Monday, March 12, 2007

Tomorrow: Today’s Greatest Labor Saving Device.

The title was quoted by a humorous president of the United States of America, Woodrow Wilson. The first time I heard it, cleverness was the first impression I had. Upon reading that title, you may already have a clue of what I’m going to write…

By definition, procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task which needs to be accomplished. So why do people procrastinate? Looking back at my own personal experiences, there are several reasons for this. To conquer procrastination, we must know why we do it in the first place.

Managing time wisely does not define procrastination but the most significant cause is poor time management. We may be uncertain of our priorities, goals and objectives. Or maybe we are overwhelmed with it. Consequently, in my own point of view as a student, I keep putting off academic assignments for a later date, or having a good time with my friends. Furthermore, rather than completing my papers and class projects, I worry about the upcoming examination.

Moreover, you may remember yourself daydreaming, staring into space, looking at pictures of your boyfriend/girlfriend instead of doing a significant task. A very noisy and distracting environment may be surrounding you. You have a terribly unorganized workplace and finally you lay on your bed to do the project! All of these promote frustrations and wasting of time. Thinking deeply, having a difficulty to concentrate is the source of these.

There are many other factors why we procrastinate. Fear and anxiety may cause us to be overwhelmed with the task. Thus, we spend more time on worrying than completing the task. Negative beliefs stop us from getting the work done. Personal problems affect our focus, etc.

Now, how do you overcome procrastination? First, you have to recognize our self-defeating problems such as poor time management, difficulty concentrating, fear and anxiety. Next, identify your own goals, strengths and weaknesses, values and priorities. Discipline yourself to use time wisely. Set priorities.

To concentrate, you should work in small blocks instead of long periods. Give yourself a 15 minute break between blocks. Reward yourself after completing a task. Motivate yourself and dwell on success rather than failure. Keep a reminder schedule and checklist. Set realistic goals.

Most importantly, before you do your work, modify your environment to eliminate as much distraction as possible. Also, don’t get too comfortable doing the task. To be able to maximize your focus, clear your mind just like a golfer going for a birdie. I hope these simple tips will help you in your daily work. Now that you know your enemy, it’s time to conquer it!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Courage – Build It Up Like Your Muscles!

What are your thoughts when you read about someone rescuing a passenger from a burning car? Most people believe that they could never do the same because they would be too terrified to act. This would imply that courageous people are fearless. However, that’s not true. Brave people act even with the presence of fear, not because of its absence. That’s why they are called as heroes. If they were not afraid, anyone can do it.

First of all, courage is meant for you, for me and for everyone! To get the most out of our lives, we need to have it. Do you remember when you were single and you saw someone you would have liked to meet but you avoided because you were shy? Or were you afraid to ask for a promotion or a raise at work? If you disapprove of something but your friends entice you to do it, would you be able to refuse? If you are looking for a job, were there instances you were afraid to apply for certain positions? Well then, the main question would be, if you had the courage to do all these things and everything you wanted to, wouldn’t life be much better? Well, that’s the way it is supposed to be!

An analogy I can think of is courage is our spiritual muscle. Compare its development to our spiritual muscles. To grow more in strength, you regularly work out with weights or a weight machine. You start out by repetitively lifting 10 lb. and over the year, gradually increase the weight to 100 lb. or even more. Anyone can do it.

Thus, you should develop your courage in the same manner. Start by doing small basic tasks you’re afraid to do. Some examples would be requesting payment from a delinquent account, selling to strangers, apologizing to angry customers and answering unpleasant phone calls. Just compare these to the burning car incident, these are far too easy! These are 10 lb. tasks! You can build up your courage with these. Are you scared? Yes? You’re supposed to be. How can you build up courage if you are not scared? So go ahead and do it. In no time, these tasks become easier and easier. Later, you will be ready to do the 20 lb. tasks.

Still, you may hit roadblocks. Now, we should apply a new concept. Analyze your fears and overcome the source! For instance, you were asked to deliver a presentation at the general sales meeting by your boss and you are terribly frightened. After thinking about it, you realize that you are frightened because you don’t know what to present. Then, this simply means you are unprepared. Even the best speakers would be afraid if they were unprepared. So do your task. Your fear will decrease as you organize and develop material.

Another tip would be to think of the consequences of your actions. Ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen’ what is the best that can happen; and what is the most possible thing that can happen. Let’s say you would like to dance someone at a dance party, but you’re afraid, shy, etc… So ask yourself, what is the worst thing that can happen? Let’s imagine a very rude scenario, the person may say, just for example, “Get away from me; you ugly pig!” Surely you can survive a brief verbal attack, can’t you? Besides, think about it! Such a rude reply is funny. Instead of feeling sorry, you’ll end up laughing instead. So, just smile and walk away.

On the other hand, if the person you asked was polite, the refusal would be less devastating. The response may be, “I'm sorry, but I'm waiting for a friend.” If that’s the case then you could simply say thanks and walk away. Moreover, the best thing that can happen is that the person would cheerfully reply, “I'd be happy to!” isn’t this worth the effort? Definitely! So go ahead and try it. In fact, the more scared you are, the sweeter the success is. It’s all about breaking this barrier!

So confront your fears directly and immediately. Whenever you feel afraid for any reason, do it anyway! You’ll be amazed at your success. Second, do the thing you fear over and over until it has no more power over you. The more you repeat the action, the more courage and confidence you will have.

Life is short but measure life not as the number of breaths we take but through the moments that take our breath away.

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Good Side of Impatience!

Why am I so impatient all the time?

It’s so incredible that when we are working on stuff, we expect results so quickly. It doesn’t matter what is being done, whether it is a ten minute homework or a year long project, the goal is to have something happen as quickly as possible. And if we ever happen to finish before the set time, we would have wanted it to happen much sooner than expected. You’d be thinking that this attitude would constantly irritate and disappoint me, but actually, it’s the opposite. In fact, impatience makes me more effective and productive!

One important thing for whatever happens is to know the reasons behind. If I’m impatient, I want to know why. Mostly, it’s explained by my own natural self, my character. But this is sometimes not the case. Thus, below, I’ll give you a few examples of how to feel much better about the situation, be motivated and boost your confidence.

Trust your senses. When I grow impatient, try to interpret the sense depending on the situation. So what does being impatient suggest to me?

1. Progress - When I’ve been doing something for a considerable amount of time, and I feel impatient, this usually means I’m making some progress. I’m growing impatient because my mind knows how much I’ve spent working on the subject and this suggests it’s about time I finish it off. This progress type of impatience is a very positive sign for me.

2. A Sense of Right Direction - I usually grow impatient when I’m fairly confident about the step I’ve just taken, but it takes some time for the result of this step to follow. So when I’ve done something and I feel impatient, I know this is because I’m on the right track. Or at least I think I’m on the right track. This is a very positive sign as well, because it reinforces my confidence. It confirms that what I’ve done so far is a correct thing to do and invites me to continue in a similar way till the goal is successfully achieved.

3. A Sense Of A Complete Stage in the Process - When I’m impatient about something, this suggests that I’ve done what I could for the moment, and I’ve just completed a certain stage in the process I’m working on. The actual reason I’m growing impatient is because I’ve done all the work, and it’s now time to wait for the results. So again it’s a good sign.

4. A Perfect Moment of Planning for the Process - This is where, having realized and considered all the good signs above, you look one step further to evaluate the rest of the plan of actions. Do you really have to wait for the result right now? Is there anything in your plan that you can do right now? Is there anything that can be changed in your plan so that you don’t have to wait for the result right now, but instead you’ll have the option of coming back to these results later? Basically, this would be a good moment for some prioritizing done to the rest of your plan. Maybe you haven’t realized how far in your plan you actually are, and that you’re only few steps away from a major turning point. Then it might be more beneficial for you to stop being impatient and dive into one of the future steps of the project and later come back for your results.

We people are unique creatures, there’s a pretty good chance impatience for you is different from mine. That’s why when you feel impatient, try to remember the actual meanings of the sense you get. Always remember that you will perform better when you are prepared for the outcome. So every time you feel impatient, take a minute to think about your reasons for this change. Always use the positive approach but don’t be surprised if it shows negative signs for you.

But the bottom line is that no matter what kind of sign it is, whether positive or negative, it will still help you because you get information as of that moment. Take your time to do the basic analysis at first, and soon enough you’ll learn to quickly recognize the patters and signs of your impatience, and all what’s left for you then is to follow the indications.

Now it’s time to master the goodness of being impatient!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

It's All About Making A Difference!

How do you feel about your work? Do you like every minute you spend working? Do you feel you’re doing your best? Are you motivated to do even better?

It turns out that many of us don’t really like our jobs. People find no interest in their daily activities; they simply arrive in the morning to drink a cup of coffee and somehow spend the time till lunch. After lunch, it usually is much easier cause there’s only few hours left before going back home. And day by day, it’s the same routine applied all over again. There’s a paycheck we get on certain days and that makes us think the justice has been served - we’ve gone through so many dull days of nothingness, and now at last we get paid for all the trouble.

In my opinion, this approach will get us nowhere. I am an optimistic person myself but I can recall a few cases of such misery and lack of significance. Luckily, I’ve learned how to overcome these depressions. The key is about making a difference. What you have to do is to stop a few things from happening. If you feel like doing something good, don’t ever concentrate on the material outcome. Trust me; well being is not only about being wealthy. It’s about being happy and content, it’s about being fulfilled, and it’s about being significant enough for you.

At work, don’t think of the promotion you’re going to get right after you get a project completed. Don’t! Because what happens is that while working on the project, you keep reiterating some of your thoughts. Inescapably you’ll start thinking of the promotion more and more, and soon enough you’ll naturally feel that the promotion is something you’re definitely going to get once you complete the task. It’s just an example here, but I’d like to use it for explaining why it’s wrong to expect too much.
Instead, motivate every task of yours, no matter how big or complex, with personal feelings. Think of how much relief you get for knocking something off your to-do list! Think of how proud you’ll be that you’ve completed something which took so many resources and time of yours! Try and vividly imagine the smile on your face once you finish some task. Treat everything as way to develop personally and to become happier with yourself.

If you fail to deliver the project on time - it still must have been a good learning experience. Try your best to finish it off as soon as possible, set yourself another deadline and think of how proud you’ll be when you meet it. Think of how much better you’ll become in project management or in a particular tasks you’ve been given after you successfully accomplish it.

The important thing is that there are no failures. There are easy and hard ways of self-growth. No matter what you do and how and when you accomplish it, it’s still a personal growth. And that’s what you have to focus on. Later, possibly few months or even years later, you’ll feel very happy with yourself looking back.

One more thing: concentrating on personal growth also ensures you always get something out of any task. You’ll never feel disappointed again, because you’re always going to be a personal winner of yourself. And believe me, being a winner is just the kind of motivation you’ll like!

It takes time to change your point of view and start working on anything in the way I’ve just told you about, but its well worth it. Once you concentrate on personal success, even negative sides of the tasks you’re given start having far less negative impact on your thinking and your actions - they will not seem to be as bad anymore. What this means is that you won’t be as stressed about them, and this will boost your productivity yet again.

After this, it’s only a matter of time before you become successful in anything you do. Just stick to the rules I’ve outlined, and see what happens!

The last argument I’d like to bring up today is about making the difference. Don’t ask yourself if you’re going to make any difference. Don’t hesitate for even a second that your actions may go unnoticed. DO THEM! Do them the best you can, and remember they’ll make huge difference to you. That’s the most important thing! Once you concentrate on this, try and forget all the worries about all the rest. People DO notice what you’re doing, and sooner or later you’ll find that it’s not someone else, but you are in the spotlight! Give it some time and practice, and no bonus or promotion will escape you.

When looking at some complex tasks I always think: Boy, that’s a hell of a work to do. Is this going to be hard? Definitely. Is this going to be rewarding? Absolutely! The harder the task, the more personal growth it will trigger for me. If somebody else could make the difference in this situation, why should I think I can’t?

So no matter how dull your work may seem on rare days, always stick to the plan. Make a difference. It’s all about it. Make a difference to yourself. Don’t listen to what people say, even when they’re trying really hard to discourage you. As long as the task matters to you, it’s worth a shot and it stands a pretty good chance of success. So even if it seems that you’re doing something really small and of no importance, keep on working - and you’ll be amazed how quickly you’ll become a success.

Smile! Start everyday with it!

Try this out! Every morning you wake up; start your day with a smile! No matter how little sleep you got, how horrible will an aspect of your day be or how tired you are, smile! Once this becomes your habit, you will really be amazed at how powerful this act can be at setting the tone for the rest of your day.

Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy!

Remember that a smile can brighten a person’s day. And if you wake up with a smile, it just might be your day that gets brighter.

Unleash Your Potential and Achieve Greatness!

Is your life full of anxiety, fear and worry? If that’s the case, your life is not fulfilled. Moreover, a life full of negativity is an empty life – empty of peace, joy and excitement. And until your life is fulfilled, it is painful. This pain is trying to tell us something. It’s yelling, “Realize your potential and grow into greatness.” It’s as if we don’t hear. But the truth is, we don’t listen. We are too busy trying to cope with the complexities of life; we have forgotten our true nature.

Whoever we are, whether we are employed or unemployed, rich or poor, male or female, in a prison or in a hospital bed, we all carry within us seeds of greatness. These are nothing more than potential, unless they are nourished by soil and nurtured by the sun. The same goes with our potential, it is only after we are brought into the light of awareness, nurtured by positive thoughts that we can develop potential with a deep inner fire within us. It’s about knowing you can be great when as of now you’re small. It’s about knowing you can be worthy and not worthless.

To realize your potential means to realize what it is you can do, and do it. When you realize what your potential is you know which way to aim your life. I think people set goals they can achieve to encourage themselves to continue doing things in their lives. To realize your potential doesn't mean that you will necessary reach it, because there is always something else that increases it.

So if we’re living unfulfilled lives, it’s time to awaken to our seeds of greatness. When we realize that deep within is greatness aching to be expressed, we become inspired. When inspired, we act with greatness. Finally, when we act with greatness, we become great.

You can unlock your inner potential only when you’re doing something that you really love to do. You can fulfill your innermost aspirations only when you’re doing something that interests you, something that holds your attention, and something in which you can become completely absorbed.

And this is the key to unlocking the giant within. You must dream big and do what you love to do. You must decide what’s right for you, what will make you happiest, before you decide what’s possible. You must set ideal standards and goals and results as your aim and then determine how to accomplish them.

One way of achieving greatness is to emulate people you admire. Not because of egoism, but because of the innate desire to be and do one’s best. Why not add greatness of character to our lives? For when we do so, we add meaning.

Great people are significant. We need them to become great ourselves. They encourage us, lead us to the right direction and show the possibilities. They remind us that we can make our lives sublime. If you find it difficult to remember the seeds of greatness that live within you, read the biographies of great people. Their stories will stir your heart and launch action. But be careful because we tend to read, watch, and listen without digesting the information we’re exposed to. To unlock the power of knowledge, we must apply what we learn. Here’s a good habit to get into, which will help you to focus on applying what you learn. Mainly, whenever you learn something of value, immediately ask yourself, "How can I apply this to my life? When should I apply it? Where should I use this? Why should I use it?" Use the power of questions to ignite the potential locked in the knowledge you gain.

Speaking of knowledge, one important thing to note is that the opportunity for greatness is often missed. What happens if we lose our job, have a serious accident, or get gravely ill? If we view these events as disasters, we grow anxious, stressful, and fearful. Yet, those who see the same events as opportunities to rise to the greatness thrust upon them manage to call up courage, faith, and perseverance. Isn’t the disaster we’re facing really a mountain waiting to be scaled? How can we rise to greatness without scaling mountains? If we study the lives of great men and women carefully and unemotionally we find that, invariably, greatness was developed, tested and revealed through the darker periods of their lives.

Thus, my call to you is to do what has been effective throughout history and inculcate this optimism in your life - this optimism that would unleash the seeds of greatness inside you.

If you’d ask, "What is the meaning of life?" In my opinion it is to make the world more hospitable, to improve it. Shouldn’t our legacy of greatness be a trail of good works? It’s not what you take in this world; rather, it is what you leave behind that defines greatness.

Don’t underestimate the potency of your actions. Very few among the world’s population have the power to change the course of history; nevertheless, our works as good people accumulate and help weave this generation we live in. We can make a difference. Lastly, there is a loftier ambition than merely to stand high in this world, it is to stoop down and lift mankind a little higher.

Shhh! Be still for a moment and listen. Can you hear it? It’s the call to greatness! How will you respond?