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Take Charge of Your Habits

Take Charge of Your Habits

There’s an old quote about habits that perfectly shows why you need to take charge of the ones in your life. “The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” by Warren Buffet. If you don’t take charge of your habits, even ones that seem harmless, they will easily control you.

While habits are easily formed and followed through, especially once your brain recognizes them as habits, you can still change them. Always remember that you are in control, not your habits.

Habit expert and writer of the book ‘Atomic Habits’ James Clear has four rules for forming habits that can help you take charge of them. Whether the habits are good or bad, you can still use these rules to gain some measure of control. These rules, according to Atomic Habits, are:

Make it obvious

Make it attractive

Make it easy

Make it satisfying

Make it Obvious

To take charge of your habits, you need to make them obvious. For example, let’s say you want to start running. If your running shoes and gear are in the closet, then that habit isn’t apparent. Instead of sifting through your wardrobe for your shoes, your brain will just want to stay in bed.

So, you can put your running shoes by the door and make sure that they are the first thing you see in the morning. Then you’ll be reminded that you should run today. To break bad habits, you want to hide them away.

Make it Attractive

With habits, most people focus on the long-term goals. You might say, “I will go for a run to get my beach body in ten weeks.” While that goal is noble, it does nothing when running in the cold and feeling miserable.

So, make your habits attractive and give yourself a reward or incentive to get it done. Maybe run with a friend or have your running trail pass by a place where you can have breakfast or see the city’s sunrise. For bad habits, add extra steps or make going the habit very unattractive.

Make it Easy

Remember, the brain always takes on the path of least resistance. If that path happens to lead to your habit, then more power to you. It might seem counter-intuitive, but instead of telling yourself. I will run a mile today; say that you will only run a block.

Having smaller micro-habits will make everything easier and will help you do them. Most people go too big, get discouraged, and then get burnt out. But running a block, reading one page of a book, or doing one push-up is something that takes no time at all. Plus, if you do one small habit, why not do another and another?

For bad habits, add more resistance to them and make them harder to achieve.

Make it Satisfying

Reward yourself along the journey for your habits, and you’ll keep doing them. Maybe if you go running for thirty days, give yourself some type of reward. Have a good meal, watch a movie, do something you wouldn’t normally do, and also reflect on how running has made you a better person than you were 30 days ago.

For bad habits, remove the satisfaction from them, and you won’t see them as a reward.

You Are In Control

Remember that every habit comes from your own brain, and you are the one in control. If you want to make or break a habit, you are the only one who can do so. Follow the four steps, and you’ll find that it gets easier and easier to take charge and make your habits work for you.

Learning Strategies for Mastering New Skills

Learning Strategies for Mastering New Skills

Technology is advancing at unprecedented levels, and it’s only going to get faster. According to Moore’s Law all technological changes occur faster and faster doubling approximately every 18 months. Because of this fact, if you want to keep up in the world, continuously seek to master new skills.

If you want to master a new skill, it’s imperative first to ask and answer a few questions:

Are You Really Ready?

Do you have the right background to learn a new skill? For example, if you want to author a novel, what do need to add to your skillset? There are many processes to learn about that involves more than just writing do you need to back up and learn plotting, character development, or something else?

Do You Really Need It?

If you are entertaining learning a new skill, why do you want to learn it? What will you do when you do learn it? You don’t need to know everything. For example, if you are going to get your gallbladder out, you don’t have to learn surgery, the doctor knows what they are doing. There are experts for a reason. Let them do what they do.

How Do You Learn Best?

This is something you may know instinctively, or you may need to explore. Some people learn best from a hands-on method, others learn best by reading, and yet others require even more. Knowing how you learn best will help you find the right course, book, or plan for your needs.

Now that you know the answers to those questions when you do want to learn something new, remember to follow these tips.

  • Set Clear Goals – When you want to learn a new skill, you need to set goals that define what you’re going to learn, the timeline behind it, and specific information that helps you succeed.
  • Start Small – Be sure to break up the things you need to learn about the new skill into smaller parts. This is going to make it less overwhelming for you.
  • Be Patient – Sometimes, the rush to learn can affect your mind and block your ability to absorb latest information. Instead, be kind to yourself and patient as you learn the new skill.
  • Teach What You Learn – For most people, regardless of learning style, turning around and teaching someone else about what you’re learning is helpful. Even if you cannot teach someone, you can send a note to yourself via email telling yourself what you learned.

Developing the capacity to master new skills faster will help you stay ahead of the curve. However, keep in mind that you don’t need to know everything. You only need to know what you need to know to make the right decisions for your life and your work.

The Power Behind Continual Journaling

Thank goodness for journaling and those who journal.  If it were not for journals, much of history would be lost forever.  We owe so much of our knowledge of our forefathers and the world before us to those who took the time to make entries in their journal. 

 Ship captains kept daily logs while at sea and most of our founding fathers kept journals as they formed a new nation.  Long before that, records were kept on scrolls with quill and some form of ink.

Hieroglyphics line the ancient tombs of the pharaohs giving us an insight into what their lives were like.  Even cave men recorded history on rocks and hillsides.  Where would we be today if it were not for journals?

You may say, “Sure that’s all well and good for famous people such as presidents and celebrities, but I don’t have the time – and even if I did, nothing of any importance happens to me.”

Journals should be kept for you and what they can do for you regardless of your position in life.  That’s reason enough, but think how much your children and grandchildren will learn about their ancestors from the journal you may start today.

You may think you’ll always remember what you did on a certain date and why you decided to buy that article you always wanted but as the saying goes:  “The faintest ink is better than the most retentive mind.”  Writing down your thoughts and actions is one of the easiest and most compelling ways to remember and record your personal life.

Your brain is trained to think in a sequence of events.  Every thing is in order and has its place. The mind is capable of processing myriads of thoughts at any given moment.  And, as you would imagine, those thoughts are like sentences.  They contain a beginning, a middle and an end.  It’s like giving a speech when one thought relates to another and so on until the logical end.

By writing down your thoughts in a journal you can break free of sequential thinking and examine them from a new perspective.  Remember when Merlin in Camelot urged Arthur to soar like an eagle to view his thoughts and problems from high above the land.  From there he said there are no fences and no boundaries.  His thinking was set free with nothing to restrain it in conventional limitations.

Journaling gives clarity to your problems and allows you to substantiate your progress.  It’s easy to think you’ve made no progress and nothing of import occurred until you reread your journal a year later.  A question you may have thought impossible to solve will suddenly present itself with a solution when you view the written word.

Be specific when making entries.  It may seem trivial at the time but later when you examine the big picture you’ll see how it all came together and how events are still unfolding.  Write down your goals, intentions, obstacles, challenges, your likes and dislikes.  Make a note of people who’ve helped you and those who likely will in the future.

You can create a journal in a book or on your computer.  Software for this purpose is available.  A journal gives you direction.  It shows where you’ve been, where you are now and where you’re going.  Begin a journal today.  You’ll gain more insight into yourself than you ever thought possible.



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 seem to know exactly how to proceed from one project to another seamlessly and without effort.  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 have more energy than at the beginning as they feed on taking action.

The flounders at the end of the day are still floundering and can’t understand why nothing has been accomplished and they 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.

For these people, organization is an essential key.  Whether it’s for your home or business, make a to-do list and prioritize it.  Put the most important ones 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 reward when deserved.

Another plan of action states that you can waste too much time making lists and you should visualize your task at hand until you have the energy to do it.   They suggest you sit quietly, 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.  Fantasize about it, if you will.

Thought waves become energy waves as you focus your mind on one central thought.  These energy waves build until you feel the energy surging inside you pushing you into action.

You’ll build up so much energy you will be forced to act.  At that point, take action.  It could be just a small part of your overall project but let yourself be compelled to action.  This energy will dissipate, so do as much as you can before it leaves your body.

You’ve probably worked with a mind energy force involuntarily.  There’s a problem you’ve faced during the day and can’t find a solution.  Clear your mind, concentrate on the problem, even sleep on it and seemingly out of nowhere the answer becomes clear and you can take action. A happy attitude is imperative.  Most people who are happy are active.  Associate with happy people.  Change the way your think and you will change the way you act.



How to Make Your Motivation Soar Even When Faced With Obstacles


We’ve all asked the question:  How does the motivator stay motivated when it’s obvious he or she is being beset with seemingly insurmountable obstacles?  No matter who we are, we will all be granted a share of success and failure.

It’s easy to stay motivated when we reach one goal after another.  We may even find it difficult to understand how someone can be down in the dumps when life can be so good to you.  Then, failures, problems and obstacles enter your life and it’s not so easy to remain motivated.

Even the most renowned leaders and speakers must find a way to overcome these burdens and move forward if they’re to maintain success in both their professional and personal life.

There are many ways to overcome your obstacles and make your motivation continue to soar; but on the other hand, there is no one perfect answer for everyone.  You must find the way within yourself.

Understand what’s causing your fears and your obstacles.  The reasons could be tangible or they could be emotional.  They could be real or imagined.  Once you’ve determined what your fears are, ask yourself what is the worse case scenario.

If all of your obstacles and fears become reality what is the worse thing that could happen.  When put into perspective, the culmination of these events probably would not be the end of your life or even your lifestyle as you know it.

Believe in your goals and yourself and nothing can stop you.  Analyze what you’re striving for and what you and your company, or your family, will gain by achieving these goals.  If you do not believe in what you’re doing then you’re on the wrong track and should return to square one for reassessment.

Take action quickly.  Visualize yourself overcoming these obstacles and your triumph over them.   Don’t put off positive action no matter how small and seemingly insignificant.

The smallest success that stems from your action instills faith and belief in yourself and your ability to succeed.  Obstacles have many faces and we must decide how we can stare them down.  If the magnitude of the obstacles is too large for you to handle emotionally, break it down into smaller tasks.

Remain cheerful and positive and watch the size of the problem diminish.  It’s the old rule of mind over matter, or obstacles if you will.  Refuse to let negative thoughts rule your brain.

Stay inspired.  You can do this by reading inspirational books, or watching motivational video or audio courses.  Your environment should consist of inspirational people and things.  Our surroundings enable us to become what we are.

Obstacles are inevitable but how we deal with them is not.  We can choose to overcome and be happy or we can be miserable.  Don’t dwell on self-doubt.  Are your fears realities or something you fear might happen if you fail to take proper action?  Faith is instilled when you tackle the task.

One of the great motivators of our time is Margaret Thatcher who said, “Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end.  It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s when you’ve had everything to do, and you’ve done it.”

Starting Your Day Off on the Right Foot


Not everyone gets out of bed in the morning easily and in a good mood.  Some can bounce out of bed eagerly anticipating the day and will talk your ear off if there’s anyone to listen.  Others groggily stagger out of bed reluctantly and you better not speak to them or they’ll bite your head off.

Which of these describes you?  Or do you fall somewhere in between?  Which would you rather be?  Typically, the person who bounds out of bed wide awake is the person who gets more done in the morning and is happier to do it.  This isn’t always true.  Some get just as much work done; it just takes them longer to get to it.

If you’re not happy with your morning habits and want to change, it can be done but it has to be a concerted effort on your part.  Many people don’t want to change.  They’ve been that way for years and it works for them.  On the other hand, who wants to be an old grouch in the morning making yourself and everyone else miserable?

You can become an early happy riser and make it a habit you will embrace.  First, admit your current method of waking up in the morning isn’t working and you want to change.

Be willing to try a different method and realize it may not be the first different method you try that will transform you into a new you.

Technique is important.  Prepare yourself for bed with the same routine if possible.  With children and spouses this is sometimes difficult.  Start with a healthy diet.  Stay away from heavy fatty foods and sugars before bedtime.  Eat dinner early.  Of course, no caffeine or other stimulant before bedtime.

Try the early healthy dinner a few nights and make a note as to how you feel the next morning.  Is it working?  If not, don’t give up.  You just need to add more and different methods to your morning madness.

Exercise daily.  The better shape your body is in the better it will sleep and the better you’ll feel each morning.  Morning exercise is usually more helpful than just before bedtime. Nighttime exercise can get the blood flowing too much for you to fall right to sleep.

Do something pleasant before going to bed to put you in a good mood.  Read a good book for a few minutes.  Don’t get so caught up in it that you can’t put it down.  Don’t balance your check book or pay bills before going to bed.  Money worries are one of the main causes of sleeplessness.

Anticipate the morning routine.  Don’t give yourself something boring to look forward to.

Make time for at least some morning exercise even if it’s just stretching.  Perhaps, sit outside and greet the sunrise with a morning devotional.  Count your blessings and plan your day. New morning habits were not accomplished in a day.  Be patient and willing to experiment.  Soon you’ll like yourself better in the morning and so will your family.

Making Clear, Conscious Decisions in Control of Your Life


Mankind has been blessed with the free will of making decisions.  These decisions can enrich our life or cause it to take a turn for the worse.  Not a day goes by that we don’t make dozens, even hundreds of decisions, most without even thinking. 

 Daily, we decide when to arise, what to eat, what to wear and what route to take to work or wherever our destination leads.  These are made with little pause or thought.  Others require a little more insight such as where to vacation, who to date, who to marry, which car to buy and which neighborhood is best for security and schools.

The decisions we make, whether major or minor, affect our lives to no small degree and those decisions must be made.  Some of us approach decision making with reluctance and dread being afraid of the consequences.  Sure, almost any decision we make could involves conflict and dissatisfaction.  Yet, we must take control and make the decision and accept the outcome, good or bad.

Decision making is a lot like bill paying.  Both must be done and usually within a certain time frame.  If we’re late paying our electric bill the consequences can be the discontinuance of power or a late fee.

If you fail to make a decision in a timely manner it could be taken out of your hands and placed in the hands of others.  Avoiding decisions or avoiding paying bills may seem easier but results are rarely desirable.

Why must you make a decision?  Identify the purpose, determine exactly what has to be solved and when.  It might make the problem become clearer if you make a pro and con list.  Study the list and the different choices and evaluate each in terms of consequences.  If I make this decision what will happen and if I make another decision this is the result.

Determine the best decision, evaluate the outcome and make the decision.  You might be criticized for making the wrong decision but you’ve done the best you can do with all the information available and you moved forward.  You made a decision.  You did something before being run over from behind.  The only people who are never criticized are those who do nothing.

A key decision can alter your life.  Accept this fact and approach it with eagerness.  In the movie Sliding Doors, a woman’s life is changed dramatically because she failed to make it through a sliding door.

The movie gives us an opportunity to see how she handles each set of circumstances. This is probably an over dramatization, but illustrates the power and importance of our decisions.

Gather information on the decision to be made, determine the best alternative and put that decision into action.  Look back only to learn from your past decisions but don’t dwell on them.  Move ahead and focus on your future.  Decision making requires a plan. If you don’t know where you’re going then one decision is as good as the other.

It’s a good feeling to make a conscious decision about yourself and your life and each time you do this the process becomes easier and your confidence builds.  Make a commitment, make a difference and take control of your life.

Have You Aligned Your Values With Your Goals?


Have you ever known someone who would do anything to get what he wanted or to get where he wanted to be?  You’ve watched that person be dishonest and take advantage of others to achieve his goal.  They say anything and promise everything to get to the top and grab the brass ring.

It may sound like we’re talking about politicians and unfortunately this is true of many of them.  But actually, these characteristics are evident in many of those we come in contact with every day in our business and personal life.  It’s unbelievable how many people are gullible enough to be drawn in to their web of deceit.  These people sacrifice their values to reach their goals.

It’s said that if you want to be successful, if you want to lead, then align your values with your goals.  If what’s important to you in your daily living can help you reach your objectives then you’re on your way to the top.  Values and goals must complement each other for you to be effective.

But, if you struggle with anxiety and unhappiness as you strive for your aspirations then reaching them may not give you inner peace and happiness even if you’re successful.  Don’t act like who you’re not to become someone you won’t like once you get there.  If you don’t like yourself then no one else will either.

Define your goals.  Of course, there are many types of goals and you must decide which is most important to you and your family.  Most people when asked to define their goals first think of their career and monetary achievement.

This may include material possessions and social standing in the community.  These could coincide with personal and spiritual goals as you climb the mountain of life.  Aspire to strike a balance in all these qualities of life.

Define your values.  What do you stand for?  Is it courage, honesty, dedication, generosity, thoughtfulness, tolerance, loyalty?  What drives you each day to get out of bed and do what you have to do?  It could be love of family and God.  It could be the thought of possessing power and money.  Or, you could just feel peace in helping others achieve their goals.

If you’re to be happy in your career and personal life you must align your values and goals.  You could fake it until you make it, but unless these are your true values it would be a hollow victory.  Be true to yourself, work hard each day and you’ll become the person you deserve to be.

Who do you admire?  It could be a famous person who exhibits the values you’d like to possess.  There are many notable politicians, clergy, actors and athletes who live the quality of life you admire.  Not necessarily their money but their character.  Aspire to be like them.

The person you admire and wish to imitate could also be a personal friend or a family member.  Ask them what motivates their lives and how they aligned their values with their goals.  If you’re properly aligned with the values and goals of your life, you’ll never regret where you are and where you will end.

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