Deadlines: our way to Deliverance

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It’s been said that procrastination is the silent killer –or was it hypertension? Never mind that; let’s stick to the first for now.

We all procrastinate, and in a wide variety of reasons; the most common is fear, and also simple laziness. In a way, our biology takes off the hook with laziness, simply because it urges us not to spend energy on a task that isn’t important to our survival; so we postpone, delay, avoid, excuse ourselves, etc.

 

But then, the deadline comes, and pulls us out of laziness giving us a sense of urgency… Deep inside we know that missing this deadline is bad for our survival; it can cost us our job, money, assets, our free time, friendships, relationships, etc.

This knowledge becomes fear, and this fear pushes us to do whatever it takes to finish our project, and we go crazy to make this happen.

Some time back, I heard about Parkinson ’s Law. It states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

That’s a very interesting point; because it sends you into a mild survival mode where you actually get the job done, without lazing about too much.

 

Getting used to set deadlines.

When we are faced with distant deadlines, we get a false sense of security… let’s say we have a task due in three weeks, so we’re ok to “burn daylight” watching a movie or taking a nap.

Time limitations force us to restructure work so it can fit into the schedule.
They also help us work less, or at least, spend less of our time in “work mode”.

 

What we lose ignoring deadlines

Giving ourselves something to lose is the best way to make ourselves respect a time limit. What are we missing out by lingering at the office after hours?

Think about it… if we get home early –or in time, we could enjoy a movie with our family or spouse, relax at home and cook a special meal, or give some time and attention to that side project…

But no… we’re wasting all those opportunities by doing last minute work we could have done earlier in the day.

 

Creating reasonable deadlines

Parkinson’s Law has high practical value.

It helps us cut down lost ours in which we could be doing something else, and it keeps us away from the guilt and stress that always follow wasted time.

However, when first starting to apply this rule, it’s likely to feel overzealous and set impossible deadlines in an effort to work faster. This doesn’t work. It only gives us more stress as we try to meet the time limit, thus reducing the quality of our work.

 

The point of the deadline is to cut down on stress and wasted time, not to wrestle with the clock.

If a task requires 10 hours of work, let’s have it done in 10 hours. If we can do it in 9, great; but it’s also ok if we have it in 11. That extra hour isn’t wasted time; it’s a buffer for unexpected events like an urgent request, a phone call, loss of concentration and even a moment to relax.

Deadlines can help us reduce some of the wasted time and the stress we tend to accumulate in our working days, and it can also help us do more than we thought possible.

 

So, if you’re interested in optimizing your performance, keep the following in mind:

  • Always define your work ahead, and set a deadline
  • Think about what you can lose if you miss on the deadline
  • Is your deadline realistic? If not, give it some extra thought and figure it out.

 

And remember, time limits are a tool to help you out, not something to fight against.

Stay strong!

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Creating Your Action Plan for 2019

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Goals without plans are just wishes”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Another New Year is here, and everybody is making their list of goals again.

What most of them are failing to do, is an action plan for them.
Action is the fuel that powers our Life engines. Without action, we can’t be able to realize our goals; kind of being stuck in neutral…
We tend to get constantly sidetracked, unable to focus our energy and efforts on consistent action.
This is mostly all because of our poor habits, but also our inability to set goals correctly; we only get an abstract notion of what we want, but we lack the specifics and a concrete plan.

From Anthony Robbins to Napoleon Hill and Jim Rohn; all the greatest coaches always stressed the need for taking action as a fundamental part of any success in goal achievement.
A good example of how to correctly approach goal settings is that of an airplane. Think about it for a moment…
When it takes off, say, from LAX heading for Hawaii, that’s its goal, and everyone on it relies on that.

Before taking off, the pilots set a plan, direction, general speed, and altitude; but the plan isn’t specific about them, because the plane, like us, might encounter some obstacles along the way (turbulence, traffic, etc.) forcing it to make adjustments, but keeping the overall goal of making it to Hawaii.
It only takes constant tracking and evaluation to realize it.
If you’re serious about your goals, then you must create an action plan, and then constantly monitoring and adjusting your approach where required until you succeed.

In order to do so, you have to consider these 6 basic steps:

1. Visualize specific, time-based goals

This is the most important step. You need to set perfectly clear what, how much, and by when.
2. Create monthly milestones

This will give you specific monthly targets that you want to hit in order to evaluate if you’re making good progress or not.

3. Create a weekly action plan

Now that you have your monthly milestone, you may want to chunk it down into 4 weeks to help you move closer and swifter… what can you do this week to reach your monthly target?
4. Make and prioritize a daily to-do list

Chunk your plan down again into day-to-day priorities… think about all your powerful reasons to attain the goal. The more efficient you get managing your time, the more likely you’re going to be to accomplish your goals.
5. Measure, track, and adjust

You need to constantly measure and track your progress so you’d know whether you’re getting closer or further away from your target. Also, action plans should be flexible as well as massive so you can make necessary adjustments that come out of your progress evaluation.
6. Face your failure and suck it up

Let’s face it, no matter what you’re pursuing; life is going to get in the way. The only thing that sets apart successful people from the rest is their refusal to accept defeat; they simply don’t give up.
Failure is a part of life; your goal is to overcome that failure… and by doing so, you not only are going to reach your goal, but you’re going to become a bigger and better person, and that is the ultimate value of goals.
Give it a try, don’t wait until next New Year to evaluate the goals you’re setting this 2019… get serious now, and do it.
Stay strong!

The Holiday Season, a Time for Retrospection

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The Holiday Season is upon us again, and so I invite you to reflect upon the concept of Christmas and New Year.

Christmas is not only a place of celebration and joy; it’s a time to consider the less fortunate, a time to think of how others struggle in life, and also to recognize where we have also struggled before, and feel grateful for our current position.

That sense of growth that comes from reviewing our own progress is crucial for developing the kind of habits that will allow us to move forward and strive.

 

Take a look at this year coming to an end, and ask yourself the following questions (you can actually use them as guidance in a text file and write actual answers in it, not just think them in your mind):

What goals did you set at the beginning of the year and actually accomplished?

Where did you fall short?

Was it something you gave up right after your first failure?

Was there any other way you could have approached your goal in order to succeed?

Was there anyone who could have helped reach that goal?

Did you take constant action on that goal?

If not, why?

 

We all have goals, but most of us chase after them with our big-talk ego, and little or no action and progress.

We like to be recognized for the plan we layout to chase after them, but usually fell short on tangible results because we don’t put actions where our mouths were… or using the words of Top Gun movie Commander: “our ego is writing checks our body can’t cash”; we don’t put the work in and stay determined. We tend to stop altogether at the first sign of failure and throw our dream aside because of that obstacle.
We need to remember that those “obstacles” are there to strengthen us, to forge us in the kind of people we need to become in order to achieve that goal.

 

It is essential to frequently assess where we are and take responsibility for the options we have in order to adjust our course and build momentum to get where we want to be.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Stay strong!

 

3 Things to Tell Yourself Today

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Progress is only possible through change, and those who can change their minds can change anything.

 

You are the architect of your own destiny; and as such, you have to make sure you’re using the greatest tool you have at your disposal: your inner voice.

This inner voice can help you quiet down the external negative voices, boost your confidence, and help you navigate and learn from the ever-present obstacles.

If your inner voice is currently echoing the negative external chorus of pessimists, you need to reprogram your thinking process by telling yourself these three things:

 

Let’s do it now.

Procrastination is like quicksand; if left unchecked, it will pull you inside and leave you crippled with indecision. You’ll end up making excuses after excuses that will shut down your dream in the end. If you make it ok to do nothing, that’s exactly what you will end up achieving; nothing.

Allow your inner voice to motivate you all day long, and commit to your dream with a sense of happy urgency.

Remember, the difference between “should have” and “have done” is planning and action; so become your own coach and don’t take a no for an answer, especially from yourself.

 

I deserve this

If you allow your dreams to crash, or let opportunities for personal growth or improvement pass up; if you are settling for anything less than the success you dream about, then you should ask yourself why is it that you think you don’t deserve your absolute best; you must get out of your usual comfort zone.

Whatever your dream might be, begin by reminding yourself that you deserve a bright future, and then invest in yourself by giving your all to you!

Never get cheap when it comes to your happiness.

 

I have this

One of the greatest obstacles to success is the fear of failure, including the fear of not being able to retake your forward momentum after a setback.

We all have fears, but if we get into the habit of making fear-based decisions we will never reach our full potential. If you let fear paralyze our progress, you will create a blueprint for mediocrity, and you’ll miss out on the priceless lessons only trial and error can provide.

 

Make your positive self-talk and your action taking habits stronger than your fears.
Overcoming fear is not an overnight process, and it can be uncomfortable to walk out of your habitual way of thinking and acting; but once you get to the top of your performance, the feeling of freedom is incomparable, and the view, spectacular.

Start listening to your voice today.
What are you saying?
Can you succeed?

I bet you do. Do you?

Stay strong!
Cheers.

Improve Your Life, Two Minutes at the Time, Part 2

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Let’s continue here with our last week’s blog about changing our lives for the better, two minutes at a time.

 

Change judgment for understanding

When you’re inclined to past judgment to others, first take two minutes and ask what aspects of yourself do I see in this other person?

When we’re upset about somebody else’s behavior or actions, is because it is reminding us of something we don’t like about ourselves.

If we can turn this inner critic into a coach, we can help create a better relationship with ourselves, with others, and live a more positive life.

 

Compliment others

Get into the habit of coming up with ways to tell others –and by others I mean people who are actually present there with you at the time- what you truly appreciate about them.

Take one minute to think about the reason, and another minute to tell the compliment.

You will make this person happy for sure; you’ll feel good about yourself, and most likely will receive some happy and affectionate feedback in return.

 

Hug more

It might seem like a small deed, but it’s known to reduce stress and make us feel very good; so spend –at the very least- two minutes a day hugging people!

Like compliments, hugs can be a simple way to build warmer and more positive relationships with people in your life.

 

Be interested instead of interesting

Whenever you engage in a conversation with someone, be interested in that person; ask questions about his or her life, interests, passions, and don’t just wait for your turn to talk back, really pay attention to the answers… Get to know and appreciate that person.

The interest you give will most likely be returned in what surely will build into not just a conversation, but a giving and fulfilling relationship.

 

Shuffle things up a little

Change things, mix them up… whatever you’ve been doing, try something different this time; for instance:

If you always go for the meat, next time try vegetarian.

If you tend to get into conflict often, next time try walking away.

Give away some of your favorite things.

Say yes to something spontaneously and stick to it to the end, see where it leads.

Take a different kind of decisions for today.

 

Get into the habit of mixing things up and have some fun. Grow your life in small or bigger ways, add unexpected experiences to it.

This practice will make it easier and simpler to step out of your usual comfort zone when you really need to, and also it will make you feel alive!

 

Talk again next week.
Until then, stay strong!

Improve Your Life, Two Minutes at a Time

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“The distance is nothing; it is only the first step that is difficult.”
Madame Marie du Deffand

 

Making a positive change in life doesn’t have to be about big moves; world-wide impact, or changing the whole world.

The secret to real change and sustainable action is to discard this pretentious and overwhelming belief and go for smaller, constantly repeated smaller steps.

Through these smaller steps, you can start building habits that will get stronger as you build momentum. These steps have the potential to actually change your life in ways you can’t possibly imagine now.

 

By establishing a two-minute daily routine over the following steps, you will create a habit that would point you in the right direction.  You can choose one a day, or you can invest a little time on yourself and move through the whole list.

 

  1. Identify your most important task, and just start working on it for two minutes.

We all have one of those days when you just don’t feel like getting started with work, and we find ourselves dwelling lazily to the sofa.

It’s not the task itself, the hardest part is getting started. So, after you’ve started moving and working for those two minutes, it gets pretty much easier to just continue working on the task.

 

  1. Review and appreciate your day

Once your day is over, take two minutes to review and appreciate what you have done. See all that you have accomplished; the finished tasks, your performance, the shared moments with friends, family, coworkers, and also the time you took for yourself.

 

  1. Set a low bar for happiness

It doesn’t mean you have to lower your standards or stop going after the bigger stuff, not at all. What it means is that you are willing to appreciate things more, feel happier for the smaller things as well. This will fuel yourself with more energy and inspiration; your life will become lighter, and you will feel less inner resistance as you work towards your goals, big and small.

 

  1. Whenever you feel stressed, BREATH

Whenever stress catches up with you and you start to feel anxious, upset or scared, take two minutes, sit down, breathe through your nose deeply with your stomach, and focus on your breathing.

This will calm your mind, and ease your body so you can resume your work more focused and relaxed.

 

  1. Be here and now

Remove yourself out of the past; stop reliving old experiences of conflict. Stop anticipating a catastrophic future.

Focus your attention on where and when you really are, here and now.
Sit down for two minutes; see what is in front and all around you. Listen to the sounds, feel the wind and the sun on your clothes and skin; the smells in the air, the textures of what you have at hand…

Feel your present for those two minutes, and notice how this new, optimistic viewpoint starts to feel more natural to you.

 

 

I’ve saved the next five for our next blog, so you go ahead and start with these first five steps today; start gaining momentum and building towards a better state.

Start by feeling more alive today.

 

 

See you next week; until then, stay strong!

Living Your Life Purpose

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Our lives are at its most productive peak when we have a true sense of direction. They are also much easier and enjoyable to navigate once we got to understand our destination –that is, once you know the purpose of your existence.

One of the most important things you in life is to figure out –the sooner the better- why you’re here for; what is your purpose, your core values, and then, figure out what are the goals that would help you move towards it.

 

Take some time to reflect about where you are in life now, and then decide where you would like to take your life from there.

When you know where you’re headed, it’s easier to determine which actions and behaviors contribute to achieving this destination, and which ones are just deviating or holding you back.

Below is a list of questions, designed to help you discover your life purpose.

 

  1. What are three of your favorite skills?

Give it a though right now… try to determine what are the two or three abilities you have that are your favorite; not which you are best at, or most profitable, but honestly which are the ones you enjoy doing the most.

  1. What are two ways you would like to use to make an impact in the world?

How would you like to make a difference? Which are the ways you’d go about it? Don’t think too hard; just follow your intuition and write down whatever pops into your mind…

  1. Who or what would you like to impact?

Now it’s time to be specific; narrow down our target and start defining the people or things you want to help. Give it a thought; see what things come to mind first and write them down.

  1. What goal do you think your impact would achieve?

Think about the people or things you have in mind… what good would your actions do to them? What outcome do you desire for those peoples or circumstances? 

  1. Create now a run-on sentence, combining all these previous elements, starting with “my purpose is to”.

It’s time to put things together. The previous questions contain in them the combined elements of your life purpose.

Shuffle the answers around and find a combination that makes real sense to you.

 

Have in mind that your life purpose is something you continuously keep discovering, watching it as it unfolds before you.
Like a big dinosaur skeleton, it lies buried somewhere; it is your job to find it and dig it up; a little or a big piece at the time.

 

Start digging and follow its clues.

Tap into Your Resilience and Thrive

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by John Krumbach

Resilience comes from knowing that you are the only one that has the power and responsibility to pick yourself up

 

One of the main strategies to achieve success in life is related to your ability to tap into your resilience.

We all want to live at our full potential in order to accomplish our goals, dreams, and aspirations. One of the things we have learned in life is that we need to have the drive – drive, ambition, motivation – to reach those goals and dreams.

We are constantly trying to do more and better in our profession, our finances, family life, personal life.

 

Having drive is a positive thing. The problem is that in today’s world many are living in over-drive – studies have shown that 2 out of 3 people live their lives with high levels of stress. Stress can be positive only if it’s short-term stress, high-stress levels are completely negative.

Over-drive ironically backfires and prevents us from achieving the goals we aim for.

There is a better way: fostering resilience.

 

Instead of living in overdrive, train your nervous system to bounce back from setbacks. Resilience will allow you to control the moment, bounce back from stress –  empowering you to face difficulties and challenges with ease.

How quickly do you bounce back from frustrations, stress, disagreements? – five minutes, an hour, a day, a week?

 

Train yourself (your brain / your mind and your body) to bounce back by avoiding over-drive and taking the appropriate moments to relax and enjoy the moment.

Use Openness to Build Effective, Stronger Teams

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The key to building stronger teams is to, first and foremost, build stronger relationships and connection between the people on them. Learn about each other and build a deep and authentic relationship that will help the team navigate challenges together.

More and more people from schools, companies and all kinds of organizations are starting to use this approach. It might seem a little touchy-feely at times, but through time and experience, even the most skeptical person turns around and loves it.

These are some examples of exercises you can implement within your organization:

 

  1. Lifelines

Ask everyone to describe a few key moments or events in their lives that have made them who they are today. This task helps break the barriers between them and allows them to gain a deeper understanding of one another. The confidential nature of these exchanges helps them build enormous trust.

 

  1. Storytelling

Building upon the previous exercise, this one encourages all teammates to open up and tell a significant story about themselves, and it helps them appreciate the courage of those eager to share so much; and this exposure makes everyone more willing to open up as well.

 

  1. Appreciations

One of the most effective methods to build trust within a team is appreciation. At the end of a sprint, or a project, ask your group to share things they appreciate about each other; go at it in turns, letting everybody chime in with reasons why they appreciate that person. It might be awkward to be so openly appreciated, but it is extremely moving. We rarely take the time to tell people around us why we appreciate and admire them, and when we do, it is surprisingly great.

 

All these kinds of activities build deeper and meaningful relations among colleagues, helping them work more effectively together. It can also help with conflict resolution, since the stronger the foundational relationship between two people, the easier these conflicts are resolved or avoided in all.

If you get your team to know each other, everything after that just comes more easily.

Put these techniques in practice and see how it turns out.

 

Enjoy your long weekend, and have a Happy Thanksgiving Day.

A Morning Routine to Stay Focused and Excel

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Every time you wake up in the morning, your frontal cortex is fully charged with willpower. The quality of the results you may get from it will depend on the way you use your first 30 minutes of the day.

The average person usually starts their day by doing the following: they’d wake up, reach out for the phone while still in bed, and start reading emails. Then, they’d check Instagram and Facebook posts, and scroll through some news sites.

Finally, they’d get out of bed, make some coffee, turn on the TV, and eat a high-sugar breakfast while watching some morning talk show.

In the meantime, they’re reproaching themselves for not making any exercise, and then they’d probably try to make decisions about their tasks for the day, take a quick shower, dress, and hit the morning traffic to work…

All this rush, conflict, and forced decision-making process would drain up your willpower supply before lunchtime.

 

There’s a better option for your morning routine.
No matter how stressful your environment, there is a way to start your day energized, focused, and feeling great, with your whole willpower reserve available for the necessary decision making and action taking required to accomplish your daily goals.

 

These are the basic six steps required to develop and follow a powerful morning ritual:

  1. Get your quite space

Each morning, as soon as you wake up, go to a place where you can be alone and undisturbed to be in silence –it should be a place other than your bed, where you can have privacy.

 

  1. Hydrate

Fuel your body starting your day with a big glass of fresh, filtered water.

 

  1. Take a moment to reflect

Think about your core beliefs, and get into a positive grateful state. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What am I grateful for in my life right now?
  • What am I happy and excited about?
  • What is my life purpose, and do my goals for the day get me closer to it?
  • Who do I love and loves me?
  • Who can I serve and thank today?

 

  1. Breathe

Practice conscious breathing and add movement –like walking- if possible. There is a great technique called Breathwalking, which I personally recommend, combines specific patterns of breathing synchronized with your walking steps, enhanced with the art of directed, meditative attention.

 

  1. Move your Body

Emotion is driven by motion. The more you move, the better you’ll feel; so add some brisk walks and exercise to your daily morning routine in order to feel great.

 

  1. Visualize and Celebrate

Finally, review what you expect from the day ahead, and visualize yourself going through it; see and feel the best results you could ever expect. Remember, everything you see in the physical world started once as a thought, as a vision.

 

This simple morning ritual is designed to take only 30 to 45 minutes of your day. If you have more time –or decide to make more time- you can add more gratitude, exercise, and visualization; you can never have enough of those.

Do it consistently each and every day, and the results will be life-changing.

Stay strong!