/7 all-access world, it’s hard to get a handle on technology use. While it’s impossible to avoid it altogether, you can be disciplined about how much time you spend perusing the Web. Set aside a specific time, say 15 minutes after lunch, to scroll through your social networking sites or other favorite websites—and stick to it. Or try something like Google Chrome’s website blocker, which allows you to set restrictions to your online time by either totally blocking your favorite websites or just restricting the timeframes within which you are allowed to check them. In addition to surfing the Internet, it’s important to watch your email habits. Whether you give yourself 15 to 30 minutes at a set time each day to check your personal email, or you allow yourself brief intervals between tasks, Holhbaum says the key is to be very mindful of the time you’re spending checking your non-work inbox. “Have a very clear distinction between what’s personal and what’s work. If that’s a part of your ‘OK I need to zone out for a little bit’ time, that’s fine. But you need to be clear and be mindful of what you’re doing.” Even work-related emails can become a distraction if not properly managed. Ask yourself if email is the best method of communication, or if you’re better off calling the person. ”Sending 100 emails isn’t [always] going to be the most productive thing. And as we know, emails beget emails. They’re like little rabbits,” Hohlbaum jokes. “If it’s a one-way communication, for example forwarding an airplane itinerary, you don’t need to have any answer [so email works]. But if you want detail or you know the person won’t respond right away by email, pick up the phone,” she says.

6. They balance their workload.
Different tasks require different levels of concentration, which you can use to your advantage. Start by identifying—and placing—the tasks you have into two categories: weeds and intensive work. Weeds are small, manageable things such as handling email, phone calls and minor organizational tasks. Intensive work is anything that requires an extended period of concentration, such as management tasks, preparing presentations, writing or editing. ”Miscellaneous routine tasks are like weeds in your garden; we all have them, and no matter how often we try to get rid of them, they never go away,” says Milazzo. ”Yet they do have to be handled, and pulling a few weeds can provide a restorative break from more intensive work.” Milazzo recommends splitting up long sessions of intensive work with regular 15- to 30-minute intervals of weed pulling. This way, you’ll accomplish a variety of tasks while not burning out on one type of work.

7. They put perfectionism in its place.
While turning in perfect work has been encouraged since kindergarten, that attitude can be counterproductive if it’s not managed. It’s important to pick your battles. “Women, by nature, are somewhat perfectionist,” says Milazzo. “So we need to distinguish what requires perfectionism,” she says. Of course you want to put your best foot forward in all situations, but if you’re strapped for time, prioritize. If, for example, you’re writing an informal memo or email to a co-worker, give it a quick look and spell-check it, but resist the urge to re-read it three times over. If, on the other hand, you’re creating a brochure for your company or preparing an important presentation, then that’s the time to put all of your perfectionist tendencies to good use.

8. They know how to say “no.”
It’s easy to get distracted or overwhelmed at work. But one of the secrets of highly productive people is that they learn when and how to say “no.” For starters, say “no” to whiners, complainers and distracting people. One way to do that, according to Rizzo, is by wearing headphones. “That sends the message that you’re busy and it drowns out the noise as well,” she says. When it comes time to say “no” to the boss, tread lightly but firmly. You don’t have to spell out n-o per se; rather, ask her to prioritize what’s most important given what’s on your plate. “When an employee does that, the boss usually comes to their senses and they get it,” Milazzo says. “You don’t want to make your boss the enemy; you want your boss to know you’re there for the company, and that you’re there for them. If they know that, they’re more likely to listen to what you say.”

By Alexandra Gekas  from
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Why Change is So Hard and How to Make it Easier

November 17th, 2011 by

Change is essential for your growth and development as a person. Without change, as the old Texas adage goes, “If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got.” Your ability to maximize your performance and productivity depends on your ability to change in positive ways.

If there is something that you don’t like about yourself or you find something that is interfering with the pursuit of your goals, well, just change it. Seems simple, doesn’t it? But, as anyone who has ever tried to change knows, it is far from simple or easy. Change can be slow, frustrating, and painful; it can also be engrossing and inspiring. Whether being a better boss, building your confidence in a new job, or dealing with work stress more effectively, change is the most difficult-yet rewarding-thing you will ever do.So why is change so difficult? And how can change be fostered?

Obstacles to Change

There are four obstacles that prevent people from changing (or even attempting to change). First, like all of us, you bring good things into adulthood from your childhood and, as a human being, you likely also bring some not-so-good things, what is commonly called “baggage.” The most frequent types of baggage include low self-esteem, perfectionism, fear of failure, need for control, anger, and need to please. This baggage, causes you to think, feel, and behave based on who you were as a child rather than the very different person you are now as an adult. Most of this baggage causes you to react to the world in a defensive way that can sabotage your efforts to achieve success.

Second, deeply ingrained habits in the way you think, experience emotions, and behave arise out this baggage, much like when athletes continue to practice bad technique, they become very good at the bad technique and that bad technique is what is executed in competition. In other words, you react to the world in a certain way because that’s the way you always have; these habits produce knee-jerk reactions that are no longer healthy or adaptive.

Third, you don’t make an effort to change because of negative emotions that you are experiencing, such as fear, anger, sadness, or frustration. For example, many people don’t change out of the fear of failure. They might think, “What if I can’t change, then I’ll prove myself to be even more of a failure than I am now.” They then say, “I’ve been this way for a long time and I’m getting by, so it’s not worth the risk.”

Fourth, you create an environment that helps you best manage your baggage, habits, and emotions. The people you surround ourselves with and the activities you participate in give you a sense of comfort and security. Unfortunately, this environment may, at a minimum, not support change or, at worst, discourage change.

In all four cases, remaining where you are has the effect of self-sabotage. You don’t perform up to your abilities and you don’t achieve your goals. You feel stuck, frustrated, and helpless to change your lot in life.

Foundation of Change

Yes, change is difficult, despite the “quick and without any effort” claims of motivational speakers and self-help books. But I’m sorry to say that change just doesn’t work that way. In attempting to change, you are swimming against the tide of many years of baggage, habits, emotions, and environment. But if you can overcome those obstacles and commit yourself to a new direction in your life, amazing things can happen.

Epiphany. Because change is so difficult, it must come from a very deep and personal place inside of you. Change starts with a simple, yet powerful, epiphany: “I just can’t continue down this same road any longer.” When you experience this realization in the most visceral way, then you have taken the first step toward change.

Emotions. Just as emotions can act as obstacles to change, they can also provide a powerful impetus to change. Whether positive, such as hope, inspiration, or pride, or negative, such as fear (of losing a job), emotions can be potent motivators for change.

Courage. Courage may be the single most important characteristic for changing your life because change requires risk and risk is scary because you may fail (of course, the other side of the coin is that only by taking risks can you truly succeed.). Courage to change means the willingness to acknowledge aspects of yourself that you may not know about or may not like, and to confront “bad” emotions you may feel as you learn about yourself. Courage enables you to reject your old self, chart a new course in your life, and then “boldly go where no one has gone before.”

Change is much like jumping into cold water. It will be a shock at first, and you will initially regret having taken the plunge. But, after you are in the water for a short while, you begin to adapt to the coldness. What was then intimidating is now approachable. What had been unknown is now familiar. What was then painful is now invigorating.

Leap of Faith. Unfortunately, there is no certainty in change. You don’t know if, when, or how you might change. And that lack of certainty can be truly terrifying. Yet, you must be willing to accept that uncertainty if you want to change. The only way to overcome your fears is to take a leap of faith. A great philosopher once said, “You do or you do not. There is no try.” No, it wasn’t Aristotle or Socrates who spoke those simple, yet profound words; the great thinker was…Yoda, the Jedi Master of Star Wars.

This leap of faith involves having a basic belief in yourself and a fundamental trust in the vision of who, what, and where you want to be in the future. The leap of faith involves your commitment to creating a new and healthy life and the belief that good things will happen when you do make that change.

Commitment: The above contributors to the foundation of change result in commitment to change, an unwavering dedication to resist the obstacles and pursue your goals. This resolve will motivate you to engage in the moment-to-moment process of change even when you are tired, bored, and frustrated.

Process of Change

The steps I just described set the stage for change, but the real work lies ahead. Change can be scary, tiring, frustrating, and repetitious. And change takes time. How much, you might ask. It depends on your ability to remove the four obstacles to change and embrace the foundation of change I discussed above and your ability to commit to the minute-to-minute process of change. But I have found that when someone makes a deep commitment to change, they can expect to see positive change in 6-12 months.

Identify your obstacles. The first step you must take in the change process is to identify the obstacles that are preventing you from changing. Perhaps the most difficult part of identifying your obstacles involves exploring your inner world. True change cannot just occur on the surface or outside of you. Change means not only understanding who you are, but also why you are who you are. You need to “look in the mirror” and specify what the baggage, habits, emotions, and environment are that are keeping you from your goals. Understanding these obstacles takes the mystery out of who you are and what has been holding you back. It also gives you clarity on what you need to change. These explorations of your inner world liberate you to move from the path you are on and to finally put the past behind you-when most of your life you have been putting your past in front of you.

Change goals. Establishing clear objectives of the changes you want to make will help you focus your efforts and direct your energy toward those changes. These goals should identify what areas you want to change, how you will change them, and the ultimate outcome you want to achieve. Moreover, the goals should be specific, objective, and time defined.

Action steps. Action steps describe the particular actions you will take to achieve your change goals. They may range from adhering to an exercise regimen to maintaining emotional control in a crisis situation to staying focused when surrounded by distractions. Action steps give you the specific tools you need to act on the world in the present and to give you alternative actions that counter your old baggage, habits, emotions, and environment.

Forks in the road. Taking the action steps and achieving your change goals depends on recognizing the good and bad forks in the road, having the determination to resist your baggage, habits, emotions, and environment, and choosing to take the good road.

Three P’s. One of the most difficult aspects of change is the need to make it a day-to-day, hour-to-hour, and minute-to-minute process in which you commit yourself to change (Every time you miss an opportunity for change, you further ingrain your old baggage, habits, and emotions). A helpful reminder of this necessity is what I call the Three P’s.

The first P, persistence, means you must maintain your determination (a mindset) and drive (your actions) to achieve your goals consistently.

The second P, perseverance, refers to your ability to respond positively to setbacks you will surely experience in the change process.

The third P, patience, should be a constant reminder that change takes time and that if you maintain your commitment and persist and persevere, you will make the changes you want.

The Payoff

There is an immense payoff for your commitment and efforts at change: A life-altering shift in who you are and the direction that your life will take; maximizing performance and productivity; achieving your life goals. As a former client told me so poignantly: “I realized that I would never have to go back to the way I used to live my life, and I have never been so successful or happy!

by Jim Taylor, Ph.D – Psychology Today

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Living Your Life Your Way

July 20th, 2011 by

Personal Goal Setting

Many people feel as if they’re adrift in the world. They work hard, but they don’t seem to get anywhere worthwhile.

A key reason that they feel this way is that they haven’t spent enough time thinking about what they want from life, and haven’t set themselves formal goals. After all, would you set out on a major journey with no real idea of your destination? Probably not!

Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about your ideal future, and for motivating yourself to turn your vision of this future into reality.

The process of setting goals helps you choose where you want to go in life. By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts. You’ll also quickly spot the distractions that can, so easily, lead you astray.

Why Set Goals?
Goal setting is used by top-level athletes, successful business-people and achievers in all fields. Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses your acquisition of knowledge, and helps you to organize your time and your resources so that you can make the very most of your life.

By setting sharp, clearly defined goals, you can measure and take pride in the achievement of those goals, and you’ll see forward progress in what might previously have seemed a long pointless grind. You will also raise your self-confidence, as you recognize your own ability and competence in achieving the goals that you’ve set.

Starting to Set Personal Goals
You set your goals on a number of levels:

  • First you create your “big picture” of what you want to do with your life (or over, say, the next 10 years), and identify the large-scale goals that you want to achieve.
  • Then, you break these down into the smaller and smaller targets that you must hit to reach your lifetime goals.
  • Finally, once you have your plan, you start working on it to achieve these goals.
  • This is why we start the process of goal setting by looking at your lifetime goals. Then, we work down to the things that you can do in, say, the next five years, then next year, next month, next week, and today, to start moving towards them.

Step 1: Setting Lifetime Goals
The first step in setting personal goals is to consider what you want to achieve in your lifetime (or at least, by a significant and distant age in the future). Setting lifetime goals gives you the overall perspective that shapes all other aspects of your decision making.

To give a broad, balanced coverage of all important areas in your life, try to set goals in some of the following categories (or in other categories of your own, where these are important to you):

  • Career – What level do you want to reach in your career, or what do you want to achieve?
  • Financial – How much do you want to earn, by what stage? How is this related to your career goals?
  • Education – Is there any knowledge you want to acquire in particular? What information and skills will you need to have in order to achieve other goals?
  • Family – Do you want to be a parent? If so, how are you going to be a good parent? How do you want to be seen by a partner or by members of your extended family?
  • Artistic – Do you want to achieve any artistic goals?
  • Attitude – Is any part of your mindset holding you back? Is there any part of the way that you behave that upsets you? (If so, set a goal to improve your behavior or find a solution to the problem.)
  • Physical – Are there any athletic goals that you want to achieve, or do you want good health deep into old age? What steps are you going to take to achieve this?
  • Pleasure – How do you want to enjoy yourself? (You should ensure that some of your life is for you!)
  • Public Service – Do you want to make the world a better place? If so, how?

Spend some time brainstorming these things, and then select one or more goals in each category that best reflect what you want to do. Then consider trimming again so that you have a small number of really significant goals that you can focus on.

As you do this, make sure that the goals that you have set are ones that you genuinely want to achieve, not ones that your parents, family, or employers might want. (If you have a partner, you probably want to consider what he or she wants – however, make sure that you also remain true to yourself!)

You may also want to read our article on Personal Mission Statements. Crafting a personal mission statement can help bring your most important goals into sharp focus.

Step 2: Setting Smaller Goals
Once you have set your lifetime goals, set a five-year plan of smaller goals that you need to complete if you are to reach your lifetime plan.

Then create a one-year plan, six-month plan, and a one-month plan of progressively smaller goals that you should reach to achieve your lifetime goals. Each of these should be based on the previous plan.

Then create a daily To-Do List of things that you should do today to work towards your lifetime goals.

At an early stage, your smaller goals might be to read books and gather information on the achievement of your higher level goals. This will help you to improve the quality and realism of your goal setting.

Finally review your plans, and make sure that they fit the way in which you want to live your life.

If you feel that you’re not paying enough attention to certain areas of your life, you”ll find our articles on The Wheel of Life and the Life/Career Rainbow useful.
Staying on Course

Once you’ve decided on your first set of goals, keep the process going by reviewing and updating your To-Do List on a daily basis.

Periodically review the longer term plans, and modify them to reflect your changing priorities and experience. (A good way of doing this is to schedule regular, repeating reviews using a computer-based diary.)

A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART mnemonic. While there are plenty of variants (some of which we’ve included in parenthesis), SMART usually stands for:

• S – Specific (or Significant).
• M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
• A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
• R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
• T – Time-bound (or Trackable).
For example, instead of having “To sail around the world” as a goal, it’s more powerful to say “To have completed my trip around the world by December 31, 2015.” Obviously, this will only be attainable if a lot of preparation has been completed beforehand!

Further Goal Setting Tips
The following broad guidelines will help you to set effective, achievable goals:

  • State each goal as a positive statement – Express your goals positively – “Execute this technique well” is a much better goal than “Don’t make this stupid mistake.”
  • Be precise: Set precise goals, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you’ll know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.
  • Set priorities – When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by having too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
  • Write goals down – This crystallizes them and gives them more force.
  • Keep operational goals small – Keep the low-level goals that you’re working towards small and achievable. If a goal is too large, then it can seem that you are not making progress towards it. Keeping goals small and incremental gives more opportunities for reward.
  • Set performance goals, not outcome goals – You should take care to set goals over which you have as much control as possible. It can be quite dispiriting to fail to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your control!

In business, these reasons could be bad business environments or unexpected effects of government policy. In sport, they could include poor judging, bad weather, injury, or just plain bad luck.
If you base your goals on personal performance, then you can keep control over the achievement of your goals, and draw satisfaction from them.
• Set realistic goals – It’s important to set goals that you can achieve. All sorts of people (for example, employers, parents, media, or society) can set unrealistic goals for you. They will often do this in ignorance of your own desires and ambitions.
It’s also possible to set goals that are too difficult because you might not appreciate either the obstacles in the way, or understand quite how much skill you need to develop to achieve a particular level of performance.

Achieving Goals

When you’ve achieved a goal, take the time to enjoy the satisfaction of having done so. Absorb the implications of the goal achievement, and observe the progress that you’ve made towards other goals.

If the goal was a significant one, reward yourself appropriately. All of this helps you build the self-confidence you deserve.

With the experience of having achieved this goal, review the rest of your goal plans:

  • If you achieved the goal too easily, make your next goal harder.
  • If the goal took a dispiriting length of time to achieve, make the next goal a little easier.
  • If you learned something that would lead you to change other goals, do so.
  • If you noticed a deficit in your skills despite achieving the goal, decide whether to set goals to fix this.
  • Tip:
    Our article, Golden Rules of Goal Setting, will show you how to set yourself up for success when it comes to your goals. If you’re still having trouble, you might also want to try Backward Goal Setting.
    Failing to meet goals does not matter much, just as long as you learn from the experience.

Feed lessons learned back into your goal setting. Remember too that your goals will change as time goes on. Adjust them regularly to reflect growth in your knowledge and experience, and if goals do not hold any attraction any longer, consider letting them go.

Goal Setting Example
For her New Year’s Resolution, Susan has decided to think about what she really wants to do with her life.

Her lifetime goals are as follows:

• Career – “To be managing editor of the magazine that I work for.”
• Artistic – “To keep working on my illustration skills. Ultimately I want to have my own show in our downtown gallery.”
• Physical – “To run a marathon.”
Now that Susan has listed her lifetime goals, she then breaks down each one into smaller, more manageable goals.

Let’s take a closer look at how she might break down her lifetime career goal – becoming managing editor of her magazine:

  • Five-year goal: “Become deputy editor.”
  • One-year goal: “Volunteer for projects that the current Managing Editor is heading up.”
  • Six-month goal: “Go back to school and finish my journalism degree.”
  • One-month goal: “Talk to the current managing editor to determine what skills are needed to do the job.”
  • One-week goal: “Book the meeting with the Managing Editor.”

As you can see from this example, breaking big goals down into smaller, more manageable goals makes it far easier to see how the goal will get accomplished.

A good way of getting going with this is to use the Mind Tools Life Plan Workbook. Supported by worksheets and advice, this guides you through a simple 5-step process for setting your life goals, and for organizing yourself for success.

Key Points
Goal setting is an important method of:

• Deciding what you want to achieve in your life.
• Separating what’s important from what’s irrelevant, or a distraction.
• Motivating yourself.
• Building your self-confidence, based on successful achievement of goals.
Set your lifetime goals first. Then, set a five-year plan of smaller goals that you need to complete if you are to reach your lifetime plan. Keep the process going by regularly reviewing and updating your goals. And remember to take time to enjoy the satisfaction of achieving your goals when you do so.

If you don’t already set goals, do so, starting now. As you make this technique part of your life, you’ll find your career accelerating, and you’ll wonder how you did without it!

You can learn 600 similar skills elsewhere on their site. Click here to see their full toolkit. If you like their approach, you can subscribe to their free newsletter, or become a member for just US$1.
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The 10 Essential Rules for Slowing Down and Enjoying Life More

June 28th, 2011 by

It’s an irony of our modern lives that while technology is continually invented that saves us time, we use that time to do more and more things, and so our lives are more fast-paced and hectic than ever.

Life moves at such a fast pace that it seems to pass us by before we can really enjoy it.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s rebel against a hectic lifestyle and slow down to enjoy life.

A slower-paced life means making time to enjoy your mornings, instead of rushing off to work in a frenzy. It means taking time to enjoy whatever you’re doing, to appreciate the outdoors, to actually focus on whoever you’re talking to or spending time with — instead of always being connected to a Blackberry or iPhone or laptop, instead of always thinking about work tasks and emails. It means single-tasking rather than switching between a multitude of tasks and focusing on none of them.

Slowing down is a conscious choice, and not always an easy one, but it leads to a greater appreciation for life and a greater level of happiness.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Do less. It’s hard to slow down when you are trying to do a million things. Instead, make the conscious choice to do less. Focus on what’s really important, what really needs to be done, and let go of the rest. Put space between tasks and appointments, so you can move through your days at a more leisurely pace.

2. Be present. It’s not enough to just slow down — you need to actually be mindful of whatever you’re doing at the moment. That means, when you find yourself thinking about something you need to do, or something that’s already happened, or something that might happen … gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Focus on what’s going on right now. On your actions, on your environment, on others around you. This takes practice but is essential.

3. Disconnect. Don’t always be connected. If you carry around an iPhone or Blackberry or other mobile device, shut it off. Better yet, learn to leave it behind when possible. If you work on a computer most of the day, have times when you disconnect so you can focus on other things. Being connected all the time means we’re subject to interruptions, we’re constantly stressed about information coming in, we are at the mercy of the demands of others. It’s hard to slow down when you’re always checking new messages coming in.

4. Focus on people. Too often we spend time with friends and family, or meet with colleagues, and we’re not really there with them. We talk to them but are distracted by devices. We are there, but our minds are on things we need to do. We listen, but we’re really thinking about ourselves and what we want to say. None of us are immune to this, but with conscious effort you can shut off the outside world and just be present with the person you’re with. This means that just a little time spent with your family and friends can go a long way — a much more effective use of your time, by the way. It means we really connect with people rather than just meeting with them.

5. Appreciate nature. Many of us are shut in our homes and offices and cars and trains most of the time, and rarely do we get the chance to go outside. And often even when people are outside, they’re talking on their cell phones. Instead, take the time to go outside and really observe nature, take a deep breath of fresh air, enjoy the serenity of water and greenery. Exercise outdoors when you can, or find other outdoor activities to enjoy such as nature walks, hiking, swimming, etc. Feel the sensations of water and wind and earth against your skin. Try to do this daily — by yourself or with loved ones.

6. Eat slower. Instead of cramming food down our throats as quickly as possible — leading to overeating and a lack of enjoyment of our food — learn to eat slowly. Be mindful of each bite. Appreciate the flavors and textures. Eating slowly has the double benefit of making you fuller on less food and making the food taste better. I suggest learning to eat more real food as well, with some great spices (instead of fat and salt and sugar and frying for flavor).

7. Drive slower. Speedy driving is a pretty prevalent habit in our fast-paced world, but it’s also responsible for a lot of traffic accidents, stress, and wasted fuel. Instead, make it a habit to slow down when you drive. Appreciate your surroundings. Make it a peaceful time to contemplate your life, and the things you’re passing. Driving will be more enjoyable, and much safer. You’ll use less fuel too.

8. Find pleasure in anything. This is related to being present, but taking it a step farther. Whatever you’re doing, be fully present … and also appreciate every aspect of it, and find the enjoyable aspects. For example, when washing dishes, instead of rushing through it as a boring chore to be finished quickly, really feel the sensations of the water, the suds, the dishes. It can really be an enjoyable task if you learn to see it that way. The same applies to other chores — washing the car, sweeping, dusting, laundry — and anything you do, actually. Life can be so much more enjoyable if you learn this simple habit.

9. Single-task. The opposite of multi-tasking. Focus on one thing at a time. When you feel the urge to switch to other tasks, pause, breathe, and pull yourself back.

10. Breathe. When you find yourself speeding up and stressing out, pause, and take a deep breath. Take a couple more. Really feel the air coming into your body, and feel the stress going out. By fully focusing on each breath, you bring yourself back to the present, and slow yourself down. It’s also nice to take a deep breath or two — do it now and see what I mean. :)

Leo Babauta is a writer, a marathoner, an early riser, a vegan, and a father of six. He blogs regularly about achieving goals through daily habits on Zen Habits, and covers such topics as productivity, GTD, simplifying, frugality, parenting, happiness, motivation, exercise, eating healthy and more.

Read more about simplifying and focus in his book, The Power of Less.


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