Posts Tagged better person

What Could You Do With Six Months?

29 June 2012

Six months.. a short enough time. Long enough, however, that six month goals don’t grant instant gratification. That makes it tough to keep working towards those goals every day- it’s tough to keep working when you don’t notice much change right off.

What are your goals? What could you do with six months, just doing a little each day? Much?

Imagine you’d read this six months ago and decided that day to start doing a little thing each day.. what would your life look like now? Let’s say I decided to become better at chess and played one hour a day for six months.. Depending on how long each game is that would be 1-4 games a day for a hundred eighty days. One game might not make much of a difference. Ten games might help. A hundred games.. you’re going to be better than where you started. After an average of two games a day for six months I’d have played over three hundred and you’d better believe that I’m going to be head and shoulders over where I began.

Find something you want to be better at and try to find some time to work on it every day! Short post today, I’m off to play some chess.

How Can I Reforge Negative Habits?

21 June 2012

Often the struggles I face feel like they are permanent, and I’m going to suffer from them endlessly without hope of overcoming them. I’m getting better and better about working through them however, and I’d like to share some of the mindsets and techniques I’ve changed or begun implementing that have helped me the most. I’m sure my readers are problem-free and this won’t apply to any of them at all. Who really knows though, maybe I had a twin and we were separated at birth and he’s facing these same problems. Don’t worry, Evil Twin, we will get through this together.

When I speak of ‘struggles,’ I’m referring to the habits and behaviors that hurt us that we may not even realize we have. Habits like constantly putting yourself down, or procrastinating, or even something like sleeping through your alarm every day. Everyone has their own obstacles they face and whether they are big or small, they can be incredibly challenging to overcome. It’s a rare person who can wake up in the morning and decide “From this day forward, I’m never going to procrastinate again.” The reason these habits are so tough to break is that we do them without thinking (duh, habit) and so we often don’t even realize the habit is there in the first place.

I still have plenty of bad habits to work through but I have already defeated quite a few! Looking back through my experiences, these are some common changes I had to make to my thoughts, feelings and actions in order to alter my habits once and for all. In these examples I’ll use the next habit I plan to break and reforge- stop sleeping in every day.

Consider What I Want to Change-

You can’t change anything if you don’t know what it is you’re changing, right? This can be as deep or shallow a process as you want to make it. If you were to tell me “I want to wake up on time every day,” that’s great! You have a goal, and we can work with that. If you have the time or energy you could dig deeper and find out WHY you want to make this change. Using this example, it could be “I want to wake up on time every day BECAUSE my business depends on me starting my work when I say I will- when I start my day late, I miss calls and appear unreliable.” This method of assigning a reason (a WHY) gives your goal more relevance to everyday life than it otherwise might. If you’re following along with your own habit, jot down what you’re wanting to change and your WHY.

Mindset and Thoughts-

Consider the habit you wish to make or break. How do you feel about it? What are your thoughts when you think on it? If that’s confusing then think about the first thing someone else with your habit would say if you asked them to change it tomorrow. Continuing my sleeping-in example; When I think about waking up at six a.m. every day my first thoughts are “That’s so EARLY!” or “There is no way I could do that.” My initial feelings are that of anxiety as I imagine the mental battle I know I’m going to fight tomorrow morning, and fear at the thought of losing that battle.

Once you’ve figured out how you feel and think about your habit and have written those down, take a good look at them and wonder why you feel or think that way. “That’s so EARLY!” Who says it’s early? Early compared to what, to whom? Early in the day, sure- but if you worked graveyard and sleep 3-8, would waking up at 8.p.m be considered ‘sleeping in?’ Of course not- you only slept five hours. So clearly “early” is not a time in the day, but more likely the assumption that seven-eight hours of sleep is not going to happen. When my first thought is “That’s so EARLY,” I’m not talking about the time my alarm goes off. I’m mostly just admitting my intention of not going to bed before 10-11 at night. Now I take my objection ┬áturn it into a phrase that absolutely commits me to a course of action yielding results. “In order to wake up at six a.m I am committing to going to bed at 10pm each and every night.” If you’re following along, take notes. In addition to the “early” objection, you’ll recall I mentioned thinking “There’s no way I could do that.” This one is easy- take any statement that is just generically negative and reword it to be positive and add “Because I’m awesome.” In this example- “I can absolutely do that, because I’m awesome.”

Actions and Behaviors-

These are easier, you’ve already done the hard part. Consider where you are, and what your goal is. What are three things, no matter how small, that you could do each and every day to build towards your new habit? Habits are formed over time and with repetition, so a small change you repeat every day will be much more helpful in the long-term than a big change you make a few times a week. Your actions can be words you say to yourself out loud, emailing yourself a reminder each day, rewarding yourself for your actions yesterday, etc. For my case, I’ve decided my three things are

  • Say out loud “I am going to bed at ten, and waking up tomorrow at six” (Announcing my intent out loud makes me feel more accountable to myself).
  • Set an alarm on my phone to go off at 9:30p.m (to give myself enough time to wrap up what I’m doing).
  • Prepare my morning’s coffee in advance, so only the ‘on’ switch lies between me and the living world (Turns morning coffee into a more instant gratification).

 

Repetition and Consistency-

Once you’ve dialed in a new mindset and thoughts, decided on some actions and have targeted new behaviors, the next step is application. Repetition and Consistency are your biggest allies here my friends, this is what makes and breaks habits. If you have your own system for applying then kudos, but this is the method I’m planning on using myself: Look over your notes, if you have them. Find a few note cards and label them “Mindset and Thoughts” and “Actions and Behaviors.”

On your “Mindset and Thoughts” card, write out your corrected objection and positive statement that we went over earlier. If you’re my Evil Twin, it should read “In order to wake up at 6a.m every morning, I am committed to going to bed at 10p.m each and every night. I can absolutely do that, because I’m awesome.” On your “Actions and Behaviors” card, write out the action steps you’ve committed to taking every day in a bullet format just as I’ve done above. Use these cards to remind yourself of your goal, the reason for your goal, and the steps you’ve put into place to reach that goal. Stick them to your bathroom mirror, glue them to your forehead, whatever- but look at these cards as often as possible to cement in your mind what you are doing and why you are doing it. Do these things every day without fail (remember, you’re absolutely committed) and while it will be hard at first, it will get easier and easier over time until your old negative habit is reforged into a new positive one.

You may not think a habit is hurting you. So what if you sleep in an hour every day? ‘Who cares’ you think, ‘It’s not like anyone is going to think less of me for it.’ Well my dear reader, that’s probably true. Staying up an hour later to watch TV and waking up an hour later every morning may not change the world. But how do you feel when you wake up when you said you would? I can’t speak for you I suppose, but I certainly feel much less groggy and a much more pleased with myself than if I lounge in bed for another hour after my alarm goes off. What would you do with that hour? What could you do with an extra hour a day for the next six months? A hundred eighty hours could go a long way.

Finally, I’ve Discovered the Secret to Motivation!

18 June 2012

I have changed a lot in the last few months. I had a year vacation that I’ve only just returned from. A year of sex, drugs, and rock’n'roll- debauchery unending. The year was amazing, I had a total blast and learned a lot about myself as a person. But learning who you are is not quite the same as growing into someone new. Just knowing who you are isn’t enough to make you a better person- you have to DO something with that knowledge. After a year of introspection without action, I returned home and resumed my personal development. Within weeks I’d changed so much about myself I don’t even want to write it down because no one would believe me. I hope in this and future posts I can capture some of the metamorphosis I’ve undergone.

Let’s kick this off with my most evasive opponent, my oldest foe, the patriarch of all productivity- Motivation. For years I thought motivation was the thing I lacked and the reason I never accomplished anything. Instead of taking RESPONSIBILITY for my procrastination I took the VICTIM stance and blamed my ineffectiveness on my utter lack of motivation. “Well I’m not motivated, so I don’t do what I’m supposed to.” See that? That’s a victim statement, which I’ll talk about later. Just keep it in mind.

So by blaming motivation for many of my failures, both personal and professional, I attributed a cause that I thought I could ‘fix’. If I could just figure out what motivated me I could accomplish so much! If I could find that one thing to drive me throughout life I’d be unstoppable! I cannot tell you how many things I tried, how many books I read and how many excuses I made on my journey to become a motivated individual. I decided money didn’t motivate me, because offers of money didn’t make me work harder. I decided objects don’t motivate me, because I’m not really a materialistic person. (Which I am, but ‘stuff’ doesn’t sound like its worth working for.) My journey went on, I’ll spare you the details.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’d discovered and perfected a new form of procrastination! I call it, “Discovering the Cure for Procrastination.” I now know that instead of working like I was supposed to I was looking for an external reason for my laziness. An unrealistic and imaginary ‘cure’ for an ‘affliction’ I had diagnosed myself with. Then, only just a few weeks ago I was reading a personal development book. It wasn’t geared towards motivation, it wasn’t supposed to help specifically with procrastination, it was just something on my Mom’s bookshelf called “Failing Forward” by Danielle Laporte. Within this book held the answer I’d searched for during the last five years. YEARS I have been blaming my lack of motivation for failures.

Within the pages of this unassuming book was the holy grail of advice: “Motivation comes AFTER you begin.”

Just that. Sounds simple. Danielle writes that motivation is a trap we set for ourselves- you spend all your time looking or waiting for motivation as an excuse to not have to do the things you don’t want to do. The way to become motivated.. is to start a task BEFORE you’re motivated. After you meet some success or realize it just isn’t as hard as you made it out to be in your head, the motivation to complete the project will set in. I don’t know if this hits home with anyone else or not but I felt like I was hit in the pit of my stomach with a hammer as I realized my procrastination is my fault. Of course I always told others that I only had myself to blame for procrastinating but deep, deep down I knew it was not my fault. It was ‘Motivation’s fault, I’m just the victim here.

If you struggle with procrastination or lack of motivation as I did, I encourage you to really take this post to heart. Don’t let yourself play victim to your struggles and remember in order to be motivated you only have to start! ‘Motivation comes AFTER you begin!’

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