There is something both comforting and beautiful about the end of the year rituals of our holiday celebrations. No matter what you choose to celebrate, each year we return to what we expect to be the same events – perhaps this is a party or meal, purchasing gifts or attending certain religious or spiritual ceremonies.
With the beautiful parts, we also return to the less beautiful – for some of us this is the stress of family, or loneliness, or financial burden. Because of this, it is a perfect time to work toward change. Instead of accepting these stresses as a given, an unavoidable part of the season, what could be different?
How can you use this time of year to grow your sense of how GOOD your life can be?
Below are 18 tips from www.greatist.com to help you reframe many a potentially stressful holiday situation.
Let It Go. For many families, the holidays are the only time everyone is in the same place for more than a hot second. What better time to bring up a forgotten birthday, an unpaid debt, or a longstanding childhood feud, right? Um, no. If you can’t let go of an old grudge (and please, please try), don’t turn a holiday gathering into an airing of grievances. If forgiving someone just isn’t possible at the moment, put on a smile and focus on other matters.
Stand Tall. Being around family has a way of making us revert to our childhood selves. Resist the urge to whine at Mom, fight with siblings about the remote, and, most importantly, defer to others about your own life. Grandma might not approve of your job or lifestyle choices, but when you’re an adult your life is your business. Don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself. Go With the Flow. Someone forgot the dip, a baby cousin wailed through dinner, and the dogs ate the leftover roasted chicken. A big holiday gathering can bring out the control freak in many people, but resist the urge to make everything Pinterest-worthy. Relax and breathe, and remember that next year no one will remember the time you dropped the Christmas pudding (Okay, we can’t promise that. They might remember. But it’ll be a lot more fun if you laugh along — because c’mon, it’s pretty funny).
Be Self-ish. Nobody likes to hear it, but each person can only control his or her own behavior. Stop trying to make Mom more cosmopolitan or Grandpa less nostalgic. The holidays will be much less strained for everyone if each person only worries about his or her own actions. Of course, with a meddling family this can sometimes feel impossible, but focus on being your best self.
Privacy Please. Don’t be afraid to answer a prying question with “none of your beeswax.” Every family member doesn’t need to know every detail of your life, especially if it’s something you’re not comfortable sharing. So, sorry Cousin Jenny, I’m not going to talk about why I quit my job.
Act Like Santa. Getting everything on a holiday wish list is great, but keep expectations within reason. Avoid disappointment by focusing on the act of giving and people’s reactions to those gifts. Better yet, donate time and money to a worthier cause than your shoe collection.
Get Moving. When the urge to run out the door strikes, listen to it! Heading out for a walk or jog in the brisk air can improve any mood and give you some much-needed space from pesky relatives. Plus, getting blood pumping can reduce stress hormones like cortisol in the body.
Do It Yourself. Taking on a specific project or responsibility can give you a boost of energy and motivation to do something besides watch reality TV while counting the hours until you can leave. Instead of loafing around in the kitchen, stay busy by helping with chores like collecting cans for a food drive, taking the recycling to the dump, or restocking the fridge.
Put the Bottle Down. Sipping on spiked eggnog or a hot buttered rum is part of the fun, but it’s no surprise that alcohol + crowded rooms + family grudges = a whole lot of drama. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and makes some people more aggressive, so making sure no one gets too friendly with the wine bottle is a good way to keep the peace.
Follow the Leader. When someone else is running the show, stay on the sidelines. Nobody likes a know-it-all cousin trying to steal their thunder, so let Uncle Jim teach Dad how to carve the ham, even if you have a better technique up your sleeve. Besides, trying to take on too much is a recipe for a stressful holiday meltdown.
Mind Over Matter. Feeling really overwhelmed? Find a private space and do some basic meditation to get back on track. Mindfulness meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety. Check out these 10 ways to meditate every day.
Mix it Up. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to suggest an alternative. If everybody just picks at the traditional roast goose at Christmas dinner, try chicken or ham or even a show-stopping vegetarian dish. Just because someone always hosts the big event or brings a certain dish doesn’t mean they want to do so indefinitely. When planning for the holidays, make sure no one feels forced to carry on a tradition they don’t particularly like.
Zip It. As the old saying goes, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything. Let old conflicts gather dust and don’t create new ones by haranguing relatives and kvetching about little things like who brewed the weak coffee.
Positive Pals. Hang out with people who make you feel good about yourself. Spend the most time with supportive relatives and just catch up briefly with others. There’s no reason to be constantly surrounded by negative influencers. And if a conversation is driving you bonkers, simply stand up and leave the room.
The Power of No. Take a lesson from the classic holiday movie “Home Alone” and play to your strengths. No one can do everything, so don’t feel guilty about saying “no.” If you hate cooking, don’t let yourself get roped into hosting a festive dinner. Bring wine or decorations to someone else’s party instead!
Pace Yourself. If you’re scheduled to attend two or three holiday parties every day, consider taking a step back. When seasonal commitments pile up, it’s easy to wind up overbooked. Though friends and family will miss you if you ditch an event, it’s important to take care of yourself first and foremost. Set some boundaries around what you do and do not have energy for, and stick to them to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Keep it Real. Holiday treats are great, but you’ll probably feel better if you don’t drink eggnog like it’s water. As tough as it may be when traveling, try to stick to some semblance of a healthy routine. Allow yourself those holiday indulgences, but remember to also eat fruits and veggies and keep active for your own peace of mind. Incorporating aspects of normal routines can make that weeklong stay in a childhood bedroom a little easier.
Love Is All Around. At the end of the day, remember what the holidays are really about. Family members meddle because they love you, annoying traditions exist to bring people together, and everyone (even grumpy salespeople) just wants to be home for the holidays. When family-induced stress threatens to crush you, take a minute to think about the bigger picture and give thanks for what what’s often taken for granted. Focus on what’s going right or went right in the past year instead of what’s wrong. The holidays are a great time to practice gratitude.
Gratitude and appreciation are two powerful weapons we can use against depression and anxiety.
In fact, Dan Baker writes in his book, What Happy People Know, that it is impossible to be in a state of appreciation and fear at the same time.
Here, then, are some ways we can cultivate gratitude.
1. Keep a gratitude journal.
According to psychologists such as Sonja Lyubomirsky at the University of California-Riverside, keeping a gratitude journal —where you record once a week all the things you have to be grateful for — and other gratitude exercises can increase your energy, and relieve pain and fatigue. In my daily mood journal, I make a list of each day’s “little joys,” moments that I would fail to appreciate if I didn’t make myself record them, such as: “holding my daughter’s hand on the way to the car,” “a hot shower,” “helping my son with his homework.” This exercise reminds me of all the blessings in my life I take for granted and encourages me to appreciate those mundane moments that can be sources of joy.
2. Use the right words.
According to Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, words literally can change your brain. In their book, Words Can Change Your Brain, they write: “a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.” Positive words, such as “peace” and “love,” can alter the expression of genes, strengthening areas in our frontal lobes and promoting the brain’s cognitive functioning. According to the authors, they propel the motivational centers of the brain into action and build resiliency.
“Gratitude is the heart’s memory,” says the French proverb. Therefore, one of the first steps to thankfulness is to remember those in our lives who have walked with us and shown kindness for deeds big and small. I have been extremely fortunate to have so many positive mentors in my life. At every scary crossroad, there was a guardian or messenger there to help me find my way. The mere exercise of remembering such people can cultivate gratitude in your life.
4. Write thank-you letters.
According to psychologist Robert Emmons at the University of California at Davis, author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, a powerful exercise to cultivate gratitude is to compose a “gratitude letter” to a person who has made a positive and lasting influence in your life.
Emmons says the letter is especially powerful when you have not properly thanked the person in the past, and when you read the letter aloud to the person face to face. I do this as part of my holiday cards, especially to former professors or teachers who helped shape my future and inspired me in ways they might not know.
5. Hang with the winners.
Peer pressure never really goes away, you know. Studies show that married folks hanging out with happy couples are more likely to stay married themselves; that if your friends eat well, their willpower will rub off on you; and that if you surround yourself with optimists, you will end up more positive than if you keep company with a bunch of whiners. By merely sitting next to a person who likes the words “thank you,” there is a high probability that you will start using those words as well.
6. Give back.
A while back I wanted to repay a former professor of mine for all his encouragement and support to me throughout the years. However, nothing I could do would match his kindness. No letter of appreciation. No visit to his classrooms. So I decided I would help some young girl who fell into my path in the same way that he helped me. I would try to help and inspire this lost person just as he had done for me.
Giving back doesn’t mean reciprocating favors so that everything is fair and the tally is even. That’s the beauty of giving. If someone does an act of kindness for you, one way to say thanks is to do the same for another.
Originally posted on Everyday Health.
I came onto the path of mindfulness, meditation, and spirituality when I was 16 years old. I saw the TV-series Ed where the main character started experimenting with lucid dreaming.
That got me interested, and that is where my journey started. It hasn’t been an easy journey by any means, but I’m nearing a decade on this path, and I don’t regret it for a moment.
I’ve been through a lot of challenges, such as going through brief spurts of depression. I’ve felt like I wasn’t good enough, and that life wouldn’t work out the way I wanted it to. In every one of these cases I let my thoughts run wild. I started focusing on the negative instead of on the positive, and I think many people have the same tendency.
So there have been both ups and downs, but in the end they have all been there for a reason. And with each “bad period,” I’ve learned more and more about myself.
Truly living in the present moment isn’t easy, but it is highly rewarding. The best way to move forward on your own path to “here and now” is to understand the potential obstacles and plan in advance how you’ll deal with them.
1. Mindfulness takes ongoing effort.
Mindfulness takes work, but the good news is that the longer you practice, the easier it gets, and the more joyful your life becomes. Mindfulness is best practiced throughout your day. It’s not just for when you sit down and meditate. Focus on being mindful of your thoughts when you’re doing everyday tasks and it will be easier to remain mindful when things get tough.
2. There will always be distractions.
When you’re on your journey to becoming more mindful, it seems as if the universe starts throwing stuff at you just to give you challenges. The distractions could be problems in your life, drama in your relationships, or old negative beliefs popping up from your past. These are great opportunities to practice present moment awareness. They will help you become stronger, better, and more in tune with yourself. The problems and challenges we face are teachers in disguise. They are there to help you grow and to realize who you truly are.
3. Progress doesn’t always come quickly.
Progress may seem excruciatingly slow. There will be times when you attach to things and situations that you want, which will make it difficult to be fully in the present moment. It’s impossible to be mindful when you’re dwelling on the past or obsessing about the future. We all do those things sometimes. I’ve experienced it countless times in my own life. The more I want something, the more I fixate on not having it and wanting to get it. Once I release the attachment and focus on being grateful for what I have in the moment, my life seems to shift, and progress seems to happen naturally.
4. You may want to give up.
Like with any worthwhile journey, you may feel like giving up and throwing in the towel multiple times. But it is during the times when you feel most frustrated that you are often on the verge of a breakthrough. Our lives are very similar to the seasons. We go through cold, dark winters, and joyful, expanding summers. It all comes and goes. It’s the ebb and flow of life. When you realize that the challenging times are there to help you grow, you will automatically feel more peaceful and relaxed.
5. Your goals may challenge your mindfulness.
Having goals is fantastic, essential even, but when you become overly attached to them, something bad happens, just like we talked about above. You know that you’re too attached to something when you start feeling frustrated, angry, and negative. Attachment muddles our clarity. You’re likely pursuing your goals because you believe they will make you happy. Remember that when you start letting your goals pull you into a stressful state of mind. If you focus on the good things around you, you’ll feel that happiness that you think you need to chase. This will make you much happier in the long term, and, of course, right now.
6. You might forget that the journey is the destination.
Most people miss the fact that the reward is in the journey. Have you ever noticed that when you reach a goal, it’s not as exciting as you thought it would be? Sure, it feels great to hit a milestone, but if you do not replace that goal with another one, you will soon find yourself feeling unfulfilled. That’s because we are goal-seeking mechanisms. Humans need goals so they can have a sense of purpose and fulfillment. It is in the journey that we learn, grow, and become better. When you’re practicing mindfulness, remember that there is nowhere to arrive at. If you focus on what is going on right now, the rest take care of itself.
7. Sometimes you’ll want to be anywhere but in the now.
Even the most enlightened masters on earth have to deal with difficult situations and chaotic thoughts. The difference is they have learned to accept the moment for what it is. When you do this, you become the guardian of your inner space, which is the only way to feel good inside and find peace of mind, right now.
Henri writes at Wake Up Cloud and he is also the author of Find Your Passion: 25 Questions You Must Ask Yourself and Follow Your Heart: 21 Days to a Happier, More Fulfilling Life. The above article reblogged from TinyBuddha.com
It comes and goes. Sometimes we feel like we are on track to our dreams and other times we can feel overwhelmed and a bit hopeless about ever reaching them. Devoting yourself to your soul’s ambition is not always an easy street.
Here are some things that are helpful to know:
It gets harder once you commit: When you decide to fully commit yourself one of the first things that you can come up against is all of your resistance. This is not a sign that things are going wrong. Keep moving. You are on the right track.
The eternal revisions: Think you have it down once and for all? Well, um, unlikely. You have committed to a process. There will be points along the way where events will encourage you to take a second, and sometimes fifth, look at where you are going. This can be hard but having the courage to look will go a long way.
When it is over: Sometimes, our greatest dreams turn out to be stepping stones. Know that if your dream turns out to be less on target than you originally thought that this is not a failure it is the beginning of something larger than which you were previously able to dream.
Overall, the key is not to figure it out. It is to get deeply connected with yourself and your own truth. The more that you can connect in to your core, the easier it will be for you to make the decisions you need to grow.
I was the presenter at a New England eWomen event on Wednesday and I totally enjoyed the people who were there. I highly recommend (if you are local and in business) checking them out.
I was all prepared for my speech. I had spoken at eWomen groups before. I felt at ease and confident. And then, a curve ball. Unexpectedly I was asked to talk about my business for 2 minutes.
When it was my turn, I froze. My mind just went completely blank. I have introduced myself this way hundreds of times but my brain could not access the information it needed and I stumbled over my words. YUCK! Who likes public failure? No one does!
So, with the desire to turn this uncomfortable event into something positive, I started to think about what good might come of it. I decided that this post would be the start. And, maybe a book. Inspiration comes in so many ways!
Transforming Failure Into Inspiration
One thing that I hear over and over is that people are afraid to fail. They are afraid of what others are going to think about them. They are afraid to feel the pain of failure and because of this fear of failure they stop short or do not take action at all.
I have definitely been someone that has been afraid of failure. I have been afraid of it to such a degree that at times it has been totally paralyzing.
Truth be told, I was once quoted as saying “Everyone in my family is a perfectionist (including myself) but I suck at it.” This is interesting in two ways. First, saying that means I was the pinnacle of perfectionism. Second, this way of being clearly comes with a desire to be mean to myself in the form of judging everything that is not perfect.
If you experience this you know how much it sucks.
Perfectionists never feel good enough. When they make a mistake, and they know that they made a mistake, it is enough to take them down –really far down.
Sometimes this stops them from doing anything at all. Their perfectionist streak can hurt both career and relationships but it’s worst aspect is the internal judgement and negative dialog.
You can change the game by embracing your limitations and failures. This is not an easy thing to do and takes patience and practice, but it can be learned. Here are five things that you can do to become less of a perfectionist.
1. Stop performing: Do you find yourself making everything polished and perfect? Does everyone think you are amazing –all the time? It can be great to be amazing but know what is even better? Being liked for who you really are. Instead of perfect, aim for genuine.
2. Lean into your mistakes: If you are screwing up, let yourself screw up. It can even be fun. Take it from a serious person. Make a point of not taking YOURSELF to seriously.
3. See your mistakes as opportunities: There is something to be gained from every time we fail. How can you turn coal into a diamond?
4. Give credit to and enjoy both your strengths and limitations: Funny thing happens when you embrace either a strength or a limitation of yours, you become better able to embrace its opposite. This means you get to increasingly step more and more into your full self.
5. See it as a gift: When you are willing to be accepting of your limitations everyone around you is able to breath a bit more easily. Being honest about and accepting your shortcomings helps everyone around you heal themselves by creating an environment of love and acceptance. (more…)
What other life might you choose if you could choose more than one? Or, what is the archetypal expression of something that you are living out in your life that you can more fully embrace?
We often focus our attention on being our “true” selves and although this is a worthy process, it has it’s limitations. Our “true” self can have many faces and if we explore them we may come away with the realization that we are far more complex then we can imagine. As Walt Whitman famously wrote “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes”
Kids express themselves in this way so easily. They play being a princess one moment and then a pirate, a spaceman –or in my case it was often a goat—the next. This allows them to explore the many possibilities of what they want to become. It allows them to expand beyond their daily limitations and the importance of this type of thinking is something adults often forget.
While there are a lot of benefits of knowing what we think, what we like, and who we like, it can also become a way of turning off and shutting down. It can become easy to habitually respond rather than take in the whole situation. We can become set in our ways and stop growing.
So, what might you learn about yourself by stretching outside of what you have come to identify with? How might that actually lead you home to being more of who you are?
Want a way to explore new realms of who you are are who you could be within a supportive and fun space? LifeWork Community offers you the tools to more fully all of who you are and better your life as well as that of your family and community. Learn more here
I recently got to take part in an amazing relationship workshop with Caroline Myss at Omega. Below is a selection from her online library which I absolutely recommend you check out here.
Many people take the very limited view that creativity refers only to the arts, sciences and other noble pursuits. Creative expression is not only alive in our major projects, but also present in the normal course of everyday life — how we organize our work space or our home, how we prepare our meals, or even how we structure our time.
Creativity is having ideas that we bring into physical form and as part of this process, everyone of us is given unique creative potentials. What is crucial to remember here is that your contribution will not look like anyone else’s – you can be inspired by others but when it comes to true creative expression there is no such thing as duplication.
The center of creative expression in the body is second chakra because every person’s energetic body is designed to give birth. However the creative process incarnates through your energetic system by traveling through each and every chakra. Along the way, creativity can be blocked in any of your energetic centers.
Common Blocks to Creativity
Creativity begins as a simple notion; if the notion takes hold, it becomes a bona fide “idea.” It is at this point that you begin to strategize–the who, what, where, why, and how questions. Excessive strategizing can weigh the idea down, literally drowning your creativity. Once past the details, you’ll find yourself dealing with self-doubt: “Can I really do this?” “Do I have what it takes?”
In addition to internal issues, creativity faces external pressures. The outside world will challenge the strength of your inner vision: “What, are you nuts?” “Do you have any idea the risk you are taking?” In order to forge ahead, your heart’s energy must be fully engaged in supporting your creative vision.
Up until this point, it’s all been theory. Now you must examine whether or not you’ve got the guts to put your “money” where your mouth is: Sign up for the class, apply for that business loan, even something as basic as purchasing the wallpaper for your home office. Take the necessary physical steps to put your “idea” into action. As you do, new issues may arise, such as jealousy, competition, control, decision-making, money, trust, and the urge to give up. As you begin your new creative adventures, keep in mind that archetypal patterns of behavior can influence their direction. See if you can identify some of the more common patterns in your life. (more…)
Networking has a bad reputation as a forum for superficial small talk. Yet real networking is about establishing mutually beneficial, lasting connections, one person at a time. And with my modern approach to networking, even you can shine and thrive at a board meeting, convention, or free-floating cocktail party.
The reason so many of us hate networking – and profess to stink at it – is because we’ve been futilely following the wrong rules. Rules that only work for a paltry 15% of the population and require us to be phony – a sure fire way to short circuit.
Networking isn’t about working a room or telling everyone how fabulous you are. Real networking is building meaningful, lasting, mutually beneficial connections one person at a time.
This new and improved definition of networking means being true to you; capitalizing on your strengths, and tossing aside ‘rules’ that don’t match your temperament. The book’s self-assessment identifies your networking style. However, here are a few tidbits designed especially for you:
1. Be True To You
You are better qualified to be you than anyone else. Stamp out networking advice that demands you behave in ways that drain you. Harness natural abilities as networking strengths rather than liabilities. Like to listen, not talk? Do it. Energize alone? Go for it. Prefer one-on-one conversation? Arrange it.
2. Realize Less Is More
Be selective. Go to fewer events and be more focused when attending – rather than dragging your weary self to every business opportunity and showing up like a networking prisoner.
3. Plan Your First Impression
Cognitive scientists say it can take up to 200 times the amount of information to undo a first impression as it takes to make one. Who has that kind of spare time? Not you! Show up with the best version of you, every time. You never know who you are meeting.
Many of us dislike networking events because we don’t know what to say to a group of strangers. Free floating through a room is a fast track to free-floating anxiety. What to do? Simple. Volunteer to help out. Voila! You have a purpose and something to talk about. Even better, you position yourself as someone helpful – proving how indispensable you are rather than telling everyone about it.
5. Get In Line
This strategy is brilliant. You walk into a networking event with nowhere to go and no one to glom onto. What’s a desperate networker to do? Get in a queue. Any queue. The longer the better! Why? A queue gives you a place to put your body and a temporary purpose in the world. There are only two people to talk with – the person in front and person behind you. There is a reward – whatever is given out at the front of the queue. And a natural ending – the front of the queue. Nice meeting you! Ta-ta!
6. Set Challenging Yet Achievable Networking Goals
Well-formed goals vary by personality. At a networking event, task yourself with meeting one or two people, not a dozen. And follow up (see #10!).
7. Show Don’t Tell
Rather than boring others with a canned advert of how marvelous you are, demonstrate live-time your fabulous self. Be useful and gracious. Greet others with a warm smile and leap at every chance to be helpful.
Rather than wandering cavernous expo halls at industry events, do your pre-work. Learn in advance what organizations are of particular interest. Spend more time with fewer people. Impress key targets with your knowledge of who they are and why you are a perfect match.
Ever sense your remarks just shoot off a cliff and crash to the ground? Who needs that kind of pressure? Instead focus on those around you, asking thoughtful questions. Network via a sincere interest in others rather than promoting your fine self.
10. Follow-Up Or Forget About It
If you’re not following up, you’re not networking! We forget half of what we hear within 48 hours. Write personalized follow-up within two days or risk having your brilliant remarks erased permanently from the minds of those you wowed. If you’re not following up, you’re not networking.
reblogged from www.careerealism.com
Networking doesn’t have to be dry and forced if you don’t want it to be. In fact, it can be even more valuable if you don’t treat it that way. Below are six ways to make networking suck less.
Be passionate and make it fun. Instead of trying to “network,” try to have fun, get to know people and build mutually-beneficial relationships over time. Remember, meeting people is fun! Learn to appreciate the experience of getting to know someone and building a relationship. Talk about stuff you like to talk about and ask questions that you legitimately want to hear the answer to.
Don’t go to events. I actually hate the term “networking” because most people associate it with big conferences and events with lots of people selling things and giving out business cards. Don’t go to those kinds of events.
Don’t get me wrong, you can meet some awesome people at big events. Conferences and events are a great way to start meeting people in a given industry and forming a network. However, after building up an initial base, I’ve found that the best networking doesn’t happen at events.
Ask for introductions or reach out directly. Instead of going to events and hoping that you will serendipitously run into someone that you’d love to meet, be more intentional. Think strategically about the people you want to have in your network and make a list. Find them on LinkedIn, and if you have any common connections, ask the shared connection for an introduction. If you don’t have any common connections, try reaching out directly.
If you are someone they would benefit from knowing, they will gladly accept the introduction or respond to your outreach. To “warm up” your cold call, try interacting with them online by responding to their tweets or commenting on their blog. Make sure you have a strong online presence so that when they receive your or your shared contacts email they can easily see that you are someone they would benefit from knowing.
Host your own events. Invite a group of people and ask each of them to invite a couple more people. Good people usually know other good people, so if you invite good people, you will likely meet even more good people. The event could be a breakfast, happy hour, dinner, basketball game or pretty much anything you enjoy doing. Building relationships with your existing contacts is sometimes more valuable than meeting new people. In addition, by filtering this way, you’re more likely to meet great people.
Blog and tweet to reach a wider audience. Amazingly, blogging can actually help you accomplish several core networking strategies. Blogging is a great way to engage your existing contacts, as well as reach a new audience.
Writing content that’s valuable to your audience and displays your expertise is an effective way to reach a wider audience. It’s also more “scalable” in that it enables you to reach more people in the same amount of time than having individual meetings or attending individual events.
Connect with connectors. Connectors are people who know a lot of people and make a regular practice of introducing their contacts to each other. They spend a lot of time networking and meeting new people. Knowing connectors gives you more eyes on the world and saves you time. If and when they find someone that you would benefit from knowing, they will introduce you.
Re-blogged from Entrepreuer.com
About the Author: Mike Fishbein is the founder of Startup College and author of How to Build an Awesome Professional Network. Previously he was part of the founding team of a venture studio and corporate innovation firm.
In our day-to-day lives, habits can often be tough to build, as there are plenty of distractions that can lead us off the “straight and narrow” and right back to our old ways. To alleviate some of those troubles we can examine some academic research on motivation, discipline, and habit building, and break down their findings into actionable steps that any aspiring habit-builder can put into place.
1. Make “micro quotas” and “macro goals”
In a fascinating study on motivation, researchers found abstract thinking to be an effective method to help with discipline. In the most basic sense, “dreaming big” is pretty good advice after all. And since a variety of research around the self-determination theory shows us that creating intrinsic motivators (being motivated to do things internally, not through punishments or rewards) is an essential process of building habits that stick, you need to find a way to balance this desire to dream big with your day-to-day activities, which often do not result in quick, dramatic changes.
The answer is to create what I call “micro quotas” and ”macro goals.” Your goals should be the big picture items that you wish to someday accomplish, but your quotas, are the minimum amounts of work that you must get done every single day to make the bigger goal a reality. Quotas make each day approachable, and your goals become achievable because of this.
Writer/developer Nathan Barry has made for a great case study of the use of these quotas as someone who forced himself to write 1000 words per day come hell or high-water. The result was three self-published books resulting in thousands of dollars in sales.
2. Create behavior chains
Creating sticky habits is far easier when we make use of our current routines, instead of trying to fight them. The concept of if-then planning is built around environmental “triggers” that we can use to let us know that it’s time to act on our habit. Also known implementation intentions, this tactic involves picking a regular part of your schedule and then building another “link in the chain” by adding a new habit.
For instance, instead of “I will keep a cleaner house,” you could aim for, “When I come home, I’ll change my clothes and then clean my room/office/kitchen.” Multiple studies confirm this to be a successful method to rely on contextual cues over willpower. So the next time you decide to “eat healthier,” instead try “If it is lunch time, Then I will only eat meat and vegetables.”
3. Eliminate excessive options
According to a variety of research on self-control —and expounded upon in books like The Willpower Effect — there is great power in being boring. Take, for instance, Barack Obama’s insistence on never wearing anything but blue and gray suits. According to the president, “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make too many decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
The president’s belief is well supported by the research—Kathleen Vohs and her colleagues’ study on self-control found that making repeated choices depleted the mental energy of their subjects, even if those choices were mundane and relatively pleasant. According to the Harvard Business Review, if you want to maintain long term discipline, it’s best to “Identify the aspects of your life that you consider mundane — and then ‘routinize’ those aspects as much as possible. In short, make fewer decisions.”
For lasting change, the steps you take must ultimately change your environment and schedule. Stop buying snacks if you want to stop snacking (no willpower needed), pack a very similar lunch every day of the week, and embrace the power of routine to get the necessary done each day.
4. Process plan (but don’t fantasize)
The step that many people skip when they fantasize about building a certain habit is they never clearly answer why they want the change to occur. It may seem like a small detail, but it plays a huge role in keeping our motivation up over time. A variety of research shows us that excessive fantasizing about results can be extremely detrimental to the stickiness of any habit.
According to this study from UCLA, the mistake is in what we visualize. Researchers found that those participants who engaged in visualizations that included the process of what needed to be done to achieve the goal (ex: fantasizing about learning another language, by visualizing themselves practicing every day after work) were more likely to stay consistent than their peers (that visualized themselves speaking French on a trip to Paris). The visualization process worked for two reasons:
Planning: visualizing the process helped focus attention on the steps needed to reach the goal.
Emotion: visualization of individual steps led to reduced anxiety.
5. Eliminate “ah-screw-its”
New habits are often very fragile, and it is for this reason that we must eliminate any source of friction that may lead us astray. These “ah-screw-it” moments (hat tip to blogger Derek Halpern) are the specific moments where you find yourself saying, “Screw this, it’s not worth the effort!” A more scientific take on this phenomenon is called the What the Hell Effect, which explains why we are so likely to abandon ship with a new habit at the first slip-up.
The solution? Examine your habit and find exactly where things start to break down. In a great example of putting this in action, Author and 99U speaker Ramit Sethi has explained how he improved his gym attendance by finding where things would slip:
When I sat down to analyze why I wasn’t going to the gym, I realized: my closet was in another room. That meant I had to walk out in the cold [to] put on my clothes. It was easier to just stay in bed. Once I realized this, I folded my clothes and shoes the night before. When I woke up the next morning, I would roll over and see my gym clothes sitting on the floor. The result? My gym attendance soared by over 300%.
You can even incorporate an “if-then” scenario once you find the culprit. For instance, if fatigue is stopping you from playing guitar after work, you could set up a system of “If I’m feeling tired after work, then I will take a 20-minute nap and listen to music for five minutes to get myself motivated.”
What about you? How do you create new regular habits?
Originally published on 99U
is the author of Sparring Mind, where he takes a fresh look at human behavior, productivity, habits, and creative work. (more…)