Important Things You Need to Know to Run a Successful Email Marketing Campaign

Did you know that there are around 269 billion emails sent out every day? That’s a lot of competition for you to try and gain your audience’s attention. That’s why it’s critical for you to learn how to run an email marketing campaign the right way, so you can reach your audience and keep their interest. Here are some of the most important things that you need to know to run a successful email marketing campaign.

Know Your Goals

All good marketing strategies start with setting goals, and email marketing is no different. To run a successful email marketing campaign, you need to think about what it is you want to achieve. Here are some typical goals for an email marketing campaign.

  • Welcoming new subscribers
  • Boosting engagement
  • Nurturing existing subscribers
  • Re-engaging subscribers
  • Segmenting your subscribers

You can create your email marketing goals according to your overall conversion goals.

Understanding the Different Email Types

Along with knowing your goals, you also have to understand the different types of emails that you can send out. While people group these in different ways, here are the three critical types of emails.

  • Promotional emails – these emails talk about sales and offers and are self-promotional.
  • Relational emails – these give subscribers what you’ve promised them, like a gift, weekly newsletter, or relevant information that they can use.
  • Transactional emails – these include subscriber signup confirmations, welcome messages, order or purchase confirmations, and acknowledgments of changes to subscriber information, and are usually triggered by a subscriber’s actions.

Know Your Audience

If you’re just getting started with email marketing, then you’re going to have to make some educated guesses if you want to target your content. After you send out your first campaign, you’ll start to be able to collect subscriber information so you’ll have better data to work with for your next campaign. You can gather data from Google Analytics or Facebook Insights to get demographics, interests, locations, and other pertinent information to give you a better snapshot of your audience.

Use the Right Technology

The best email marketing services that you can use will have tools that will help you create more successful email marketing campaigns. Some of the features that you want to look for are easy campaign creation and automation, integrations with software you already use, ways to segment your audience, and in-depth analytics on the performance of your email campaigns.

Understanding these four essential aspects of email marketing will help you get started on the right track to creating a successful marketing campaign for your business.

Cultivate Your Creativity

Creativity can be elusive. It’s not something that you can summon at will. When it happens, it strikes like lightning. Yet, like lightning, it can be maddeningly unpredictable. However, because creativity is an essential element of a successful business mindset, it is necessary to understand the creative process and how you, the business owner, can cultivate your own creative juices.

The creative process is largely internal and unconscious. No one ever wakes up and says “Hey! Today I’m going to be creative.” Creativity is all about taking in a lot of influences and letting those influences combine, ferment, and morph in your subconscious. Together, they form a sort of mental potting soil where new and different ideas have a chance to germinate and grow. The more things you learn, read, see, and hear, the more creative soil you are able to produce.

So, as a business owner who wants to be creative, the best thing you can do is get out there in the world and open yourself up to new experiences. Be curious about many different things. Develop hobbies. Challenge yourself. Do the unexpected. The more you push your own personal envelope, the more you are charging your own creative batteries. When those batteries are charged, it is much more likely that inspiration will strike, and who knows where that new idea will take you?

Styles of Leadership

Any effective leader will create an inspiring vision that their team or followers can share, motivate their team or followers to work toward that vision, bring together team members with varying skill sets to effectively work together, and deliver on their vision through the cooperation of their follow-ship.

Understanding your style of leadership, what kind of leader you are, and your source of authority is the first step in becoming a memorably effective leader.

Leaders and Leaderships Categorized

The difference between a positive leader and a negative leader can be the difference between Emmeline Pankhurst and Virgil Lee Griffin. Both derived their power and authority from the love and admiration of their followers.

Emmeline Pankhurst inspired women to fight for the right to vote, rather than politely ask and wait. She fought tirelessly for a noble cause which she likely knew she would not live to see realized. She fought for the future of women, gave of herself for her cause, and sacrificed her freedom to do so on more than one occasion.

On the other hand Virgil Lee Griffin was a Klansman who was convicted of posing as a policeman and of cross-burning. While holding on to the ideas of the past, he was promoted through the ranks of the KKK during his lifetime. Many men who held similar beliefs followed Griffin as their leader.

Sources of authority are based in charisma, tradition, and rational-legal.

Traditional authority is a source of authority based on the idea of accepting an authority figure because of tradition or history. Monarchies are the most demonstrative example of this type of authority.

We elect our rational-legal authority figures, as in the cases of Senators and U.S. Presidents, because they have a component of charisma. Their source of power is derived from our choice to follow their lead.

But charisma will also lend authority to any position or individual, even when they have no structural, legal, or elected position. We tend to worship charismatic leaders, and often fail to challenge them. For this reason, charismatic leaders often hold the most sway over hearts and minds and can be the most dangerous if they don’t maintain equal skill in self-discipline.

Leadership Styles

No matter the type of leader or the source of their authority, every leader will utilize one (or possibly more) of 7 different leadership styles.

• Democratic
• Autocratic
• Laissez-Faire
• Strategic
• Transformational
• Transactional
• Bureaucratic

Democratic and Strategic leadership styles are the most commonly effective because they openly respect and represent lower-level employees, subordinates, or constituencies on a higher level.

Democratic leaders will involve their subordinates in the decision-making process. Decisions are often made through a series of discussions where differing opinions, philosophies, visions, or goals may be shared. Final decisions are ultimately the responsibility of the democratic leader, both to make and to accept the consequences for.

Strategic leaders are able to balance the requirements and standards of higher management or positions while also maintaining a high quality of standards for work or living for those they lead. They often balance the needs of one group with the needs of another.

The leadership styles that are only sometimes effective are Laissez-Faire, Transformational, and Transactional.

Laissez-Faire essentially means “let them do.” It is sometimes effective because it can empower employees to work from their own ambition and discipline. However, it’s also ineffective at times because many employees, while disciplined, will often lack the ambition to improve.

Transformational leadership depends on motivating people to expand what they’re capable of. It’s a growth-minded leadership style with the downside of allowing leaders to lose sight of what a person’s potential limits or learning curves actually are.

Transactional leaderships will depend on incentivizing people to perform rather than motivating them in some way. The downside for this is that it only encourages “bare minimum” performance.

Rarely effective leadership styles are Autocratic and Bureaucratic.

Autocratic leaders will run their offices or organizations like sweat shops. They rarely value their employees or try to empower them. Autocratic leaders put very little stock in the opinions or advice of their advisors.

Bureaucratic leaders may listen to their employees or subordinates, in contrast to autocratic leaders, but they will often shut down or reject input that exists in contrast to stated policies and practices of an organization or institution.

Autocratic and Bureaucratic leadership styles stifle innovation and inspiration, so they’re not recommended for leaders who are trying to encourage growth or change in some way.

But no matter the leadership style which you ascribe to or naturally lean towards, every leadership style has a time and place. Every leadership style also has its own set of pros and cons. It’s good to know what kind of leadership style will best benefit your institution, organization, or purpose, and also which leadership style you have a natural proclivity for.

Success in Business Requires Flexibility

There is nothing more stifling to success than rigid thinking. Rigid thinking leads to rigid behaviors, and rigid behaviors lead to dead ends, blind alleys, and creative cul de sacs. In other words, while there is a certain amount of comfort to routine, too much routine can choke off all chances that you will be able to successfully reach your business goals.

Why? The answer is simple. The world, including the business world, is constantly changing. Rigid thinking and rigid behavior, by definition, are resistant to change. Therefore, rigidity, in thought and action, spells obsolescence in the business world. Everyone else moves forward while you are left behind. So, what’s the answer to this problem? In a word, flexibility.

In today’s world, information is power, money, and control all rolled into one. The fast and free flow of information is what makes this possible. Everything changes quickly, and what is a successful formula or a popular product in one business cycle can be, and usually is, old news in the next. The only way to successfully stay on top of this bucking bronco of information and use it to your advantage is to be flexible enough to roll with the changes.

Flexibility is easy to achieve as long as you are not too tied down to any single idea, product, service, or manner of delivery. If you keep up with changing market conditions through judicious use of the flow of information, you can easily spot new trends and adopt them successfully, usually before your competitors have had time to act. The only trick is to not fear change and, instead, embrace it. If change is the only constant reality in the business world then, to be successful in that world, change has to be your reality as well.

Appreciating Yourself

It’s easy to think about your best friend or spouse and consider the traits that you appreciate about them. Perhaps it’s their consideration, personality, drive, or even physical appearance. All of these factors contribute to your never ending love for them.

However, as much as you show appreciation for others, do you ever think to show that same consideration for yourself? Many people simply do not appreciate themselves as much as other people in their life.

Appreciating yourself is an essential quality to have if you want to develop a healthy sense of self-love. By learning the subtle art of appreciating yourself, you’ll learn how powerful this form of self- love is. Let’s consider how.

What is Self-Appreciation?

Appreciating yourself involves being thankful for what you have. This means, being thankful for your qualities, your characteristics, and your experiences.

This mentality goes far beyond just loving yourself. It’s a spiritual connection between your behavior and spirit.

Much like a romantic relationship, appreciation must be shown on a consistent basis in order for it to work. For example, when a husband feels compelled to show his wife his appreciation for all that she does, he might bring her flowers or chocolates. This gesture may seem simple, but it’s key to keeping the love flowing.

In order to develop your self-appreciation, you have to show love to yourself. This goes far behind “treating yourself” to movie or dinner dates. Rather, this means taking into account your actions and feeling thankful for them.

For example, if a person wants to show self-appreciation, they may turn down social obligations so they can rest their mind and body. This simple act works wonders for individuals who have a busy schedule. By giving yourself time to recharge, you’re taking action towards strengthening your self-appreciation.

Another way individuals show self-appreciation is by speaking kind words to themselves. Much like a wife encourages her husband with sweet sayings, a person should practice speaking kindly at all times.

One of the best ways to do this is by implementing self-affirmations into your daily routine. Many people find that by setting aside a few minutes each day to write or speak a few kind words about themselves works wonders for their self-esteem. They may find themselves appreciating aspects of their personality that they never thought of before.

One of the key ways individuals implement self-affirmations into their daily life is by keeping a journal dedicated to this activity. Often times, they’ll write simple statements of appreciation such as:

  • I am thankful for my quick mind
  • I am appreciative of my love for others
  • I love my strong work ethic

If you’re trying to heighten your sense of self, it’s best to practice these affirmations daily. By doing so, you’ll learn how to effectively love yourself and appreciate your true qualities.

In addition, another way individuals show self-appreciation is by eliminating toxic people and situations from their life. They understand that their time and energy is valuable. Therefore, they aren’t going to surround themselves with people who are going to drain that.

In summation, self-appreciation is a valid quality that many individuals would do well to implement into their daily life. By doing so, they’ll see the fruit of their efforts in how they carry themselves and interact with others.

If you’re struggling with learning how to love yourself, it’s best to begin with practicing self-love in every aspect of your life. Nourish yourself by rejecting negativity, unhealthy habits, and toxic people. Take time to recharge and cater to your needs. Soon, you’ll realize how much power lies in self-appreciation. This is something undeniable and truly priceless.

A Growth Mindset and Business Success

So, you may be asking yourself “What exactly is a growth mindset?” Well, a growth mindset is an actual, demonstrable psychological phenomenon. It turns out that many long-term successful individuals possess certain characteristics that they share with other long-term successful individuals. This set of characteristics has been termed a “growth mindset”. Now, some people, who tend to achieve less than their full potential, also possess a set of characteristics that they share with other under-achievers. This set of traits has been dubbed the “fixed mindset”. Most people, more or less, fall in one camp or the other.

People with a growth mindset tend to have a desire to learn from life. This desire leads to the ability to embrace challenges, to overcome setbacks, to see effort as worth the results, to accept criticism, and to admire and learn from the successes of others. These behaviors allow native intelligence to grow throughout a lifetime. (Hence, the name.) People with a growth mindset are believers in free will and this belief allows them to achieve their goals time and time again.

People with a fixed mindset tend to have a desire to appear smart, with a corresponding fear of looking foolish. Their desire leads them to avoid challenges, to give up easily, to see extra effort as wasted, to ignore or reject criticism, and to envy and begrudge the success of others. These behaviors tend to limit native intelligence to a fixed amount. (Again, hence the name.)  People with a fixed mindset often plateau early in life and fail to have, let alone reach, fixed goals.

The good news is that a growth mindset can be cultivated fairly easily by changing some critical behaviors. First of all, you have to decide to choose growth over stagnation. You also have to be willing to take positive action and begin to accept challenges and criticism and learn from them both. An excellent way to begin is by developing the philosophy of “yet”. This simple step simple attaches the word “yet” to the end of every negative thought, as in “That will never work, yet…” or “It’s probably not worth going, yet…” This simple trick opens up the possibility for growth, and that possibility leads to changed behavior that actually does cause the development of the growth mindset.

Constructive Ways To Deal With A Challenge

Life would be boring without challenges, even if you wish for just a day without some type of complication. However, just because you face difficult times doesn’t mean you won’t overcome them.

It doesn’t matter whether you face challenges in your personal life, relationships, or career, it’s common to plunge into fight-or-flight mode and run in the opposite direction.

It’s normal to feel compelled to run from problems instead of dealing with them head-on, but the worst possible way to deal with challenges is to run; you have to face them. Here are some more constructive approaches to consider instead:

1. Accept Reality

You cannot control or change people. There are also things in life that you cannot control. You don’t need to understand why; what matters is that you accept the reality that you can’t change anyone. You might see this challenge and think it’s your job to change it, but that just isn’t the case. You are more likely to progress the situation if you are able to accept the reality of it and deal with the challenges accordingly.

2. Don’t Lay Blame

It’s easy to paint yourself as the victim and blame everyone else, but it is much more productive to take responsibility for the actions you take, the words you speak, and the decisions you make. When you blame others for your challenges, you disempower yourself and make the challenge more difficult to overcome. Don’t point fingers, problem solve.

3. Detach Yourself

It won’t be easy to do, but detach yourself from the outcome. This allows you to analyze a situation from a more objective standpoint. It’s difficult to make the right decisions when you are attached to a particular result.

For example, imagine that your challenge is the nerves you feel ahead of a public speaking appointment. How does this relate? You’re nervous and you are afraid of how people will react to you and your content.

The fact of the matter is that not everyone will appreciate what you have to say. That doesn’t matter – you can’t allow yourself to get worked up over that. Your job is to deliver the speech in the best way you can. The most efficient way to do so is to detach yourself from the situation.

4. Don’t Over-Analyze

Overthinking is the worst possible thing you can do in any challenging situation. When you allow yourself to think about it too much, you give doubt too much say. Over-analyzing in any situation makes it more difficult for you to accept the reality of it. You will just increase that little voice that’s whispering that something isn’t right. It’s going to take you away from reaching your goal and increase your frustration.

5. Embrace Change

Change happens all of the time, and challenges are a daily occurrence for so many people. No one really likes change, and while there are people who just get on with it, others can’t help but resist it at every turn. Often, the reason for this is that change forces people to live outside their comfort zone. You may be unhappy about change, but it’s not a permanent state and that’s what’s important to remember. You have to learn to accept change.

6. Resist Comparisons

Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing – don’t worry about how they overcome challenges. This will just result in more frustration and you will always feel like you’re second-best or worse. You are responsible for creating your own success; you write your story.

One of the biggest reactions to dealing with challenges is overreacting. If you don’t learn how to control your emotions, you will make decisions you later regret. Remember that when you next face a challenge.

Having A Vision For Your Professional Success

When it comes to survival, we are visual animals. As a species, our eyesight is our most developed sense. We have stereoscopic sight that can detect a wide variety of colors and shading. This, in turn, lets us see easily see patterns and movement. These combined abilities allowed us to avoid becoming dinner while trying to get dinner for ourselves. Our vision helped us to physically succeed, and it still does today.

When it comes to business success, vision is no less important to survival. However, instead of our sense of sight, this vision involves our sense of imagination and possibility. Vision, in the business sense, is really the ability to visualize successful outcomes. It is the ability to imagine positive results. It is, at its heart, the ability to lucidly dream of where you want to go with your business.

Don’t be afraid to dream. As Henry Ford once said, if you think you can do something or if you think you can’t do something, you’re right. So, spend a few minutes each day visualizing where exactly you plan on going and you plan on getting there. This is not daydreaming, far from it. This is focused development, scheduling, and organization. Plan your day by seeing the optimal outcomes. This is the same process that athletes use to hone their performance. When you imagine yourself succeeding, you are more likely to actually succeed. Remember, if you don’t take the time to build your own dreams, someone will hire you to take the time to build theirs.

6 Key Steps to Develop Your Personal Power

Gaining personal power is something you must want and work for, not something that will magically happen because you want it. Your personal power comes from inside you, not from external sources, jobs, or titles. Learning how to generate and keep your personal power, then, is a lifelong process.

Learning to cultivate and own your personal power will provide you with many benefits. When others see that you are confident, you will be perceived as influential, capable, and effective in your role. You will likely be seen as a leader or as someone who may be able to advise or help others.

Personal power makes you a role model to others, including your own family and friends. Owning your personal power helps you create and sustain lasting relationships in all aspects of your life as well as achieve your goals and dreams.

We all have personal power within us, but it is up to each of us to learn how to connect with and harness that power for ourselves. Here are six key steps you can use to develop your personal power, starting today.

#1. Declare Your Ambitions

Acknowledging what it is you want to do in this world and declaring it aloud to others is a powerful step toward reclaiming your personal power. If you want to be successful, you must not be ashamed that you want to be successful. Whatever it is in your life that you want to become competent and confident with, you must not be afraid to share what you are looking for. Never apologize for your ambitions, as these are the goals that are driving your life. Denying or keeping your ambitions secret robs you of the power that comes when others know of your desires and goals.

#2. Admit Your Fears

Learning to acknowledge your fears is also a step toward reclaiming your personal power. The negative thoughts that have kept you feeling powerless or unable to reach your dreams are all driven by fears of some kind.

These emotions are sabotaging your ability to succeed. Learning to admit your fears can help you see them for what they are, which are simply emotions that have no power over your life other than what you allow. Accepting personal power means realizing that you have control over these anxieties and can learn to stop letting them dominate your life.

#3. Silence Negative Self-Talk

Negative self-talk is keeping you from realizing your dreams and accepting your personal power. Instead of telling yourself why you can’t do something or what is wrong with you, replace these negative words with a positive affirmation. Your negative self-talk keeps you from taking actions that could lead to more success, so instead, repeat positive thoughts to yourself whenever you hear that inner critic start to speak.

#4. Know When to Ask for Help

Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. It means you understand that we all need help to grow and become better or stronger, and asking for help is the most effective and efficient way to get where you want to be. Increase your chances of success by asking for help when you need it.

#5. Adopt a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is one that is open to learning, and since knowledge is power, this will help you reclaim your personal power, as well. Becoming more curious, listening more to others, and keeping an open mind are all examples of a growth mindset in action. You don’t know everything and accepting this and being open to everything as a learning experience will help you feel more confident and regain the power that is yours.

#6. Make a Habit of Unplugging

Learning to embrace quiet times and to do things just for you is important to becoming more personally powerful. In these alone times, you can think about your needs, spend time becoming more creative, and get away from the pressures of your daily life. Reconnecting with yourself can help you name your needs, find your passions, and help you work on your personal power goals.

Failure in Other Areas of Your Life Doesn’t Mean You’ll Fail as an Entrepreneur

Many of us have big dreams.  Big ideas.  Our mind goes nonstop, flooding our thoughts with ways we could be our own boss, make tons of money, and do what we love.  But then we are crippled by the thoughts of failure, especially if we are licking our wounds from failure in other areas of our lives.

The entrepreneurial ideas, hopes, and dreams are pushed to the back burner, once again, hoping “the right time” is going to surface.  You can’t base your success as an entrepreneur solely on your successes in other areas of your life.  Plain and simple.  Here’s why:

You Can’t Control Everything

Sometimes in our lives, we experience failure.  That’s life.  Without a failure here and there, how could we possibly comprehend success?  How would we know what works and what doesn’t?  We wouldn’t.  We need failure to be successful. 

Here’s the real fact:  You can’t control everything. 

Relationships

Most of us have already experienced at least one failed relationship, and probably more.  How much of that was really your fault?  Even when you do everything right, you can’t control another human being.  You can’t predict changes in another person either.  And if you were the reason for the demise in your personal relationships, it still doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful business. 

We all change as we grow older.  We have to learn from our experiences.  Your relationship status doesn’t determine your entrepreneurial capability.

Health Issues

Health issues are no different.  Your health status absolutely does not determine your success as an entrepreneur.  Some health circumstances, like diabetes and hypertension, put us in the driver’s seat and for the most part we can control them.  That’s pretty much up to you and how well you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Unfortunately, we can’t control everything related to our health.  At any point we could be hit with a diagnosis that seems to bring us to our knees.  Instead of looking at the diagnosis like a death sentence, we can choose to make the best of the time we have left on this planet. 

Stephen Hawking surely didn’t let ALS control his success.  What’s more, many people with health issues and disabilities use that as their very platform for success. 

Finances

Finally, if you’ve got money problems, don’t let that crush your dream.  There’s a big difference between poor money management and lack of money.  If you have difficulty managing your money, it’s not the end of the world.  Hire someone to handle that aspect of the business for you and you’re less likely to ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’. 

No matter how much of a budgeting genius you might be, there’s no way to predict life.  Unexpected expenses can hit without a moments notice, and sometimes we aren’t prepared to shell out the additional dough.  Even when you have to dip into your rainy-day fund to pay off a credit card or medical bill, don’t let that deter you from your goals as an entrepreneur. 

Failing to have the necessary resources for the unexpected is hardly a reason to give up.

Forgive Your Fears

If you dream of being a successful entrepreneur, you are the only one who can make it happen.  Sometimes fear of the unknown is crippling and we end up pushing our dreams further and further out of reach just to be “on the safe side”. 

Forgive yourself for your fears.  It’s normal.  Reaching for the stars can be unnerving, especially when you’ve also got to balance your dream of being an entrepreneur with your other responsibilities in life.  Embrace your power for success and never stop pushing forward.  Really, the only failure is in not trying.

Nurture Your Good Qualities

Are you spending too much time focusing on failure?  Only you can answer that question, but if you’re using other failures as the reason you aren’t moving forward, the answer is probably yes.  The honest truth is you are fueling the wrong fire.  Negativity begets more negativity. 

Instead of coming up with excuses why something won’t work, spend more time nurturing your good qualities that will bring you success.  Build up your confidence and truly believe in your capability to make every single dream of yours come to fruition. 

One good thing about failure is how it builds our resilience.  Failure is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen in every aspect of your life.  Learn from it.  Failure can be a dream crusher, or it can be a stepping stone.  You decide. 

Exercising as a Form of Self-Care

It is a well-researched fact that exercise promotes physical well-being, but current studies now indicate that consistent, moderate exercise throughout the week also aids in mental well-being, too. From stress reduction, improved focus, memory retention, and increased positive mood, exercise proves to be one of the best natural supplements for mental health and one of the best activities you can engage in for self-care.

How is Exercise Self-Care?

When some people imagine self-care activities, they think of things that are fun and relaxing that help the body and mind to unwind, such as a nice bubble bath or binge-watching their favorite show. Most don’t imagine huffing and puffing through a challenging cardio workout as self-care, but in reality, it is. Self-care is any activity that helps to reduce stress and promote mental health and cognitive functioning. By this definition, exercise is a perfect form of self-care.

How does Exercise Affect Mental Health?

When you engage in a challenging workout, it increases your heart rate, prompting the release of endorphins, which help you to feel calm and happy. In fact, consistent moderate exercise is as effective as antidepressant medications at reducing symptoms of depression. Exercise also helps reduce the symptoms related to anxiety by relaxing muscles that have become knotted and tightened due to stress. Exercise helps the mind and body to become more balanced and work in tandem.

How Much Should I Exercise for Optimal Mental Health and Self-Care?

The goal is to improve and maintain physical and mental health when exercising. You don’t want to start out too strong, especially if you have been sedentary for a while or are new to exercising. You should consult a physician before beginning any exercise regimen, but a general rule of thumb is to attempt to exercise at least 150 minutes per week if you are doing activities like walking or swimming and 75 minutes per week if you are engaging in more challenging activities such as running.

What Exercise is Best for Self-Care?

The best exercise for self-care is the one that makes you the happiest. You are more likely to stick with an exercise regimen that you enjoy, so find an activity that makes you happy and that you can work at a consistent pace. Love swimming? Find a local pool and do some laps or take an aqua aerobics class. Love running? Find a local runners club in your area to join. Engaging in physical activity doesn’t have to be a solitary feat and the social interaction will help to keep you interested.

Starting an exercise regimen can be difficult at first. Instead of viewing it as a “have to,” find something that you enjoy and stick with it. The more you engage in and repeat the activity the more that it will become part of your self-care routine. Happy exercising!

Building the Habit of Happiness

They say it takes 30 days to build a habit. This process involves retraining your body and mind your develop new behaviors to last a lifetime.

Many associate new habits with increasing their physical activity or reducing their sugar consumption. However, many rarely discuss how to develop mental habits.

We’re constantly fed quotes and images that say “think positively” or “no bad vibes.” While those personal mantras are beneficial on some level, retraining your mind to think positively takes more effort than just purchasing cute merchandise.

If you’re trying to retrain your brain to focus on being happy, it’s best to learn how to develop healthy habits. Consider these tips and implement them into your daily routine to notice a gradual change.

Observe Everyday Things that Make You Happy

It’s easy to go about your daily activities without paying much consideration to the things around you. If you truly want to make happiness a habit, pause for a moment each day and reflect on the things that make you happy.

Whether it’s that friendly co-worker or your peaceful morning commute, feel grateful for the little things. In addition, focus on aspects of your personality that make you happy. Write or repeat these affirmations daily to reap the benefits.

Do Something Positive for Others

There’s more happiness in giving than receiving. That’s the mantra we’ve been taught since early childhood. Although cliche, it’s quite true. If you’re going to make feeling happy a habit, you have to consider the thoughts, feelings, and needs of others.

One way to do this is to volunteer at a shelter or non-profit organization that is dear to your heart. Once you see how your actions can impact someone else, you’ll be more apt to give.

Make Time for Your Friends

This is key to developing a lasting habit of being happy. It’s easy to stay in our own little shell, especially when times are tough. However, doing so only leads to more negativity and depressive thoughts.

Make it a goal to see your friends at least once a month. This will help you to become a well-rounded person and develop socially. You’ll find that by enhancing your social engagement, you’ll feel happier and healthier.

Make Exercise and Eating Clean a Priority

Building a lasting habit of happiness requires taking care of your mind, body, and soul. This means engaging in activities that are beneficial to your physical and mental health. Exercise, paired with clean eating, is an awesome way to kickstart your happiness routine.

Make it a habit to exercise at least three times a week. This will help you feel more at peace with your body. In addition, you’ll also benefit from all of the positive hormones being released when you engage in a physical activity.

Develop a Spiritual Routine

In order to truly be happy, one must find some way of accommodating the reality that life is much bigger than just ourself. Enrich your spiritual side by searching for activities that engage your soul. Tapping into your spiritual self will also help you develop a higher sense of self.

Perhaps taking a trip to the beach, hiking in nature, or studying more about your religion are ways you can learn to enrich your spiritual side.

By doing so, you’ll embody a sense of humbleness that rejects pride. You’ll soon find yourself feeling healthier and happier as time goes on.

Over the next 30 days, do what you can to implement these tips into your daily life. Over time it will become easier to choose joy and make feeling happy a permanent part of your life.

Declutter Your Mind to Boost Productivity

Did you know that it’s actually bad for the brain to multitask?

Doctors and scientists recommend focusing on one task at a time because this is how our brains are made to operate. But what does this have to do with productivity?

Have you noticed that when you go to work, you just seem super distracted by everything in your mind and you can’t seem to get anything done that you need to?

If your mind is cluttered, your productivity suffers. In this article, we’re going to walk you through how you can fix this! We’ll help you declutter your mind and boost your productivity; let’s get started!

Lists are your best friend

Nothing helps to declutter your brain quite like lists. Lists have an amazing way of allowing you to empty your mind of all the things you’re thinking about or have to do without letting you forget them.

Get in the habit of making not only to-do lists but also lists of thoughts or ideas you have that have also been cluttering your brain. This will allow you to better focus on the task at hand, boosting your productivity.

Manage your email

Email clutter can definitely cause mental clutter. You have to scroll and scroll through useless emails just to find the ones you’re after. Beyond that, it can be highly distracting to have that number of unread emails always reminding you that you need to sort through them.

Often people don’t think about the mental stress their chaotic inbox is causing them. Check your email regularly, being sure to delete the ones you don’t need or want. Unsubscribe from useless clutter and do a spring cleaning of your inbox. You’ll be amazed at the reduction in mental stress it causes you.

Meditation

If your mind feels cluttered, a good way to empty it and recharge is to practice meditation. It doesn’t have to be long; even a simple five minutes of meditation can make a huge difference. Spend a designated period of time meditating; don’t allow other thoughts in, just clear your mind and give it time to rest. You may find this practice to be helpful enough to try to incorporate more meditative practices into your daily routines.

Scheduling

A lot of what clutters our minds regularly is all the things we have to get done and the short time in which we have to do it. While making to-do lists, as we mentioned earlier, can be helpful with this, it’s far more helpful to schedule your time appropriately.

Spend some time each day making a schedule for all you need to get done and the time you have to do it in. Break up larger tasks across a few days instead of trying to get it all done at once. Get the easy stuff out of the way first so you have more time to devote to the more difficult and time-consuming tasks.

Decluttering your mind can be particularly helpful in boosting your productivity. It can help keep your distractions limited and your focus strong. We hope that you’ll use this article as motivation to look at your productivity and your mental clutter and make a change for the better.

Self-Respect 101

When you were young, you were probably taught to respect others, especially people like parents and teachers but also your peers. But were you ever taught to respect yourself?
In case you weren’t, here’s Self-Respect 101.

What is Self-Respect?

You know what respect means when it comes to other people, but what does it mean to respect yourself?

There are concepts in philosophy and ethics called “autonomy” and “personhood.” Autonomy is the ability to make one’s own decisions and function without intervention from others. Personhood simply means that you are a human. Everyone has personhood regardless of their abilities. However, people have differing levels of autonomy. For example: a child in school, a retired individual, and someone serving a term in prison all have the same degree of personhood, but they have different levels of autonomy. The basic level of respect that you should show to everyone is an acknowledgment of that individual’s personhood. The additional respect that you show some individuals is an acknowledgement of their specific level of autonomy. So, what does all of this mean for you?

What Does it Mean to Respect Yourself?

For one thing, it means that no matter where you are in your life, you deserve a certain level of respect based on your essential personhood.

Next, it means that you deserve a certain level of respect based on your position in life in addition to the respect that you deserve because of your personhood.

However, it also means that you don’t deserve unlimited respect. People who believe that they deserve more respect than they do have unrealistic perspectives of themselves and are likely to get themselves into trouble by thinking that they require, deserve, or are capable of things that are beyond them.

What Do You Do with Self-Respect?

Once you have determined what kind of respect you deserve, you can do two things. You can develop a sense of respect for yourself and you can demand a sense of respect from those around you.

Having a sense of self-respect for yourself means that you accept that you deserve certain things. Some of these are things that you deserve because of your personhood, like a place to live, enough to eat, and healthy, safe relationships with other people.

These are often things that you supply to yourself but may withhold if you have low self-respect. For example, you may carry on in an unhealthy relationship because you don’t think that you deserve a healthy one, but everyone deserves better than an unhealthy relationship by virtue of their personhood.

Other things are things that you deserve because of the role that you play in the larger world. These are primarily social resources, but sometimes they can be material resources controlled by people who control your autonomy in some circumstance or degree. This could mean parents, bosses, teachers, etc. At your work, you deserve the resources, material or otherwise, to fulfill your role within the organization. As a student or a child, you deserve the resources, material or otherwise, to learn, grow, and develop as a person.

How is Self-Respect Important?

Self-respect plays a number of important roles. For one thing, it helps to promote your physical and emotional health. As discussed above, low self-respect can lead you to withhold basic needs from yourself if you think that you don’t deserve them.

Self-respect plays another important role as well. It helps for you to realize your full potential. If low self-respect is preventing you from demanding the resources that you need and deserve, then developing a stronger sense of self-esteem can help you to secure the resources that you need to do your best. This can lead to a cycle of increasing self-esteem, demanding the resources that you need to fulfill your role, fulfilling your role well, landing in a new role, and increasing your self-esteem further.

Find Your Strengths And Choose Your Success

Everyone gets to various points in their life where they must do an evaluation to determine which direction to go. If you really want to be successful, you’ll need to take some time to really consider each choice and how it will affect you, not only today, but in the future, even 10 years from now. But you want to work from a place of strength, not weakness.

The truth is that the only weaknesses you should be concerned with are those within the physical, mental, social, and spiritual area of your life when and if they are interfering in your ability to achieve success. The three areas in which you can find strengths are play, personal, and work. Unless the weaknesses affect these areas, they really don’t matter so much. That’s the best way to find true success not only today, but tomorrow, as well.

How to Evaluate Your Strengths and Weaknesses

While there are numerous tools that you can use, some of which will be mentioned later, how can you evaluate your strengths and weaknesses as objectively as possible?

  1. What do you do every day? – Most people tend to spend time on the things they like to do more than the things they do not like to do. It’s often the struggle between the two that causes strife, not the activities themselves. If you find yourself easily making time for activity A but avoiding activity B all the time, that tells you something. People gravitate toward things they’re naturally good at doing.
  2. What do other people think you do? – The people around you likely have an opinion about what you are good at and what you’re not good at. Usually, they have an idea in their minds about what they think you do all day long. Ask them, but realize that sometimes what people believe you’re good at is a little different from your own opinion. It doesn’t mean you are wrong, but if that happens, you should try to objectively identify why the difference in perception.
  3. What do other people say about you? – What people think you do and what they say about you are two different things. For example, maybe they think you are painting all day long but they still think you’re a horrible painter. So just because they see you as doing something particular with your days doesn’t mean they think you’re good. So you need to question people about that and tell them it’s okay to tell the truth because this is about your personal development.
  4. What do you like to talk about? – Usually, most people find themselves talking about the things they are good at doing and love to do. Now occasionally you will find yourself focusing on negativity and talking about the things you dislike, hate, or feel you are failing at. Those things are important to note, too. But if something makes you feel especially good, then you’re likely good at it and like it. That’s a very important thing to note.
  5. What is one mistake that you keep repeating? – Often, you’ll realize that you often do the same things over again, including your mistakes. This can usually be traced back to insisting on doing things that just aren’t a good, natural fit for you. As long as these things aren’t part of the four elements (physical, mental, social and spiritual) that you need for succeeding at what you desire, you can let go of these types of weaknesses, thus avoiding more mistakes.

When you ask yourself these five questions, take notes – write it all down so that you can analyze it. It’s likely that you will clearly see both your strengths and your weaknesses within the answers.

Capitalize on Your Strengths

Now that you know what your strengths and weaknesses are, you can begin to place focus on the strengths you want to develop and the weaknesses that matter within the physical, mental, social and spiritual realm, as far as they affect your ability to see your strengths through to success.

When you’ve finally determined what people compliment you for, what you’re happiest doing, and how those things fit into your life, you’ll be able to better approach your quest for success in the areas of play, personal and work. The truth is that the main area of importance is the personal. If your personal life feels successful, then your play and work will feel that way too. Your top qualities will be apparent across all three areas.

  • Say No – If it’s possible, start saying no to tasks that don’t emphasize and take advantage of your strengths. You honestly do not need an excuse to say no, but if you’re uncomfortable, just say you have to check with your calendar or your spouse first. Then say no later.
  • Cross Skills – Are you super organized at work but your home life is a little chaotic due to lack of organization? Why not share some of your work skill of organization with your home life to help you find more joy at home?
  • Keep Learning – If you have a weakness that is interfering with one of your strengths, identify steps you can take for improvement. Don’t stress about it, but take one step each day to learn something you need to know. For example, if you need to learn about a topic, find books and read at least 30 minutes each day. By the end of the year you’ll have become an expert in at least one subject.
  • Don’t Like Something? Stop. – You really don’t need an excuse, but if you really dislike doing something, you don’t have to do it. You may feel as if you do for a job, but in reality you can start creating steps toward not having to do what you don’t like. Start with the things you can easily stop doing right now. Identify the things that you want to give up and can’t right now, create steps toward being able to give it up or delegate it.
  • Strengths First – Make it your goal to spend more quality time doing things you enjoy and that you are good at. If you make it a goal to spend your time for the most part with everything you like doing and are good at doing, your life will feel even more successful as every moment will be a pleasure.
  • Avoid Negative People – If anyone in your life is a drag on your confidence, you need to consider letting the relationship go. Spend time with people who lift you up, make you feel good, and make you know you can do it. Whatever “it” is.
  • Leave Your Comfort Zone – Focusing on your strengths doesn’t mean you avoid leaving your comfort zone. For example, if you enjoy writing and fancy yourself a published author, make it a goal to write for at least one hour a day, leading to a published book at the end of the year. Push through anything uncomfortable.

The benefit of focusing on your strengths over weaknesses is a life lived of pleasure, happiness, and success over one of frustration and unrequited goals. By nurturing your talents, you’ll avoid the risk of them fading away and the pain of regret.

Develop Your Skills

The idea of developing your skills by leaving your comfort zone has been mentioned. But let’s take that a little further. Some people may misunderstand and think avoiding your weaknesses means not learning anything new. But nothing could be further from the truth. Even among your strengths there is much to learn.

  • Identify Your Strengths – Know which strengths you want to develop. Some things you excel at may be from natural talent that has nothing to do with what you want to accomplish in life. Perhaps you’re really great at crafts or cooking but it has nothing to do with your career or what will lead you to success. It’s great to focus on such things in your leisure time when you need a break, but primarily you should focus on the most important strengths that will help you in your biggest life goals.
  • Think Baby Steps – Take small steps each day to become even better. For example, let’s say you’re great at public speaking. You love public speaking. You know it can be a real asset to your chosen profession. Join a speaker’s group, read about speaking, practice speaking even if you need to go out and do it for free. The more you do it, the better you will become. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and plan an event of your own that you can showcase your speaking talents at.
  • Act Like A Manager – Successful CEOs know how to identify the strengths of their core players and use them at their best. Much like you can’t change how the pieces of a chess game move, managers believe in using each person to their best ability. You should think that way, too, when it comes to your own strengths. No sense in trying to be well-rounded when playing to your strengths will more effectively get you to the success and happiness you desire.
  • Define Your Expectations – Once you’ve chosen a couple of talents and skills to develop, decide what you expect the end result to be of your efforts. Do you plan to start a speaking business or do you plan to use your speaking skills to get a promotion at work? What are the end results of perfecting your skill set?

Working toward your goals little by little, day by day, can make a huge impact on your life. You don’t have to make a huge change right this moment, just make a small one each day. It may help you to map out the changes you want to make using a monthly calendar starting with the end date and working your way backward toward today for each skill you want to develop. Focus on only one or two skills at a time and you’ll improve your expertise exponentially.

Do Your Weaknesses Matter?

You can be successful based on what you know and can do rather than trying to be good at things you’re not naturally good at. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t improve or develop weaknesses, or even delegate them to someone else. It just means you don’t need to give your weaknesses as much attention as you may think. You can instead focus on working from a place of strength.

Understand the Truth

Make choices based on what is, not what might be, or what you think it will be in a few months. Instead, make your choices based on now. Now, what are your strengths? Now, what can you do? This gives you an opportunity to realize what you can’t do, or that your weaknesses really don’t matter. Success is based on who you are and what you know right now, not what you don’t know.

For example, if a student who wants to be a surgeon thought they should know everything about that profession before starting school, they would fail on day one. Instead, a smart student focuses on what they know and their skill set. Perhaps the medical student is good at memorization – they’ll use that skill to succeed at school. They know what they’re capable of learning and how they learn best. They don’t focus on what they don’t have yet or don’t know yet. They focus on taking steps toward a future they know they want – being a surgeon.

Center Your Activity on What You Can Do

Rather than focusing on how guts make you throw up, focus on how much you want to make your patients feel better. Many people are able to overcome fear of heights to become a pilot, fear of water to learn to dive, even natural sea sickness and more to follow their dreams to be a ship captain. It happens all the time. You can do it, too.

Focusing on your strengths doesn’t mean you have permission to give up if something is hard or you encounter a road block. It just means you have to find a way around the hard part to the good part. For example, if you want to be a writer but you work 5 days a week, 10 hours a day, you may have to write one hour a day on Sunday until you’re done with your book to see success. But the point is that it can be done if you have a plan. Focus on can, not can’t.

You Can Do More Than You Think You Can

Remember, you can always push yourself just a little farther than you think you’re capable of going. One more push up, one more page of a book, one more step on your walk. It can always be done.

“The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.”
– Arnold Schwarzenegger

To prove this truth is the fact that so many people do so much with so little. Just take a little time to search the Internet for some examples of people who have accomplished amazing feats due to talent, skill, and love of what they do.

Take Amanda Mercer, a mom who spent years training to swim in a relay race across the English Channel in order to bring awareness to Lou Gehrig’s disease. She came down with breast cancer during training and still did not stop. She met her goal just a couple of weeks after finishing her last round of chemo. She broke the world record by four minutes.

How about Rick Hohn? He has cerebral palsy but is a motivational speaker from California. He’s also an accomplished artist, pastor, teacher, and author. He doesn’t allow his limited mobility to stop him from achieving much in life that even the most able-bodied person would be proud to accomplish.

If there is something you really want to succeed at doing and you can find a way there with your natural talents and abilities, you can do it. Don’t let lack of training, time, or anything else get in your way. You can push just a little bit more and make it happen if you really love it and really want to.

Don’t Make Excuses

It can be easy to fall into excuse territory. Life does give you lemons, and sometimes you may need to find a way to leverage other people’s talent where yours is lacking, or you may need to work a little harder than someone else to get the same results. But given time and effort, you can take your talents and turn them into great success. It’s your choice.

There are, of course, some weaknesses that you should work on. If they have to do with your physical, mental, social, and spiritual self, then it is important that you continue to try to improve, at least in as much as it affects your ability to choose your success. For example, if you are scared of water, but you really want to be in a triathlon, you’ll have to overcome that mental block. If you aren’t good with computers but this doesn’t affect your ability to become a brain surgeon, then it doesn’t really matter.

The fact is when you focus on capitalizing on your strengths over worrying about your weaknesses, you will experience success that much faster. Many people who aren’t well-rounded are successful, but one thing is sure, they don’t play it safe. Therefore, being well-rounded isn’t needed for success.

Place your trust in what you can do, know, or are capable of learning, but first focus on what you have to work with right now to seek real success in the present. Starting with what you know is the best formula for long-term success and choosing the right path to that success. Start by avoiding excuses.

If you become the type of person who takes responsibility for your actions, you can become the type of person who chooses success over excuses. In addition, you need to learn to believe in yourself and your abilities to succeed. The way you develop belief in yourself is much the same as you develop belief in others – through experiences you have. The more you actually experience feelings of success, the more you’ll believe you can keep experiencing it.

Even if you’re scared, start small. Take the time to visualize how success looks, rather than focusing on any roadblocks getting in your way. Most roadblocks are mental, anyway. You can overcome them in order to get to the point of success if you stay focused on your strengths instead of weaknesses. The main trick is to just get started. Everything else later will be easier than getting started.

Tools to Help You Identify Your Strengths

There are numerous tools that you can use to help you understand yourself better, assist you in getting to know your own strengths, and help you know what first steps you need to take to choose your road to success.

  • 16 Personalities – This website offers some free and paid online tests to help you learn your personality better. It’s based on the work of Jung and Myers personality types. The test is designed to give insight into your own natural abilities and skills. Be as honest as you are capable of being when taking the test to get the most helpful results. There are no wrong answers.
  • Truity.com – Also based on Myers Briggs, this personality test has a free version, too. It focuses on finding your four-letter personality type so that you can understand how you work with yourself and others.
  • Gallup Strengths Center – Gallup strength finder has been around more than 50 years. They’re experts at helping you discover your strengths because they created the idea in the first place.
  • Find a Life Coach – Sometimes you may need some outside help finding your strengths with a non-biased, well-trained person such as a life or business coach. You can find a coach using an online directory or you can ask your colleagues if they can recommend someone.
  • Get a Mentor – Seek out a mentor who will help you determine and improve upon your strengths. Remember, mentors are not strangers that you ask. They are people who are ahead of you in the career or personal track that you want to be on and know your potential.
  • Your Community – Check with your local college or university to find out if they have career or personal development centers. Often they’ll have guest speakers or other programs to help you learn your strengths.

Using these tools to help you determine your strengths will go far in helping you know how to leverage your strengths to choose the type of success you want to experience in your life. You really can choose to be successful and choose what you’ll be successful doing if you know how to leverage your skills and strengths.

Choosing Your Career, Entrepreneurial & Relationship Path Based on Your Strengths

One thing is clear, when you know what your strengths are you can start to make choices that affect the course of your life in a positive way. Working from strength instead of weakness allows you to positively move forward in life without focusing on your weaknesses, which are likely not even relevant in the first place. When you know your strengths, you will have a better work life and personal life because you’ll be making choices based on knowledge and facts, not just hopes and dreams.

Career / Entrepreneurship

There are many factors that affect your competence in your career. Whether you work for someone else or you own your own business, your strengths play a huge part in whether you’re successful or not. Many factors affect the choices you have in front of you when it comes to work.

Ability and experience, even more than education, play a huge role in what you choose to do in your life for money. Most people are drawn to a certain type of work based on some form of innate ability or love for a particular form of work. You may not even realize that you’re drawn to a field due to your inborn abilities and interests, but more than likely you are.

But, unfortunately, some people are taught either accidentally or on purpose that they should become “well-rounded” or dabble in other career areas that don’t interest them because it’s something popular today. This can actually drain your resources and is not unlike trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Instead, analyze what it is that you love doing and do well already. This is where you want to find your career choice. Whether it’s entrepreneurial or not will also depend on whether you’re cut out for that type of work model or not, but it’s not right or wrong. It just is.

Play

Your strengths also affect how you play. What do you like doing? Some people are drawn to computer games, some people are drawn to physical sports. The reason is that you are either naturally good at the thing you want to do and like to do already, or you’re good enough that you can practice and become better. Remember, having a love for something and an ability for something doesn’t mean you never have to practice or learn; it just means that it likely comes more easily to you than some other things you have tried. Plus, you like it more.

You hear it all the time, be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else. But then you’re often forced to do things that you find make you miserable. For example, if you’re an introvert, you are likely often asked to do things that are hard to do and drain you of your energy because it’s considered weird not to. But what if you were told to play how you want to play and only do things you love as far as that’s allowed? This is how you find success and feel successful.

Now, don’t misunderstand. You do need to sometimes do things you dislike. The paperwork always has to be done. The toilets have to be cleaned. But if you really dislike cleaning, you can work toward a life where you don’t have to clean. You can work toward a life where you outsource those tasks that you hate, for the most part, so you can play even harder.

Personal Relationships

The one area of life that requires you to move forward and do things that are uncomfortable at times is your personal relationships. But if you understand what you’re strong at, you can focus on those things and do more of those them so that the things you’re weak at aren’t as noticeable. Obviously, there are some things you will have to do even if you don’t particularly like doing them to accommodate others if you want to have relationships. But the fact is some people are better at certain social skills than others, and a healthy, mutually supportive relationship will allow for areas of difficulty to be discussed and reasonably compromised on such that the net effect will be positively beneficial to both parties, not a one-sided affair.

But regardless of your innate ability, you can learn to be an equal partner in all your relationships. However, you’ll have a much easier time of things by also being honest about your skill set in this area so that you do a better job choosing the right people to move forward with in your life. For example, if you’re an introvert and would hate going out every weekend, you might not want to marry someone who needs that kind of social life. While they say opposites attract, opposites also get divorced.

What Should You Do Now?

First, take some time to think about what you’ve read. It may be different than what you may have heard in this past. This is likely even more true if you went to college or plan to go to college. Nothing is wrong with college, but college is designed to make you a well-rounded person, often learning things that you dislike, aren’t good at, and might even hate doing, whereas you would not experience any less success (and maybe find more) if you simply focus on what you already know you love and probably have some form of innate ability doing.

Choosing success is about finding your strengths and focusing on them, building them up and letting go of any ideas of weakness. Everyone on earth has both strengths and weaknesses. Not everyone is going to be a rocket scientist and not everyone is going to be an artist. Neither profession is better than the other. They are simply different. What would you do with your life if you could do what you really love doing, and are good at doing?

How much more successful would you be if you could let go of trying to improve on your weaknesses and instead focused on developing your strengths? Get started by first analyzing what it is that you know you’re good at, what other people say you’re good at, and what you love doing. This will go far in helping you determine how to move forward. Start with identifying your strengths, and then start to identify which of your strengths you want to develop to get to where you want to be in life.

“Don’t die by your weaknesses, live through your strengths.”
– Mark S. Kerr

50 Major Payoffs of Emotional Intelligence

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Quite simply, it is the ability to understand your own emotions and feelings, as well as those of others. Your understanding of emotions allows you to analyze information and guide your actions and your thinking. To put it even simpler, your emotional intelligence is a collection of skills around your emotional and mental health. While some people may be more equipped with emotional intelligence, it is a skill that you can acquire.

A lot of people get caught up in their intelligence quotient, without ever considering their emotional intelligence level. It’s your EQ, though, that helps you read the feelings of yourself and others. It’s how you learn to express those emotions, as well as regulate them. Additionally, your EI helps you deal with the emotions of others. You would probably like to think you tick both intelligence boxes.

You know your emotions and you can label them, right? That doesn’t mean you have your EI down pat, though. In fact, most of us have been overestimating our abilities. Emotional intelligence is vital in predicting success (both professional and personal), health, and happiness. We would all benefit from investing more time in training our emotional intelligence.

The term emotional intelligence was first used by Jack Mayer and Peter Salovey. Salovey was Yale University’s president while Mayer was a professor at the University of New Hampshire. They created the term and the EI theory itself (http://docplayer.net/21103993-Emotional-intelligence-implications-for-personal-social-academic-and-workplace-success.html).

What their work demonstrated, was how emotions could impact the behavior and thought process of an individual. That was in 1990. Since then, experts in the field have continued to build on that theory in a bid to refine what really lies at the core of EI.

It isn’t just about knowing what emotions that you are experiencing. It’s about using those emotions to inform your thought process and in turn, using your thought process to inform those emotions.

It is all about having a keen awareness of how your behaviors and decisions are driven by your emotions.

Emotionally intelligent leaders are more empathetic. They have the ability to see situations from other points of view. They tend to be more open-minded, they can tackle challenges, all while overcoming obstacles to pursue their ultimate goals.

While some people may define EI as a soft skill, it’s far more than that. It’s a deep understanding of what is going on within you, to allow you to consciously decide how to use those feelings.

How do you want to manage yourself? Moreover, how do you want the world to view you?

Emotional Intelligence Matters

It was just a few years ago that China’s President Xi gave a college commencement speech to a large group of graduates. What he told them that day was that their emotional intelligence would be a greater predictor of their success than their IQ (http://www.china.org.cn/china/2013-05/15/content_28825862.htm).

That doesn’t mean that IQ doesn’t matter at all. However, a high IQ can’t predict success. It doesn’t mean that you would be successful in a leadership position. Nor does it mean that you will excel in any job that you do. Just think about your work experience thus far.

You have probably worked alongside some incredibly intelligent people, but did that make them better than you at your job? Were they as effective in sales or management than people with a high emotional intelligence level? It’s possible that you have watched someone leave (or be let go from) a job that they could handle technically speaking.

Yet, they struggled with the emotional side of things. That doesn’t mean low EI people will be unsuccessful. You can still succeed if you lack emotional intelligence. However, your emotional intelligence will dictate how well you collaborate with others, as well as how effective you are at influencing and engaging your co-workers and/or subordinates.

Therefore, you shouldn’t underestimate just how important a role your emotional health will play in your professional (and personal) life.

We have discussed the professional side of things, but emotional intelligence can impact your personal life just as much.

Just imagine how much more successful your relationships would be if you were capable of putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.

Moreover, how different would your relationships look if you could show more empathy to those around you?

Consider your emotional health, which is at the center of high emotional intelligence.

The Pillars Of Emotional Intelligence

There are five pillars associated with emotional intelligence.

  1. Self-Awareness – a major part of being comfortable in your own skin is having a healthy self-awareness. Which means that you have an understanding of how you impact others, your emotions, as well as your strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps the greatest sign of a strong sense of self-awareness is how you respond to constructive criticism.
  2. People Skills – people with a high emotional intelligence are more respected by others, whether it’s their employees, bosses, co-workers or friends. They understand what it is that makes other people tick. Which means they are exceptional at building trust and rapport with other people. They don’t engage in power struggles or character assassination. It’s just not their style.
  3. Motivation – a leader with emotional intelligence is intrinsically motivated. They understand why they want to achieve certain goals and it doesn’t tend to be related to job titles or salary. They’re more optimistic in the face of disappointment and resilient when facing a challenge or outright failure. They have an almost unbreakable confidence.
  4. Self-Regulation – self-regulation and EI go hand in hand. It’s an ability to demonstrate restraint and maturity when sharing your emotions. Instead of hiding their feelings, they have an ability to express those emotions with control and respect.
  5. Empathy – empathy goes a long way, especially in the workplace. That doesn’t mean empathetic people go easy on others. What it does mean, however, is that they have a deeper understanding of human nature, which means they find it easier to connect with others on an emotional level. They are compassionate. This means they find it easier to deal with frustration and concern.

Emotional Intelligence Training

While there are plenty of ways you can improve your emotional intelligence, we want to get you started with just three simple steps.

  1. Attention – it should come as no surprise to you that the foundation of emotional intelligence is attention. It’s all about holding the ability to clear your mind, whilst also calming it.
  2. Self-Mastery – once you have your attention trained, you can master your sense of self. You should be able to observe your stream of thought, while also being able to clearly process your emotions from an outsider’s perspective. Once you have mastered this ability, you will open up a level of self-knowledge that you haven’t experienced before.
  3. Mental Habits – creating healthy mental health habits is vital to improving your emotional intelligence. You can exercise habits like compassion and kindness. These are things that you often extend to others, but don’t extend to yourself. While it’s also important that you hold positive wishes and wants for other people, you should be training your mental habits to do the same for yourself.

50 Major Payoffs Of Developing Emotional Intelligence

It’s time to take a deep dive into the major payoffs associated with developing a strong sense of your emotional health and boosting your emotional intelligence.

  1. Performance – having a high level of emotional intelligence can help you successfully navigate the workplace on a social level. Additionally, it can assist you in motivating, as well as leading, others. Which means that EI can truly improve your overall performance. In fact, when it comes to large companies, many will try to determine your level of EI in the interview stages. Some of them go so far as to test you.
  2. Success – it makes sense that, since EI can help improve your performance, that it can lead you to be more successful. While we talk a lot about EI in the professional sense, it can also have a major impact on the success of your personal life.
  3. Physical Health – if you can’t manage your emotions, then there’s a good chance you struggle with stress management as well. This can result in serious implications for your physical health. Unmanaged stress can increase blood pressure, affect your immune system, and increase the risk factors for stroke, heart attacks, and even infertility.
  4. Mental Health – likewise, unchecked emotions can influence your mental health. Which leaves you more vulnerable to mental health issues like depression and anxiety. How can you form healthy, strong relationships if you don’t understand your own emotions? Beyond that, if you aren’t comfortable with those emotions or able to manage them… it will affect your ability to form healthy relationships.
  5. Social Intelligence – you might not realize it but being in touch with emotions can improve your social world. It’s easier to connect with others and understand them when you have a high level of emotional intelligence. You can recognize your friends, measure how interested people are in you, all of which reduces the typical stresses that surround social interactions.
  6. Social Awareness – we already touched on social intelligence, but social awareness isn’t quite the same thing. Social awareness is all about the nonverbal cues people often miss. It’s the nonverbal cues that give you a clue as to what others really feel, what’s important, and how their emotions are changing. When in a group situation, people send out a variety of nonverbal cues. Emotional intelligence helps you read these and understand the dynamics of a group.
  7. Strong Relationships – have you ever tried to sit down and have a serious conversation only for it to descend into anger and madness? Being able to understand your emotions helps you to control them, which allows you to adequately express and communicate how you feel. It also allows you to understand how others feel. It’s all about effective communication, which leads to stronger personal relationships.
  8. Relationship Management – in our early years, there is a heavy emphasis on working well with others. That never really goes away, the wording that we use simply changes. Being able to work with others is a process that is built on emotional intelligence. Your relationships will be more fulfilling and fruitful when you have the emotional intelligence to relate to others.
  9. Emotional Awareness – learning how to manage your stress is a vital part of getting in touch with your emotions. It’s difficult to be aware of your emotions when stress is dictating how you experience your feelings, and how you respond to them. So, of course, emotional intelligence is going to lead to greater emotional awareness.
  10. Teamwork – employers value teamwork, it’s an extension of that working well with others box that got ticked on your report card in school. The ability to clearly communicate is a commodity and those with high levels of emotional intelligence are more adept at doing so. It plays strongly into the teamwork skill because they aren’t just able to share their own ideas. They are equally as open to hearing the ideas of others. Which means they aren’t concerned about running the show but understand when to take a step back and let others have their say. That’s all to say, it makes you a more attractive candidate to employ (or promote). It also makes your home life better.
  11. Improved Environment – a high level of emotional intelligence is one incredible way to improve your environment. In the workplace, EI helps boost morale (yours and that of everyone else). When you are better at relating to others, you respect people more. Which makes the workplace (home and anywhere else) a much better place to be. It will improve your actual work and the experience that you get from working with the people around you.
  12. Flexibility – change can be upsetting, which is why flexibility is so important. When you are geared to improve yourself, it’s only natural that you will strive to improve everything else around you. Which means that you are incredibly flexible to change. Since change is one of the most stressful experiences that people go through, the ability to adapt is an excellent benefit of strong EI.
  13. Improved Self-Awareness – in most interview situations you will be asked to name your strengths and weaknesses. There is nothing worse than interviewing someone who easily lists off a number of strengths and claims to not have a single weakness. It’s indicative of someone who has no self-awareness. Weaknesses are only true weaknesses if you aren’t aware of them. So, the ability to identify your weaknesses shows a self-awareness that employers are desperate to find. That is part and parcel of emotional health. It also shows that you are capable of accepting feedback and indicates that you will use it to grow.
  14. Self-Control – emotional intelligence and the ability to handle difficult situations go hand in hand. There will always be situations that make us feel uncomfortable, especially if you are in a leadership position. It may be that you’re dealing with an angry employee, a disappointed boss or even a client who is unhappy with the service they have received. Of course, you could also be trying to deal with the terrible twos. No matter what challenging situation you face, a high level of emotional intelligence will help you remain calm. You might be raging inside, but your exterior appears controlled. We all deal with embarrassing, difficult, and uncomfortable conversations. Some people act out in these moments. They are prone to emotional outbursts and can’t control their feelings. Someone with a high emotional intelligence can handle their own emotions, as well as the other emotions at play.
  15. Compassion – if you look around at all the people you know, you will find it easy to identify those in your life with low emotional intelligence. They are the people who struggle to show compassion to others, whether it’s the people they know or strangers. It’s your compassion that helps you connect with people on an emotional level. This is beneficial at home and in the workplace, especially if you work with clients who are dealing with difficult circumstances. The ability to show compassion for others is important.
  16. Time Management – this is particularly helpful in the workplace as employers tend to expect work to be completed on time. A lack of time management causes frustration for everyone involved, it can also affect your job security. For those in a leadership position, people with emotional intelligence avoid micromanagement. This means that they recruit people who also display emotional intelligence and then empower them to do the job they were hired to do. This allows everyone in the business to focus on their tasks, which ensures that everything gets done on time.
  17. Optimistic – a high emotional intelligence makes people more optimistic. Optimists don’t let anything stand in their way, and they make everyone around them perk up, too.
  18. Motivated – people who are more optimistic are more motivated. It really doesn’t matter whether that goal is personal or professional, they have that growth mindset that is necessary to overcome any obstacle that stands in their way. It’s just another challenge that they can solve.
  19. The ability to successfully manage even the most difficult of situations.
  20. An ability to be open and honest with their ideas and opinions. However, they are also just as open to listening to the opinions and ideas of others.
  21. They don’t demand respect from others, their behavior simply commands it.
  22. They have the ability to handle any meeting, while also leading others.
  23. As a result of the respect they command naturally, they have a keen ability to influence those around them.
  24. They aren’t afraid to ask others for help, whether it’s a colleague, employee or employer.
  25. The ability to work calmly at all times, even in the most stressful of situations.
  26. They have the motivation to complete any task but are also effective at motivating others to do the same.
  27. They have the ability to remain positive in any situation.
  28. Leadership Skills – recruitment is expensive, so when employees look to hire new people they want a long-term solution. They look for people who show they have room to grow. You might be starting in a smaller position, but they want to know you’re loyal and will work your way up the ladder. People with high levels of emotional intelligence display these leadership skills immediately. Strong leadership results in employees feeling valued and respected, which leads us to the next two points.
  29. Productivity – in terms of business, many of the skills above feed into two big business boosters. One of those is productivity. Productive employees make for a better workplace
  30. Profitability – it should come as no surprise that the second booster is profitability. It’s a natural result from increased productivity and strong and effective leadership. Emotional intelligence is a benefit to any type of business, whether it’s a large corporation or a small business that is just starting out. Of course, for the latter, emotional intelligence could be the key to unlocking success.
  31. A Step Ahead – if you are a business owner, then you can get a step ahead of the competition by hiring people who have high emotional intelligence. At this point, it’s a growing trend, but it hasn’t taken off everywhere, which means you can aim to hire emotionally intelligent people who are naturals. Just imagine building a team of people who can relate to others, show compassion, and display empathy.
  32. Self-Care – you’re probably used to showing kindness to others, but do you extend the same compassion to yourself? People with high emotional intelligence understand the importance of self-care and practicing positive thoughts and affirmations.
  33. Calmness – you’ve probably heard the term self-soothing in relation to babies. Well, emotional intelligence provides you with your own style of self-soothing. It’s the ability to calm your mind and body down in stressful situations. You can take a step back and objectively look at a problem by removing yourself from the issue.
  34. Clear Mind – one of the benefits of the calmness that comes from emotional intelligence is a clear mind. It’s that clear mind that helps you make sound decisions.
  35. Improved Sales – if you happen to be in a sales driven business, your emotional intelligence may have a lot to do with how successful you are. It’s easier to sell to people when you have a basic understanding of who they are and what they need. Of course, sales can be a stressful business, and being able to manage your stress is helpful. No one appreciates a desperate salesperson who pushes them too far.
  36. Employee Satisfaction – you can use emotional intelligence assessments to properly structure your business. This will ensure that every employee is in the role most suited to them and improve your procedures and processes.
  37. Risk Management – two separate studies have indicated the risk of employing low emotional intelligence people. In one study, it’s found that low EI employees are more likely to have accidents at work (https://www.fastcompany.com/3047455/why-emotionally-intelligent-people-are-more-successful). In the other, there is a strong correlation between workplace theft and a low emotional intelligence (https://www.zeroriskhr.com/learning-center/articles/the-importance-of-eq-in-the-workplace). So, it will benefit your shrinkage numbers and your accident record to invest in people with a high emotional intelligence.
  38. A Vision – many of our waking hours are spent in the workplace. For some people, this means experiencing negative emotions along with the positive ones. This is where your emotional intelligence can come into play. You can use your EI to display consistent behavior which helps you manage those negative emotions and learn how to harness those positive ones for the greater good. This ability allows you to share your vision with others and get their buy-in, too.
  39. Active Listening Skills – there is no better way to effectively communicate than by actively listening. There’s a lot more to it than paying attention to what people say. You need to be following the conversation genuinely, responding with your body language, and then demonstrate that you have it right, which simply means repeating their key points back to them. It doesn’t just let them know you are paying attention, it also ensures you haven’t missed any key information. All of this is possible due to your emotional intelligence.
  40. Emotional Vocabulary – you can enhance your interpersonal skills by working on emotional vocabulary. This is something particularly helpful for young children. Helping them understand the difference between anger, sadness, and disappointment is the first step in developing strategies in how to handle each emotion. This, of course, stands for adults, too. However, as we grow into adulthood we become more adept at naming our emotions. It’s the strategy to handle them we tend to fall short in. However, it can be learned at any age.
  41. Purpose – every leader knows how important leading with purpose is. It’s an effective way to engage your employees and inspire action. Living with purpose is important to everyone, though, not just leaders. People with high emotional intelligence find it easier to determine their life purpose. Once they know their purpose, they aren’t afraid to make decisions that will fuel living that purpose. Who wouldn’t want to live out their dreams?
  42. Effective Negotiator – one of the benefits of emotional intelligence is the ability to communicate. A clear communicator who shows empathy and consideration for others is an effective negotiator. One of the reasons for this is the ability to manage the emotions of others (as well as your own). You can easily get in touch with their expectations and communicate clearly how your deal will benefit them.
  43. Authenticity – there is something attractive about someone who knows their truth and lives it. Being authentic means that you are confident in making decisions that align with your core values and beliefs. A high emotional intelligence fuels your ability to live an authentic life.
  44. Respect – people with emotional intelligence respect others, but they also easily gain respect. One of the reasons for this is that they respect themselves, and when they speak to others they don’t do so in a disrespectful manner. The ability to manage emotions and respond appropriately leads to a shared respect between all parties involved. Which can only benefit you, whether it’s personally or professionally.
  45. Lead With Passion – people who are in touch with their emotional intelligence aren’t afraid to show their heart, be vulnerable, and lead with passion. There’s nothing wrong with being analytical; however, it’s nothing if you are merely calculating. No one wants to live or work in a dictatorship, so the application of passion is a direct result of emotional intelligence.
  46. Humor – emotional intelligence means having the ability to laugh at yourself. There are times where being serious matters, but it’s also just as important to laugh at every opportunity. It brings a positive energy to everything that you do.
  47. Creativity – innovation and creativity matter, especially in a competitive workplace. Emotional intelligence might not make you a creative person if you aren’t already, but what it does do is invite brainstorming sessions as you collaborate with your team. This, of course, can also extend to the home. Involving your family in big decisions will improve your home life.
  48. Bravery – what does bravery have to do with anything? It’s more about having the courage to stand up and share your beliefs and opinions. Especially when something wrong is taking place. Why does a high level of emotional intelligence make you braver? You’re more confident, an able communicator, and have the interpersonal skills required to effectively convey your message. It’s important to stand up for what you believe in. It’s even more important to fight for what is right.
  49. Intuition – with emotional intelligence comes intuition and the ability to draw from your understanding and wisdom to make the right decision in a timely manner.
  50. Confidence – we often live from one crisis to another. Part of always moving forward and succeeding is having the confidence to react, and it is much easier to retain your confidence when you know how to manage your emotions. People will look to you to take the lead.

Final Thoughts

So, you can see the ways emotional intelligence benefits you. Now how can a lack of it impact your life and business?

  • Passive-aggressive communications
  • An inability to accept feedback
  • Indulges the victim mentality and always blames others instead of looking at one’s own part in a situation
  • Inability to listen to others

Now that we have laid out so many of the benefits that come with emotional intelligence, you can easily identify the people in your life who have it (and those who don’t).

For your professional life, you can improve your own emotional intelligence skills and use your experience to help others do the same.

Of course, you can apply this in your personal life as well. Equipping small children with these skills as early as possible will help set them up for a successful life. It’s never too late to get on board.

What’s clear is that there is a correlation between being successful and your level of emotional intelligence.

Raise your emotional intelligence and you will be a more effective leader, employee, partner, parent, and human being. For your personal life, a high emotional intelligence helps you achieve personal happiness.

Constructive Ways to Deal with Failure

What do you do when things just don’t work in your favor? You may have tried something or many things, but for whatever reason failure has plagued you.

It’s ok to fail at something. We all do and have at some point. Everyone is different, and not everything is meant for everyone. However, this doesn’t mean you should necessarily give up. There’s a time to quit and there’s a time to continue pursuing something.

Knowing how to deal with failure is essential to learn from mistakes and keep a hold on your confidence. Failure can crush you if you’re not careful, but remaining strong will benefit you greatly with anything you do in life.

The reasons we experience failure depends on each person’s situation, so there’s no single answer for everyone. Don’t let your mind convince you that failure means your goals are impossible. If you want to be successful in life, you must learn to deal with failure constructively.

Understand First Why You’ve Failed

If you don’t understand why you failed, then it will be difficult for you come back with a winning strategy. Most people fail because they think maybe something wasn’t meant to be or that they are not smart enough to do better, but learning plays a big factor in dealing with defeat constructively.

To give you a better understanding of why you failed, consider these points:

  • Is what you failed at significant to you?
  • Why do you feel that you failed?
  • What should you do to decrease the chance of failure?
  • Were you adequately prepared?

When something means something significant to you, there’s less of a chance of failing at something. When something carries less significance, many people think that a minimal effort can still result in success, and that is simply not true.

You have to know you failed and what needs to be done to fix the problem. Poor planning will almost always result in failure at some point.

What Do You Want To Achieve?

Failure is a part of the growing process, so if you are pursuing something then you must understand that you will fail at times without a doubt. It’s a normal part of life, so there’s no reason to let it bother you constantly. You just have to learn to move on.

  • Have an idea of where you want to be and go for it while accepting that you will fail along the way.
  • Don’t let anyone discourage you as a result of your failures.
  • If you don’t try, you won’t succeed.
  • Know where you belong and don’t deviate from that.

When we want to achieve something in life, there will be opposition. Don’t let your current circumstances allow you to deviate from the passion that burns within you.

Ignore Unsupportive People

This may seem difficult in many instances, but necessary when your failures are already enough to discourage you. Some people will be negative toward you when you don’t succeed at first, but anyone great has had to walk through adversity.

It doesn’t matter what you’ve failed at. It means nothing compared to what you’re capable of, and as long as you know that, you should block out negative voices.

Sometimes the people closest to you can be the biggest offenders, and although you may not be able to block them out completely, it’s ok to do what’s best for you. Get yourself in a place that is away from anything that stresses you out and causes unnecessary pressure.

People will come and go but you’ll soon realize who you like to be in company with.

Ask For Help

There is nothing wrong with asking for someone else’s help or advice. In fact, it’s totally encouraged. No one person can do everything from their own knowledge or skill set alone. People before us have made mistakes so that we can learn from them. And you’ll feel better and more satisfied when you can share what’s deep inside with someone else. You can also become more motivated to tackle your roadblocks effectively.

If you need some guidance, consider these options:

  • Find a mentor.
  • Ask advice from someone who is in your desired situation.
  • Join a support group that can help.

Find Helpful Resources

We live in a time where everything you need to know can either be found in a book or in the internet. Millions of people share their experiences and advice on online, and it’s a never ending supply of knowledge for anyone.

The most successful people in the world take the time to write books so that we can learn strategies and information that will set us up for less failure and more achievement.

Motivation is a valuable tool, and there are ways to keep yourself motivated through the storms of life.

Life gives us what we need to overcome our perceived limitations, and you’d be smart to take advantage. We definitely have it better than our ancestors in many ways.

Try A Different Way

There is usually more than one way to do something. We tend to stick with one thing, and when that one thing doesn’t work we give up.

The saying “I’ve tried everything” is used too often without justification. It’s ok to admit that you can do better, as nearly anyone could do more than what they’ve been doing. Success in something is based on persistence and belief.

Also, doing the wrong thing or in the wrong way can cause you to fail when what you really need to do is change something up or change your mindset. Failure can result from your perspective, so consider changing it and you may see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Have Reasonable Expectations

You might have ambitious expectations, but when you don’t reach them, the thought of being a failure sets in. We are only capable of doing so much in such a short amount of time.

Use these tips to develop healthy expectations:

  • Know what you want, but understand there are steps needed to get there.
  • Set short-term goals.
  • Decide to be happy no matter what’s happening in the present moment.
  • Understand that you may need to improve yourself in some areas to reach your desires.

You can’t skip steps when it comes to accomplishing something. Don’t fail because you thought you could get to the top without starting at the bottom first. Life doesn’t work that way, and you’ll waste time by thinking that you don’t need to start small.

Don’t Ever Call Yourself a Failure

If you tell yourself something long enough, you’ll start to believe it. Nobody is a failure, but there are people who fail to correct their mistakes or understand their purpose in life.

Here are some ways to encourage a more positive atmosphere for yourself.

How to create positivity?

  • Try to speak positive words daily.
  • Respect yourself by loving yourself.
  • Do something you’re good at and feel good doing to maintain your confidence and passion.

It’s no secret that we can create the kind of environment that we desire. You owe it to yourself to be happy and prosperous, and it takes making good choices.

The reason failure may affect someone to the point of giving up is because the mind doesn’t want to experience something that will make it uncomfortable. It’s just a defense mechanism that means nothing regarding your ability to do something.

Create your success and get over your failures by speaking positivity into your life.

Be Passionate

The reason why failures may never have an answer may have to do with your lack of passion for something. Failure is not uncommon when effort is at a minimum.

Now you may not be passionate all the time, but to sustain a long lasting change, put forth an honest effort if you’re tired of failed attempts at achieving a desired outcome. Or change your goals to better reflect your true interests and energies.

Too many people become complacent and unsatisfied because they give in to societal definitions of what they should consider important instead of honoring their own.

Respect Your Progress

Being hard on yourself and neglecting the good you’ve done so far is no way to constructively handle your failures.

You don’t want to spin your wheels and give up easily because you focus too much on the negatives of your situation. We all start somewhere, and progress is a good indicator of productivity.

Start by doing a few things daily to keep the positive alive:

  • Write your goals in a journal.
  • Track your progress.
  • Make changes when necessary.

Receiving is a byproduct of respect. If you understand the process, it’s much easier to respect the journey.

By keeping track of your day to day decisions, you can have an easier idea of what to modify for improved productivity.

Don’t Neglect Your Wellbeing

When failure occurs, a natural reaction for many people is to get depressed and stressed out. It’s not worth your health to worry about anything. Of course, if significant enough, there’s always a degree of “what ifs” and “if only’s,” but there needs to be other coping methods to keep things moving in a positive direction instead of spiraling downwards into negativity.

Keep your wellbeing in check:

  • Talk about your concerns with someone.
  • Have other activities and options in life to direct your attention toward.
  • Practice good habits for the mind (Meditation, exercise, etc).

It can be easy to punish yourself when things don’t go as planned. Failing at something is much less important than being in good health.

Your mind is a precious thing and no circumstances should cause you to neglect its vital role in your daily life. That is why meditation and therapy are valuable for maintaining great mental health, stability, and empowerment.

It’s so essential to treat your mind as important to take care of as any other part of your body, but many people tend to neglect it since it’s not physically visible.

Find Inspiration

Get out there and forget about your failures. Travel somewhere or try something completely new. Many times when people find inspiration, they forget about the past and become motivated for the future.

Here are some tips to find inspiration:

  • Listen to a motivating podcast.
  • Visit a new place.
  • Talk to someone in your situation or who has overcome your situation.
  • Try a new hobby or activity.

Inspiration can be the start to something amazing. In fact, nearly all successful people have found inspiration to become great and continue to overcome their perceived limitations. Sometimes we just remain stuck in a rut and this may be an easy fix.

One word a person says can change your whole life as much as picking up a new interest. We all deserve to be inspired by something, and it takes one decision to be open to change.

Surround Yourself with Positive People

Your environment can make all the difference in how you cope with failures. Get around people that will encourage you and not put you down, and you may find your failures to be easier to overcome.

Your mind is already dealing with enough stress, and so the best way to deal with that is to have a positive support system in any form.

Types of support systems include:

  • A support group
  • A church organization
  • Positive friends and family

Negativity is very toxic and, if at all possible, avoid it for your wellbeing. If someone is willing to discourage you, then they don’t deserve your company while you’re dealing with your concerns.

It is acceptable to pick and choose your company, so do it wisely.

Remember that Life Happens in Seasons

Just like there’s an end to a natural season, there comes a time when you’ll prevail over your difficulties. It’s a waste of your valuable time to ponder too much on something that will pass.

The world will give back to you what you give it, and when you overcome your failures, your season will come and better days follow.

The best thing to do is to keep pursuing your desires and have hope and expectations for things to work out for you. Put forth an honest effort, and most times things will eventually fall into place. Timing is something that’s a concern for many, but often something completely out of our control.

Avoid Isolating Yourself

It’s natural to want to be alone when you’re upset and feel hopeless. However, this makes things worse and is never recommended if you want freedom from the negative effects of your situation.

Do things to stay connected:

  • Enjoy some time out, even if by yourself.
  • Call up someone positive.
  • Join a positive group.
  • Enjoy activities that allow for self-expression.

Your mental and physical health depend on your ability to keep active and pursue life’s opportunities regardless of your circumstances.

Many people neglect the healing power of exposure (Putting yourself out there), but you’ll never see the world or become inspired by isolating yourself and you’d be missing out on a lot.

So, even if for just an hour a day, leave your place of pain for a place of relief and experiences.

Pick Up and Relocate

Quitting after a few failures is not always a bad thing if you know your location does not support your endeavors.

Don’t consider the thought of relocation as “running from your problems,” because, honestly, the place matters in certain instances.

Different states and cities offer unique opportunities, and a new atmosphere or new potential connections could be your “saving grace.” Maybe you know someone elsewhere that has what you need, whether it is opportunity or inspiration or motivation.

Don’t let a move stress you out, but rather have a plan for the direction you’d like to go and the things you’d like to pursue. Many people do it and find it’s just what they needed to flourish.

Re-evaluate Your Situation

“To be or not to be” … you know sometimes we just have to sit back and think about every aspect of why we are doing something. Could we make better use of our time? It’s likely we could.

Staying somewhere you’re not happy with because it makes you money or there’s a level of comfort in remaining is a bad idea. You may not fail, but if you eventually realize that you’re wasting your time, you soon will.

Everyone’s level of ambition is different. Some people lack it and some people develop it. If you’re the type to desire more, then do yourself a favor and plan to do so.

Get to Know Yourself

There’s nothing wrong with spending time with “YOU.” A lot of times, people are afraid to be in their own company, and as a result, disappointment results from a lack of comfort with yourself.

If you can get to know more about “you,” then when things fail around you, an inner strength is developed. We need to be strong all around if we are to successfully face and overcome our obstacles.

We as a society have made it so normal to think that we need to be popular among other people; however, that is a false belief. There’s nothing wrong with working on yourself, which may require solitude for a bit.

Learn More about Your Surroundings

Unfamiliar territory can sometimes lead to failure if you’re not sure how to effectively navigate it. Although you won’t always have the choice of setting, you have to learn how to do the best with what you have and where you are.

Here are some ways to make the best of your surroundings:

  • Know why you’re in a place.
  • Do the best you can regardless of what you have.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not where you want to be yet.
  • Use resources to have a better idea of where to start and how to continue.
  • Ask for help.

Failure doesn’t have to dictate your decision to move forward. If you can learn the basics, you’ll be able to push through anything regardless of how much or little you have to work with.

You have to start with “You” and not get ahead of what you need to first learn and do.

Don’t Let Anything or Anyone Steal Your Joy

You decide on your emotions. No one has the right to steal your joy. You must know how to manage your emotions so that you can be in the right mind to bounce back.

Life requires doing what’s healthy for you, and maintaining a healthy mindset is key to constructively overcoming your failures.

Tips to keep yourself joyful:

  • Treat yourself to something you love
  • Understand that your failures are not the end of the world and that life has much more to offer.
  • Meditate or do some form of mental exercises.
  • Remember that other people are in your shoes and you’re not the only one struggling.
  • Know that only you can make you happy and nothing else.

Be joyful and know that good things come from being patient and never giving up. Plan for new things in your life, and keep your mind focused on your life’s purpose.

Don’t Give Up

This doesn’t mean that you have to remain pursuing the same thing, but there’s obviously something you want. If failure affects you negatively, then that’s a sign that your desires are significant enough to you to keep going.

How can you be sure to never give up?

  • Remind yourself of the feeling you’ll have when you succeed.
  • Remember what you’re doing it for.
  • Get involved with others who can help push you through.
  • Accomplish one thing every day no matter how small it is.

Giving up can never be an option unless you simply lost your passion for something. This happens sometimes, but you’ll know whether it’s a true feeling.

Giving up because something is hard is not a good reason to do so. Don’t abandon your desires because of perceived difficulties that occur along the way.

Be Honest about How Much Control You Have

If you don’t learn how to have control over your situation, then you’ll never move past your failures. It’s absolutely up to you to dictate your future, and a “take charge” mindset is something you need.

Let go of old thought processes and realize a new one might the only way to overcome a difficult situation and start seeing progress.

Your Failures Don’t Need to Hold You Back

As human beings, we tend to let failure discourage us from moving forward. In fact, some people will let failure follow them throughout a lifetime. This results in regret and could very well be the worst feeling to ever experience.

Start by working on yourself and being aware of the whole picture rather than just the current situation.

There are many things you can do to get yourself on track, and it’ll require a combination of these decisions which will make the difference. Use resources around you and never think your situation will just turn itself around with little to no effort on your part.

There are people that will encourage and give us a word of positivity, and this is the beauty of the process of failure. You never have to do it alone, and there’s a positive way to do it that will connect you to the human experience rather than drive you away.

Remember no one and nothing can give you every answer because at the end of the day, the timing and strategy you use is unique to you. We learn by experience, but we can learn faster when also guided by the experience of others.

Make the decision to see your failures as a temporary learning curve while you’re on your way to accomplishing your ultimate goals.

How to Make Exercise a Habit

The Power of Habits

How many habits do you have?

If you stop to think about it, you probably have dozens, maybe even hundreds, of habits. Not all of them are good habits, of course. Some habits, like cursing or drinking sugary soda, are not great for you. How did you acquire those habits – the good and the bad ones?

Did you decide to make them habits or did it just kind of happen?

For your bad habits, chances are they just sort of happened. One Coke at lunchtime turned into a soda at lunchtime and a soda in the afternoon, and it grew from there. Good habits happen this way as well. For example, you might have taken the stairs the first day of work, and ever since then you’ve always taken the stairs instead of the elevator.

Good habits can also be created, deliberately and with intention.

This guide is about building the exercise habit, because most likely it’s not going to “just happen” for you. If you’re reading this, then you probably have a desire to create a habit, and that’s exactly what we’re going to help you do.

Before we get to it, let’s talk briefly about why habits are important and what type of habit-setter you are, because the reason for the habit and your personality can really impact whether you’re successful or not.

Why Habits Are Important

Habits are important because they take the guesswork and the thinking out of the process. For example, brushing your teeth could be considered a habit. You brush them every morning and probably every night. Do you think “Should I brush my teeth?” or does it happen pretty automatically? It’s probably fairly automatic for most people. The exercise habit can be like that as well. It can be automatic so that you don’t have to think, “Should I exercise?” You just do it.

Habits also hold you accountable. Going back to the tooth brushing habit again, when something becomes automatic, something that’s good for you and your health, you get it done. You’re accountable to yourself and to your health. When exercise is a habit and it’s done automatically as part of your routine, you are accountable to yourself and your health. You’re taking care of it.

Finally, another big benefit of habits is that they support you to succeed. Let’s say for example that you’re training for a 5K. You create a running and exercise habit that keeps this long-term goal in mind. If the habit holds and you’re able to follow through, then you’ll be able to achieve your 5K goal. The same is true for weight loss goals, fitness goals, and other health and well-being goals. Habits make it possible to achieve them.

Okay, so let’s next mention that people have different habit-building personalities. Some people love to schedule, while others resist the calendar. Some people love tracking results, while others despise any sort of quantitative analysis of their lifestyle. Some people prefer to dive in and are inspired by large, seemingly impossible, goals. Others prefer to take it step by step.

This guide is for all of those types of people, and all of those approaches are viable habit-building personalities. What matters most right now is that you are aware of your habit-building personality. Think about the habits that you’re able to maintain successfully and those that you’ve repeatedly failed at. Think about why that might be the case and then read on.

12 Approaches to Building the Exercise Habit

Here we are going to offer 12 different approaches to building the exercise habit. Some you’re going to roll your eyes at. Those aren’t for you. Others, at least one or two, will click with you. You’ll nod your head and think to yourself, “I can do that. This one is right for me.” Bingo. That’s the one that you take action on. So let’s get started!

1. The Small Step Approach

The small step approach works like this… Joy wants to create a running habit. In her mind she looks down the road one year from now and she’s bounding out of bed every morning and running three miles before breakfast. Joy’s a go-getter! However, Joy is also a small step type of habit maker.

So instead of running three miles this morning, she gets up and runs for five minutes. It’s a time that she knows she can commit to. She hits the treadmill and puts in exactly five minutes of running. She does this every day for a week.

Next week, she hits the treadmill and runs for 10 minutes. (She thought about running for 7 minutes instead but figured she might take smaller steps down the road, and she can do anything for 10 minutes, right?) The week after, she runs for 15 minutes, then twenty, and so on. Eventually, she’s getting up every morning and running for 30 minutes or about three miles.

Small steps can get the job done. It’s a way to ease yourself into a habit and to allow both your body and your mind to acclimate to the new routine. For many, it’s much easier to imagine exercising for a few minutes or putting in a small distance in the beginning than it is to imagine getting out of bed and putting in an hour of time.

The small step approach can work a number of different ways. For example, if moving your body for 30 minutes doesn’t seem like a big deal, but running for 30 minutes does, then why not run for one minute and walk for 29 today. Run for two minutes next week and walk for 28. Day by day, week by week, you build your physical and mental endurance, and before you know it you’ve achieved the habit you were aiming for.

2. The Dive Right in Approach

The opposite of the small step approach to habit-setting is the dive right in approach. This is a “go big or go home” mindset that works for people who are inspired and motivated by large, and often seemingly impossible, goals.

These are the people who go from couch to marathon in three months. They make a decision and often take immediate action. The key to this method working successfully is that the motivation has to be significant enough to get you through weeks of habit-forming behavior.

For example, imagine Tracy decides that she is going to take a trip to France and ride a route that’s the same as a stage of the Tour de France. She hasn’t ridden a bike in years nor does she exercise regularly. But the dream of riding a bike up the mountains fills her with such joy that she jumps on her bike and rides for an hour every morning and goes for a long ride on the weekends.

Those first few weeks of riding and exercise are going to be physically challenging, if not painful. However, the habit can be formed and the difficulty set aside because of Tracy’s motivation.

Six months later, Tracy is riding her bike in the mountains of Europe and she’s in great shape. She’s cultivated a bike riding habit by biting off a goal that may have seemed crazy to others, including herself if she stopped long enough to think about it.

If the goal isn’t enough to keep you motivated through the difficult times, then this approach won’t work. It has to be something that excites you. It’s one of the reasons why many people sign up for an event like a marathon, because the scale of the goal is enough to get them off the couch and exercising every single day.

However, you don’t need an event for your goal. Your goal might be to lose 100 pounds, to swim across the English Channel, or to run a 21-minute 5K. If you choose this approach, make sure that your goal is something that will motivate you to persevere and create a habit that lasts.

3. The Goal-Setting Approach

We just talked about setting goals, and that’s a large part of what habit formation really is. Your desire to create an exercise habit is, in and of itself, a goal. Whether you exercise for five minutes this week and ten the next or you start training for an epic trail race, both approaches require you to set goals. So let’s talk about goals for a bit.

Are you familiar with the concept of SMART goals? It’s an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

Some people thrive on this type of goal and, to be honest, regardless of your habit-formation personality, it’s a good idea to consider these elements of your exercise habit goals. Let’s take a look at each letter individually for a second.

Specific

What EXACTLY do you want to achieve? Do you want to lose 30 pounds, exercise for 30 minutes a day, or reach a deadlift PR of 200 pounds? Many people approach exercise habits like this: “I want to exercise every day,” or “I want to lose weight.” This approach doesn’t work. You have to figure out exactly what you want so that you can create a path to achieve it.

You have to be specific. So close your eyes and imagine your goal. What do you want your life to look like? What specific exercise habit do you want to create? Keep in mind that it might be a bit complicated, but it’s the details that make success achievable. “I want to strength train, do cardio, and some yoga,” could turn into “I want to strength train twice a week, do cardio three times a week, and yoga twice a week.” From there, you can build a plan and a habit.

Measurable

This is simple enough; how can you quantify your habit? Distance, time, and frequency are all measurable. Run for 30 minutes, ride your bike for 15 miles, row for 30 calories, exercise five days a week, etc.

Attainable

Your goal must be something that’s possible. For example, running a marathon tomorrow or losing 100 pounds next week are not attainable goals. Running a marathon in a few months or losing 100 pounds in a year are attainable – with a good habit and plan.

Relevant and Time-Bound

Relevant simply means that your goal must relate to the habit that you want to cultivate. And time-bound isn’t applicable to all goals. However, often if there’s a time limit then it makes it easier to create a plan. For example, “I want to run a marathon in six months,” or “I want to lose 60 pounds by January.” The time limit helps you focus on your habit.

So goals are a part of many successful habits, but they’re not the only element of success, especially when we’re talking about exercise habits, so let’s continue.

4. The Scheduling Approach

Sometimes creating a habit is as easy as putting it on your calendar. For some people, if they want to go to the gym every morning, then simply putting it on the calendar means it will happen. I know, for most that probably sounds too easy.

Yet there are some habit-forming personalities that work this way. If you put it on the calendar and make time for it, it will happen. It’s like adding it to the calendar means it’s a priority. You do it without thinking about it because it’s on your schedule.

Think about how you organize your life right now. Are you a scheduler? Do you live by your calendar? For example, Marie schedules everything. She schedules when she checks her email. She schedules household chores, lunch, work time, appointments, and yes, she schedules her exercise.

It works for her. It offers her the structure she needs. Each “Appointment” is tended to because it’s on her calendar. If this sounds like you, consider embracing this habit-forming approach.

5. The Accountability Approach

Accountability is a strong motivator for some. The word “accountable” means that you’re responsible for your actions. Of course, we’re all responsible for our actions and inaction, but for some it takes a little extra accountability to help create a habit.

For example, signing up for a gym membership is a form of accountability. The monthly payments and the expense can help hold you accountable. Some people tend to be motivated when they’re accountable to someone else. There are actually a few ways that you can leverage this to help you create an exercise habit.

Exercise Partner(s)

An exercise partner can help you feel accountable to them for your behavior.

For example, Joe and Cindy decide to be exercise partners. They agree to meet at the gym every morning at six.

Both Joe and Cindy show up morning after morning because they don’t want to let the other person down. They create a habit through accountability to one another.

Join a Team

When you join a team, for example a softball team, you’re now accountable to the team. Not only do you want to practice and improve your skills, you need to show up to practices and games and honor your commitment to the team. Additionally, a team often has their own practice schedule, which can help you stay accountable and create an exercise habit.

Be a Role Model

Do you have a child, sibling, or friend who needs a boost and a bit of motivation to exercise? There are some personalities that find it easier to create a habit if they are able to take on the status of a role model. You’re accountable to the person that you’re trying to help out.

For example, your child joins the track team and needs to practice on their own. You want to start your own running exercise habit. By being a role model to your child, you can join them on their practice runs and achieve your own exercise habit goals.

Accountability doesn’t work for everyone. However, it can be a significant motivator if it suits your habit-forming personality.

6. The Fun Approach

If it’s fun, then the habit is easy to create, right? Well, that actually does work quite well for some people. If you’re having fun, then it’s easy to make something a priority in your life. It’s easier to make it a habit.

For example, Julie loves to ice skate. She used to skate as a child, and when thinking about exercise the only time she ever remembered having any fun was when she was skating.

So she decided to try it again as an adult and guess what? Once she tied those laces and hit the ice, a passion was renewed. Now Julie heads to her local rink every morning for an hour of pleasure and exercise.

The problem is that when most people think about exercise, they don’t think that it’s fun. Exercise for many is something that they feel they’re supposed to do. It’s a chore, like taking your vitamins or eating your veggies. You may not love it, but you do it because you’re supposed to.

That’s not the way it has to be. Try looking back at what you used to enjoy. What did you love to do as a child? If nothing comes to mind, then look forward. What have you always wanted to try? What looks like it might be fun?

For example, boxing or rock climbing might look like something fun to try. What about ballroom dancing or fencing? Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean lacing up your running shoes and hitting the treadmill or elliptical for an hour. It can mean that if you want it to. There’s nothing wrong with that type of exercise. It’s great so long as you find enough satisfaction in it to overcome the resistance that chore-like activities often naturally throw at our motivation.

But learning to mambo or scaling an indoor rock wall is exercise, too. If you’re motivated by fun and want to add more excitement to your day, then consider looking for movements and activities that both work your body and bring a smile to your face. You may then find that the exercise habit is the easiest thing you’ve ever done for yourself.

7. The Reward Approach

We’ve talked about different types of motivation as the foundation for creating an exercise habit. You might be motivated by rewards. For example, “If I exercise every day for thirty minutes, I will buy myself a massage.”

The keys to making a reward-based exercise habit work are to make sure that:

A: You don’t just skip the habit and buy yourself the reward anyway.

B: The reward is actually motivating for you.

C: The exercise habit is one that you can realistically achieve. Just because you’re rewarding yourself doesn’t mean you have to create an exercise routine that’s nearly impossible to follow through on.

If you’re not sure if a reward-based exercise habit would work for you, start by imagining your day with a reward-based habit. What would you reward yourself with? It can be anything from a relaxing book and a bath at the end of the day if you exercise, to a vacation if you exercise five days a week for three months. Clothing, outings, and even a day off from work and responsibilities can be exciting and motivating rewards as well.

Once you’ve visualized the reward, what’s the habit that you’d like to cultivate? Remember to use a SMART goal process. Be specific and make it measurable. You have to know what you want to accomplish before you can reward yourself for the accomplishment, right?

If you start feeling excited and motivated when you begin visualizing your habit and your reward, this may be the exercise habit-building tactic that works for you.

8. The Event-Based Approach

The second tactic that we discussed was to dive in and choose a huge, seemingly impossible goal. Many of the examples for that tactic were based on events. Run a marathon, swim the English Channel, and so on. Event training can be quite motivating and a great way to support you in creating an exercise habit.

However, an event doesn’t have to be something monumental. You might train for a 5k run or a charity bike ride. You might train for a dance competition or to get your yellow belt in karate.

Training for an event is a motivator for many because it gives structure to their exercise habit. You have to create a plan – a daily plan – to follow through on so that you’re able to successfully participate in the event you’ve chosen.

If you’re competitive, then events work well because you will be motivated to win or to get a personal record. But you don’t have to be competitive to leverage this tactic to build your exercise habit. Participating in athletic events can be fun. There’s a different energy in the air during an event, and the community and camaraderie surrounding events is motivating and exciting.

If you think this tactic might work for you, consider looking ahead a few months. Try three to six months initially. Align potential events with what you’re interested in. Keep in mind that humans like to compete in just about every way possible.

If you swim, there will be swimming competitions. If you run, ride your bike, box, or dance there will be events to participate in. From roller derby to the Rumba, there are events that you can sign up and train for.

9. The Variety Approach

Sam lived her exercise life believing that a person had to pick one thing and focus on that one thing. She danced for years. When she was tired of dancing, she tried running. She ran for years. Then she tried cycling. Sam cycled through a number of different fitness routines.

She’d inevitably get bored and stop. She became a habitual quitter. Nothing really interested her long enough to stick with it. This meant that whenever she got motivated enough to try something new, she was always a beginner and she was always bored.

Eventually, Sam tried a cross-training program. She hoped that the variety would be enough to keep her interested. She was right. The combination of strength training, cardio, and gymnastics hooked her. She’s been exercising with the same program for four years and rarely misses a workout.

Variety, you see, can be the key to building an exercise habit. Some people prefer structure and routine. Others need variety to stay interested and engaged. If Sam’s story sounds familiar to you, or you feel like variety might be the key, consider finding or creating an exercise program that supports different daily activities.

You can find these types of programs streaming online. You can join a cross-training group or club. You can also hire a personal trainer or join a small group training program that provides you with the variety you crave.

You can even purchase your own equipment and follow a fitness blogger or the Crossfit.com blog to perform the workouts they’ve programmed. There are many opportunities for variety. Don’t let boredom get in the way of your exercise habit; embrace different activities each day.

10. The Ritual Approach

A ritual is a practice that helps you get in the exercise mindset. It supports you to create a consistent habit. For example, some athletes listen to a specific type of music or a particular song before they work out. Getting dressed in your fitness apparel can be part of a ritual.

Your ritual might be as straightforward as getting up, getting dressed, grabbing a water bottle, and heading out the door. A ritual or a routine integrates your new exercise habit right into it. It makes it part of a series of habits so that it’s easier to make it part of your life.

A ritual can also help you shift your focus away from “I don’t want to do this,” or “I’m too tired to exercise today.” Instead, you start preparing your mind and body to perform the exercise and not doing it isn’t even a thought.

11. Are You a Beginner or a Finisher?

Some people love starting things. They get tremendous joy in the process of taking a great idea and beginning the process. Others love the process of finishing. When something is done, they feel satisfaction.

This can be an important part of your exercise habit formation. For example, if you know that you love starting something, then it will help you be more aware of the middle stages of your habit process. You know that you’ll need to find a method to stay excited and motivated about your exercise habit.

And if you know you love finishing things, then you know that you’ll have to make the initial stages of your exercise habit exciting and interesting. Simply knowing this about your personality can help you choose the right path to creating an exercise habit that you can follow through on.

12. What to Do When the Habit Isn’t Sticking

Creating a habit isn’t always easy. Even if you have a strong desire to create an exercise habit, if you don’t approach it with your personality and motivations in mind, it can be quite difficult.

And let’s be completely up front and say that sometimes even if you think you have a handle on creating a strong exercise habit, it still might not work out. That’s okay. There are some steps you can take to figure it out and move forward.

  • Ask yourself why. Why aren’t you able to follow through and create the habit that you want to create? For example, maybe you thought that training for a marathon was going to be the motivator that finally got you out the door and running every day. You found a marathon training plan and started following the program. Maybe one day you got too busy to run or you got hurt or sick. One day off turns into two and then suddenly you’re a few weeks behind in the plan. What happened? Maybe the marathon training motivator wasn’t the right plan. Maybe the timing just didn’t work out. Or maybe nothing happened and you’re being too hard on yourself and can pick back up where you left off and continue moving forward with your exercise habit.
  • Assess what does work. Examine habits that you’ve been able to make work. What do they have in common? Why do they work for you when other types of habits don’t? For example, maybe you have an excellent habit of putting things away where they belong right after you use them, but you can’t create an exercise habit.Maybe the reason you can put things away is because that habit is simple. Perhaps your exercise habit is overcomplicated. Look for links in your successes because they can tell you a lot about how to succeed with other desirable habits.
  • Try something different. If what you tried isn’t working, try something different. Maybe you’ve always tried to train for events and that never works. Instead, why not give variety a try or do something that’s fun?

The first step is often the most important but it isn’t something to ponder on for weeks on end. Make a choice. Decide what you want to do and get started. Create a plan and follow through. Also consider that your approach may be a combination of tactics covered here. For example, maybe you train for an event but you train for it in small steps. Maybe you set a huge goal but you work toward that goal with a group of friends. Creating an exercise habit may not be simple, but it’s worth the time and attention. Find what works for you and stick to it.

Increasing Your Feelings of Self-Worth

Do You Know Your Self-Worth?

Do you have good self-esteem?

You might not even be aware of it, but it is possible you are suffering from low self-esteem.

Maybe you think you feel good about yourself but find certain patterns keep playing out in your life that you wish you could change but you just don’t seem to be able to do anything about them, no matter how hard you try?

Perhaps you always seem to “attract” the wrong partners?

Maybe everything that happens to you is someone else’s fault?

Perhaps you always seem to have problems with authority figures? Maybe you have a successful career but suck at relationships?

Maybe you keep yourself small and never really reach your potential? Or possibly you have anger issues?

Perhaps you are afraid of socializing, and so you rarely go out?

Do you not like yourself? Are you self-critical? Do you not believe you deserve good things?

Do you always put others first before yourself?

Are you uncomfortable being assertive for your own needs?

There are many possible scenarios that could be happening, and, according to counseling psychologist Elizabeth Morelle, they all have one thing in common: The underlying reason is the lack of self-worth that that person feels, on a deep, subconscious level.

It is an almost universal human belief, at least as far as western culture goes, that on some level, each one of us believes, “I am not good enough” or “I’m unworthy” or “If that person gets close to me they will leave because they will discover what an undeserving human being I am.” And so on, and so on.

Origins of Low Self-Worth

These beliefs get “programmed” into us at a young age. Each one of us sees the world through our own unique lens; you could say we all have our own unique color that we view the world through. No two people see the world in exactly the same way. Our colored lens gets tinted by all our early childhood experiences.

These go into making up our mindset: the thoughts and beliefs we have about life, the world, our place in the world, and our relationship to ourselves and other people. We can pick up beliefs about being hurt, wounded, or rejected, even if that wasn’t the intention of the “perpetrator.” This is an important point which pivots around the way we view the world.

You can only feel hurt, wounded, or rejected if you are taking something personally.

Don Miguel Ruiz writes about ancient Toltec wisdom in his book, “The Four Agreements.” These four agreements – Be impeccable with your word, Don’t take anything personally, Don’t make assumptions, and Always do your best – when put into consistent practice, can radically shift your perspective, the way you view the world, and your opinion of yourself.

Not taking things personally is particularly pertinent when considering how to go about changing your internal script so you no longer suffer from low self-esteem.

How to Change Your Internal Scripts

There are many ways you can work at changing your internal belief programs, or your internal scripts. These are the subconscious beliefs you picked up in childhood that you have bought into as “the truth.” But the “truth” is that they are not really truths, just beliefs, and just thoughts.

Beliefs and thoughts are not infallible truths. They are not facts. It is entirely possible to change your beliefs, to change your thoughts, and create a different outcome as a result. Thoughts and beliefs are what generate our emotions.

And our thoughts and beliefs are entirely based on how we choose to perceive the world. It is not what happens to us, but how we choose to respond to what happens to us that causes us to experience our reality as we do.

Once you can identify a limiting belief, it then becomes easy to let go of that belief and replace it with something that serves you in a healthier and more positive, more empowering, and productive way.

Sometimes it is tricky to identify the thought or belief, because it is buried under a sea of emotion. But once you identify that thought, it is easy to let it go.

By telling the subconscious you are willing to let it go, the subconscious will obey and oblige you by letting go of the thought that has been running one of your more undesirable patterns for so much of your life.

You then have an opportunity to replace it with a new, inspiring, more empowering, and uplifting thought. You can literally re-train your brain.

By retraining your brain, you can change the ways you respond to life. And so, your life will also change.

Three Ways to Reprogram Your Subconscious Mind

Counseling psychologist Elizabeth Morelle discusses three ways to reprogram your subconscious mind and retrain your brain, so you can increase your sense of self worth:

Don’t Take Anything Personally

Following the logic of Don Miguel Ruiz and the Four Agreements, nothing in life is ever about you. Because everybody views life through their own individually tinted lens or perspective, no one’s experience is about anyone else other than themselves! Let me explain this another way: Because our thoughts and beliefs that program our subconscious mind are built out of our interpretation of our early childhood experiences, we then go on to respond to the world in a way that is driven by these thoughts and beliefs.

Everything we see is seen through the lens of this belief system.

Therefore, we are not seeing the ultimate truth. And it is the same for everyone else too. Everything they see, in us, or in other people, is a projection of their own set of thoughts and beliefs about themselves.

Here is an example: A small child you dropped crumbs on the floor. Your mother scolded you and you learned from this, and other, similar, experiences, that you were a bad person who could never do anything right! That belief was born out of your interpretation of events. That belief subsequently underwrote everything you ever did.

It affected the way you acted in the world. It modified what you would and wouldn’t do. Ultimately, it made you feel unworthy!

But your mother did not, in fact, believe you were a bad person; she had a great need for orderliness at that time, because she felt so stressed, tired, and lonely raising three small children.

She over-reacted and scolded you because she had had so many sleepless nights and never got a break. Having a clean house gave her a sense of control at a time in her life when she was experiencing a lot of chaos and challenge.

It was never about you! Her reaction to you dropping crumbs was about her, not you! This rationale extends to all interactions with all people; when something good happens, it is ultimately never about you; when something bad happens, it is never about you.

When somebody loves you, it is not about you; when somebody hates you, it is not about you! This is why, when you can really understand this concept, you never have to take anything personally ever again!

This will liberate you from the chains of feeling hurt, wounded, and rejected, and allow you to feel more loving towards yourself, because the stories you formed, when you believed it was “your fault,” just will not be happening. Never taking anything personally will help liberate you from the bonds of feeling unworthy.

Thought Changing

This leads on to the concept of thought changing. Although you now know that nothing anyone ever did to you or said to you or about you, was actually about you, it is still very likely that you have some subconscious beliefs that you are not worthy or deserving in some way.

The subconscious, having been programmed to act as if these beliefs are “true,” will do so. However, once you can identify those beliefs and tell the subconscious that you are “willing to let them go,” the subconscious will oblige.

You then have a wonderful opportunity to replace the old beliefs with something new, something empowering, positive, uplifting, and inspiring.

How to Get Started with Thought Changing

  • First, identify your limiting belief. You may need to keep a thought journal for a week. Carry it around with you, and every time you notice you are thinking something negative, write it down. At then end of the week, look at the most common unhelpful thoughts you have been having. Let’s imagine your most common, limiting belief is, “I look terrible.”
  • Now ask yourself, “What feelings and sensations do I notice in my body when I believe this thought?” Write down everything you notice. Maybe you notice your jaw clenches or your brow furrows; perhaps your lips purse and you feel a knot in your stomach. Perhaps your legs feel heavy and your hands are trembly. These are the bodily sensations you notice when you think and believe this thought. The feelings might be something like this: When you believe that you look terrible, you feel disheartened, disappointed with yourself, sad, depressed, miserable, insecure, afraid, and timid.
  • Think about any other thoughts that arise when you believe in this thought. Perhaps you start thinking “I feel like hiding away where no one can see me,” or “No one will ever love me,” or “I’m not good enough.”
  • Stick with the first thought as you go through this process. Then you can address the others one by one. (However, you may find they all lose their charge after you go through the process with the first thought). Now that you have identified the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that you experience when you believe this thought, ask yourself, “Is this belief 100% true?” Ideally you will see that it is not 100% true.
  • Ask yourself: “Is there one, good, positive reason to continue believing in this thought when it is not even 100% true and it makes me feel (depressed, etc.)?” If you cannot think of a positive reason to continue believing in this thought, then ask yourself’ “Am I willing to let go of this belief right now?” If you answer yes, then continue:
  • Ask yourself, “What new, more empowering thought can I replace the old belief with?” Maybe for this scenario you can replace it with “I am acceptable exactly the way I am, in this moment, and I love myself unconditionally.” You choose whatever new, positive belief makes you feel enlightened, uplifted, or inspired.
  • That is all you have to do. You have now reprogrammed your subconscious!

If you are not willing to let go of a particular belief, don’t worry. All this signifies is that you hold another, more powerful, belief underneath it.

Explore, identify, and then work through the process with the newly identified belief. Then you will find both beliefs easy to let go of.

Tapping

Tapping is also known as Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT. It was developed by Gary Craig and uses the Chinese meridian system. Tapping on a certain sequence of meridians appears to release the energetic blockages associated with the limiting beliefs.

No one really knows how or why this works, but many people swear that it does! If nothing else, it acts to interrupt the unhelpful thought and distract you from thinking about it.

Here’s how to do tapping, specifically to increase your self-esteem:

  • Let’s say the belief you want to change is, “I don’t deserve love.”
  • Rate the intensity of the belief, in terms of how badly it is making you feel, on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is you are not actually having the thought, and 10 is, the thought is affecting you severely. Let’s say you rate yourself as an 8 at the start of the exercise.
  • Use your left hand to “karate chop” the outside edge of your right hand, whilst saying’ “Even though I believe I don’t deserve love, I unconditionally love and accept myself.”
  • Now, you are going to tap various points in a set sequence, using a “reminder.” In this scenario, your reminder could be, “Don’t deserve love.”
  • Tap the top of your head, while saying the words, “Don’t deserve love.” You only need to tap three or four times.
  • Tap the inside corner of one eyebrow, while saying the reminder phrase (in this case, that is, “Don’t deserve love”).
  • Repeat the reminder phrase, while tapping outside of the eye, on the same side.
  • Repeat the reminder phrase while tapping under the mid-point of the eye on the same side.
  • Repeat the reminder phrase while tapping on the fulcrum, that is, the point below the nose and above the upper lip.
  • Repeat the reminder phrase and tap the middle of the chin.
  • Repeat the reminder phrase and tap the point just under the inside edge of the clavicle bone, where it meets the sternum.
  • Finally, on the same side, tap about four inches under the armpit, in the midline of your side ribs (on women, this is the bra strap area). Repeat the reminder phrase as you do this.
  • Now, rate yourself again. Has the rating gone down? Frequently you will find it goes down by one or two points. You can then repeat the exercise and rate yourself again. It will often keep going down. You can repeat the exercise until you have got the rating down to one or even zero. At this point the thought will no longer be “running the show.”

Other stories you might wish to change with tapping, in order to increase your self worth, could be:

“Even though I am afraid to be myself, I unconditionally love and accept myself”

 “Even though I fear rejection, I unconditionally love and accept myself”

“Even though I feel like other people are better than me, I unconditionally love and accept myself.”

You get the idea?

Writing Your New Story

Whichever approach you use, or perhaps you decide to use all of them, using positive internal scripts to replace old, limiting beliefs, is part of the key to success in any area of life.

Here are some positive phrases you might use to replace the old scripts with:

  • I love and accept myself exactly as I am
  • I am perfectly lovable
  • I deserve to enjoy my life
  • I deserve love and affection
  • I am worthy of financial sufficiency
  • I am worthy to receive respect
  • I have skills and talents worth sharing
  • I am not at the mercy of everything that happens to me
  • I can make a difference in my own life and others’

According to scientific studies, it takes 21 days to establish a new habit. Therefore, it is a good idea to practice your new scripts for at least that long before you pass judgment on a result.

Final Thoughts

It is possible to change deeply held beliefs of unworthiness. Most of us humans have this belief on some level. You can improve your self-esteem, your self-image, your feelings of deservingness and worthiness, and your confidence, by taking steps to “rewrite” your internal scripts. There are many ways to do this. Three of those ways are thought changing, not taking anything personally, and tapping.

Understanding nothing is ever personal can help you avoid taking on others’ projections: This can help you not experience feelings of sadness, hurt, or self-blame, when someone puts you down, says unkind or hurtful things, or acts in other abusive ways towards you.

You know on a deep level that they are acting out scenes from their own internal scripts, beliefs, and experiences; as we all do this, their behavior has nothing to do with you! This understanding helps you to become immune to what others think about you. In fact, as Don Miguel Ruiz points out, what others think of you is none of your business.

Thought changing, based on cognitive behavioral therapy, is an effective way to change your subconscious limiting beliefs about yourself. Through a simple process which includes identifying the belief and its associated emotions and bodily sensations, you can let go of the belief once you realize that it is not really true, and that it is not serving you.

Once you declare that you are willing to let it go, your subconscious mind obliges you, and you than have the opportunity to replace it with a new, more empowering belief.

Tapping is a process which seems to interrupt the unhealthy thought patterns by tapping on a sequence of pressure points taken from the Chinese meridian system.

There are plenty of studies which show this system is effective in getting rid of negative emotions which keep you stuck in old patterns of behavior. It trains you to love and unconditionally accept yourself, even though you may be experiencing negative emotions. This acceptance makes room for the negative emotion to shift to something more positive. Therefore, tapping is an excellent choice for improving your self-esteem.

It is possible to build your self-worth by rewriting your internal scripts; however, it does take a certain amount of commitment and dedication to the process. Deeply held beliefs are like dandelion roots: the smaller, younger roots can be dug out quite easily, but the older, bigger roots that go down really deep are very hard to pull out all in one go.

Sometimes you must dig really deep and try more than once to get to the real “root” cause of low self-esteem.

So, don’t give up!

And sometimes it is helpful to get the support of a trained professional who can help you identify and release the beliefs that you may not be able to identify on your own.

Reaching out for support is a sign of strength and resilience and can really help you shift your mindset at a very deep level.

You know you deserve it!

Stay well and take care of you!

Becoming Proactive

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.
– Stephen Covey

You may be familiar with the essential life skill of being proactive from the work of Stephen Covey, famous for his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. There is a good reason this life skill is still touted as necessary, because being proactive is a fundamental step in creating the life you really want.

When you learn to take control of your own life, to become proactive versus reactive, you are in control of your destiny. Being proactive means you approach life with an “I can” attitude, and learning how to reframe your thinking in this way can have substantial benefits to you in all areas of your life.

When your focus is on reaction, it can often feel like life is just something that happens to you rather than anything over which you have control. Learning how to act instead of blaming external circumstances gives you back the power you need over your life.

Life will be full of lots of unexpected events. Some will be little, like unexpected household maintenance, and others will be more significant, like the loss of a loved one or the end of an important job. When it comes to who you are, how you handle these says a lot about whether you are a proactive or reactive person.

Traits Of Proactive People

  • They don’t have a victim mindset
  • They believe they can be the creators of their lives
  • They act
  • They determine their own fates
  • They consider themselves products of their decisions and not the products of their life circumstances
  • They own their decisions and they take responsibility for the consequences of them

The Benefits Of Learning To Be Proactive

When you take control of your life by learning to be proactive, you will see many benefits for yourself personally and professionally. Being proactive extends to all aspects of your life, and when you cultivate this mindset, you can start working toward achieving any dream to which you set your mind.

Here are just a few of the many benefits you can expect when you are dedicated to having a proactive stance in life.

You Can Make Better Decisions

When you face problems in a reactionary stance, you are usually left with minimal options or resources and are forced to decide quickly. Without the proper information, consideration, and resources, you are not making the best possible choice.

When decisions are made without all the possible information, the potential for problems grows. Being proactive means saying goodbye to being frantic, unorganized, or unprepared. It means knowing what you are capable of and what you are prepared to handle, which will help you make the best choices for yourself, both now and in the future.

You Get To Choose

By being proactive, you give yourself choices for dealing with life’s circumstances and obstacle. When you have options, you can select the best one that helps you the most. Taking steps toward changing your life is not easy, but being proactive means you see every moment, every experience as a choice toward getting you where you want to go.

Stop believing that external circumstances are controlling your life and start choosing to control your fate. When you are proactive, every situation is a chance to choose your actions, your emotions, and your next steps.

You Stop Fearing Change

Change is scary when your world is full of reactions. Failure can paralyze you from making choices when you live a reactionary life. When you learn to think proactively, you make decisions in all situations, good and bad, that allow you to cope with change and setbacks.

You have a plan for how to handle unexpected events, and you focus your valuable energy where it makes a difference in helping you attain your goals. When changes happen, you understand what you can and cannot change, and you still move forward.

You Can Be Prepared For Anything

When you think proactively, you develop backups that can help you through unforeseen circumstances. Developing a rainy-day fund, creating a robust social network on which you can rely in a pinch, and learning to adapt to new situations are all backup plans that can help in specific scenarios.

You will not have all these strategies in the beginning, but each unique situation in life enables you to develop an ever-expanding toolbox to use in case of just about anything. But it is only when you approach each of life’s stumbles as an opportunity to learn how to be more proactive that you will be able to do this.

When you are proactive, problems become easier to navigate because you have choices. When something is significant to you, such as a long-term goal, you can think through possible issues and make a plan for these contingencies, so your life and dreams do not become derailed. Being proactive teaches you to be flexible in your thinking as you consider all the things that could happen and how you will be prepared to deal with each.

Because you have taken the time to review all these possibilities ahead of time, you can be more relaxed and confident in working toward your goals, because you know you have a plan if things go wrong.

You Can Create Change For Others

When you become proactive, you see how external circumstances can play a role in your life but that you still have the power to create change for yourself. When you identify this within yourself, you also see how this skill can help others.

When you learn to think proactively, you develop a keen awareness of how important strategic action is in creating change, and you can use this power to not only help yourself but help others, as well.

Additional Benefits Of Being Proactive

Being proactive comes with a lot of additional benefits that can help you in your life. Here are just a few of the ways learning to think proactively can help you achieve your goals.

  • You can save money. When unexpected problems arise, you are prepared and know how to handle it, finding the best solution possible, not just the one to which you reacted.
  • You work smarter. Being reactive means you spend a lot of time dealing with problems unexpectedly, but when you are proactive, you have a plan in place, you implement that plan when things go wrong, and you move on. You don’t spend your time putting out fires or responding to problems.
  • You stop small problems from becoming big problems. Being proactive means you deal with things when they start to be an issue. Waiting until a problem is full-blown is a recipe for disaster. Being proactive also means you know your own limitations and choose not to expose yourself to certain situations or risks, which prevents possible problems, as well.
  • You develop better solutions. Thinking proactively over time allows you to consider multiple outcomes and possible solutions. You are rewiring your brain to think differently and being proactive means you learn to be creative in how you approach situations to consider all possible outcomes.
  • You can see the future more clearly. When you are proactive, your stance is forward-thinking. You dwell in the present and prepare for the future, never looking back. This can help you be clear about the long-term goals you wish to accomplish and how to more successfully reach them.
  • You see when change is needed. Planning for the future means you can recognize when circumstances now are not optimal for where you want to be. Being proactive means recognizing when change now can lead to where you want to be later, and you are prepared to make those changes.
  • You have a clear path ahead. When you are reactive and always responding to life, you often wander and may not end up where you intended. Being proactive means you know where you want to be, and your current path is firmly headed in that direction. You have a plan, and you are working toward achieving your goals.
  • Your comfort zone expands. A proactive stance means you are prepared for whatever is ahead, even when what’s ahead is outside of your comfort zone. If your goal is important, you are willing to step outside your zone to reach it because you understand the importance it has in your life. And you know you are prepared to deal with whatever is new and different, because you have developed your tools for dealing with unexpected circumstances.
  • You improve your own habits. When contemplating the possibilities for the future, you may realize your own personal habits are not optimal for handling setbacks or helping you reach your goals. Being proactive helps you see how your own health and well-being are a part of your toolset for adaptation and forward growth, and you can work toward developing those, as well.
  • You become more flexible. When you have a stance of being proactive, you become able to adapt to many new situations because you are always prepared. Your proactive strategies allow you to be prepared to move when the opportunity is best, and you can make decisions based on all the possible information, allowing you to strike when the situation is optimal.
  • You have more peace of mind. When you feel prepared and capable of handling life’s setbacks and outcomes, you worry less. You know where you want to go and how you plan to get there, and you have the confidence that you will be able to deal with whatever happens along your journey.

It’s hard to imagine why anyone would choose, then, to live a reactive life over one that is proactive. The question then becomes, how do I develop this essential life skill? You can retrain your brain to think proactively using a number of strategies. These help you develop the knowledge, skills, and mindset you need to live a proactive life.

Learning To Be Proactive

Learning to be proactive is indeed a skill you can learn. Shifting your mindset, practicing new skills, and making different choices will give you the confidence and skills you need to be more proactive in your life. While you may still occasionally revert to a reactive mindset, you can learn how to notice this pattern of thinking as well as what to do to change your perspective to one that is more proactive.

The following are suggested strategies to use when learning to be proactive. They are in no particular order and should be used as they work best in your situation and circumstances. There are many to choose from, so try several.

Focus On The Solution

If your mind is focused on the negative feelings you have about a potential outcome instead of solutions, you can never think proactively. You need to shift your focus from how you feel about the situation to possible solutions. Release the feelings of blame, hurt, or mistrust you have. These emotions are not allowing you to think clearly, nor are they solving the problem. In fact, they are probably making it worse.

Focus on what you can control and what you can learn. We all face obstacles in life, and this is not personal. Focus on what you need to do and the ways in which you can accomplish your goals and let go of the negative energy and emotions associated with the event. Move forward with clarity.

Be Consistent

When you develop behaviors and words that are consistent with your beliefs and values, and you practice those regularly, you can start to rely on yourself. Others will depend on you more, as well. When you are consistent, you are more productive, which saves you time and money.

You will develop trust in yourself when your actions consistently deliver positive results, giving you the confidence to push forward and take more significant risks. Being consistent means you can set realistic deadlines and can commit to things that you feel confident you will be able to achieve.

Being consistent also means you are making forward progress regularly. You are taking actions every day or week to move you toward your goal. When something gets in your way, you develop an action plan to remove or circumvent the obstacle, and you continue forward.

Realizing your dreams isn’t about just waking up one day to a new life. It’s about the small, minute steps you take each day that bring you closer to the result you want.

Be Self-Reliant

When you are proactive, you understand that you may not be able to always rely on someone else to help you solve your problem. While your loved ones will always support you in achieving your dreams, they can’t make those dreams happen for you.

Only you can achieve your goals. When you shift your mindset to one of self-reliance, you take life into your own hands and become responsible for your success.

The best way to achieve something is to set to work on it yourself. While you still may need help and support along the way, it is your hard work and planning that is guiding your forward momentum. Luck and good fortune are not going to save you. Only your strength and determination matter. Wanting something is not the same as working to achieve it, and only you have the power to make your dreams a reality. You must work hard to achieve what you want in life.

You must not only take ownership of your goals and actions, but also your problems. No one else can solve these for you, and while family and friends can be a support system for you while you work hard to move forward, they cannot solve anything for you. It is up to you.

Hold Yourself Accountable

When you are proactive, you hold yourself accountable for doing what needs to be done. When you set a goal, know how you will measure if you have attained it. What is the consequence for not doing what you said you were going to do? Make sure you are true to yourself, or you can be sure your dreams will be much harder to attain.

Think Through The Plan In Advance

Before acting, always consider the consequences your actions might bring. Actions that are well-planned are less likely to have negative consequences than spontaneous decisions. Work on developing your analytical skills and consider how each possible decision could unfold for you and others in the future. Speed is not always the best option in making quality decisions, especially when there is a lot at stake. Take your time, slow down, and consider all the outcomes.

Learning to predict possible outcomes is not always easy and getting input from others can be helpful if your analytical skills are not strong. Instead of thinking too far ahead, consider how smaller action steps could be more manageable for you. Minor shifts are easier to recover from than major changes, and you can always go back and try again if you have not committed to anything too substantial.

Even with the best analysis, plans can go wrong, so consider how you will deal with a full failure, as well. While none of us wants that to be the result of anything we want in life, having a plan for failure means you will know how to move forward if it occurs.

Be Realistic

When you are proactive, you still dream about the future, but when you set goals, you make sure they are realistic and attainable. Without the ability to act, dreams can become unrealized. Instead of focusing on the large end goal, determine smaller steps that will get you closer to achieving that dream. Select realistic goals that are contributing to your overall dream but are manageable in the present.

When you set goals you cannot realize, it becomes psychologically damaging and can thwart your forward progress in all areas of your life. When you set goals you can achieve, you gain confidence in your abilities and continue to develop proactive tools and strategies that will benefit you in the long run. Achieving small, realistic goals is the key to realizing larger dreams in life.

Be An Active Participant

Instead of waiting for others to solve your problems or for life to work out as you want, you need to become an active participant in what is happening in your life. When others are offering suggestions or solutions, be sure to include your own.

Being proactive means you are never indifferent to the consequences of your choices or assume that things will work out. Being an active participant at work can help you achieve your professional goals and being an active participant at home shows others you are invested in their happiness as well as your own.

Work On SMART Goals

Another way to consider goals is to craft aims that are SMART. This acronym helps you create better goals that are sure to move you forward in your journey.

SMART stands for

  • Specific – Broad categories are too nebulous. Make sure your goals are particular.
  • Measurable – How will you know you’ve achieved it? What’s the metric for success?
  • Attainable – Setting goals too far out of your current reach is just setting yourself up for failure.
  • Realistic – Make sure it’s something that is achievable at this point in your life.
  • Timely – How long will it take for you to reach this goal? What’s your timeframe?

Don’t Wait for Luck to Happen

Anyone who sits around and waits for good fortune to come their way is not being proactive in their life. Just wishing for success is not enough. You have to work at making things happen, putting yourself in the right circumstances, placing yourself in the path of good fortune.

By setting goals, making a plan, and tracking your progress, you don’t need luck because you are already creating your success story. Making your own breaks will get you much further in life than waiting for good luck to smile upon you.

Connect with the Right People

When you surround yourself with proactive people who are driven and effective at what they do, you are more likely to succeed yourself. When you surround yourselves with negativity, this too can rub off on you. If you want to achieve your daily goals, surround yourself with people who are also focused on theirs. You can learn new things from their mentorship and friendship, and being around successful people is motivating.

Be Honest

To be proactive, you must have a clear picture of what is happening. That includes all the positive and negative aspects of yourself. Be honest about your strengths and where you need to improve. Otherwise, you’re just creating more problems for yourself.

If you are continually working but never progressing forward, maybe it’s time for an honest look at your skills or knowledge. You are doing a disservice to yourself if you continue to spin your wheels.

Enjoy The Rewards Of Being Proactive

Being proactive means being aggressive about getting what you want. It means being assertive about your needs and how they are essential. It means taking the initiative to enact the change you need in your life to achieve your goals. While being proactive is a skill you can learn, it is also a mindset that you must embody if you truly want to reap the rewards of a proactive lifestyle.

Some situations in life are tough, and you may find yourself slipping back into reactive habits from time to time. That’s to be expected, and you shouldn’t give up on becoming more proactive just because you have a bad day or rush into a bad decision.

Here are a few tips you can use to help you remember to stay proactive instead of reverting to reactive responses. When you are upset, take a deep breath and count to ten. This reduces the likelihood of making the situation worse and gives you time to consider your options.

  • Presume positive intentions. When someone does or says something with which you disagree, don’t automatically assume the worst about them. Presume they are looking for solutions, too, and go from there.
  • If you are feeling pressured to decide something, just say, “I’ll think about it.” This is often enough to remove the pressure and give you the time you need to consider your choices.
  • Working on lowering stress and managing your response to stress in various situations can be helpful to turning off your reactionary responses. Take up yoga, learn to meditate, or go for a walk outside.
  • Avoid getting stuck in a negative self-talk spiral by switching to more constructive activities.
  • When you are in doubt about your best options, ask for feedback from someone you trust or talk with loved ones who have a vested interest. You aren’t alone in your decision making.
  • When a setback or failure really gets you down, ask yourself what you learned from the situation. Think about what is important now that it is over and consider how you will use this knowledge in the future.

Becoming proactive is an important step toward taking control of your life and achieving your dreams. It gives you the confidence and skills you need to tackle any obstacle and helps ensure you are on the path to success in all areas of your life.

Five-Step Plan to Finding Profitable Niches

 

The Internet is full of blogs and websites that started out well but then fizzled out over time. In many cases,it happens because the business owner didn’t take the time required to research their intended niche carefully to determine whether or not it was a sustainably paying one. They didn’t do the research on who their ideal customers or main competitors would be before jumping in completely.

These days, anyone can start an online business with just an idea, a few dollars, and a website. However, not everyone who starts a business will be able to stay in business unless they have discovered a profitable niche that has a large paying market that will cover their time and expenses every month.

There is nothing worse than wasting your time and effort chasing a niche market that looks promising but proves to be unprofitable.

The following five steps will help you to discover whether the niche you want to work in is a paying one before you even try to register what seems like a great new domain name or launch a blog.

If you’ve been thinking about starting a new online business but have yet to do your research on the market, use the following action steps to ensure that you know your niche thoroughly, so you can avoid wasting your time and money where it’s not likely to be profitable.

 

Step One: Identify Your Passions and Interests

If you haven’t already identified your interests and what you are passionate about, this is where you will want to start. Being in business for yourself is anything but easy, and at some point you are going to be tested.

If you own a business that you don’t care about, the chances increase substantially that you’ll quit when the going gets tough. This is especially true if you are a first-time business owner.

This doesn’t mean that you need to find the perfect fit. You just need to be passionate about some aspect of running the business.

Having even a single aspect of the business that you are passionate about will increase the odds that you’ll stick with it when you face challenges. If you don’t care about what you’re doing, your motivation will be hard to sustain.

Take some time to write down five to ten areas that you are passionate about or that you have a topical interest in. If you are having trouble doing this, here are a few prompts to help you figure some out.

  • What do you like to do in your free time? What activities do you look forward to participating in when you’re not doing it?
  • What kinds of magazines do you subscribe to? Are there any topics that you like to learn about?
  • What clubs and organizations do you participate in?

 

Step Two: Identify Problems You Can Solve

Once you’ve identified some things you are passionate about, you can start narrowing down your options. If you want to create a profitable business, you need to find problems that your target audience is experiencing that you have some relevant knowledge, expertise, or experience that can help solve them.

If you aren’t sure how to figure this out, here are several things that you can do to help you identify problems in specific niches.

  • Work with members of your target audience to get their input. Have one-on-one conversations with members of your target audience and ask specific questions that will help you to uncover specific pain points.
  • Look at online forums. Get online and look for forums that are related to the niches that you are considering. Search through the discussions that are taking place. Try to determine common questions that members are asking and what problems they are having.
  • Conduct keyword research. Use the Google Trends and Google AdWords tools to explore a variety of different keyword combinations. Doing this can help you identify specific search terms that are related to pain points that your target audience may be experiencing.

 

Step Three: Research Your Competition

Having competition isn’t always a bad thing. If you find that the niche you are looking at has some competition, it may mean that you’ve found a niche that will be profitable.

However, you need to thoroughly analyze the competing sites to see if there is a place in the niche for another business. To start with, you’ll want to create a new spreadsheet and log all of the competing websites that you can find.

Next, you’ll want to analyze each site to figure out where there might be an opportunity for you to stand out from the rest of the crowd to build a profitable business. You need to determine whether or not you can still rank on Google with the keywords you’ve chosen.

Figure out how you can differentiate yourself from the rest of the crowd and create a unique offer. Here are several different ways that you can enter a niche market and still find success even if there are already a number of sites that are serving the market.

  • You can easily outrank your competition if their sites contain low-quality content. If other business owners aren’t creating high-quality content that serves the target audience, you still have a chance to build a successful business in that niche.
  • Many sites have a lack of transparency. Many new business owners have been able to completely disrupt entire industries by creating a transparent and authentic presence in a market where other sites are considered faceless and overly corporate.
  • If you’ve discovered a keyword that has a relatively high volume of searches but little paid advertising or competition, there is an opportunity for a new business owner to upset the market. The lack of paid competition can create tremendous opportunity.

Step Four: Determine the Profitability of Your Niche

By now, you should have a good idea about which niche you would like to get into. While you may not have completely narrowed down your list to a single topic, you’ve likely found a couple of ideas that you feel pretty good about.

Now you will need to try and get an idea of how much you can potentially make in the niche. A great place to start your search is Clickbank. Clickbank is a market platform for vendors to sell their digital products. It is one of the largest affiliate-marketing networks for digital products like software, ebooks, and membership sites.

You can use the site to browse the top products in your category. If you are unable to find any offers in a particular niche, it isn’t a good sign. It could be a sign that no one has been able to monetize the niche. You want to find categories that turn up a decent number of products, but not an overabundance of them.

During your research, make notes of price points so you can know how you need to price your own products in order to stay competitive.

You’ll also want to keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to have a product offering of your own to start your business. You can partner with another product’s creator, advertisers, and site owners in your niche to start making commissions by selling their products while you work on developing your own reputation and unique solutions.

 

Step Five: Test Your Idea

Now that you are armed with the information you need to choose a niche, the only thing left for you to do is test your idea.

One easy way to do this is to create a landing page for the pre-sales of the product you are developing. Then you can use different advertising and marketing methods to drive traffic to your landing page.

If you don’t get enough pre-sales, don’t become discouraged yet. You may still be in a viable niche, but either your message isn’t quite right or you haven’t found the right offer. This is where you start to hammer out the specifics of what your audience is able and willing to buy to reduce the lag time for revenue to start coming in when you finally open up shop.

You should begin to leverage A/B split testing so you can optimize your conversions and determine whether or not there is anything stopping your target audience from taking action and buying your products.

 

Conclusion

Once you’ve determined that the niche you’ve chosen and the product you’re offering is viable, you’ll want to begin to develop a fully functioning website. You’ll want to include a blog on the site to begin establishing your reputation and generate more traffic to boost your revenue.

Keep in mind as you go along that there isn’t necessarily a perfect process for finding the perfect niche. You’ll need to do your homework and then conscientiously move forward.

Good research is a critical component of developing a sustainable business, but don’t let yourself get stuck in the planning phase or you’ll never get around to starting and won’t find yourself on the path to success.

As an entrepreneur, simply having a great idea isn’t enough. You have to learn how to become a good starter if you want to be successful.

Healthy Ways to Communicate Your Emotions

 

Communicating emotions can be a tricky thing. Rarely do we want to come off as being too emotional, but we also do not want to miss the opportunity to communicate what it is we are feeling effectively. Hiding our feelings is not an option in most instances. They are always there. Some are alive and well, right there on the surface and others are nicely hidden, barely detectable to the outside world.

Many of us know the rules of communication. We give credence to the importance of being mindful of our tones, maintaining eye contact, use of simple words, staying focused, summarization, and so many other techniques. What so many people struggle with is how to utilize these skills when emotions are involved at the forefront.

 

Emotional Awareness

Emotions play a vital role in how well we communicate with others. When you have a healthy connection with your internal feelings, it improves your capacity to engage and interact with others in a manner that is more effective, authentic, and persuasive.

Unfortunately, our past experiences can have a detrimental effect on how well we can sync up with our emotions and deploy them in a manner that is constructive. Emotional awareness and the practice of being mindful can enhance the process of communication as can our past experiences.

How Aware Are You of Your Emotions?

You may be familiar with the meaning of self-awareness or the art of being mindful, but what about emotional awareness? What does emotional awareness mean to you? Emotional awareness challenges us to have a unique sense of our emotions in each moment. We can identify specific events that may trigger a variety of responses, and on occasion, we can use them to make decisions effectively. This process may seem simple, but many people find it a struggle.

This awareness is not limited to us. Emotional awareness is also the ability to recognize what feelings are present in others. Thus, the ability to effectively communicate our emotions also requires us to know how others are feeling and the impact our words may or may not have on them.

Emotional awareness falls under the umbrella of emotional intelligence (E.I.), which is another method for understanding how it is we choose to regulate our emotions and why it is we elect to respond to others the way we do when they are feeling up or down.

We each struggle at some point in time with our emotions. Emotional awareness can deliver many benefits, including:

  • Open Communication. Emotional awareness allows you to communicate your state of emotions to others more openly.
  • Improved Control of Your Emotions. You can take better care of your emotions once you gain insight into what they are and how they may impact your decision-making skills.
  • Establishing Personal Boundaries. Emotional awareness allows you to establish and explain clear boundaries that are useful and most beneficial to you.
  • Recognizing Others as Individuals. Emotional awareness can boost your capacity to understand others and their emotions better to facilitate better communication and understanding.
  • Navigating Difficult Moments. Emotional awareness enables you to cross over hurdles and better endure difficult moments with a greater sense of perspective of the multiple factors involved.
  • Mental Wellness. Emotional awareness also provides the opportunity to protect ourselves from inadvertently trying to escape unresolved feelings in potentially destructive ways.

 

Levels of Emotional Awareness

There are multiple levels of emotional awareness that we pass through in a given scenario. Traveling this path helps us to internally acknowledge what it is we are feeling, thus increasing our capacity to communicate our feelings to others in a healthy way.

Recognize the Feeling is Present

Identifying that a particular feeling or many emotions are present is the first level of emotional awareness. At this level, we are fully mindful or aware of emotion (i.e., anger, sadness, happiness, surprise) when it first appears, whether through a physical sensation or specific behavior.

For example, consider the variation of physical changes you experience within your body when anger takes hold. You might feel heat surge through your body to the point that your face grows warm. Your heart may begin to beat faster, or you might fold your arms, subconsciously trying to hold it all inside so as not to explode. Some people report that they even experience an instant headache in response to this emotion.

You might even give voice to the emotion in a roundabout way. Think about your immediate response each time you hear the word of a decision made by an employer or your boss. Your quick reaction to a co-worker might be “I can’t believe they are going to do this,” or “They don’t have a clue about what it is we do. This decision is ridiculous.” Your response is one that gives voice to anger and frustration.

Acknowledge the Feeling

Your statements alone are good signs that you are angry, but when coupled with a racing heart or heated skin, you cannot ignore the physical cues or sensations of anger. As a result, this level of emotional awareness insists that you acknowledge the feeling you are experiencing. It is possible that you might not know that this feeling you have is anger, despite past episodes of a similar nature, but what is critical is having the capacity to acknowledge that something is happening within you.

We have an innate ability to sense our positive and negative feelings, and with time we can learn to recognize which turn out to be good or bad for us. Some emotions can cause adverse physical harm and others can prove destructive to our mental wellness.

Acknowledgment can assist in creating balance, enabling us to weigh the meaning, pros, and cons of each emotion within the confines of a situation. Acknowledging your feelings can help you determine if you can navigate an event alone or if you might need the help of others.

The practice of acknowledging your feelings can also help you to see what exists in others and how it is you might best communicate with them and mutually support each other. Your feelings, however, should also be used as a tool to guide you in identifying what is most significant to you.

Acknowledgment of negative or positive feelings will help you to effectively communicate what is most essential. It will also permit you to solve for the thing that is triggering such a response. Not giving credence to your emotions or effectively verbalizing them, particularly negative feelings, may lead to you channeling those feelings into actions and behaviors that are not productive and possibly even dangerous such as alcohol and drug use.

Identify the Feeling

Once you acknowledge that you are experiencing a feeling, you have to recognize what that feeling is by name formally. Consider the example in which we name “anger” as the feeling. There are times in which you may not know the emotion you are feeling. Ultimately, you will have to slow down to call it by what it is as soon as you acknowledge its existence.

Identification of the emotion will enable you to then take control of creating an action plan to address the need. Identifying a feeling does require a bit of practice with this technique. However, this practice of determining the feeling is useful for your brain and allows it to manage your physical and emotional responses together more efficiently. Also, this practice improves the consistency of which we can label our emotions.

Giving credence to our emotions lays a foundation to move onto the next step, which generally entails troubleshooting and problem-solving. This ability also generates stronger feelings of control and empowerment.

Accept the Feeling

Once we are successful in identifying our emotions, we can begin to accept them for what they are, which can leave us with some trepidation because there is a bit of history that can affect how comfortable we are sharing that with others. Think of a time in the past when you felt a certain way about something. Your feelings may not have been very popular or shared by others. As a result, when you shared your emotions with one or more people, they may have minimized you on one or many levels.

This experience may have caused you to question if you had a right to communicate your thoughts and beliefs. Emotional intelligence teaches us that we have a right to our ideas, feelings, and thoughts as individuals even if they’re not necessarily shared by others. We have a right to value our inner voice and communicate it independently of what others might think.

The benefits of accepting our feelings are numerous. First, they are a vital component of self-validation. While our feelings about an ongoing moment or issue may be evolving, our ability to accept our feelings serves as an asset that lends itself to positivity and open communication about what is occurring.

Next, acceptance protects our energy. Think about how draining it is to hold your true emotions within and hide them from others.

Additionally, acceptance prevents us from the dreaded pangs of rumination. When we fail to accept our true feelings, we do not communicate, and when we fail to communicate in a healthy way, we ruminate, reliving our true feelings repeatedly.

Finally, acceptance of our feelings allows us to be more directed and productive in our resulting actions and our communications with others.

Reflect on the Feeling

Following acceptance, we can reflect. Reflection of our feelings may occur after an event. Reflection is different from rumination. Reflection allows us to fully weigh the meaning of our feelings after an event, our response to those feelings, how others responded, and what it might mean for the future given a similar episode. Also, reflection may help us to better identify our emotions in the future.

Emotional intelligence can prove extremely useful in helping us to examine our feelings in real-time. The sooner we identify our emotions, the faster we can act on and communicate them in a manner that is useful.

Forecast Your Feelings

Emotional awareness also enables us to predict or forecast how we might respond in the future to a similar situation. This aspect of emotional awareness is particularly helpful because it supports our desire to plan better for the future. For example, we may better anticipate what is necessary to sustain our long-term happiness or what might generate negative feelings if we’re not careful.

Forecasting your feelings can be motivational and drive us towards success, and they can help to steer us away from adverse outcomes. They can improve our decision-making power and equip us with the necessary tools to communicate our feelings in advance. This practice can also make us more aware of the sensitivities of others.

 

8 Key Healthy Communication Tips

What more can you do to improve your communication skills? How do you take everything you now know about emotions and communicate in a way that is healthy? In essence, your degree of emotional awareness will dictate how successful you are with communication.

According to Terry Schmitz, founder, and owner of the Conover Company, there are five skills we should have for emotional awareness to be effective. If your emotional awareness is not what it should be, you can expand it by focusing on your emotional skill set. Do not be so quick to dismiss your feelings.

Emotional awareness is vital to your ability to communicate your opinions with others. These skills will help you to better manage and self-regulate your emotions. This ability to regulate will contribute to more successful professional and personal relationships.

Have an Awareness for Other People’s Feelings.

Remember that emotional awareness is not limited to being mindful of just your own emotions. It also requires us to be conscious of other’s emotions and how they may feel. Try to avoid the use of accusatory statements like “You make me angry,” or “You make me feel stupid.” The use of the word “You” can distract both parties from diving in to solve the real issue at hand and trigger an argument that is potentially more unproductive.

Appreciate Your Own Feelings.

Next, you must consistently practice having an awareness and appreciation of your own feelings. Your feelings are worthy, and they do have meaning and purpose, and will require you to transition through each of the various levels of emotional awareness. Your opinions are just as significant as those of everyone else. You do not have to be apologetic about how you feel. Most of us cannot help the way we feel, so our sense of responsibility should instead be focused on what we do with those feelings.

Pay attention to the emotions that are moving through you. Angry feelings and even happiness can sometimes block communication. Along the lines of acceptance, do not forget to label your feelings and assign them a meaningful definition.

Left ignored, unresolved emotions may cause you to respond in ways that you might not choose to do if you were thinking more rationally or in better tune with your feelings.

Giving meaning to your feelings will help you to communicate what it is you feel more specifically and properly. If you do not know what it is you are experiencing inside, you will never be able to convey those thoughts to someone else.

Be Consistent with Your Empathy.

Have empathy for yourself and others. Acknowledge their feelings and allow them to give voice to those feelings. Communication 101 implores us to be a good listener. You must be attentive and convey through verbal and nonverbal cues that you are listening. Your goal must be to ensure everyone feels understood.

Practice reflective listening to ensure that the other person feels understood. Reflective listening can feel unnatural to even the most seasoned listener, but for the other party in your conversation, this technique can feel very validating.

Have Trust.

Have trust for yourself and others. The key to open communication is trusting that the person you are communicating with will hear your verbal cues and see your nonverbal cues. Do not fear directness. It is more useful to both you and the other party if you state what it is you are feeling and trust that the other person will hear you.

Without trust at the base of your interaction, the likelihood that the other person will hear you reciprocate in sharing their feelings with you is minimal. There is no need to be confrontational as this type of approach can make for awkward interactions.

Be Prepared for Misunderstandings.

Communicating how you feel will undoubtedly be misunderstood because not everyone will reciprocate your feelings. Just as you will have concerns about what you are hearing from the other individual or group, they too will have concerns.

Be careful to respond rather than react to other people’s emotions. The key in these situations is to take the time to really process what is being said. Allowing others to finish their statements can be difficult, but it is possible and shows respect.

Other tips for effective communication include:

Use Your Point-of-View to Discuss Feelings.

Do not shrink away from using “I” statements to summarize your feelings to someone. “I” statements permit you the unique opportunity to give your perspective. “I” statements can help reduce the occurrence of accusatory tones and can improve what people hear during the conversation. Give the source of your feeling. For example, you might say “I have a concern about the changes you are planning to make for this process.”

If you must implicate the other person as being the source of your emotions, tread lightly and point to the particular behavior or action. “When you decided without first speaking to me, I felt a sense of worry that my opinion might not count.”

Calm Down before Speaking.

If you are feeling angry, take the time to calm down. You should take the time to quell any angry feelings you may be experiencing in the moment of speaking. Angry feelings may lead you to say things that are not useful for the conversation. Your angry tone or body language may also trigger a more hostile response in kind.

The ability to control your emotions is not without difficulty, but it is doable. Allowing your feelings to run rampant during a particular situation is likely to fuel a fire rather than douse it.

Deliver Solutions.

As you are communicating your feelings, offer potential solutions that might support problem-solving. It can be difficult to hear someone’s feelings, especially when they are laden with negative words. Be ready to offer viable solutions for what might help to improve the state of affairs and promote forward movement.

In Summary

In summary, you must be willing to put in some effort to get in touch with your emotions. Mindfulness will help you to have a better appreciation for who you are and why it is you respond in the manner that you do. Each of these tips may enable us to find a path to better acceptance of both ourselves and others.

Sharing your inner experiences, feelings, and thoughts will help to improve your ability to connect with others in a healthy way. When you take the time to effectively and efficiently communicate your emotions with someone else, your chances of having your needs met increase significantly and can contribute to you experiencing happier and better relationships.

It is understandable that you may have some concerns that sharing your emotions may leave you vulnerable to others, particularly during a conversation in which you are trying to connect with someone who may not share your viewpoint. However, expressing your feelings is the key to ensuring your voice is heard.

If neither you or your partner in the conversation possess enough emotional awareness to support positive or negative interaction, you both are likely to miss out on critical emotional signals or cues exhibited by the other person. Thus, your ability to sustain a positive relationship with each other will be at risk.

Designing the Greatest Me

 

Choosing to design your life means you are opting to look at your life not just as a goal but as an adventure, as a process rather than a destination. The designed life is one that allows you to choose among many possibilities, to consider multiple pathways, and weigh what energizes you and brings you joy. It is one that will enable you to fulfill your dreams and then begin reaching for new ones.

Designing your life begins by examining your current situation to determine if you are truly happy. If you answer no in any of the significant areas of life satisfaction, then it is time to start designing something new, something that will bring you joy and help you become the greatest version of yourself you can possibly be.

There is nothing more disappointing in life than to find success at something only to discover that it does not really bring you happiness. To work hard, sometimes for years, to reach a goal that does not make you feel accomplished or joyful is a waste of your precious time on earth and of your motivation and drive to succeed.

Choosing to design a new life, a better life that reflects your interests, passions, joys, and needs, is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Design principles can teach you how to focus, when to alter your efforts, and that it is also okay to want something new. The first step to designing your life, though, is to realize that you must take control of your life rather than your life having control over you.

 

What It Means to Take Control of Your Life

Taking control of your life, actually designing the life that you want to live, is very different than just living your life. When you live your life, you often let others’ priorities and the obstacles you face dictate how you spend your time. Instead of letting life happen to you and being something to which you react, you can instead take control and start living the life that makes you happiest.

To take control of your life means several things. First, it means you accept responsibility for what happens in your life. You recognize that your past choices have led you to where you are, your actions (or inaction) have led to your present circumstances, and you are willing to accept the responsibility for all your decisions moving forward.

Secondly, taking control means you are ready to design a life that will bring you true fulfillment, allowing you to be the most excellent person you can be. Instead of settling for something less, designing your life will enable you to be the most exceptional person possible and choose a path that allows you to follow your dreams.

Third, taking control means recognizing and overcoming your fears, which can hold you back and prevent you from accomplishing everything you set out to attain. When you design a life for yourself, you have something to work toward that is meaningful and important. This provides motivation for overcoming the fears that have been thwarting your progress and helps you face your worries head on.

The first step in the process of taking control of your life is to gain clarity about what it is you really want, who you think the greatest version of yourself really is. Check in with yourself and spend some time in reflective thought about your dreams, ambitions, frustrations, and fears.

Try your best to block out the business of daily living and just focus on being who you really are. As you are reflecting, it is worth it to write down your thoughts and questions. The rest of this guide provides you with activities and specific steps you can take to guide this process, as well.

 

Being Proactive Will Change Your Life

Being proactive in your life places you firmly in control of your own destiny. Being proactive is the opposite of being reactive, when you let life unfurl before you and spend all your time acting in response to whatever is thrown your way. When you learn to reframe your mindset towards being more proactive, you will realize many benefits in your life.

When you live your life reacting to events, people, and circumstances, it can lead to a feeling that life is just happening to you rather than you actually being in control of your future. Learning how to be proactive allows you to take action to put you on the path of where you want to be, to take control of all life’s circumstances, and to regain power over your future.

When you are ready to take control of your life and learn to be proactive, you will experience so many personal and professional benefits. Here are a few of the most profound benefits of living a proactive life.

Change No Longer Seems So Frightening

When you live a reactionary life, you fear change and the unexpected. When you are just reacting to your life constantly, failure can seem very intimidating, even to the point that you no longer are able to make decisions.

Learning to have a proactive mindset means you have a plan for the future and are prepared to cope with the setbacks and changes that will come your way. You can use your energy to focus on making progress toward attaining your goals instead of dealing with events and circumstances that force you to be reactionary.

Your Decisions Are Better Informed

When you wait for life to hand you problems and then react to them, you are forced to make quick decisions and with few options. Making better choices means thinking ahead and planning for possible contingencies. Being proactive gives you better information, provides you with more to consider, and ensures you have the resources you need to put your plan into action. When you are reactive, you spend too much time being unorganized and unprepared for what life has in store, which means you are not making the best possible decisions that will help you achieve the life you really want.

You Handle Problems More Effectively

Living a proactive life means you think through potential unforeseen problems and have a plan for how to handle them. It also means you are able to adapt to these issues and setbacks more effectively, accepting them as part of the process rather than insurmountable challenges.

Designing your own life and living proactively helps you accepts that life is a journey and each experience is a learning process that will help you grow.

Designing the greatest version of yourself and your life is the ultimate proactive step, because you are taking control over your future. You are accepting the choices you have in life, and you are making the best decision you can make for yourself at this moment in time.

It is not always easy, though, so being prepared by understanding the challenges that could lie ahead will help you be more successful in your efforts.

 

Challenges Women Face

Women face many challenges when it comes to designing the life they want to live. If you want to become the greatest you that you can possibly be, you should be aware of the potential obstacles you may face, so that you can be better prepared to meet and overcome them. Here are the most common challenges facing women who are seeking to design their greatest lives.

Unproductive Comparison

As Teddy Roosevelt famously noted, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” When you stop focusing on you and your own life and its many blessings and gifts, and instead examine what others have or are able to accomplish, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

Comparing yourself to others is easier than ever before, with social media always telling you what others are doing, how happy they are, or what they have accomplished.

When you start comparing yourself to others, you will likely see someone who has exactly what you want or is doing what you would like to do, which can lead to feelings of inferiority or resentment.

When you compare yourself to others, it reinforces a false narrative that success is somehow scarce or that you should be afraid that you too will not achieve those goals. Comparing yourself to others creates nothing but negative emotions.

Women especially often find themselves comparing their success as a professional, a mother, a partner, or even as a friend to how they perceive other women are successfully navigating those many roles in their lives. But this is an unhealthy activity.

The only thing you need to compare yourself is to is your vision of your greatest self. That goal is what you are striving to achieve, and it does not matter what anyone else is doing, because they are not a part of your plan. Stay true to yourself and what is important to you, and you will not be led astray by comparison.

Need for Approval

Many women feel as though they have been conditioned since early childhood to seek approval from others and to avoid rejection of social norms. Girls are taught to be “people pleasers” who just want everyone to get along, and this follows us into adulthood and colors how we think about ourselves and others.

When you seek the approval of others, you are neglecting the most critical source of approval of all, which is yourself. When you forego your own happiness for that of someone else, you are no longer doing what makes you happy. This is not helping you achieve your dreams. Letting go of the need to please others is an important step in freeing yourself from these restraints.

Being rejected by someone else just means they have a different opinion of you than you have of yourself, and that is okay. When someone judges you, you then have new information about their beliefs and values.

Remember that their thoughts and opinions have absolutely no impact on how you choose to live your life. Remember that the only approval you need in life is your own, since you are the one that must live with the consequences of your actions and decisions.

Fear of Failure

While fearing failure is not unique just to women, females often feel even more pressure to succeed in all aspects of their lives and never show weakness through failure or faltering. The fear of failure can be a powerfully hindering mindset, as it prevents you from taking risks, from feeling confident in your choices, and from asking for help from others who can assist you in reaching your goals.

When fear strikes, the best thing you can do is to confront it head on and objectively examine what you fear. How likely is your worst-case scenario to happen, and what would it take to recover from that outcome?

What skills and knowledge do you have at your disposal to minimize that threat? How much of your fear is rational and how much is not?

Spend some time getting to know and understand that fear, and you will soon realize there is not as much to be afraid of as you once thought.

Perfectionism

Whether it is in your personal or professional or life (or both!), most of us feel like we should have it all together, we should be able to handle everything, and we strive to be perfect versions of ourselves.

Perfectionism can be a debilitating mindset, as it places you in a frozen state, waiting until the perfect opportunity to make a move or try something new. It forces you to work hard at things that are not that important when “good enough” would suffice.

Perfection is totally unattainable, so striving to achieve anything resembling it is a fool’s errand. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you will see that nearly everything you decide can be un-decided. Forward movement is nearly always preferable to the status quo, but it is hard to make progress when you need things to be perfect in order to be happy.

Dealing with Disappointment

Women experience a lot of disappointment in life, sometimes due to the harsh realities of sexism, unequal opportunities, and the role of women in today’s world. Women today still earn less than their male counterparts. Many women choose to leave the workplace after starting a family because their professional prospects are not as fulfilling as they had hoped.

Women must balance dual roles as professionals and caregivers much more so than men, even today, which can lead to disappointment on how successfully you are able to succeed in either role.

Learning to deal with this type of disappointment, as well as other less-than-ideal circumstances, is part of the design process. By designing a life that will bring you joy, you learn to recognize what gives you energy and keeps you engaged, and to focus your goals in those areas. This helps you stay focused on your dreams, even in the face of disappointment.

Being Free to Change Your Mind

As you age and as life’s circumstances change, your dreams will change as well. What is important to you when you are young will likely not be the same goals you have in middle-age or as you near the end of your career. This can be scary for some people, and embracing the unknown or new possibilities can be quite challenging for some.

Embracing the design philosophy, and utilizing these principles throughout your life means you can change your mind freely; you can embrace multiple futures and choose which works best for you now and later on. You can change your pathway and alter your goals as your dreams and priorities shift in life.

Lack of Support

If you are a woman in a professional field with few other females, you may feel isolated in your work. Blending in and being accepted by colleagues in these fields can be difficult. Even in fields with more women, though, there can still be lack of support, as women become more competitive with one another to achieve success, sometimes at the expense of other women.

A lack of support for women in the workplace can lead to a drop in ambition and an overall dissatisfaction with career choices over time. When you lack mentors and role models who have experienced similar things as you, it becomes difficult to persevere in some situations.

 

Knowing these challenges, as well as the benefits of choosing to proactively design your life, has hopefully made you ready to start this important design process. Below, we describe each of the steps, including how it will help you become the greatest version of yourself.

 

How To Design Yourself

Designing your life follows the same basic principles as other design processes, and we will outline each of these in more detail below. The basic idea behind designing your life is that coming up with a new product or process should not be any different than coming up with the life you want to live. The principles that govern the types of designs that create new products are the same that help you create the life you want.

Designing your greatest self starts with a period of discovery and curiosity, as well as some experimentation. This is followed by an examination of how you are restricting yourself and a shift in mindset to embrace the evolving nature of what it means to “become” yourself.

Finally, it is about selecting from multiple versions that you find pleasing and putting a plan into motion, while asking for help when you need assistance in the process.

The basic principles described here mirror those outlined by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans in their book Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-lived, Joyful Life. There are many resources available online to help you navigate these steps and stages, but before you dive in, it is important to have a basic understanding of how the design process works. Here is how to do it.

 

Step 1. Figure out where you are right now.

The design process should begin with a critical examination of the four major areas of your life: work, love, play, and health.

What is working well in each of these areas?

What needs to be improved?

How well are you balancing all of these areas collectively in your life?

Take some real time to give an honest assessment of yourself and where you are currently. If something bothers you or you identify a problem, that is a good place to start. Designs work best when they meet a need or answer a question, so decide what your design is meant to do.

There is no perfect balance between the four areas in your life, and what the right balance is now may shift over time as your priorities and needs change. Be sure to reassess this often, and you want to be sure you are dedicating the right amount of focus to each as you continue to grow.

When you develop a design mindset, you will see yourself and your life as continually evolving. You will notice that working on creating your greatest self is never actually finished, but neither is enjoying the rewards of these efforts. Design is only finished when your life is over, so never stop striving in the design process.

 

Step 2. Figure out what matters to you.

After you have identified what is and is not really “working” in your life right now, spend some time identifying your views on specific aspects of your life.

What do you need in order to be happy with your work? What does happiness in your personal life mean?

Write a paragraph or two on these two main ideas, concentrating on what gives you meaning and what you believe related to these two pivotal parts of your existence. This is your compass, and it should guide your future directions in designing the best you possible.

Compasses change over time as we grow and increase in our capabilities and experience, so it is important to recognize that what you believed a few years ago may not be true today, and your views on life and work will change in the years ahead.

Your compass is not static, which is why the design process is never-ending. Return to this exercise as often as you need to ensure that your design is aligned with your goals and views.

 

Step 3. Find out what brings you joy and energy.

This step is a helpful one to understand how your daily activities affect you. Which things that you do each day bring you energy and keep you engaged, and which drain your focus and motivation?

Log all your major activities for several weeks. Look at everything, not just what you enjoy or what is not enjoyable.

What patterns do you notice? In which areas do you struggle the most to maintain attention, and in which do you find yourself experiencing the most enjoyment? How can you change your schedule to take advantage of energizing activities and eliminate or at least diminish those that tend to leave you feeling unmotivated and unfocused?

 

Step 4. Reframe your thinking about what it means to change your life.

Many who embark on this journey go into it thinking there is one new life that is the best life for them. But design thinking teaches us that there are often multiple answers to any one question, multiple solutions to arrive at the same truth.

There is more than one answer to your problem of how to improve your life and become the greatest version of yourself. In fact, there isn’t just one greatest version of you. There are many. And instead of choosing one, you can imagine all of them.

There are multiple ways your future can unfold that will bring you happiness and provide you with fulfillment and energy. Instead of trying to imagine the ONE right future, try imagining multiple outcomes that would make you happy.

 

Step 5. Create three scenarios for your future.

The authors of the book on designing your life recommend three specific futures that you should imagine. There may be others you can also envision, so do not feel you have to limit yourself to these three.

However, try not to create so many choices that you are lost in options.

The first scenario is probably the easiest, as it is to imagine your life for the next five years as if you are continuing on your current path. Where do you see yourself five years from now if nothing changes?

The second asks you to imagine your life if your current situation were no longer available. What if your current life were suddenly gone? What would you do to support yourself? What would you do to find personal fulfillment and happiness?

The final possible future is to throw off all the barriers and to imagine your life five years from now if you did not have to worry about money or what others thought. How would your personal and professional life be in five years without these constraints?

In all three scenarios, you should include personal and professional goals that encompass all four of the main aspects of a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Brainstorm around all three of the scenarios to imagine the possibilities and possible stumbling blocks.

This gives you a broader perspective and can help you identify the common threads that should be present in whatever plan you decide to go with moving forward.

 

Step 6. Build a prototype.

Many in design call this step “prototyping.” Prototypes are preliminary models that can be tested before final decisions are made. These early designs allow us to test assumptions and experiment with various possible futures for ourselves.

So, how exactly do you prototype your life?

Prototypes in design are fast experiences that can help you quickly learn something new or test out some basic assumptions of your plan. So, this part of the process involves looking for activities you can try or things you can do that will test out some piece of your plan.

Is there a volunteer activity that you can try to see if it energizes you?

Is there something new you would like to learn as a part of your possible new future?

Small experiments can often illuminate the path forward, identifying strengths or hidden interests and giving you some exposure to different pathways.

 

Step 7. Choose and then move forward.

After examining your prototypes and their many iterations, it is time to make a choice. Pick your top four or five best ideas and options, and carefully weigh the positive and negative aspects of each.

When you have narrowed the field to just a few choices, spend several days at a time imagining your future life if you select each option. Contemplate how you will feel about each choice, one at a time, and imagine yourself in each version of the future. Which brings you the most joy, which excites you the most?

Then make your choice. Once you have selected, though, you have to release all the other options and commit fully to your chosen path. Otherwise, you run the risk of trying to keep options open, which means you never actually commit to your dreams. Fear of missing out can destroy potential happiness.

Enjoy your journey, focus on what you need to do to achieve your dreams, and start moving forward. If you do not like where you are headed sometime in the future, you now have the design tools to start again and prototype a new solution.

 

Step 8. Revisit the process.

Like engineering, designing your life and your greatest self is an iterative process. Once you begin making progress, you need to reevaluate how things are going, return to your goals to see if they are still where you want to be heading, and make adjustments along the way.

Any good design will be responsive to input from your experiences, so do not think that your design is set in stone once you reach this final step.

 

Final Thoughts

Designing the greatest version of yourself and your life is a process. It comes from a commitment to lifelong learning, embracing obstacles as opportunities, and understanding that you are never really “finished” developing.

You will continue to evolve and grow your entire life, and by focusing on the process rather than the outcome, you will gain more insight into yourself and be happier along the way.

Throughout the design process, it is also important to remember that you are not alone on your journey. You can ask for help from others and keep yourself open to input and feedback from those who are important in your life.

The design process can help you achieve your dreams, imagine new futures, and embrace a mindset of learning and growth.

By embarking on this journey, you are taking control of your life and bravely facing the challenges that we all face in our continuing adventure toward self-actualization. Keep the right mindset, and you will soon find yourself achieving new heights and ready to set new aims for your future.

Awakening the Passion in Your Life

Understanding Passion

 “A strong passion for any object will ensure success, for the desire of the end will point out the means.”
– William Hazlitt

Do you wake up every day excited to get out of bed? Do you feel like you are living your own dreams? If not, it could be that you have yet to awaken the passion in your life, the driving force that pushes you to reach for your dreams and do remarkable things.

Whether you are looking to explore new job possibilities or find fun things to keep your personal life interesting, awakening your passion is something that will leave you fulfilled and personally satisfied in life. This guide will help you figure out what passion really is, what makes you passionate, and how to inject interest and passion into any aspect of your life you wish.

What exactly do we mean by passion? Essentially, passion is a powerful desire to accomplish something. It is often used to indicate conviction, determination, or even love. And while it is an emotion, unless it is acted upon, it has little effect on your life. Passion should be what motivates you to act.

Being passionate means that you love what you are doing, even when it is hard, when you are failing, or when you have not made much progress in a while. Finding what you love and using it to inspire your dreams can bring real meaning and purpose to your life.

Passion is not enough, though. In addition to wanting to achieve something, you must be willing to sacrifice what is necessary to succeed. If you have a passion for music but do not want to spend your life practicing to be a professional musician, then this passion will not yield many results for you.

Not every passion needs to become a job, though. Again, if you have a love for music but have never played an instrument in your life or learned to read music, you likewise may never turn this passion into a career, but it could become a fun and engaging hobby that inspires your free time. Some passions inspire your professional world while others may become the focus of your personal life. Both kinds are okay, and you need exciting things in both aspects of your life to enjoy and look forward to.

Whether you are young or old, it can be hard to figure out precisely what you are passionate about in life. Discovering your bliss is a journey, and one you may take many times throughout your life. If you do not feel really strongly about anything in your life right now, that means you may not have found it yet, so you need to keep trying new things. Once you find something that ignites the flame inside you, stick with it, and you will soon determine if this is your calling.

Most people have something that they genuinely love, but they never pursue this beyond a mild interest or a half-hearted attempt at realizing a dream. Society tells us it is more important to make money than it is to do what you love, and sometimes following your passion requires giving up a safety net or a known quantity to pursue your calling. This can be scary for even the strongest of people, but leaving your comfort zone is the only way to discover just how important passion is to your life.

When you discover your passion, it provides a solid foundation around which you can build the rest of your life. A genuine passion will motivate you, intrigue you, and challenge you. Sometimes, finding your passion is about rediscovering things that used to interest and motivate you earlier in your life. Often, our natural talents that appear in childhood and adolescence become the inspiration for our passionate endeavors later in life.

Other times, passions are found in those things in your life of which you never tire. When you consider all the things you willingly do with your life, which gives you energy? What things would you most like to change about your life? Thinking about these can often help you find your direction.

Sometimes, you discover a passion when you learn something or get really good at something. As you engage in an activity over time, you may discover hidden talents or true love for a type of work or pastime. When you feel very competent at something, you are empowered to excel and share your knowledge with others.

Finding your passion, then, is an essential goal for each of us. And when you discover it, you will enjoy many benefits beyond finding something you absolutely love.

The Importance of Passion in Your Life

“Our passions are the winds that propel our vessel. Our reason is the pilot that steers her. Without winds, the vessel would not move, and without a pilot, she would be lost.”
– Proverb

The importance of passion is summed up very well by this proverb. Your passions in life are the fuel that keeps the fires burning. They will provide you with motivation and energy; they will keep you focused, even when times are hard. All the reason and logic in the world will not help you to feel fulfilled and love what you are doing unless you are excited about the outcome.

While we all have natural talents and have learned skills and knowledge along with life experiences, it is your passion that will drive you to succeed and earn true happiness. If you are not engaged in your talents or strengths, if they do not interest you, they are not doing you much good. It is when your passion intersects with these other things that you can finally enjoy all the benefits of finding your purpose.

Passion Builds Confidence

When you are excited and interested in a new endeavor or to reach a goal, you feel confident that you are doing the right thing and that you have what it takes to do what is necessary to succeed. Passion is the fuel that will motivate you to try again and again, even when you stumble or fail.

Passion Creates Happiness

When you feel dedicated and excited about something in your life, you will be happy, even if you do not succeed right away (or ever). The energy that is created by passion is enough to sustain positive feelings and help you feel happy about your hard work and efforts.

Passion Drives Personal Growth

When you are enthusiastic and focused on a goal that is important to you, you will stop at nothing to achieve it, including bettering yourself. Being passionate will encourage you to learn new things and develop new skills to complete your dream.

Passion Creates Purpose

Without passion in your life, you may find yourself floundering or following goals that are not important to you. Your obsessions are what keep you living longer because they provide you with a purpose and a need to continue doing what you are doing. Your dreams are what tell you where you are going and how you want to get there, which can ensure you stay on the best path possible for yourself.

Passion Inspires Others

When other people see how focused and motivated you are to reach your dreams, they can become more motivated themselves to reach for the stars. When you feel strongly about what you do, you attract the attention and interest of others, which can fuel your energies even more, too.

Passion Can Produce Profit

When you turn your passions into your work, then doing what you love also becomes a way to support yourself while enjoying what you do. Many people have successfully transformed a passion project or skill into an income, so why not you?

A Word About Passion and Work

You have likely heard the old advice that, if you do something that you love, the money will find its way to you. This, unfortunately, does not always happen for the simple fact that not every passion has a monetary value. You may be extremely interested in something, but that does not always translate into a career that can support you.

The trick to turning your passion into a job is to look deeper and think outside of the box, channeling aspects of your passion into a job that also leverages your other talents and allows you to capitalize on your values and beliefs.

When your passion involves a creative endeavor, for example, you may not be able to make a living as an artist, but you can find a career that allows you to have a creative outlet, to work with other artists, or to teach your skills to others. You can then use your income to fuel your personal passions which you love but aren’t so able to pay the bills.

If a job does not exist that allows you to combine all these components into one, perhaps you could create one. Starting your own business can be scary, but the rewards are immeasurable. First, though, you need to be sure that there is an unmet need that your services or product could fill. And you may need to get help with certain aspects of your business plan if you have never tackled something like this before.

Perhaps you already have a job that meets some of your requirements but not all for truly unleashing your passion. Is there a way to change your current responsibilities so that you can satisfy this need in some way? Would your company or boss be willing to renegotiate your role so that you can unleash your passions in your current setting?

Not every passion turns into a job, so you may need to adjust your mindset about what role your desires will play in your life. Perhaps the things you love to do the most are how you spend your personal time, while your professional life consists of work that allows you to use your strengths and earn a paycheck, which then supports your passion.

Questions To Help You Find Your Passion

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
– Nelson Mandela

If you are struggling to identify your passion in life, there are many exercises you can do and questions you can ask that will help you find your calling. Below we have included many considerations that can spark your thinking and encourage your exploration as you work toward discovering your calling in life or your passionate pastime.

  • What are the top ten things you love doing the most?
  • If you did not have to consider educational limitations or your current circumstances in life, what would you choose to do?
  • Who do you most admire, and how could you change your life so that it resembles theirs?
  • If you could change the world in any way, what would you do?
  • Is there a problem you see in the world that you would like to be a part of solving?
  • What is something that you absolutely can’t live without?
  • What would your life be like if you had everything that you wanted?
  • If money were not a concern (i.e., you had plenty to support you in a way that was comfortable), what you would do with your time?
  • What were some of your interests as a child?
  • What were some of the talents that developed when you were young?
  • What did you use to dream about becoming when you were young?
  • If you are a reader, what do you enjoy reading about the most?
  • What is something that you care about deeply? It could be a cause, a person, an activity, or anything.
  • If you had to read 100 books on the same subject, what would you choose?
  • Who are the people that have everything that you want in life? Why do these people come to mind?
  • If you had to work for one month without getting paid, what would you choose to do?
  • When you feel the most beautiful, what are you doing?
  • When you feel the most competent, what are you doing?
  • When you are on your deathbed, what do you hope people say that you have done with your life?
  • Do you have any friends or loved ones who are following their passions? If so, how did they determine their direction in life?
  • Think back over the past year. What are the highlights that you think of first? When did you feel happiest? Most satisfied?
  • What is your favorite part of every day?
  • Is there something in your community that you would like to fix or a problem you think needs solving?
  • When are the times that you become completely engrossed in an activity? What were you doing the last time you lost track of time?
  • What are your top five moments in your life?
  • Is there a goal or accomplishment that gives you goosebumps when you consider what it would mean to carry out?
  • What is one thing you have always dreamed about doing but never got have?
  • Do you have any wild dreams that you might have abandoned?
  • What do you daydream about?
  • Is there something you have been afraid to try because it takes you out of your comfort zone?
  • Is there something you have always wanted to do but haven’t tried yet because you’ve been afraid you would fail or not be particularly good at it?

Strategies to Help You Awaken Your Passion

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
– Harriet Tubman

Now that you have asked yourself some interesting questions, you may need further inspiration to help you find your passions and ignite the spark in your life. If you are ready to explore your interests and find something that brings you purpose and drives your desire, then pick one or more of these to help you discover something that sets your soul on fire.

Create Your Vision

If you want to reach a dream, you first have to know what it is you are trying to accomplish. Fantasize about the life you want most in this world. Where does this life take place, and with whom do you share it? Create a visual image of this life, including as many specifics as you can. The more vivid and precise your vision, the easier it is to figure out what passions will get you to this goal, and the easier it is to figure out which actions will lead you there.

Release the Hurt

If you want to unlock your inner passions and awaken your heart, it is crucial to let go of negative energy that could be holding you back. If you have regrets, pain, or other baggage that is weighing you down, now is the time to let it all go. Work through your mistakes or missteps, talk with a professional if you need to, but let it go so that you are in the right mindset to awaken your passion and move forward positively.

Learn Something New

If you want to awaken your inner creativity or develop new talent, you need to keep learning. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Take a class. Read lots of books. Watch videos and read blogs. Do whatever it takes to keep developing your talents and honing your skills. And learning is a terrific way to find new interests and passions, too.

Explore Your Childhood Interests

No matter how old you were, think of the things that you loved to do as a kid. What activities did you enjoy the most? How did you like to spend your time? Often, our earliest interests are still in our hearts, so take some time to explore yours to awaken your current-day excitement.

Imagine if Money Were No Object

Another way to awaken your passion and consider your real interests is to imagine what your dream job or activity would be if you didn’t have to worry about a paycheck.

If you already were living comfortable, debt free, and had no financial concerns whatsoever, what would you choose to do? How would you spend your time? This is often an excellent way to get to the heart of your real passions, which may lie in a current hobby but could become a possible career.

Consider Your Greater Impact

Thinking about how you can change the lives of others or improve the world in some way is a fantastic way to awaken your passion. Many times, our passions lie in helping others or finding better ways for the world to work. If there is a cause you care about profoundly or something you would like to see changed, maybe your passion can be found in addressing this unmet need.

Say “Yes” for One Month

Commit to saying “yes” to all the opportunities that come your way in one month (or two weeks or whatever makes you feel comfortable). The world may be presenting you with chances to find your passion, but you are too busy saying “no” to everything. Say yes and explore the possibilities.

Don’t Focus Too Much on the Job

If something gets your mind racing and your blood pumping, it is worth doing, even if it never earns you a dime. There are many things in this world that are worthwhile that will not make you money, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth doing. If you find your passion but figure out it will not become your career, find ways to include it in your life anyway. Don’t get so hung up on income that you ignore passions that are staring you right in the face.

Figure Out What You Dislike, Too

If there are things you absolutely can’t stand, be sure you know this, too. These are options you can eliminate in your “dream job or hobby” imaginings. If you absolutely hate something, it is important that is does not become a part of your new passion plan.

Think About Envy

Who are you jealous of? Like, really envious? When you think about your jealousy, there is something to this thought? Look at the work they do or the goals they have accomplished. What does this tell you about your possible passions?

Turn Mediocrity into Strength

There may be a lot of things that you are just okay at doing. What if you took all these things and put them together? What could you do with that? When you combine your average skills, you may find a synergy that results in a real passion to explore further. Most enormously successful people are good at many different things and found a way to capitalize on all those traits.

Stop Waiting for Lightning to Strike

Your passion will most likely not be found in an “aha” moment. While that does happen sometimes, it is more likely that your cravings will develop over time, through work and experimentation, requiring lots of thought and reflection. Be willing to wait and explore, as it often takes patience and time. Do not fret. Your passion is there. You just need to give yourself time to find it.

Ask Others

If you are struggling to find your passion, ask others in your life. Your close friends have a completely different perspective on your life than you. Find out what they think you should be doing. Give them time to answer and listen thoughtfully to their responses.

Consider What Kind of Old Person You Want to Be

Besides hearkening back to your younger self, also take time to imagine what you would like to have accomplished when you are much older. At the end of your life, what do you want to have accomplished or have done with your life? What do you think is important for your older self to be able to say about your life?

Make Something New

Instead of worrying about following in someone else’s footsteps, focus on creating something totally new. Starting from scratch is often much more inspiring and meaningful than trying to do something that others have already done. Invention sparks creativity and passion.

Do Not Give Up

If you do not find your passion right away, don’t fret. Giving up is the surest way to lose the battle. Even if it takes much longer than you thought it would, if you give it the time it deserves, it will be worth it in the end. And even if you find a passion that engrosses you for some time, it is possible that your mind and heart have other plans. This process may need to occur many times in your life, so don’t get discouraged if finding your passion or awakening your interests comes up many times.

Final Thoughts

Finding the passion in your life can allow you to live with purpose, set the goals that are most important to you, and follow your dreams. When you have passion, you will be motivated and excited to get up each day and pursue whatever is in your heart.

Passion is a crucial ingredient to living a life that makes you happy, and the sooner you awaken your own fire, the quicker you can start living the life you have always wanted.

Time Management for Entrepreneurs

Most entrepreneurs don’t fail because of business reasons. Business strategy is often easy to correct or fix. What’s more difficult to fix is the entrepreneur. The more you can accomplish, the higher your chances of success. Your productivity and time management skills are one of the most significant indicators of whether or not you will succeed.

The most valuable resource that you have as an entrepreneur is time. Unfortunately, time is a limited resource, and once lost we can never get it back. With the same 24 hours in a day that is allotted to everyone else, many entrepreneurs feel as though they don’t have enough time to accomplish what they want. To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to learn how to manage your time effectively if you’re going to increase your productivity and accomplish everything you set out to do.

Fortunately, with adequate planning, organization, and focus, anyone can learn how to effectively manage their time and begin to work smarter, not harder to reach their goals and achieve their dreams, without burning out.

To be able to manage your time correctly and effectively, it is crucial for you to understand the tools and techniques that are available that can help you improve the required skills that are needed to ensure you complete all of your tasks and activities to reach your goals.

If you don’t already have a system in place to help you manage your time, the techniques and methods here can help you develop one. Utilizing these tips and procedures will help you understand why time management is so essential for everyone, not just entrepreneurs, for being more productive and finding success, as well as help you to start to put a time management system in place so you can accomplish more in less time.

The Importance of Time Management

Time is an incredibly valuable resource for entrepreneurs that can never be stored or saved for later use. Everyone has the same amount of time available to them, but for entrepreneurs, it becomes critical that they learn how to use their time effectively. You may not realize it, but time management affects your entire life. It allows you to get more important things done, which can dramatically boost your productivity. Over time, that increased productivity will snowball into marked improvements in both your professional and personal life.

Many people feel that they don’t have enough time to accomplish everything they want to in life. They often blame their lack of time for their increased stress, bad relationships, poor finances, and lack of exercise. However, with the proper time management skills, you can accomplish everything you set out to do.

Time management can help you to identify your priorities, as well as help you make conscious decisions so that you can spend more of your time doing the essential things that will benefit your business. Effectively managing your time can also help you reach your goals faster. Proper time management also helps you accomplish more things in less time and with less effort and stress.

The Benefits of Time Management

Time management makes you a more punctual and disciplined person. It prompts you only to work when you have to. For you to make the most of your available time, you have to prepare a to-do list or task plan. Proper time management requires that you develop a list of activities or tasks that you have to accomplish during the day. It is essential that you also include specific timeframes in your to-do list, as well as the level of urgency for each task. Your task plan, or to-do list, can provide you with a better sense of direction when it comes to getting your work accomplished. It can help you identify how your day should look so that you can work accordingly and achieve more in less time.

Being able to manage your time effectively will also help you to become more organized. It can teach you how to organize your workspace better so that you can more easily find documents, folders, and files. You can benefit from your increased ability to manage your things more effectively as well, through the use of excellent time management practices.

Having a plan for managing your time can also help you realize your goals and objectives within the shortest amount of time possible. With proper time management skills, you can meet your targets ahead of schedule and finish your tasks on time. Incorporating proper time management in your life can dramatically increase your productivity and help you accomplish your goals without having to spend more time working.

How Ineffective Time Management Can Hurt Your Business

Ineffectively managing your time, when it comes to your business, can lead to many problems and undesirable consequences. If you don’t have strong time management skills, it can result in missed deadlines, poor quality of work, excessive stress, inefficient workflow, and more.

If you don’t effectively manage your time, it will become more difficult for you to finish your work on time, which can cause you to be seen as inefficient and unreliable. Your clients, customers, and colleagues will end up having far less faith in your abilities to run a successful business. Missing deadlines and tardiness will significantly hurt your reputation, which can, in turn, start to affect your personal life and wellbeing. As an entrepreneur, if you want to be successful and get more done in less time, then you have to master your time and figure out how to improve your time management skills.

Applying the Pareto Principle to Your Business

The Pareto Principle, or what is better known as the 80/20 Rule, was first considered in 1896 by Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto during his time at the University of Lausanne. Briefly stated, the 80/20 rule states that only a minority of effort, inputs, and causes lead to the majority of results, outputs, and rewards intended by a specific person. In other words, 80 percent of what you achieve in your life comes from just 20 percent of the activities that you spend your time, effort, and energy on. Therefore, for all practical purposes, for 80 percent of the time, the effort and energy you spend on a specific undertaking aren’t important in accomplishing your objectives.

To put it in perspective, the 80/20 rule asserts that there is an inherent imbalance between:

  • Causes and effects
  • Inputs and outputs
  • Efforts and rewards

The question then becomes, wouldn’t it be great if you could focus your time, effort, and energy on the 20 percent of the activities that will bring you the 80 percent of the results, rewards, and outputs you desire?

The Importance of the Pareto Principle

All too often, people tend to expect that all causes have the same significance over the results intended by them. For example, with new businesses people tend to assume that every customer is valuable, resulting in them feeling the urge to meet that customer’s demands, however unproductive they might be to the operations of the business. Another example would be the businessman who expects that every product or service that he offers his customers is equally valuable and should be focused on. Unfortunately, nothing can be farther from the truth.

The Pareto principle, on the other hand, affirms that when two sets of information are put to a cause and effect analysis, more often than not it will result in a pattern of imbalance. The imbalance is that only a minority of the inputs produce the majority of the outputs initially intended. Why is this important to you? Understanding the Pareto principle will give you valuable insight into how you can better manage your time and increase your productivity.

Applying the Pareto Principle to Your Business

When it comes to productivity in business, 80 percent of the tasks that you have to complete during the day can be achieved by using 20 percent of your time. For entrepreneurs, it is essential to be aware of the fact that the Pareto principle can be applied to every aspect of your business, especially time management. This means that 20 percent of the activities that you do throughout the day are responsible for the 80 percent of the results; which also means that 20 percent of your customers are responsible for 80 percent of the sales, and 20 percent of your goods or services are responsible for 80 percent of your business profits.

As an entrepreneur, implementing the Pareto Principle to manage your time better is simple. The first step that you need to take is to examine your to-do list and determine which ones make up the 20 percent of activities that will be responsible for providing you with 80 percent of the results. These are the activities that you want to focus on during the day and should be given the highest priority.

The remaining 80 percent of the activities that are responsible for just 20 percent of the results can be delegated or outsourced to a professional who has the time and skill set to complete them successfully. Outsourcing the 80 percent of the activities that don’t produce the majority of results will allow you to focus your time and energy completing those tasks that will help you grow your business and increase your profits.

Time management is about your ability to make important choices regarding the sequence of events that need to be completed that would, in turn, determine the level of productivity you can achieve. With time management, you can take control of the tasks and activities that you work on every day. Truly productive individuals have mastered their time management skills and always work on the most critical tasks first. This results in being more productive, allowing them to get more done in less time.

Understanding Parkinson’s Law and How To Use It To Your Advantage

Parkinson’s law is the idea that the more time we choose to dedicate to a particular task, the longer it will take to complete the task, even if we could have completed the task in a shorter amount of time. First observed by Cyril Northcote Parkinson in his 1955 article published in The Economist, he noted:

“It is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Thus, an elderly lady of leisure can spend the entire day in writing and dispatching a postcard to her niece at Bognor Regis. An hour will be spent in finding the postcard, another in hunting for spectacles, half-an-hour in a search for the address, an hour and a quarter in composition, and twenty minutes in deciding whether or not to take an umbrella when going to the pillar-box in the next street. The total effort which would occupy a busy man for three minutes all told may in this fashion leave another person prostrate after a day of doubt, anxiety, and toil.”

This phenomenon that was first observed in 1955 has been shown to be true in a number of scientific studies that show when people are given extra time to complete a task, they will usually take advantage of that time, even when it isn’t needed. The theory is that if you give yourself a week to complete a two-hour task, then, psychologically speaking, the task will ultimately increase in complexity and become much more daunting in order to fill that week. It might not even fill the extra time with more work, but rather more stress and tension about having to complete it. By assigning the right amount of time to your tasks, you can gain back more time, and those tasks will decrease in complexity and return to its natural state.

There are a few ways that you can apply Parkinson’s Law to your daily schedule that will allow you to check off items on your to-do list quicker and spend less time during your day filling in time to look busy.

Running Against the Clock

Take the time to make a list of all your tasks and then divide them up by the amount of time it takes for you to complete them. Then give yourself half that time to complete each task. Giving yourself half the time to complete tasks forces you to make the time limit crucial. You want to make sure that you treat these reduced time limits like any other deadline, and see those deadlines as unbreakable.

You can use your intrinsic human longing for competition so that it works for you. Running against the clock forces you to try and win against the clock and strive to beat it as if it were your opponent, without taking shortcuts or producing low-quality work. This can be particularly helpful if you have trouble taking your own deadlines seriously.

This exercise, at first, will partially be an exercise to determine how accurate you are predicting how long a task will take to complete. Some of your time estimates might be spot on, to begin with, and some might be overly inflated. For the tasks where your time estimates are spot on, you won’t be able to beat the clock if you cut the time in half, so experiment with longer times. You don’t want to just jump back to the original time allotment that you set for these tasks, because there may be a more optimal period in between.

Crushing the Cockroaches of Productivity

Take a look at your day and identify the time-fillers, like social media and email, that you might usually spend ten to twenty minutes on. These little time fillers are what are known as ‘cockroaches’ in the productivity world. These activities do nothing to move you forward in reaching your goals.

Instead of spending a leisurely 20 to 30 minutes in the morning reading through your email, give yourself five minutes. This goes for all the time-filler tasks that you identified. Don’t provide these tasks with any more attention until you’ve completed your to-do list for the day. Once you’ve completed everything you need to complete, then you can indulge in some social networking, email reading, or free reading for as long as you’d like.

These are the kinds of tasks where 10 percent of what you do is important, and the other 90 percent is entirely useless — committing to avoiding these tasks until your essential work is completed forces you to focus on the critical tasks.

Implementing the Pomodoro Method

The Pomodoro Method was invented by Francesco Cirillo in the early 1990s and can help you power through distractions, hyper-focus, and accomplish things in short bursts, all while taking frequent breaks to relax. The methodology behind this productivity and time management method is simple: when you are faced with a series of tasks or an enormous task, break the work down into short, timed intervals, that are spaced out with short breaks. This technique of working trains your brain to focus for short periods and helps you stay on top of deadlines. 

The Pomodoro Method is one of the most straightforward productivity techniques to implement in your day. All you need is a timer. Start by choosing a task on your to-do list and set your timer for 25 minutes. Work on the selected task until the timer goes off, then put a check on a piece of paper. Take a short break of about five minutes, then set your timer for another 25 minutes and get back to working on your task. For every four Pomodoro’s or checks that you have on your paper, take a more extended break between 15 and 30 minutes.

If you repeat this process of working in 25-minute intervals, with short breaks in between, you’ll find that you get a lot accomplished, while taking the necessary breaks to help you relax and recharge your brain. It is important to note that if you are distracted during your 25-minute session, for any reason, you either have to end the Pomodoro there, or you have to postpone the distraction until the Pomodoro is complete. 

Prioritize Your Projects and Tasks Using the Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix, also known as the Time Management Matrix, was first created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower during his presidency, and later popularized by Stephen R. Covey in his bestselling book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The Eisenhower Matrix is a productivity tool that entrepreneurs can use to become more productive. It can help you prioritize the tasks that you need to complete each day. When it comes to the tasks and activities you need to work as an entrepreneur, it is essential to understand that not all tasks are created equal. Some of the tasks you complete will provide a substantial outcome, while others provide you with next to nothing. Unfortunately, both kinds of tasks take time to complete.

The Eisenhower Matrix can help you determine which tasks you should focus on by creating two categories of tasks, those that are important and those that are urgent. This division of tasks into two categories will require you to understand the difference between an important task and an urgent task. Having a clear understanding of this will help you to prioritize your tasks and activities using the Eisenhower Matrix.

Quadrant I

The first quadrant in the matrix is referred to as the Quadrant of Necessities and should contain those tasks and activities that are both important and urgent. These are the tasks and activities that you have to deal with immediately. Some examples are project deadlines and family emergencies. These are the kinds of tasks, that if not attended to quickly, can have terrible consequences. However, even though the time you spend in this first quadrant can’t be avoided, you can significantly reduce the time in this quadrant if you spend more time working on tasks and activities that belong in the second quadrant. 

Quadrant II

This second quadrant is referred to as the Quadrant of Quality. The tasks that fall in this quadrant are those proactive tasks that will improve or help you maintain your quality of life. The more time you can spend working on tasks in this quadrant, the less time you will need to spend in the other three quadrants. Some things that would fall into this quadrant of the matrix are planning for the days ahead and evaluating your performance to see if you are doing what you expected. Most of these tasks are related to personal development and are tasks that you know you should be working on but aren’t under a time crunch to complete them.

Quadrant III

The third quadrant of the matrix consists of tasks and activities that are urgent but not important, and that won’t move you forward in accomplishing your goals. It is essential for your productivity to minimize or eliminate as many of these tasks as possible. These tasks tend to drain your energy and waste your time. This quadrant is known as the Quadrant of Deception, and if you spend your time and energy working on tasks that fall in this quadrant, you’ll find yourself wondering where your time went.

Some examples of tasks that would fall in this quadrant are answering non-important phone calls, replying to non-work messages, and chatting on the Internet with someone about trivial matters. You can reduce the time that you spend on the activities and tasks in this quadrant by learning how to say ‘no’ and delegating work to others.

Quadrant IV

The fourth and final quadrant contains tasks and activities that are neither urgent nor important. These tasks don’t have to be completed right away, and you should try to minimize or eliminate them because they don’t add much value to your daily progress. This quadrant is known as the Quadrant of Waste. As an entrepreneur, you need to be mindful of when you are working in this quadrant. The tipping point starts when you spend too much time doing mindless activities that should be allocated to your free time.

Some of the tasks and activities that would fall in this quadrant of the matrix are watching television, engaging in gossip, surfing the Internet, and spending too much time on social media.

Using the Eisenhower Matrix to Increase Productivity

Urgent tasks require your immediate attention, while important tasks contribute to your goals, mission, and values. As an entrepreneur, you should be focusing your energy on completing tasks that fall in the second quadrant of the matrix, those tasks that are important but not urgent. While the Eisenhower Matrix seems simple and easy to follow, most people have the tendency to deal with urgent activities first, even if they aren’t crucial to reaching their goals. This often happens because these kinds of activities tend to press you for your time and attention, causing you to ignore the tasks and activities in the second quadrant. When you sit down to create your to-do list for the following day, place each item in one of the four quadrants of the Eisenhower Matrix. The things that fall in the second quadrant are those tasks that will move you forward in reaching your goals and are those tasks that you need to set aside time to accomplish them.

Having a Routine Can Help You Manage Your Time Better

In implementing any new management strategy, it’s important to create a routine and work with it. The power of routines can’t be overemphasized because you will create a pattern for yourself with the time that you have, which in turn will enhance your time management skills. For you to create a routine, you need to take the time to plan. The easiest way to do this is to sit down with a notepad and make a list of all the activities and tasks that you complete every day as part of your overall experience. Some of the events will be static, like going to work or having dinner, and others will be flexible based on what you do on a particular day.

It is imperative that you are aware of those activities that you often do. Too many people simply wake up and stumble into their day expecting that it will unfold and give them good tidings. However, the day doesn’t just bring anything to us; you have a responsibility in ensuring that you make the most of your day. To gain a better handle of your time throughout the day and accomplish more, you need to create a routine. To help you get started here are some ways that you can start to manage your time with the help of a routine.

Create a Chart

You can achieve more time when you create and work closely with a map. When you set out with a plan for the day, you will be able to get much more done compared to someone who doesn’t have a plan. Developing a plan for each day will allow you to be more mentally prepared for what is to come in the day and know how much time is allotted to specific tasks when you take the time to create and follow a chart.

If you want to create plans for tomorrow, you need to start by envisioning everything that needs to be done and write those tasks and activities down. This way, when you wake up the next day, you won’t have to waste time trying to think about what you need to do. This can save you valuable time and allow you to jump into your day quickly.

Avoid Social Media Distractions

Social distractions have become even more enhanced thanks to the multitude of social media platforms that are available at our disposal today. Unfortunately, with so many choices it is too often easy for us to spend hours of our time on the networks rather than working on the things that we set out to accomplish.

When you create a routine, you want to be sure to attach a time frame to your plans to help you avoid being distracted by the pull of social media until you complete your tasks. When you aren’t distracted by social platforms and other unplanned activities you can better manage your time throughout the day. To help you stay on track, use social media as a reward for being focused and accomplishing what you set out to do during the day.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Avoiding social distractions is not meant to imply avoiding socialization altogether. In fact, neglect of essential social needs, both personal and professional, is one of the primary causes of social media’s allurement going past the point of being productive and healthy. If you find yourself using social media to stave off feelings of loneliness or disconnection rather than just as entertainment, while it might be hard to let go of an easy and non-committal way to meet that need, easy and non-committal doesn’t build real relationships and you’ll find yourself let down eventually, quite possibly at a time you need real support the most. While it might be more difficult and time-consuming at first, it is far better in the long run to proactively and conscientiously invest in cultivating high-quality relationships with people who will genuinely be a positive addition to your life and not just an addition to your social obligations.

Stay Focused

The last thing you want to do is spend the time to create a routine and let it fall by the wayside because you’ve lost focus. It takes a lot of focus to make your routine a reality. When you wake up in the mornings with a plan you need to develop a focused mindset toward your plan so that nothing distracts you.

Too many people develop routines but don’t remain focused on sticking to it, so at the end of the day they have their plans in hand, but allow any and every activity to steal their focus and attention. If you want to improve your time management skills and increase your productivity as an entrepreneur, then you have to be focused and determined to stick to the plan you’ve made for the day.

Reorganize Around Time

When you reorganize your day around time, you will end up making plans based on the unexpected events that can happen in your routine. Most people struggle with time management because they don’t plan for distractions and unexpected events, which can lead to the feeling of being overwhelmed, which can result in procrastination. If you can reorganize your activities around time, you will find that you can still accomplish all the activities that you planned to get done for the day.

Building a rock-solid routine can significantly benefit your time management efforts. Having a routine in place keeps you from wasting time trying to decide what comes next and can give you a better idea of what you can expect during your day and when to expect it. When you establish a routine, you can expect to benefit in the following ways.

Greater Achievements

The benefits of having a reliable method are immense, but at the top of the list is that fact that you attain more significant achievements in your life. This is because you are now effectively using your time the right way which will allow you to get more done and improve your chances of success.

More Free Time

When you establish a routine, you can enjoy the idea that the 24 hours you have in the day can be used to participate in non-work related activities. Proper planning will enable you to create time for more activities that are fun and relaxing, which is essential for avoiding burnout. Time management isn’t about managing time so you can work more, but rather entails utilizing time in the right way so you can get more things done in less time and have more free time to indulge in those activities that you love.

Increased Productivity

Most entrepreneurs who are better at managing their time can attest to the fact that they become much more productive with everything they do. The transformative process is always amazing and is just one of the benefits of establishing a routine.

With a routine, you can start to focus more of your time and energy on the critical activities first then begin to gradually progress to less-important tasks toward the end of the day. As an entrepreneur, the depth of your productivity you will experience will be significantly enhanced when you work with a routine.

Less Procrastination

Procrastination is the thief of time that can be avoided when you are deliberate about creating habits. Your daily routines can help shape you in a way that you don’t put off today’s activities because you already are used to the method. When you can successfully fight off the temptation to procrastinate, you can gain a mastery of time and will continue to make progress toward your goals. It is much easier to procrastinate when there is no urgency with what you need to accomplish and when you don’t have a plan in place. Take the time today to create a plan and establish a routine so you can take your activities seriously as you work toward attaining a perfect circle of solid time management skills.

Better Discipline

Success and discipline are two words that go together because you will never find a successful person who isn’t disciplined and vice versa. Establishing routines will allow you to become more disciplined and focused on what needs to be done as opposed to what you feel like doing.

Everyone wants to spend their time lying around on the beach soaking in the sun and taking in the fresh air, but you will never accomplish anything living this way. For you to make progress toward achieving your goals, you have to attain a certain level of discipline that makes pursuit of your goals automatic rather than an extra activity that has to be fit in somehow to an already overcrowded day. Getting your routine established today will help you become a more disciplined person who is proud of their accomplishments.

Routines can be strict about instilling in your daily life, but once you get used to them, they will become a significant part of your life and help you build a successful business. Be determined to grow from where you are with the process of routine as you work toward better time management skills.

Improve Your Time Management By Learning to Delegate and Outsource

As a business owner, you are responsible for every aspect of your company, from marketing to list building to customer service and more. To have time away from your business you have to learn how to delegate and outsource some of your responsibilities to qualified individuals or you will be bombarded with work. Business owners who try to do everything themselves will eventually succumb to burn out and failure. When you work non-stop, you eventually lose focus on how to improve your business and increase your customers. Unfortunately, when you try to handle everything yourself, you can ultimately damage your business, so it is essential that you learn how to delegate tasks so you can free up your time to focus on more critical aspects of your business.

Learning the Art of Delegation

Learning to delegate is not only easy but extremely beneficial to the overall success of your business. The first step you need to take is to analyze and determine which of your daily tasks you can delegate, what needs to be done to accomplish each task, the standard that you expect the tasks to be tackled and completed, and who would be better suited for the task. You need to make sure that the person you delegate the task to has the capabilities that are needed to complete the task, and if they don’t, they need to have the potential to learn the skills required to complete it. Before you start delegating tasks, you need to ask yourself the following questions.

  • Which tasks and activities can I delegate?
  • What are the steps needed to complete the task?
  • Who is the most qualified to complete the task?
  • Do they have the capabilities needed to complete the task in a timely manner?
  • Can they handle the responsibility involved in completing the task?
  • What results do I expect from the completion of the task?

To be successful at delegating you have to think through the process and take the time to plan it out before moving forward. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of delegating tasks without any planning, which will ultimately lead to failure, so it is essential that you take some time and think through the process and make a plan as to who you will delegate the task to and what you expect the end result to be.

Another important aspect of delegating is the ability to be clear about what you need, the time limit in which you expect the work to be done, and the results you expect when the task is complete. If those you are delegating to don’t clearly understand the responsibilities, they will spend more time in unproductive activities and eventually become demotivated. Being clear when you explain the tasks is crucial to attaining successful results.

Outsourcing Tasks for Better Time Management

Outsourcing is not just for large corporations. Many small businesses today are taking advantage of the outsourcing resources that are available to help them excel the growth of their business and improve their time management skills. Outsourcing gives you the ability to hire professionals to complete the work that you either don’t know how to do or don’t have the time to complete without having the added expense of training new employees and purchasing the equipment that might be involved in the completion of the job.

Why You Should Outsource the Work

Your staff is the most significant expense and asset that you have in your business. The number of people you have working, their skillset, their cost to your business, and their ambition and motivation, all combined are the most important determining factors in the success or failure of your business. Being able to get the right people in the right positions at the right time and at the right price gives you a substantial advantage over your competition.

The numerous benefits of outsourcing for your business are unlimited. It can free you up to focus on doing the things that will move your business forward. When you can outsource jobs, it means that you are no longer tied down in figuring out how to do the task that you may lack the knowledge or skills to complete. You can outsource the job to a freelancer or agency that specializes in a particular area. Not only does this reduce the risk of costly mistakes, but it can also result in better efficiency, faster delivery, and an increase in productivity. Outsourcing has also been shown to be more cost effective which can result in enormous savings and more money for your business. Outsourcing can give you a competitive edge by allowing you more time to concentrate on the more critical aspects of your business.

Types of Tasks You Can Outsource

You can outsource everything from web services, administrative tasks, content creation, and payroll, or anything that you think someone else would be better suited to complete. You can also outsource those repetitive and labor-intensive tasks and projects that are necessary to keep your business running smoothly. Here are just some of the tasks that you can outsource to free up more of your time and help you become more productive.

  • Data entry
  • Editing
  • Accounting tasks
  • Budget management
  • Website management
  • Internet marketing
  • Email management
  • Order processing
  • Customer service

Outsourcing and delegating tasks is an easy and cost-effective way to get more work done and deliver excellent results. With delegation and outsourcing, you can take back your time and accomplish more in less time.

Building Good Habits Can Improve Your Time Management

Time management is one of the most challenging tasks to learn. Trying to differentiate between things that are urgent in your life and what is critically important to your life can be confusing and quite tricky. The ability to distinguish between these things becomes practical when it comes to health issues. The tricky thing about health problems is that in most cases the most essential aspect of health doesn’t tend to appear urgent.

For example, while it may not be urgent for you to go to the gym today, it is undoubtedly vital for your long term health. Another example would be getting stressed out at the moment won’t wreck your entire body, but if you can’t solve the underlying issues that are causing the stress, you may find yourself heading in a negative, downward spiral. Finally, eating processed food, fast food, or convenient food will certainly not affect your inner emotional being; however, it will increase your chances of becoming physically ill. In this context, it is incredibly essential to manage your time to ensure that you eat healthily and take care of your body on your journey toward success.

Focusing on Physical Health

This may be the easiest, as well as the hardest category to focus on. It’s easy in the regard that all you need to do is exercise and eat well. It’s hard because very few people actually create and stick to a plan to address their physical well-being. This is because we don’t feel like we can find the time to eat correctly and exercise.

When it comes to your exercise regime, start by committing to 20 minutes of exercise a day. This can be anything from practicing yoga in the morning to take a quick 20-minute walk after dinner. The key is to have fun and start to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Make sure you find something that you not only enjoy but also something that you can do every day. Focus on an activity that is easy to start with a quality process.

As you get used to setting aside time to exercise, you can begin to increase the amount of time you exercise and the intensity at which you exercise. Participating in regular physical activity is a great way to reduce stress, clear your mind, and keep you healthy, which will all help you avoid experiencing burnout.

Eating a healthy diet is also incredibly important for reducing stress and keeping yourself from burning out. When you fill your body with healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats, you feel better than you would if you ate nothing but processed or fast food.

When it comes to eating healthy, planning ahead and writing down your shopping list can help to keep you accountable. As you plan your weekly meals, be sure to include plenty of fruits and vegetables, proteins, and limit the number of carbohydrates. Pre-planning your meals can save you time and ensure that you won’t be tempted to hit the fast food drive-thru on your way home at night.

Focusing on Mental Health with Meditation

Meditation provides many proven benefits with the most well-known and documented effect being increased calmness. This increased calmness can help you experience many health benefits and improve your ability to handle stress. When you can handle stress better, it helps reduce your heart rate, lower blood pressure, and lower cortisol levels in your body. 

Practicing meditation in the mornings can help to focus your mind and body and help you to relax before you get into your daily schedule. If you are experiencing stress about projects, clients, deadlines, or other aspects of your business, meditation can remove your attention from these problems before you get started with your day.

Regularly practicing meditation can also help you strike a better balance in your life and prevent burnout. Many people, including entrepreneurs, believe that you have to work sixteen hours a day to get your business off the ground and be successful. While building a successful business does require hard work and dedication, long-term success demands that you balance your work with other aspects of your life.

Burnout is more likely to contribute to a lack of success. However, keeping a balance in your life can help to create success, not just with your career, but in other areas of your life as well. The better you’re able to manage your time, the more time you’ll have to take care of yourself mentally and physically, which will significantly improve your quality of life and happiness, and help you avoid burnout.

Tools and Apps to Help You Increase Your Productivity and Manage Your Time

There are hundreds of productivity and time management tools and apps that you can utilize to help you better manage your time and help you accomplish more in less time. However, with so many apps to choose from, how do you know which ones you should be using.

Google Calendar

If you aren’t already using a calendar app, scheduling tool, or another way to maintain your schedule, Google Calendar (https://calendar.google.com)  can help. It’s free for anyone to use and you can install it in a matter of minutes. Keeping a calendar and scheduling everything you need to do during the day is an easy way to discipline yourself and help you become a more effective entrepreneur, which will, in turn, help you grow your business faster.

Using Google Calendar will help you organize your tasks and help you better manage your time. The most successful entrepreneurs keep a calendar to help them stay organized and plan their days and weeks so they can avoid low priority tasks creeping into their schedules.

RescueTime

With all of the distractions that have the potential to pull you off course quickly, it is easy to get scattered. RescueTime (https://rescuetime.com) is an app that will help you better understand your daily habits so that you can focus on what’s really important and increase your daily productivity. RescueTime runs securely in the background of your computer and other mobile devices. It tracks the time you spend on applications and websites, which provides you with an accurate picture of how you spent your day.

With RescueTime you can set alerts to let you know when you’ve spent a certain amount of time on an activity, block distracting websites, and it will log highlights about what you accomplished during the day. RescueTime will show you how long you spend reading and responding to emails, how long you’re in meetings, and how long you spend doing things online other than work.

Focus Booster

Focus Booster (https://focusboosterapp.com) is based on the Pomodoro technique and can empower you to maintain focus and manage distractions throughout your day. Focus Booster uses a simple Pomodoro timer to help you boost your productivity, put an end to procrastination, improve your focus, and track your time. The app will help you achieve more while also helping you understand how you use your time. The simple dashboards allow you to visualize your progress and rhythm to help you improve your productivity and gives you the power to quickly generate invoices or reports from CSV exports to share with your clients. With Focus Booster you can discover work/life balance and identify areas where you can improve.

Toggl

The Toggl app (https://toggl.com) is an excellent alternative to time-sheets if you need to track how much time you are spending on different projects. It makes tracking time simple and if you forget to log your time it sends you reminders. When you effectively track your time you can know how much your time is worth by breaking down your hours by projects, clients, and tasks. This will allow you to see what tasks are making yourmoney and which ones are holding you back. Effective time management starts with being clear on how much time you are actually spending on projects and tasks, and then thoroughly analyzing the results so you can work out how you can manage them more effectively.

Evernote

Evernote (https://evernote.com) is a free productivity tool that allows you to capture all your thoughts, ideas, and images in a variety of ways. With Evernote, you can record your meetings, speeches, interviews, and ideas, as well as create notes, add voice or text attachments, and share all your files with your colleagues. Evernote helps you to capture and prioritize your ideas, projects, and to-do lists so that nothing falls through the cracks.

Mind42

An excellent productivity method that can help you come more organized by focusing your thoughts is mind mapping, and Mind42 (https://mind42.com)  is the best free mind mapping tool available. You can use Mind42 to create your to-do lists, brainstorm ideas, and organize events. The software runs in your browser to create mind maps to help you visually organize your day. Gain more clarity about your day and get more done in less time.

SyncBackFree

Stop wasting time backing and syncing up your files, and let SyncBackFree (https://2brightsparks.com) do the work for you. With SyncBackFree you can backup and synchronize all your files and restore backup files quickly. It allows you to schedule backups and run programs before and after profiles. If you’ve never backed up your files before, you should consider this crucial tool to not only save you time but keep all your files and documents safe.

MyLifeOrganized (MLO)

If you find it challenging to manage all your tasks throughout the day, organize your goals, or work on your to-do list, MyLifeOrganized (https://mylifeorganized.net) can help. MLO is a task management system that can help you target what you should be focusing on during the day to ensure that you reach your objectives. It will automatically generate to-do lists that include priority actions for your immediate attention so that you can better track your progress. The simple drag-and-drop interface will allow you to rearrange any task within a plain list or it will organize them into a simple to use task tree.

1Password

These days everyone is bombarded with too many passwords and trying to remember all your passwords can eat up your precious time. That’s where 1Password (https://1password.com) comes in. The app allows you to keep all your passwords in a single encrypted database that is protected by just one password. Having all your passwords safely stored in one place will save you time when you forget then and need to retrieve them. It also allows you to use various passwords for different accounts so that you don’t compromise on security. 1Password also allows you to securely store your credit cards, receipts, and more and have access to them from any device.

These are just a few of the better time management and productivity apps and tools that you can use to help you master your time and accomplish more in less time. Many of them you can use for free, and those that charge a monthly fee are relatively reasonable. Start boosting your productivity and managing your time better with these time management apps.

Conclusion

Time management is life management and a skill that is essential for entrepreneurs. It is an indispensable resource. Time management is about finding ways to work smarter, not harder, so that you can accomplish your goals in less time. Like any other skill, time management can be learned and must be practiced regularly. By learning how to take control of your time, you give yourself the power to be successful and live the life you are passionate about.

It can be challenging to take control of your time, because of the number of actions that are required to take to develop the skills, as well as the time it takes to master those newly acquired skills. With the help of the tips and techniques outlined here, taking control of your time is much easier to accomplish and will result in you being able to accomplish everything you set out to do with less effort and in less time.

If you can practice fundamental techniques of time management long enough, you’ll benefit from a drastic increase in your productivity. Goals that seemed like a pipe dream will become more achievable. The tasks that scared you before will no longer appear as daunting. Things that you never thought possible will start to happen and all you have to do is show up and put in the work.

Time is a valuable form of currency, so it is essential that you spend it well. Learn how to effectively manage your time and start to enjoy more time doing the things that you love.

Forming a New Good Habit Is Easier than Breaking a Bad One

 

The Science Of Bad Habits

Everyone has at least one bad habit – not one of us is perfect. It may be that you smoke, you may have a chocolate habit, perhaps you skip workouts and watch too much television. All of these bad habits act against your best interests.

So, why don’t you just stop doing it? Unfortunately, it’s just not that easy… as evidenced by every failed New Year’s resolution. Your bad habits are simply automatic, they are just your way of life. We shrug and tell people hey, it’s who I am, it’s what I do… this is me. It feels as though your habits are bigger than you are and that they are impossible to overcome.

If you have ever wondered why you just can’t quit your bad habits, it’s because humans tend to repeat behaviors that make them feel good. It feels good to drink alcohol, even if it ends in a hangover. The buzz you get from smoking a cigarette temporarily relieves your stress levels. TV and sugary foods trigger a heavy release of dopamine.

Your brain becomes accustomed to your bad habits feeling good. So, they serve a purpose, even though they are bad for you. The end result is never ideal, but the outcome that you receive in that very moment… it’s great and it’s what makes it so difficult to let go.

You get home from work… what’s the first thing that you do? If it’s crashing on the couch to watch television, then there’s a good chance you will never get back up to take care of what you need to. You forego workouts, you may even skip making dinner and order something in. Just like that, one bad habit begets more nasty habits.

We don’t want to make you feel bad about this because even if the rewards eventually bring harm, it is human nature to seek them out. According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, around 70% of smokers want to quit their bad habit, yet most of them never do (https://drugfree.org/learn/drug-and-alcohol-news/almost-70-percent-of-smokers-want-to-quit-but-few-do/).

Around half of those people made an attempt to do so, but of them… just 6% were successful. This, despite the fact that everyone knows how terrible it is for health, as well as just how expensive it is.

Start By Building Good Habits

So, what should we do instead of trying to quit those bad habits? You can start by building good habits. Stop wasting your effort, stop wasting your time… because the best way to break free of your bad habits is to instead focus on building new good habits.

You may have already started the journey, and when it doesn’t go well you tend to beat yourself up about it. That’s not the way to overcome your bad habits. By judging yourself harshly, you are creating self-doubt and tarnishing your self-image. This will simply fuel your bad habits.

No one enjoys focusing on their faults. It’s no fun. There’s a good chance that when you think about breaking your bad habit, your mind conjures up a laundry list of justifications for your behavior.

You actively attempt to convince yourself that you should keep at that bad habit. There is comfort in bad habits, and it’s difficult to just let that go. Moreover, if you have had this habit for years, it is so firmly entrenched it feels as though it’s almost impossible to overcome.

Say you want to cut back on your alcohol intake. You are in the habit of pouring yourself a large glass of Malbec as you make dinner. So, you read about just how dangerous it is to drink too much, you scold yourself for being careless, and you vow that this will be the last time. There’s a problem with this plan.

The more likely outcome is that you don’t like the idea of giving up your habit and you start to feel shame about having the habit in the first place. So, what do you do? You just keep on drinking.

 

The Cause of Bad Habits

There are two big problems that cause bad habits – boredom and stress. You indulge in retail therapy because you are stressed out. You are bored, so you snack absentmindedly. You can find different ways to cope with both of those issues, which will serve as a substitute for your bad habits.

It’s important to understand that boredom and stress may be fueled by deeper problems. It isn’t always easy to think about or consider, but in order to process this properly, you will have to be deeply honest with yourself.

Is there an underlying reason, feeling or belief that could be driving your bad habits?

Recognizing the cause is crucial to the process. We all have our habits for a reason, whether they are good or bad.

As we discussed above, bad habits often bring rewards, even if they are temporary and the damage is long-term. Smoking a cigarette offers a biological benefit, staying in a terrible relationship has an emotional cause, and many other bad habits are an attempt to cope with your stress levels.

Even the small bad habits have benefits. You feel connected when you repeatedly open social media or your email to check for notifications. Yet, that same action is destructive to productivity, it fuels your stress and disrupts your focus.

The reward it offers, though, is that you feel as though you haven’t missed out. So, you keep doing it. If you smoke because you feel stressed out, then you can’t simply stop smoking. You have to learn how to manage your stress more effectively.

Ultimately, your bad habit is addressing a need that you have. This is why it’s vital that you replace your bad habit with a new good one. Otherwise, you will struggle to overcome your bad habits.

 

A New Approach: Adopt Good Habits

You need to adopt a new approach. You have to consider what behaviors you can develop that will provide you with the same comfort your bad habit does, but without the damage to your health. You are more likely to be motivated about adopting a new habit when you recognize how much better you will feel because of it. This is a lot easier to do than it is to break a habit.

When you sit down to identify your bad habits, you need to consider it as a detective would evidence. You have to look at it from a different perspective and be objective. This can be incredibly challenging, and if it’s something you struggle with, then pretend you’re helping a friend with their difficult situation.

So, you have a list of your bad habits. Now, when did this habit start, what triggers it, and where is the root? For example, you may have picked up an unhealthy habit of getting fast food after you finish work. It started because work was hectic, you were constantly running late, and you just didn’t have the energy or time to cook when you got home.

Fast food was an adequate solution, but it was supposed to be a temporary one. Here you are, months later, and you are still doing the same thing. You have to create a new habit that will provide you with the same comfort.

You can start by preparing meals in advance and choosing some of your favorite meals so that you look forward to getting home and making dinner.

Awareness

It’s fairly easy to get caught up in your feelings when it comes to your bad habits. You feel guilty, you daydream about how you wish things were… but that distracts you from the truth of the matter. Awareness is going to help you change.

When does it happen, how many times a day do you indulge your bad habit, who are you with, and where are you when you do it? What is it that triggers your behavior? Start by tracking your issues.

The easiest way to get started is to determine which bad habit you’d like to replace first. Then, track just how often you do it by keeping a tally of how many times you do it each day. Once you get to the end of your day, you can count just how many times you did this.

Don’t be tempted to judge yourself. Don’t feel guilty about it. Your goal is simply to be aware of just how often you indulge your bad habit. You can’t wrap your head around the issue until you’re fully aware of the problem.

From there, you can implement some new ideas. Don’t worry, we have prepared a number of them for you. It takes time and effort to break your bad habits. More importantly, it requires perseverance. You might fail multiple times before you succeed, but that’s okay!

Identity

We tend to think about goals in strict terms. We think about an outcome that will reshape our identity. One way to overcome this type of thinking is to tell yourself that you are a certain type of person. For example, tell yourself that you are the type of person who exercises daily.

You are the type of person who drinks a lot of water. You’re the kind of person who is a writer. You are whatever you want to be, you just have to change the story and start narrating it properly. It’s much easier to create a new habit when you can conceptualize it as part of your identity. Your habits reinforce identity, so create a clear view of your identity to help enforce new habits.

Whether you like it or not, habits embody you as a person or the person that you want to become. When you exercise, you are embodying the identity of someone who works out every day and is in good shape.

When you write, you then embody that identify. When you take action, you are essentially voting for yourself, for the person that you want to be.

Create Your Environment

Think about how your personality influences your habits. Also, consider how your environment influences you. Can you change your environment in order to build better habits?

You may have an addictive personality, one that makes it easy for you to fall into bad habits like smoking, drinking, and watching too much television. You want to change this habit, and you know you can’t just flip a switch to stop being an addictive personality. It’s time to change your environment.

Why not think about rearranging your living room to support healthier habits than watching television. Let’s be honest, we all decorate our living rooms with the seating area pointing at the television.

Another example could be your cleanliness. You struggle to keep your home organized because you don’t naturally feel compelled to do so. You can create your physical environment to contain cues that prompt you to carry out a certain task. Once you do this repeatedly, you will have a habit.

The point here is that you can use your personality to inform the strategy that you make to create your new habits.

Consider the Effect

Self-improvement requires good habit building. Do your habits inhibit your efforts to improve yourself or do they promote them? It doesn’t matter what good habit you would like to start, it’s believing that you have the potential to carry it out.

It’s easy to ignore your small daily habits, but they are essentially the interest you gain during the course of self-improvement. Those small habits build bigger habits.

Problem Solving

Think about habits as solutions. Your brain comes up with solutions for the problems that you come across. When you face the same problem repeatedly, your brain gets quicker at providing you with a solution. For example, you have a stressful day at work, you arrive home, and your brain is telling you to relax.

There are a number of ways you can answer that call, but many people pour wine, some light a cigarette… but you could be slipping into a bubble bath with a good book. There are plenty of solutions to the same problem, but some of them are healthier than others.

Your brain just wants a solution that works. That doesn’t mean it’s the right or best habit. It’s just making suggestions and you’re seizing on them.

Distractions

Your habit is convenient. Generally, you can only be distracted by your smartphone if it’s handy. If you plan to sit down and write for an hour, but your phone is in a different room, then you won’t be thinking about it. Instead, you will be fully focused on your writing.

The convenience of distractions is often something that fuels our habits by breaking our focus and offering temptation. You are unlikely to interrupt your work to trek to another room just to see if someone has contacted you.

Behavior Change

There are four steps to changing your behavior, and this is how good habits form.

  1. Create a supportive environment with obvious cues.
  2. Make the new behavior attractive.
  3. Make it easy.
  4. Make it rewarding.

That’s it. Reverse those four steps and that’s how you break a bad habit.

What does that look like in practice? Do you want to eat healthier? Buy healthy food, keep your cabinets fully stocked, and have healthy recipes on hand. Start a food journal or read about the health benefits you will experience from improving your diet.

Try prepping your ingredients ahead of time or have ingredients delivered to streamline your cooking process. Track how you feel as you embark on your healthy eating.

Those are the steps to eating healthy, but what about the steps to not eating unhealthily? You remove all of the junk food in your home and read about how it impacts your health. You take the money you saved from buying junk food and invest it in healthy food. You keep a journal to note how you feel when you eat junk food.

Systems, Not Goals

The purpose of a goal is to provide clarity and offer direction. However, when we talk about goals for the purpose of making changes, it isn’t goals that you should focus on, it’s systems. What does that even mean?

When you achieve a goal, you do so by creating a system of habits. You could spring clean your home, but it won’t stay clean unless there is a system of habits in place to maintain it. So, while we live in a society that is results driven, our habits deserve much more attention than we give them.

Setting a goal means nothing if you don’t have a system of habits to drive you to achieve it.

Context

Your habit is a solution to a problem. So, to create new good habits you need to create context. Do you want to watch less television and read more? Then don’t sit in the same seat you do to watch television while you read; find a special place to do it.

You have to create new habits in an environment that you don’t have existing behavioral associations with.

Adopt a Substitute

You have to consider what you will do instead of your bad habit – especially when you’re faced with the trigger for your bad habit. When you feel the urge to light a cigarette, what are you going to do instead? Perhaps, meditation.

When you feel the call of social media luring you to procrastinate, what are you going to do instead? You have to plan for temptation. You have to plan for stumbles and hurdles.

You should try and purge as many of your triggers as possible. So, if you know that you smoke more when you drink, cut back on your alcohol intake. If you know that you always eat ice cream while you watch sitcoms, don’t buy ice cream.

If you know you immediately turn the television on when you wake up, keep the remote in a different room. It’s easier to break those bad habits when you can limit the triggers. Your current environment is fueling your bad habits, which only makes it harder to adopt good habits. You can change the outcome by changing your environment.

Team Up

Sometimes accountability is all it takes to make the change stick. So, find someone who wants to quit the same bad habit and adopt a new one and team up to do it together. You can celebrate your wins together, lean on each other in hard times, and stay responsible.

Surround yourself with others who are living now how you want to live. That doesn’t mean you write off all of your old friendships, but there is power in finding a new social network. Especially when it’s a healthier one.

Visualize Success

Imagine yourself tossing your bad habit, imagine yourself indulging in your good habit. Visualize yourself destroying your bad habits and embracing your new good ones. Visualize success and imagine yourself creating a new identity for yourself. It isn’t about being someone you’re not, it’s about being who you really are.

For some reason, we think that we have to be a new person to break old habits. In truth, you don’t need to quit your habit, you simply need to reset yourself to a time when you weren’t that habit. You lived without this habit once, and you can absolutely do it again.

But…

Normally, we hate the word but… but, in this case, you can use it to correct negative thoughts and mistakes.

I keep failing, but everyone has failed before.

I’m so out of shape, but in three months from now, I could be back in shape.

I smoke too much, but I can change that.

I’m so hungover, but if I learn how to manage stress, I can stop drinking.

 

Final Thoughts

Instead of focusing on breaking your bad habits, refocus on forming new good habits. It’s a much easier task and helps you kill two birds with one stone.

You aren’t quitting something, you’re simply starting something new, something healthy, and something that will improve your life.

Do You Have an Entrepreneurial Mindset?

Have you ever thought about starting your own business, but “stuff” just got in your way? There are several ways to tell if you have this entrepreneurial mindset. Moreover, there are just as many ways to clear the road to becoming an entrepreneur.

Do You Have the Entrepreneurial Mindset?

Consider these personality traits:

  • Leadership qualities
  • Creative thinking
  • A feeling that there is something more than what you are doing in your current job
  • Innovative ideas

If you show any or all of these qualities, you could very well be on your way to owning your own business because you do have that entrepreneurial spirit.

How to Clear the Road toward Entrepreneurial Success

Going from the 9:00 to 5:00 grind to the entrepreneurial spirit may not be the easiest path, but it is something you can achieve. However, there are several steps you need to take before forging head first into business ownership.

  • Get clear – Getting clear on what it is you want to achieve is an integral first step. It is not as simple as coming up with an idea and writing it down. You have to write down your goals, but even more importantly, you have to break them down. Being specific is not just an option; it is mandatory. You need to have clear, specific goals when it comes to starting a new business.
  • Create a plan – Once you are clear on what your goal for your new business is, you have to create a plan for success. Write down what your goal is, how you will achieve that goal through smaller steps, and then break that list down even further.
  • Take action – Next, it is time to take action steps. Action steps need more than just thinking about taking them. Declare aloud and to everyone you can what your action steps are; in this way, you are accountable to your word.
  • Delegate – If you are starting a new business of your own, don’t be afraid to delegate tasks, even if you do not have a business partner or associates yet. One day delegating will be a task you will have to learn anyhow. Allow family members and friends to help take the load off somewhere else while you learn all you need to know about your new business endeavor.
  • Letting go – Sometimes in order to create something new, we need to let go of something old. In order to clear the path to creating a new business, something else will have to fall by the wayside. Your home may need to be a little cluttered or you may have to let go of a favorite sport or activity for a while, but it is well worth it in the end.

Keeping your day job is important until you are secure financially in your new business endeavor, so balance your time management accordingly unless you can afford some sacrifice to progress things quicker. It may be a difficult road to travel, but having an entrepreneurial mindset is a gift. Once you open it, you will be happy that you did.

Compound Exercises vs. Isolation Exercises

Compound and isolation exercises are routinely seen at many gyms throughout the country, but what are they?

Compound exercises are those that engage two or more different joints within the body. Examples of compound exercises include rows, dips, and overhead shoulder press.

In contrast, isolation exercises focus on a single muscle, for example the biceps. Examples of isolation exercises include calf and lateral raises. The choice between compound and isolation exercises can have a significant effect on any workout and can be the key to success or failure.

When working out, compound exercises should always come first. This is because they are more physically demanding and require much more energy than isolation exercises. By doing them first you will be better able to complete them, which will increase the hormones secreted, and increase the effectiveness of your workout. 

Furthermore, isolation exercise ability does not translate into compound exercise ability. Just because you can do several isolation exercises very well, this does not mean you will show significant improvements in compound exercises; the two are very different. For these reasons, isolation exercises are generally considered secondary to compound exercises.

Depending on your goals, you may need a variety of both, or possibly to focus on compound exercises.

Benefits And Uses Of Isolation Exercises

While there are drawbacks with isolation exercises, they still have a valid place in many workouts.

  • If you wish to specifically target one area such as your chest without affecting your shoulders and triceps, an isolation exercise would be the answer. In this case, exercises such as dumbbell flyes would work the chest without making any difference to the shoulders and triceps.
  • Furthermore, if you are injured in some way, isolation exercises can ensure you are working other muscles and resting the injured one.

However, isolation exercises are in some ways less useful than compound ones for several reasons:

  • Isolation exercises will only target individual muscles and therefore won’t make the most of your workout.
  • It will take longer and more effort to build up muscles as you are doing them one at a time.
  • Following this, if you are only working out one muscle at a time, you will need to spend much longer in the gym to achieve the same result. It is unlikely that anyone has the spare time to work out one muscle at a time.

Benefits And Uses Of Isolation Exercises

In contrast, compound exercises work out several muscles at the same time, drastically reducing the amount of time you need to spend working out.

  • As they are working out different muscles at the same time, they are much less stressful on your body than isolation exercises. This means isolation exercises need to be regularly reviewed and changed to avoid overusing the muscles and risking injury.
  • Compound exercises have been scientifically shown to produce greater increases in testosterone and growth hormones.

Weight Loss

If you are aiming for weight loss, isolation exercises just won’t do it; to lose, you need to burn more calories than you are taking in. By performing compound exercises, you will burn more calories, which is only a good thing for weight loss.

So which type of exercise is best?

The simple answer is they are both useful for different purposes.

If you are focusing on weight loss, muscle, or appearance related goals, compound exercises should make up the majority of your workout. However, isolation exercises are still worth adding in to focus on key individual areas.

For those new to the gym and working out, isolation exercises should initially be avoided. Compound exercises will achieve your goals in a safer and more manageable way than isolation exercises.

Brand Yourself as a Trendsetter

You can literally drive down the street in any town in America and see those successful businesses who became trendsetters in their niche. Some, like Starbucks, have even gone further and make it a “culture” of followers.

McDonald’s speedy food service reinvented the fast food market. Like those highly successful entrepreneurs who saw a vision and acted on it, you need to do the same in your online niche.

Looking into the future, making predictions, and creating products based on your research and instincts into the future of the niche can boost your credibility and make you hot in your niche

But only if you’re willing to expose your ideas without hesitation, fail forward, and take risks with your branding. Examine the needs and wants of your target audience. It’s important that you know what pleases your customers and what they long for in new products and ideas.

Keeping a close eye on what they’re saying in posts and blogs and what they’re offering on their own sites can be a good way of getting the insight you need. If they’re complaining a lot, take it and run with it – be the solution they’ve been waiting for all along.

Decide on a trendsetting product. Based on your research and instincts, create a product which is unique and based on your customers’ ambitions and interests. Try to have an ear to the ground and do something before everyone else jumps on that bandwagon.  

Then deliver it in a way that covers all bases. Podcasts, forums, blogs, paid advertisements, and launches with JVs and affiliates are all great ways to get the word out.

Update your sites and products. If you’ve been offering the same old stuff in the same old ways for too long, your sales likely show it. Take an idea someone else is doing and turn it upside down. Do it different – better.

Respond to change. You may not see it coming, but when you realize the market is changing, change with it. Not responding to change will leave you in the dust and you may never catch up.

Your business is ever-changing and evolving, and keeping up with the latest trends is part of the fun and excitement of keeping it all fresh. Don’t look at it as a chore. Welcome it as a change of pace to keep you excited about things.

Make a firm commitment to establish yourself in the niche and then set goals that will get you there.  Rising to the top of your niche and becoming a trendsetter who can see the future and help others get there is an imperative step in becoming a true authority figure in your niche.

Develop the best product and best marketing strategies out there and continue to update as the trends dictate. It’s a never-ending process. As other business owners get bored, lazy, or sloppy, you’ll be the one pulling ahead.

How To Build Self Confidence Through Positive Thinking

The state of your mind dictates many aspects of your life, including your health, the success you achieve in your career, the love and stability in your personal life, and much more. Negative thoughts lower your level of confidence, which in turn harms your mental state.

A lack of self-confidence plagues many people, though it comes in different levels. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Some people have no confidence at all, while others may only exhibit a lack of it under certain situations like on dates with the opposite sex. The good news is that you can do a lot towards building your self-confidence.

By integrating positive thinking into your life, you can slowly push out these negative thoughts for good and heighten your level of confidence.

The first step is believing that you are worthy of confidence, and that means having a healthy self-esteem where you love who you are without reservation or conditions. If self-esteem is a major issue, a good therapist can go a long way to helping in this regard.

Here are five effective ways to change your mindset and become a more confident individual. No matter where you are on the spectrum of self-confidence, whether very low or somewhere in the middle or even near the top, these steps will help you reach that next level.

1. Self-Appraisal

The first step in building confidence is to truly become in touch with all your great qualities, talents, abilities, and attributes. Who are you? What makes you a good person? What do you excel at? What is in your heart? What kind of friend are you? Are you funny? Honest? Caring? Giving? Answering these questions and literally making a list is a great beginning to identifying those things that build our confidence.

How you think about yourself actually has a great deal to do with your confidence level. Many are negative thinkers by habit, one that has become ingrained in us over the years, possibly starting in childhood. Make a list and begin to reinforce this list to yourself daily. Include aspects of your appearance, your talents, activities that you’re good at, and who you truly are. Anytime you feel upset or are thinking negative thoughts, take out this list and remind yourself of your best qualities.

2. Self-Praise

While too much self-praise could lead to pride, a healthy dose of self-praise on a regular basis can be extremely useful for building confidence. Positive affirmations push out negative perceptions and create a stronger self-image. You should habitually praise yourself for doing something well or for a new behavior that you want to encourage. It may seem strange telling yourself, “Great job!” or “I like myself,” or “I’ve got this!” but this is the kind of positive thinking that helps you feel better about who you are. If you are a more visual person, it may be helpful to write down a list every day of all your achievements. Meditate on the items on your list before bed, and congratulate yourself for all the achievements of the day.

3. Acceptance of Compliments

Many people with low self-esteem brush off and negate compliments with statements like, “I messed up my painting here and here,” or “My shirt isn’t that great, it’s just the first thing I grabbed.” Other people will seem to receive the compliment but then internally tell themselves why it isn’t true. But compliments are confirmation from other people about your admirable qualities. You should accept the compliments with grace by simply saying “Thank you,” or “I so appreciate you noticing,” so that your mind continuously affirms your positive traits. Stay conscious of each time you negate someone’s compliment, and try to catch yourself before it happens.

4. Creative Visualization Exercises

Creative visualization is becoming an increasingly popular way to help people obtain their goals. The concept calls for you to repeatedly visualize the outcome of your goal. If you are an actor, you might envision yourself holding an Oscar. If you are aiming to build your confidence, you may want to envision an action that represents confidence from your own perspective. It could be something like leading a meeting with top executives or asking for a raise. Through creative visualization, you are building confidence by mentally preparing yourself for your desired outcomes.

5. Prioritize Positive People

Sometimes the biggest supporters in our lives can become the most overlooked, either because we start taking them for granted or we’re not really paying attention to what they offer or what they have to say because it clashes with our internal opinion of ourselves. But these are the people we most need in our lives to encourage us forward to where we want to go and to pull us back from falling down into potentially bottomless pits of negativity.

Conversely, if you have a friend or acquaintance who continually brings you down, whether intentionally or unintentionally, you may want to consider whether that person should remain in your life. Even if the person is family, you may need to separate yourself from them if their words or behavior towards you tends to be a destructive influence rather than a positive one.

Remember, building your confidence is not going to happen overnight, but integrate these tips into your life and over time you will see change. The most important point to keep in mind is that positive thinking is key to building confidence. Whenever you feel the negative thoughts creeping in, turn them around into something positive.

Four Ways You Can Increase Revenue

Saying you want to increase your company’s profits is a little like saying you want to “get rich”. Neither of these statements will come as much of a surprise to anyone, and neither is particularly helpful or likely to happen without a more concrete plan.

Increasing revenue on the other hand is a little different though.

Your revenue is the amount of money that your business makes before you deduct expenses and cost per unit. In other words, this is the sum total of all the invoices you send and all the cash you take into the till.

Increasing revenue is a much more focused goal than increasing profit and there are a few useful strategies you can use to get there.  Today we will look at four.

The four ways to increase your revenue are:

  • Increasing your number of customers
  • Increasing your average transaction size
  • Increasing your frequency of transactions per customer
  • Raising your prices

You probably feel there are many more strategies you can use to increase revenue, but what you’ll find is that most of them are just elaborate ways of achieving the above ends.

Upselling

Upselling is a great strategy you can use to increase the amount people are spending with you. This is also called the “value add”.

Essentially, you secure your customer first and then once they are ready to purchase, you offer to give them even more premium treatment for just a little extra money. An example of a value add would be offering someone a VIP section once they have already paid to get into your club.

An upsell is actually just increasing the average transaction size.

Lowering Prices

Another surprising way to increase revenue is to lower your prices. Why? Because in doing this, you make yourself more competitive and more tempting. A greater number of leads will potentially become paying customers. Of course, in reality this is really just a manner of increasing the number of your customers and increasing the frequency of transactions per customer.

Providing Great Service

Providing great service is one of the oldest ways to increase revenue but it is also the best. This simply means making sure that your product or service is worth what people are paying for.  This encourages them to come back and use you again (increasing frequency) and at the same time they are more likely to spread the word (increasing customers).

Cultivating Your Support System

Having relationships and making friends is part of life. Everyone does it. Having said that, some of us are better at doing it than others. If you’ve found yourself having a hard time making supportive friends, it’s time to take a deep look into yourself and figure out why. After all, the biggest part of our lives is spent with our friends and family, and these relationships are what make us who we are.

  • Be a Friend to Have a Friend – Building supportive relationships takes a lot of time and effort. If you expect people to be supportive of you when you need it, then it’s very important for you to do the same for them. The “Golden Rule” is a very good rule to follow when it comes to friendships and supportive relationships.
  • Be Who You Are from Day One – Differences are the spice of life, so never try to be someone you’re not just to have certain friends or to attract a certain person into your life. The fact is, people rarely change, and you can’t keep it up. The more you trust others to be themselves, the more they’ll trust you to do the same.
  • Respect Others for Who They Are – By contrast, it’s imperative to be accepting of other people’s differences too. It doesn’t mean you have accept illegal or harmful behavior, but you should be willing to accept that not everyone is in the same place or comes from the same place in life or is going to think and act exactly the same as you.
  • Avoid Taking Responsibility for Others – There is a fine line between support and enabling behavior. When a friend has to suffer the consequences of their erroneous actions, you do not have to take any type of responsibility for your actions to be supportive. You can be supportive even when visiting someone in jail.
  • Believe in Your Friends to Be Better – Sometimes part of being a supportive person and a good friend is to want more for them than they do. If, for example, one of your friends is in an abusive relationship, don’t stand by and support that idea. Do encourage that they get help and get out of that situation.
  • Learn How to Listen Effectively – We were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. We should all seek to listen twice as much as we talk. But there is a difference between just sitting there silently as opposed to truly listening. Try repeating back to people what you think they said in your own words until you get it right.
  • True Friendships are 100/100 – No one is keeping score in a real friendship that offers support, so that is why they are 100/100 instead of 50/50. If you’re focused on providing 100 percent of yourself, you will not be focused on resentments and misunderstandings.
  • Spend Real Time with Your Friends – When you foster a friendship and a real relationship with someone, spend real time with them that counts. Most people don’t need that much time. Sometimes it’s just ten minutes on the phone, other times it’s meeting for coffee. Another time it might be bringing the double chocolate chip ice-cream and the movie Terms of Endearment with a box of tissues.
  • Learn to Accept Criticism (and Give It) – True supportive relationships aren’t always completely positive. Sometimes friends need someone to be willing to call them on their BS. Truly supportive people can do that for each other and allow it to be done for them.
  • Ask for What You Need – Some relationships can seem one-sided at times, which is why it’s important to learn how to draw boundaries and ask for what you need. If you ask people for what you need and they don’t, can’t, or won’t provide it, it might be time to move on.

Developing real support systems requires a lot of work, but the results will be invaluable. By setting the standard of what you expect in a relationship, you will be a good example to your friends and family of the type of support network that you need.

How to Build a Portfolio the Right Way

If you’re a service provider or a freelancer, it pays to have a solid portfolio. Your portfolio will show potential clients that you have the experience and skills to handle their project. However, one of the challenges to creating a quality portfolio is gaining the experience. Here’s how to build a portfolio the right way.

Courses

There are a number of quality skill-building programs online. These programs often offer homework assignments along with professional feedback. This is an exceptional way to create a portfolio. It gives you the opportunity to work with experts in your craft. Additionally, you’re able to use the class as a source of credibility on your marketing materials.

Spec work

Spec work is work that you essentially do for free. The agreement between you and your client is that if they like your work, they will pay you for it. If they don’t like your work, they won’t pay you. It’s a good way to get around the fact that you may not have a solid portfolio just yet, because it reduces the risk for your client.

Additionally, once they’re pleased with the work – and they will be because you’re going to knock their socks off – then you can use the work in your portfolio. Don’t forget to also add their testimonial to your sales page. And if they don’t like the work, you can still use it in your portfolio if you’re proud of the results.

Volunteer work

Volunteer work is another opportunity for you to build a portfolio and to do good at the same time. Many non-profits can benefit from the work of freelance service providers. They get a service for free and you get quality samples for your portfolio. It’s great when you can reference something and show potential customers where they can find your work online too. It’s instant credibility.

As you build your client base, ask clients if you can use your best work in your portfolio. They’re most often quite proud to be shown off and it’s good exposure for them as well. Display your work in the most professional manner. If you have print samples, scan them onto your computer and save them as an image. Don’t just link to sales pages and content because those links will change. Actually save the work you’ve done as an image or a document so your prospects can see your work firsthand.

Have confidence in your work whether you’re just starting out or have a portfolio full of professional samples. Confidence and the courage to take a few risks will help you build a portfolio the right way.

Time Management Keeps You Sane

So often you hear people say, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” You won’t find that definition in the diagnostic manual for psychologists, but there’s still a lot of truth to it.

When you do the same thing over and over hoping that something better will happen, then you are fooling yourself.  For example, if you tend to oversleep in the mornings, rush out of the house, arrive at the office and spend an hour digging out the most important to-do tasks from a high paper pile, then you are doing the same ineffective things over and over.

If you think that you will magically have a better start to your day without changing any time-wasting behaviors, then you are definitely living in a fantasy.

Too often people balk at applying time management systems to their schedules, claiming it would “be too much like a straight jacket” or “take too much time to learn to use a schedule.”

The opposite is true. Time management is the way to free yourself by knowing what you have to do and what time is open for personal or social choices. You will be able to tell at a glance of your calendar whether you can accept an invitation or plan to be part of a group activity.

As for taking too much time to learn, you don’t have to have a complex system. Start with a basic day planner and follow the suggestions for organization. As you use it a while, you can refine that system. Just make certain that you are consistent in applying your system.

If you have children, then you absolutely must have a time management system to keep up with your activities and theirs. You need to know when to bring four dozen cupcakes for the class party, when it’s your turn to drive the car pool, and what the dates are for the school play practices. The older children get, the more that you need to manage the time for the family so that there is time spent together as well as time attending school and after-school activities.

When you know how much time you have available, you can choose how to fill that time. If you want to go shopping, you can decide which day to go based on the amount of time available.

To find a day when you have enough time to cook a big dinner and invite friends over, look at your day planner and you’ll know in a glance. Before long you will say, “let me check my day planner” instead of saying “yes” to an invitation only to realize later that you don’t really have time for it. This technique alone will save you from over-commitment and the frustration that goes with it.

A key reason some people rebel against using a time management system is that it wipes out excuses. You can no longer claim that you ran out of time to complete the research for that report or help out with the children’s holiday project. After all, if you don’t have a time management system, then you can continue to use the “no time” excuse.  The problem is that you also don’t know how to plan time to do the things that you actually want to do.

So if you keep running through your day without a time management plan, you can expect to be frustrated, late, confused, and get far less accomplished. Starting the next day the same way will get the same result.

If you are tired of missing appointments, never having time to do the things you want to do, or feeling overwhelmed, then you need to set up a time management system. By the end of the month, you’ll have established a new habit of time management and discovered the freedom of knowing how you spend the time of your life.

How to Become a Person Who Takes Action

Some people are born doers.  Some people are born thinkers.  Some think about doing and never get anything done.  There are many ways to become a person of action, and what works for someone else may not work for you.

Action people are usually people who are organized and can often seem to know exactly how to proceed from one project to another seamlessly and without effort while others flounder in a world of disorganization, haplessly moving one piece of paper to another location without knowing why.

At the end of the day, the doers typically still remain energized as they feed on taking action. The flounderers at the end of the day are still floundering and can’t understand why nothing has been accomplished but they still feel exhausted.  They step back to assess their day’s accomplishments and deceive themselves into believing progress is being made, when in realty little or nothing has been done.

Organization is an essential key to being able to take meaningful, progressive action versus just expending effort.  Whether it’s for your home or business, make a to-do list and prioritize it.  Put the most important tasks at the top, and each time you complete a goal or project, scratch it off and feel the satisfaction.  Don’t mark it off until it’s done.  No cheating or rationalizing.

When everything on the list is finished, reward yourself.  Even if you don’t quite complete the list in one day, go ahead and celebrate your victories.  This gives you something to look forward to and gives you incentive to accomplish more.  Again, be honest with yourself and only accept rewards when deserved.

Another approach to action-taking is to visualize your task at hand until you have the energy to do it.  Try sitting quietly to clear your mind of all other things and concentrate on your task or goal at hand.  See yourself doing the project in vivid detail.  Whatever the job entails, imagine yourself doing each and every step.

Thought can transform into energy as you focus your mind on one central goal.  Build up this energy until you feel it pushing you into action, with the added benefit of extra guidance gained from thinking through the details in the process, which will direct that energy more optimally than just rushing into action alone.

Just don’t fall into the trap of either being satisfied with the visualization in itself without any meaningful action taking place, or overthinking an action of lesser complication or consequence as a means of procrastination or a symptom of insecurity.  If you find that bigger problems have a habit of hindering you from accomplishing goals that should be more easily achievable, you may need to rethink your goals to address those problems first to build yourself a better foundation to move forward from.

What Content Ranks Best in Google SERPS

Many people ask what type of content ranks best in today’s search engine, but the answer is and will always be the same: Google wants one thing and that is quality content. Google strives to provide its users with the best possible results.

There are several reasons why some sites consistently rank much higher than others. Two of the main ones are:

  • Delivering high-quality, original content that is both legitimate and credible.
  • Updating the site with fresh content on a regular basis.

Never be tempted to game the search engines with black hat techniques. Yes they may work for a short while, but eventually the search engines will catch up and put your site in the sandbox.

Once in the sandbox, Google won’t send you any more traffic. Instead of spending hours trying to find a way to trick the search engines, why not spend an hour or two writing a valuable piece of content the search engines will love?

Engage Your Users

How engaging is your content? Are people actually reading the entire article or are they hitting the back button as soon as they see it? This is how Google measures engagement. They want to know how long people are sticking around to read your content. If they stick around for several minutes they know you are providing value. This metric is measured by what is called Bounce Rate, and lower bounce rates can help rankings.

If users typically click back and your site has consistently high bounce rates, this can affect adversely affect your rankings in Google.

Encourage Sharing

Another important factor is linking patterns. Google and other search engines learned very early on that people link to content they consider valuable. Content that is considered useful almost always gets shared by users. Content that is considered useless doesn’t.

And while linking algorithms have advanced quite a bit over the last several years, the basic principles of this concept still hold true. So if you want your content to rank, make sure its valuable. Make sure it helps the end user. That’s the key to getting your content ranked. There are no magic methods or solutions.

Make Content for Users, Not Search Engines

I am sure you have heard this said before and it’s true. When one creates a web page for search engines their focus is keywords, making sure the Google bot understands what keywords the page should rank for and overstuffing the content with them to the point that it may become uncomfortable if not unreadable to the human eye.

But these types of black hat tactics rarely work, and if they do, it’s only for a short while and then the site gets hit with a big penalty and ends up in the black hole of SERPS.

Make Every Effort to Provide Useful Content.

It’s sort of a merry go around: Useful content leads to happy users and a low bounce rate; happy users link back and/or spread the word about the content through social media which leads to more traffic, which leads to better rankings in Google. So it’s all about useful content. That’s what Google wants and that’s what your potential customers want to see.

Anytime someone uses Google to make a search, they have an intent. They either want to find out about something, learn about something, solve a problem, buy something, or treat something. Google is going to provide users with information that fulfills that intent, so do your research and find out what type of content your target audience is searching for.

Make it a point to craft your content around their wants and needs. This will not only increase your rankings, but it will also increase your conversions and sales.

The one thing to keep in mind is that people read content, not the search engines. Do away with the keyword stuffing and anything else that is designed to manipulate the search engines. Write good content that people will love to read and your content will get ranked.