I have a recurring nightmare. It goes like this: I’m 16 years old again, back on my old newspaper route. But there’s a major problem: I’m late. I’ve overslept. Now it’s 6:43, and I have 150 newspapers to deliver by 7:00 a.m. If I don’t, I start getting complaints. It’s an impossible task. A wave of immense anxiety immediately follows. Followed by a feeling of pressure, all over my body.
At this point, I usually wake up in a cold sweat–thankful that all of this was simply a dream, until … I realize the dream is related to a real-life situation. The true source of the anxiety, and a real-life feeling of “overwhelm-ed-ness.” After facing this situation over and over, I’ve discovered a rule that helps me to push through those negative feelings, move forward, and do what I need to do.
I like to call it “first things first.”
First things first
When I find myself in an “impossible paper route situation,” I tell myself:
Focus on first things first.
In other words, I narrow my view so as to focus on the first few things I need to do. This allows me to avoid getting overwhelmed by the sheer vastness of the situation, or the huge mountain of tasks before me.
Instead, I make a new list of only two or three things that I need to get done that day.
Then, I look only at the first one, and start chipping away.
First things first has many benefits, but here are four of them:
1. It keeps you moving.
When you have more work than you can handle, the temptation is to not do anything.
But by creating a new list of just two or three tasks, things look manageable again. You regain control of your emotions, allowing you to once more be productive.
2. It builds momentum.
Think about that feeling you experience once you finish a task. Then another. And another.
Next thing you know, you’re hooked. You see results, so you keep going–because at this point it’s easier to keep going than it is to stop. This is what famous psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes as “flow”–that highly focused mental state conducive to productivity.
Once you start building momentum …
3. You see more clearly.
In my nightmare, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, there is no tunnel. Just an unscalable mountain.
But once you start building momentum, you build the tunnel. Once you make enough progress, you can clearly see the path forward.
And once you see the path, it really starts to get good. Because now …
4. You believe.
Things are no longer dark.
The impossible task is no longer impossible.
Seeing the path forward turns into hope, and hope turns into reality.
Following the rule of first things first is how:
Entrepreneurs turn complex problems into simple solutions–and then build companies out of them.
Championship sports teams claw their way back from huge deficits.
Singers turn melodies into albums.
Authors turn words into books.
Artists turn sketches into masterpieces.
And paperboys finish their routes–even when they get very late starts.
Motivation is what explains why people or animals initiate, continue or terminate a certain behavior at a particular time. Motivational states are commonly understood as forces acting within the agent that create a disposition to engage in goal-directed behavior. It is often held that different mental states compete with each other and that only the strongest state determines behavior.
This means that we can be motivated to do something without actually doing it. The paradigmatic mental state providing motivation is desire. But various other states, like beliefs about what one ought to do or intentions, may also provide motivation.
Various competing theories have been proposed concerning the content of motivational states. They are known as content theories and aim to describe what goals usually or always motivate people. Abraham Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs and the ERG theory, for example, posit that humans have certain needs, which are responsible for motivation.
Some of these needs, like for food and water, are more basic than other needs, like for respect from others. On this view, the higher needs can only provide motivation once the lower needs have been fulfilled. Behaviorist theories try to explain behavior solely in terms of the relation between the situation and external, observable behavior without explicit reference to conscious mental states.
Firstly, don’t beat yourself up for caring about the opinions of others – we’re actually programmed to do it, so that’s extra negativity you don’t need.
“We care about what people think about us because we need to belong to a group,” says Counselling Directory member Dr Melissa Sedmak. “This is hard-wired into us and there was even research a few years back about how we accept lies from people (unconsciously) just to be a ’member of the tribe’.
“As species, we have an innate need to belong in order to survive. Therefore, caring about what other people think, and tailoring how we express ourselves and who we are, enables us to fit in and not become an outcast.”
Like most things in life, it should be activated in moderation, though, says life coach Kanika Tandon. “Caring about the opinions of other people helps when it comes to working as a group,” she says, “but it turns into a problem when we begin to lose the path to our integrity by putting others before us.
“It crosses a line when we begin to make decisions on how it will be received by others instead of what we truly, genuinely want and desire.”Taking time to figure out what you truly value in life can be the first step in realigning your behaviour.
“A lot of people in lockdown have come to question their choices because they realised they were loving life according to other people’s standards and values,” says Tandon. “Realising that we are people-pleasing is the first step to finding solutions.”
To further redress the balance, it can also help to ask yourself whether your group – or “tribe” – would really judge you for making a mistake/saying what you think, or whether this fear of judgement stems entirely from you.
“We need to ask ourselves: is this just a perceived mould we are trying to fit in or are these expectations of my tribe really this high? And if they are real, do I want to associate with the tribe where people impose this mould on the members?” says Dr Sedmak. “Is there another tribe where I would fit better, with having to let go of less of myself?”
Having strong self-esteem will help you stick to your decisions, adds life coach Joanna Ward. “Remind yourself of your achievements, qualities, skills and your unique perspective,” she says. “Be in touch with your purpose. Understand why you’re taking the path you’re taking. If you can explain it to yourself as much as to others, you’re less easily swayed by alternatives.”
For big life choices, Tandon recommends asking big, long-term questions, such as: “Will I regret the decision five-10 years down the line?”
But for the smaller, every day worries, when our biggest concern is looking a bit silly, Ward says it’s good to respond with humour and never be afraid to laugh at yourself and at life. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?
I’ve said before the first 3 hours of your day can dictate how your life turns out. And this often begins with the very first thing that you decide to put in your brain. You can either start you day with junk food for the brain (the internet, distracting apps, etc) or you can start the day with healthy food for the brain (reading, meditation, journaling, exercising, etc). When you start the day with junk food for the brain, you put yourself at a self imposed handicap that inhibits your ability to get into flow and prevents you from doing deep work. When you start the day with health food for your brain, the exact opposite happens.
Anytime I start my day with junk food for the brain, the quality of the day goes down. I’m less happy, focused, and productive. I spend a ton of time on the internet and don’t get any real work done. But if I start my day with health food for the brain, I find that my mood is better, I’m happier, more focused and productive.
Why Junk Food for the Brain is Toxic
If you woke up in the morning, smoked a cigarette, ate 2 donuts, and washed it down with 2 cups of coffee, it wouldn’t be surprising that your physical performance is subpar. You’re probably not going to go out and run 2 miles or win a prize fight after that kind of breakfast.
But when it comes to our brain, we’re not nearly as mindful about the idea that we should treat the information we consume like the food we eat.
“When you wake up you’re in this theta alpha state and you’re highly suggestible. Every like, comment, share, you get this dopamine fix and it’s literally rewiring your brain. What you’re smart device is doing especially if that’s the first thing you grab when you wake up and you’re in this alpha theta state, is rewiring your brain to be distracted.” — @Jim Kwik
If we start our days by checking email, instagram, or the internet, we keep reinforcing the behavior of distraction until it becomes our new habit. Some of the smartest behavioral scientist and designers in the world have worked really hard to make sure that their products are addictive, habit forming, and only provide you with a temporary sense of fulfillment so the you are always jonesing for your next fix. As Mark Manson so brilliantly said, cell phones are the new cigarettes, And a significant amount of what’s on the internet is nothing more than junk food for the brain.
Why Healthy Food for the Brain is So Powerful
If you woke up in the morning and had a really healthy breakfast, that revitalized and energized you, you’d likely hit the gym or a morning run expecting to be at your peak. The same goes for our brains.
When we start the day with health food for the brain, instead of a self imposed handicap, we give ourselves a massive competitive advantage. On the days when I religiously follow through on the 8-step daily routine that allowed me to write multiple books and 100’s of articles, my productivity goes through the roof, flow happens effortlessly, and I end up doing a lot of deep work. The idea for this article was actually the result of giving my brain some health food to start the day.
I did 20 minutes of meditation
I did almost an hour of reading
I wrote in my journal for 30 minutes
When I turned on my computer, I blocked distractions and started writing.
When you start the day with health food for your brain, you don’t end up depleting your willpower, and as a result you get more done in far less time.
So how exactly do you start the day with health food for your brain? To wean ourselves off of junk food for the brain, we have to actually replace it with something else.
Don’t use your devices in the morning
Smartphones distract us whether they are on, off, in our pockets, or on a table, and they command our attention even when they are not our own. The best solution for preventing smartphone distraction is to remove it from the picture altogether — Steve Magness
If your refrigerator or pantry is filled with junk food, you’re going to be much more likely to eat it. Same goes for your devices. If you turn them on first thing in the morning, you’re going to be much more likely to give into the sources of distraction that they make accessible. The only thing that I use my phone for in the morning is a 20 minute meditation with the Calm app. After that, I take it out of the room I’m working in.
Set aside 20 minutes to meditate
Reality as we know it occurs in the space between stimulus and response. An event happens and we make it mean something. But this happens so fast that we don’t question the validity of the meaning we’ve assigned to an event, situation or circumstance. The way to take control of the meaning is to slow that process down, and the way to slow that process down is with meditation.
I have a natural tendency to overreact or make situations more stressful than they really are. But as my meditation practice has deepened, I’ve noticed a profound energetic shift. Many of the things that would have previously rattled me don’t. On the mornings that I follow through with my 20 minutes of meditation, I’m able to focus more easily, and I don’t crave sources of distraction nearly as much
The most successful people I’ve interviewed on Unmistakable Creative, all of the peak performance books I’ve read, spiritual teachings, and many billionaires all reference the role that a daily meditation habit is played in their life. That was convincing enough evidence for me to make it a daily habit.
Read books, not the internet
When we read on the internet, we tend to scan more than we read. How often do you sit around at a dinner party discussing the amazing article you read on the internet? Almost all of my ideas for what I want to write about have come from books. Almost none of them have come from reading articles on the internet. I’ve even found in my cases that when I read a physical book that I previously read on Kindle, I tend to get far more value out of it.
Years ago when I interviewed Julien Smith, he said “I don’t read blogs. I read books.” And he had one of the most popular blogs on the internet. I stopped reading blogs, started reading books, and as a result became a more prolific writer. After watching the prolific career that Ryan Holiday has built, and observing his reading habits, I decided to follow his lead. Believe me the irony that you’re reading this on the internet is not lost on me.
Do 1 hour of Deep Work
One hour of deep work is a form of self care. It’s incredibly fulfilling. It’s an affirmation to yourself and to the universe that you value yourself and your time. You can accomplish extraordinary things in just one focused hour a day of uninterrupted creation time. With deep work, you get disproportionate results from your efforts. It’s the 80–20 rule at work. 80% of your output will come from 20 percent of your effort.
Just some food for thought. When I started writing this article I set my distraction blocker for 45 minutes. As I wrote this sentence I decided to do a check on my word count and realized I’d written over 1200 words in about 35 minutes. That’s what happens when you combine flow and deep work together
One last thing to consider. What are you really getting out of checking Facebook, instagram, or anything on your phone when you wake up in the morning? Is it making you happier or more successful in any way at all? If you added up all the time you possibly waste over the course of a year on this behavior, it’s likely you could write a book, build a business, or learn an instrument, all of which are going to do far more for the quality of your life than the temporary dopamine fix your phone provides.
Motivations After Dark is a PM remix of our signature morning Motivations and a great opportunity for our supporters to meet and mingle with Cara participants. Join us for an evening of great conversation centered around the very topics we speak to in the Motivations circle, while learning more about our transformative work. Light refreshments are served.
[…] Read More Author Nicole is the author of Monday Morning Motivations: Encouraging Words to Start Your Week and contributing author in the upcoming release of Th […] Monday Morning Motivations The words in this book comes from a space in my spirit and in my heart that desires to be […]
Are you seeking blogging inspiration to create content regularly? Blogging can be a fantastic tool to manage your content online, which results in organic traffic to grow your coaching business as a bonus if done right. As a coach, you can seek blogging inspiration easily using the following seven ideas. Assuming that you are willing to do the hard work and not afraid of sharing your why, how, and what.
1. Explore your inspiration.
It sounds simple, but many miss this easy and important source of endless blogging inspiration. If you are genuinely inspired, you should have more topics to blog about then you can handle.
The best use of blogging is to write down:
Why you do what you do ( your inspiration)
How you do what you do (your processes/tools)
What problem you solve (your solutions)
The immediate benefit of documenting the above helps you understand:
Do you really know your “why”?
Do you understand the details of how you do what you do?
Do you have the clarity of the problems which you are solving?
The more you write about these things, the more clarity you get about your why, how and what.
2. Practice focus.
I believe all ideas are great, usually. However, amazing things happen when you practice focus and pay attention to one thing or thought over a longer period of time.
Try it yourself to focus on any of the following aspect of your life over a longer period of time and see how it add value to your life.
Health. Paying regular attention to eating, exercising, and sleeping habits can improve your life significantly.
Family time. Lines are quite blurred between work and family time nowadays. Keeping an eye on this area daily can improve your work-life balance for good.
Work projects. Completing one project fully before jumping onto the next one can enhance your work quality immensely.
Finances. Focusing on finances can save you several unnecessary direct debits and missed investment opportunities.
Time off. Taking breaks without checking work communication is a superpower, which can be a game-changer to increase your focus and quality of life.
Similarly, blogging instantly becomes easy when you say no to everything and focus on your coaching inspiration. Mehdi’s weight lifting passion and focus helped him write over 25,000 words on a single page to explain a simple weight lifting exercise of how to do a bench press with proper form.
3. Clarify your blogging purpose.
A blog is an excellent tool for:
Managing your content online
Sharing your ideas and getting feedback
Creating a community around your passion
Establishing rapport by documenting your learnings
Promoting your coaching business
All or some of the above can be the purpose of your blog. Getting clear about your blogging purpose helps you seek blogging inspirations.
A clarity of blogging purpose help you:
Pick your minimum viable audience
Answer actual audience questions
Use language your audience uses
Write detailed and in-depth content
Create the best user experience
Do you have clarity for your blogging purpose? If yes, then it can be a great source of ongoing blogging inspirations.
4. Document your learning and experiences.
Business blogging isn’t writing.
Most people don’t search to read. They search to find solutions to their problems. A blog enables you to solve their problems using text, images, audio, and video. The better you solve your tribe’s problems, the more traction generally you’ll get online.
The more disciplined you get at documenting your day-to-day learnings, experiences, and solutions you offer to your customers, the less blogging inspiration you’ll need to seek.
Gary Vaynerchuk, who is a big advocate of “document, don’t create” content creation strategy, has a camera crew, which follows him around to record everything he does daily. The Kardashians are another great example of documenting their life.
5. Be curious.
Some say that you don’t seek inspiration; instead, it is the by-product of curiosity. Aim for continuous improvement. Measuring backwards, instead of stressing out by staring at your ultimate big goal really help to reduce the daily stress level.
How can I improve blogging 1 percent better than yesterday?
Asking this question to yourself daily can lead to amazing progress over time, and also lead to several blogging ideas to document. You can ask this question regarding all aspects of blogging to reap the benefit of compounding.
Imagine how improving 1 percent daily in all blogging areas can help you grow your coaching business over a year?
British cyclists’ fate changed one day in 2003 when Brailsford had been hired to put British Cycling on a new trajectory. Following this 1 percent improvement in every aspect of cycling took struggling British Cycling team to dominate the road.
During 2007 to 2017, British cyclists won 178 world championships and 66 Olympic or Paralympic gold medals and captured five Tour de France victories widely regarded as the most successful run in cycling history.
6. Answer support emails.
If you are already in business, answer support emails for a day. Your customer requests and questions can be the most useful blogging topics.
It will also help you build your frequently asked questions & answers collection, which will:
Save you time on answering the same questions repeatedly
Improve the speed & quality of your customer support
Increase your blog’s chances of getting traction in search engines
This is an easy way to seek blogging inspiration and improve your coaching services.
7. Start now and optimize later.
Don’t compare yourself with those who are years ahead of yourself. Your favourite blogger’s first blog post likely wasn’t as impressive as they are today. Be kind to yourself and write often. There is no other way to get better at writing than start writing and publishing often.
Our creative writing abilities are trainable and can be improved with regular practice. Therefore, don’t wait and start your blogging journey today.
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We’re always chasing something—be it a promotion, a new car, or a significant other. This leads to the belief that, “When (blank) happens, I’ll finally be happy.”
While these major events do make us happy at first, research shows this happiness doesn’t last. A study from Northwestern University measured the happiness levels of regular people against those who had won large lottery prizes the year prior. The researchers were surprised to discover that the happiness ratings of both groups were practically identical.
The mistaken notion that major life events dictate your happiness and sadness is so prevalent that psychologists have a name for it: impact bias. The reality is, event-based happiness is fleeting.
Happiness is synthetic—you either create it, or you don’t. Happiness that lasts is earned through your habits. Supremely happy people have honed habits that maintain their happiness day in, day out. Try out their habits, and see what they do for you:
1. They slow down to appreciate life’s little pleasures
By nature, we fall into routines. In some ways, this is a good thing. It saves precious brainpower and creates comfort. However, sometimes you get so caught up in your routine that you fail to appreciate the little things in life. Happy people know how important it is to savor the taste of their meal, revel in the amazing conversation they just had, or even just step outside to take a deep breath of fresh air.
2. They exercise
Getting your body moving for as little as ten minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you in control of your impulses. Happy people schedule regular exercise and follow through on it because they know it pays huge dividends for their mood.
3. They spend money on other people
Research shows that spending money on other people makes you much happier than spending it on yourself. This is especially true of small things that demonstrate effort, such as going out of your way to buy your friend a book that you know they will like.
4. They surround themselves with the right people
Happiness spreads through people. Surrounding yourself with happy people builds confidence, stimulates creativity, and it’s flat-out fun. Hanging around negative people has the opposite effect. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. Think of it this way: If a person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with negative people.
5. They stay positive
Bad things happen to everyone, including happy people. Instead of complaining about how things could have been or should have been, happy people reflect on everything they’re grateful for. Then they find the best solution available to the problem, tackle it, and move on. Nothing fuels unhappiness quite like pessimism. The problem with a pessimistic attitude, apart from the damage it does to your mood, is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you expect bad things, you’re more likely to experience negative events. Pessimistic thoughts are hard to shake off until you recognize how illogical they are. Force yourself to look at the facts, and you’ll see that things are not nearly as bad as they seem.
6. They get enough sleep
I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep for improving your mood, focus, and self-control. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, removing toxic proteins that accumulate during the day as byproducts of normal neuronal activity. This ensures that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your energy, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough quality sleep. Sleep deprivation also raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. Happy people make sleep a priority, because it makes them feel great and they know how lousy they feel when they’re sleep deprived.
7. They have deep conversations
Happy people know that happiness and substance go hand-in-hand. They avoid gossip, small talk, and judging others. Instead they focus on meaningful interactions. They engage with other people on a deeper level, because they know that doing so feels good, builds an emotional connection, and is an interesting way to learn.
8. They help others
Taking the time to help people not only makes them happy, but it also makes you happy. In a Harvard study, employees who helped others were ten times more likely to be focused at work and 40% more likely to get a promotion. The same study showed that people who consistently provided social support were the most likely to be happy during times of high stress. As long as you make certain that you aren’t overcommitting yourself, helping others is sure to have a positive influence on your mood.
9. They make an effort to be happy
No one wakes up feeling happy every day and supremely happy people are no exception. They just work at it harder than everyone else. They know how easy it is to get sucked into a routine where you don’t monitor your emotions or actively try to be happy and positive. Happy people constantly evaluate their moods and make decisions with their happiness in mind.
10. They do things in person
Happy people only let technology do their talking when absolutely necessary. The human brain is wired for in-person interaction, so happy people will jump at the chance to drive across town to see a friend or meet face-to-face because it makes them feel good.
11. They have a growth mindset
People’s core attitudes fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged, because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed.
People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. This makes them happier because they are better at handling difficulties. They also outperform those with a fixed mindset because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.
Happiness can be tough to maintain, but investing in the right habits pays off. Adopting even a few of the habits from this list will make a big difference in your mood.