I was listening to a podcast yesterday, and the author quoted Helen’s Keller famous quote:
You may want to get to know her a bit better. The most amazing thing is she managed to create a beautiful life full of meaning, contributed on a large scale and all this being… blind, deaf and mute.
There are thousands excuses for failure but never a good reason | Mark Twain
From time to time we all find ourselves putting off some important tasks over and over again. Some tend to do that more than others :)
I believe it works both with the big things (some day I will start my own company and become rich!) and with small ones (someday I will begin to eat more greens). Small may seem easier to tackle. But procrastination is a habit that spreads all over our daily existence, and when we manage to overcome it in one area of life the others seem improve as well.
I struggle with the problem of making excuses as any other person on this planet. You must know that for some time now I’ve been practicing (or, some days, trying to practice) my morning rituals that, in short, consists of few things like short meditation, stretching, gratitude exercise, etc. Since I live in northern Europe, for half a year I wake up much earlier then the sun. There are times when I begin my day over 3 hours before it even begins to be grey outside. That makes room for many excuses :).
I start early in the morning, when I hear the alarm clock ringing. I make my first excuse: It is too cold to leave the bed, I will catch a cold (by the way, this sounds really stupid, doesn’t it?). And waiting under my blanket won’t make it warmer, either.
Then comes the next one: I don’t have to meditate while sitting, I can do this in the position I am now (meaning: vertical :)). Then, of course, I easily fall asleep.
Sometimes I go mmm I don’t have to eat my breakfast home today, I will buy something on the way… tomorrow I will be better and eat my super healthy nutritious breakfast which of course is in strong opposition to my will to 1) not spend too much on eating out, 2) have a healthy balanced diet.
And then the day goes on… I am not saying that I am a master of excuses and never do anything right. But it could be better.
And I think it becomes better and better. Thanks to some techniques I managed to develop habits that save me from putting things off. I wrote about it some time ago and since then I gave it some more thoughts. Here they are:
- Notice that I am procrastination or making excuses to avoid tackling some tasks. Admit that I am doing that.
- Answer the question Why am I doing that? This could actually be the most important one.
For example sometimes it’s just because I am lazy (the breakfast case). Sometimes it may be caused by my condition (for some reason I went to bed too late and there may be no point in jumping out of bed at 6 am if I am going to be sleepy all day).
Sometimes I discover something really interesting about myself when I ask these questions. Lately I was avoiding going to a language course. I told myself I did not feel too well, I would say longer at work… And then I felt so guilty and I was wondering why I didn’t go. Why would I stay at work longer to avoid learning a language? Because I don’t like going there. Because it is relatively ineffective and I spend too much money on it. Because the class is 3 hours long every second day and I am just tired. I sleep through half of the time that I spend there. I don’t have time to eat properly and the cantina there is awful. I need to learn the language but do I have to attend this particular course? No. So I resigned form it and I am learning home every day for an hour.
Sometimes we simply overestimate our efficiency and underestimate the amount of time and effort we have to spend on the task. Sometimes we simply don’t have a real reason to do some stuff. Sometimes we pick wrong means to achieve thee goals we desire.
- Making excuses and procrastination are habits. To tackle a habit one has to exchange it with a new one. To create new ones I help myself in several ways:
- I get help from a friend. One of my worst habits was to stay up late what prevented me from waking up early or at least waking up early and feeling great :) I asked a friend to call me around 10 pm and tell me to go to bed. When he sees me on gmail chat or facebook late, he writes to me: Go to bed. See you at 6 am. Of course we don’t meet at 6 am on gmail chat, but anyway it works for me.
- I reward myself. Every time I do something right, I try to reward myself. My breakfast is a good example. Six days a week, from Saturday to Thursday, I eat my super healthy breakfast, drink water with lemon, swallow some vitamins, etc. If I do well I reward myself on Friday, when I eat a chocolate croissant in a café.
- I think about the real reason behind the activity. It is either the big goal that stands behind it or a bi ugly consequence that I want to avoid. If there is no reason or no ugly consequence… maybe the task is pointless?
This is an uncommonly long post for me :) I hope it may help you not to be more effective and satisfied with your life. I would be happy of you shared with as all what are your methods. How do you force yourself to run through your to-do list? Maybe you have read some good books or articles on the subject?
Have a nice Friday ♥
There is one place that everyone has been to. It is quite comfortable and getting out of there may not have much sense because it can turn into a nightmare. As one of my favourite ’’motivational speaker’’ Brian Tracy estimates, around 80% of us live there on a daily basis. It sure is a crowded place :).
Some of us will spend our whole life there.
Do you know already what am I talking about?
I am talking about the Someday Isle.
It is a beautiful and carefully constructed place full of dreams and fantasies. The only problem is, nobody does anything. Instead, people master the art of making excuses.
I lately caught myself lying on a sunny beaches of the Someday Isle. I was to start a project that is personally very important for me. But I was postponing it for several months and excuse was I cannot start because I don’t know enough and need some more time to educate myself. It is my favourite excuse for many things :)
Couple of days ago I sailed away… Brian has helped me again. Maybe you’ll find his talk helpful as well.
I think everyone has their favourite excuse (like a favourite cup or toy from childhood). What is yours? What is your biggest success in leaving it behind you?
In the next post I will tell what helps me, who do I learn from and, possibly, how my adventures can help you to get of the Someday Isle. And burn the boat never to come back again.
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In the last post I wrote a bit about the power of self-confidence. Thank you so much for so many positive comments, I see this topic is close to your heart and I am glad we had an opportunity to discuss it!
Today we can discuss on it even more. As we all know our attitude and the feeling of love we have for ourselves works magic when it comes to how others perceive us.
But how to wear self-confidence? Some seem just to have it. Some don’t. Maintaining a healthy level of self-esteem was definitely a problem for me, and occasionally it still remains so. Whenever I have a lousy morning, a lousy day, I immediately turn into this grumpy shy person that doesn’t have courage to smile to people.
Because I intend to change that, or at least minimise the amount of time I spend in that state (I guess it is not that bad if I allow myself to be shy and scared sometimes :) ), I begun to investigate how can this be changed. The good news is it we can learn to be more sonfident and have higher self-esteem.
The method mentioned by one of the readers in the discussion under the last post may be a good one. Fake it till you make it. It has three parts to it:
- Posture and physical expression. The mind influences the body, that’s for sure, but it is also the body that influences the mind.
I was lately listening to Amy Cuddy’s brilliant TED talk on how posture influences our levels of certain hormones in the body, level of stress, how confident we are and what position in a group we tend to take. I definitely recommend watching that video – it may be the 20 minutes that change your life.
And for those who do not have 20 minutes here is the sum up: if you want to feel more energetic, self-confident and powerful, go to a quiet room (to the toilet if you are at work and have nowhere else to go), smile, head up, set legs a bit apart, hands on your hips and make yourself big. This is a power pose nr.1. Stand like this for 2 minutes and your cortisol level will go down, your testosterone level will go up.
- Focus on something that gives you comfort. Stop thinking what others think of you, or that you’ll mess up, or that you’re not on the right place, or whatever you’re thinking that stresses you. Rather focus on some of your success, something you may be proud of. Or about how relaxed you are with your family or friends.
When I am stressed or feel tensed because I am among strangers or in some difficult situation at work, I try to think about how relaxed I usually am among my friends. And I try to force myself to feel the same way. Doesn’t always work, but usually helps at least a bit.
- Talk to yourself like you were a confident person. Talk to the others like you were a person with a high self-esteem. Use the words and expressions you would use if you were not anxious. Use the voice, tone and volume you would use. If you don’t know how, just imagine you do. Pretend to be Meryl Streep in Devil wears Prada.
If you pretend and act, nobody will know but you. So fake it till you make it.
One more thing. I notice that when I take care of myself it can also be a source of self-confidence. I feel that my body and my looks are my partners when it comes to approaching other people. You cannot fake smelling nice, having manicure and wearing clean shoes.
Please don’t hesitate to write what you think about the post. What do you do to feel more confident? To have higher self-esteem? To go through stressful times or some social anxieties? Do you have any matheods and tricks you canshare?
You may also write what topics do you think are valuable to discus here. I may get some inspiration from you :)
Have a great Monday!
I have a friend that struggled with money throughout her whole studies. Despite of big holes in her budget, she always maintained a very positive attitude. Somehow she looked stunning every day and men couldn’t take eyes on her. She radiated with happiness and was irresistible.
You know some people just have something magic about them that works like a magnet. She definitely had it :)
She was just like a kid, no shade of shyness or discomfort in whatever she did and wherever she went.
Funny thing is, she almost never bought anything new; she would only dress in second-hands or get clothes from her friends and family. She seemed like she didn’t mind.
She would mix various types of clothes and accessories simply because of the lack of other options, yet outfits that would look awkward on anyone else would just make her unusual and unique. I remember her once on a sunny summer day wearing winter shoes and a big smile :)
She does not struggle with money anymore, but continuously maintains her attitude. In her case, good looks is largely the matter of the inside beauty… and I guess so is in case with all of us. So I decided to care a bit less about my outfit, save some on clothes and smile more :)
Today, when we pay so much attention to our looks and showing off, whenever I think of her, she reminds me that looks is not everything. And she could be a case study for those that don’t want / need / feel like it / can’t spend too much on their wardrobe. Most people around you will not notice the difference anyway, and a smile is the best beauty treatment you can get.
I don’t mean to look like a scrappy homeless person that hasn’t seen a shower in three days :)
Have a nice Friday! ♥
Last week I begun to write about the things we learn while we grow up. If you haven’t yet learned them from your own experience, worth to know them in advance, because they can really make your life easier.
The first one was:
Most people don’t think about you as bad as you think about yourself and as you sometimes suspect they do. Probably, they don’t think a lot about you at all. They are busy wondering what others think of them :)
The second one is:
When you smile and are nice to people they tend to respond likewise.
It sounds very basic, yet surprisingly not many people follow this advice. I must honestly say I am almost surprised how effective this way of approaching people is sometimes. There are situations when I get things done so quickly and effortlessly just because someone helps me – and they help me only because I was nice to them at some point.
Can you imagine how your life would change if you just keep smiling and be a bit kinder to people around you? We can try it for a week: with family members, neighbors, boss, coworkers, hairdressers, people selling newspapers, strangers on the street…
Have a good week ♥
Yesterday I was talking with my flat mate in the kitchen. At one point a topic of money and financial independence came up, as I was reading a book that comprised of several short stories about ordinary people who reached financial independence by investing in ordinary apartments for rent (or, occasionally, some other type of real estate).
It occurred to me that sometimes people live the way they live simply because they have never thought of anything else. For example, it never crossed their minds that they could be wealthy or financially independent. They never knew anyone like this, they were never interested to get to know the stories of those who become so.
(Actually, I was like this for a long time, and I really believed good grades will take me somewhere :), which is very often not the case. Luckily, I very often use the skill that we all, I hope, learn in primary school or earlier – reading.)
Have a nice Friday, everyone.