Friday, May 23rd, 2014

time management – developing self discipline

Developing self-discipline

Self-discipline can be considered a type of selective training, creating new habits of thought, action, and speech toward improving yourself and reaching goals. Self-discipline can also be task oriented and selective. Rather than punitive try to view self-discipline as positive effort, rather than one of denial.

Schedule a small task for a given time of the day; Practice the art of creative procrastination or deliberate delaying.

  • Schedule a particular task in the morning and once in the evening.
  • The task should not take more than 15 minutes.
  • Wait for the exact scheduled time.
    When the schedule time is due, start the task.
  • Stick to the schedule for at least two months.Advantages: Scheduling helps you focus on your priorities. By focusing on starting tasks rather than completing them, you can avoid procrastination.
  • Schedule a task and hold to its time;  Avoid acting on impulse.
  • Track your progress; At the end of the allotted time, keep a record of accomplishment that builds over time.Advantage: Building a record will help you track how much time tasks take.
  • If you begin to have surplus time, fill it with small tasks, make notes to yourself, plan other tasks, etc.

Harness the power of routine.

  • Instead of devoting a lot of hours one day, and none the other and then a few on an another day and so on, allocate a specific time period each day of the week for that task.
  • Hold firm.
  • Don’t set a goal other than time allocation,
    simply set the habit of routine.
  • Apply this technique to your homework or your projects, you will be on your way to getting things doneAdvantage: You are working on tasks in small increments, not all at once. You first develop a habit, then the habit does the job for you.

Use self discipline to explore time management

Time management can become an overwhelming task.
When you do not have control over your own self, how can you control time?
Begin with task-oriented self-discipline and build from there.

Advantage: As you control tasks, you build self-discipline.
As you build self-discipline, you build time management.
As you build time management, you build self-confidence.

 

Maintain a self-discipline log book.

  • Record the start and end times of the tasks.
  • Review for feedback on your progressAdvantage: This log book can be a valuable tool to get a better picture over your activities in order to prioritize activities, and realize what is important and not important on how you spend your time.

Schedule your work day and studies.

  • When you first begin your work day, or going to work take a few minutes and write down on a piece of paper the tasks that you want to accomplish for that day.
  • Prioritize the list.
  • Immediately start working on the most important one.
  • Try it for a few days to see if the habit works for you.
  • Habits form over time: how much time depends on you and the habit.Advantage: When you have a clear idea as to what you want to achieve for the day at its start, the chances are very high that you will be able to proactively accomplish the tasks. Writing or sketching out the day helps.

Discouragement:

  • Do not be intimidated; do not be put off by the challenge
  • If you slip, remember this is natural
  • Take a break and then refresh the challenge

Tricks:

Associate a new habit with an old one:
If you drink coffee, make that first cup the time to write out and prioritize your tasks.

Advantage: Association facilitates neural connections!

 

Mark your progress:

On a calendar in your bathroom, on a spreadsheet at your computer, on your breakfast table: Check off days you successfully follow up. If you break the routine, start over!

Advantage: Visualizing is a ready reinforcement of progress

 

Role models:

Observe the people in your life and see to what extent self discipline and habits help them accomplish goals. Ask them for advice on what works, what does not.


Monday, May 19th, 2014

Boost your courage: challenge your fears

I love my job! Just had a fabulous session with a wonderful woman I am training to become a Worklife Solutions Certified Career and Life Coach. Her ‘homework’ task today was coaching me through one of the steps in our Free To Be Me life coaching programmeCourage: challenge your fears. Was an amazing experience! Thank you Sophie.

Amazingly she shared with me how anxious she was prior to our session, but the strategies in the workbook she was coaching me through, and others she had worked through in prior sessions, really helped her. Incredible testimony to the fact that when we challenge ‘stinkin’ thinkin’ and follow our passions we really can fly free.

It was such a powerful experience I thought I’d share some of the strategies here.

Courage is the ability and willingness to confront  fear, pain, danger or uncertainty. In some traditions, fortitude holds approximately the same meaning as courage. Whatever meaning you subscribe at the heart of courage is the willingness to take action in spite of real or perceived obstacles to success.

I hope you or someone you care about finds this blog helpful. Please feel free to share. And I’d love to hear from you if anything struck a chord.

Wishing you happiness and joy

Cassandra

Thriving not surviving

“If you allow your fears to keep you from flying you will never reach your height.” ~India Arie, Singer

I once saw a guy walking down the road with a tee-shirt which read: “A life lived in fear is a life lived in hell.”  It’s so true but it doesn’t have to be!

Fear can be a great protector. But left unexamined and unchallenged it can lead people to a state of inaction, anxiety and depression. Passionate people act differntly. Live life to the full they actively challenge their fears and live happier and more fulfilled lives as a result.

Make no mistake – positivity doesn’t always come easily. Being free to be you often takes great courage. Not only does it mean taking on new experiences in the external world, it often requires taking a new look at your internal world – actively challenging and changing who you are and who you want to be.

Sadly people often put more energy into resisting change and preserving the status quo than they do in embracing change. Changing can be hard work. It means taking a risk and stepping into the unknown. Some people fear change because they believe that they might lose what they have – even though what they have has long lost its lustre or may be nothing meaningful to them at all. For many people change means taking responsibility and ending years of blaming others, being a victim, or living in denial or in a state of apathy.

Everyone feels fear at some stage in their life, but the truly successful people nip it in the bud before it takes hold and strangles a joyful life from them – much like the noxious weed convululous sucks the life from flowers in the garden. Susan Jeffers, author of Feel the Fear and do it Anyway summarises some of the fearful experiences people feel:

  • Don wants to change his career of 14 years and follow his dream of becoming an artist, but he fears the loss of his salary.
  • Mary Alice is an actress who wants to discover why she finds all kinds of excuses for not attending auditions.
  • Sarah wants to leave a marriage of fifteen years but is afraid of being alone.
  • Ted wants to get over his fear of ageing. He is all of thirty-two.
  • Jean is a senior citizen who wants to confront her doctor; he treats her like a child and never gives her any “straight” answers.
  • Patti wants to expand her business, but can’t make the required leap into the next step.
  • Rebecca wants to confront her husband with things that    have been bothering her.
  • Kevin wants to get over a fear of rejection that makes it   very difficult to ask a woman for a date.
  • Laurie wants to know why she is unhappy when she has    everything one could possibly want in life.
  • Richard is retired and feels useless. He fears his life is over…

And so it goes until everyone’s story is heard. The tension quickly fades and relief is expressed on everyone’s face. First, my students begin to realise they are not the only ones in the world feeling afraid. Second, they begin to see how attractive people become as they open up and share their feelings. Long before the last person has spoken, a feeling of warmth and camaraderie pervades the room. They are strangers no more. Although the backgrounds and situations of the class members vary greatly, it does not take long for the surface layers of their particular stories to disappear, opening the way for everyone to touch on a very human level.’

The common denominator is the fact that fear is keeping all of them from experiencing life the way they want to experience it.

 

Courage – seven ways to feel the fear and do it anyway

 Overcoming Your Fears

“You can’t possibly hit the ball when you are thinking of all the ways you can miss.”

Ultimately, everything we do in our lives is driven by our fundamental need to avoid pain and our desire to gain pleasure: both are biologically driven and are, whether we are aware of them or not, controlling force in our lives. Pain is a great motivator! We will do far more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure. Often, it is not until the pain of remaining the same is greater than the pain of making a change, that people find the motivation to change.

 1.) Feel the pain

 Step into your future – what will your life look like, how will you feel if the status quo remains. Clarify by listing or identifying the pain of remaining the same. Hate your job – what will happen if you stay stuck? Over your relationship or yearn to be with someone you love – what will life feel like if you don’t take a risk and make a change? Ask yourself, ‘and what else? And what else? Until your list is exhaustive.

 2.) Affirm for what you want

Let desire drive you. What do you want more of in your life? How will your life be different, better? Get clear about your preferred future and then affirm for what you want by saying out loud what you wish to be true. See below for a few tips on how to construct powerful affirmations:

Guidelines for Constructing Affirmations[1]

 1 . An affirmation should be short, simple, and direct. “I believe in myself” is preferable to “There are a lot of good qualities I have that I believe in.”

2. Keep affirmations in the present tense (“I am prosperous”) or present progressive tense (“I am becoming prosperous”). Telling yourself that some change you desire will happen in the future always keeps it one step removed.

3. Try to avoid negatives. Instead of saying “I’m no longer afraid of public speaking,” try “I’m free of fear about public speaking” or “I’m becoming fearless about public speaking.” Similarly, instead of the negative statement “I’m not perfect,” try “It’s O.K. to be less than perfect” or “It’s O.K. to make mistakes.” Your uncon­scious mind is incapable of making the distinction between a positive and a nega­tive statement. It will respond to a negative statement in the same way as a positive affirmation (for example, “I’m not perfect” becomes “I am perfect”).

4. Start with a direct declaration of a positive change you want to make in your life (“I am making more time for myself every day”). If this feels a little too strong for you just yet, try changing it to “I am willing to make more time for myself.” Willingness to change is the most important first step you need to take in order to actually make any substantial change in your life. A second alternative to a direct declaration is to affirm that you are becoming something or learning to do some-thing. If you’re not quite ready for a direct statement such as, “I’m strong, confi­dent, and secure,” you can affirm “I am becoming strong, confident, and secure.” Again, if you’re not ready for “I face my fears willingly,” try “I’m learning to face my fears.”

5. It’s important that you have some belief in—or at least a willingness to believe in your affirmations. It’s by no means necessary, however, to believe in an affirmation 100 percent when you first start out. The whole point is to shift your beliefs and attitudes in favour of the affirmation.

3.) Find out what stops you

What’s stopping you? List all the obstacles – real and imagined that stand in your way. What’s your biggest obstacle. This is your rock. Swarm all over it by identifying possible solutions and taking constructive action until you have cracked your ‘rock’ and turned it into dust.

4.) Challenge your fears

I love the acryonym FEAR – Fantasised, Experiences, Appearing, Real. When we are fear based we have a tendency to catastrophise and imagine the worst that can happen. Work with this positively – what’s the worst that can happen? Is that realistic? Where’s your evidence for that? If reaslistic, would that be so bad? How can you minimise the likeihood of your worst fear happening.

5.) Harness the power of neuro-associations

 Whatever pleasure or pain we associate or “link” to a situation, creates specific thought patterns which trigger specific parts of our brain or neuro system. As a consequence, not only do these associations trigger feelings but the pleasure or pain we associate to a situation also stimulates neuro-response which determine our behaviour. That’s why it’s so critical to take control of your thoughts.  Through gaining greater awareness of your current neuron-associations you can break the pattern of allowing your unconscious conditioning or patterns to control you.

Before you can harness the power of neuro-associations three things need to be in place: 1.) a commitment to change 2.) changing current behaviours 3.)  and conditioning new, empowering associations by overriding old associations, installing new choices and reinforcing new habit are formed.

Do this and you’ll be conditioning your mind for success.  If you then link pleasure to this new choice by reminding yourself of all the benefits that will flow and reinforcing these new habits with an emotional reward (something you buy or do for yourself that makes you feel good), you’ll find that your new associative patterns will take root more quickly.

 Mary’s story: from career rut to freedom
Even though Mary yearned for the freedom of being her own boss she was afraid of leaving her salaried job. She associated self-employment with financial suicide. Conditioning her mind to success she began to challenge her assumptions and to to actively look for examples of people who were flourishing as entrepreneurs. She was heartened to discover many examples of people who had excelled financially once they’d left their salaried jobs. She further intensified positive associations by reminding herself of the joy, creativity and self-fulfilment self-employment would enable her to experience, and the liberation of working from home and enjoying better worklife balance while her son was young. She made an action plan of steps she needed to walk on the road to success and rewarded herself with special things for her home office each time she ticked off a task, such as researching competitors, meeting with collaborators and finishing her business plan. Furnishing her office intensifed positive associations and she really yearned to spend more time at home. Things really took off for her when she created a business card and started ‘acting as if’ she was already full-time in her new self-employed role. People started requesting and paying for her services, and having gained confidence she started reducing her hours, and within months took the leap and quit her job. “I can’t believe I’m living my dream,” she told me, “I’m so lucky.”   The truth is Mary ‘created’ her luck through all the positive changes she made – all supported by a fundamental mindset change.

6.) Plan for success

“Plan for the future because that’s where you are going to spend the rest of your life.” ~Mark Twain

It’s not NASA Science to know fortune favours the prepared. Motivator Guru, Anthony Robbins, is amongst the many people who have studied what separates successful people from what he calls ‘life’s losers’. His view is clear: in order to gain greater personal success and fulfilment you must learn to control the motivating forces of pain and pleasure.

How can you minimise the likelihood of your worst fear happening? What strategies can you employ to minimise risk? What the best that could happen? How can you plan for success? Break it down into manageable chunks. What steps – big and small need to happen and when to increase the likelihood of achieving a positive outcome.

Years ago as a single parent I dreamed of being my own boss. Yes, the fears were real – I worried no clients would come, I worried that without a guaranteed income I would starve – and many other worries that went round and round in my head. But the pain of remaining stuck in a job that didn’t fulfil me was taking a toll. It was hard to get leave to look after my daughter in the seeminly never ending school holidays. It was soul-destroying seeing others take credit for my work and having a boss who micro-managed me. I yearned for more freedom, autonomy, creativity and to work less and earn moreJ.

Over the course of a year I planned for success – researching the market, upskilling, approaching the Dominion Post and then successfully writing my careers column to build market awareness, and then finally having calculated the risks of self-employment and planned for success made a leap. Man, what a fulfilling, life-affirming leap it was too!

7.) Visualise creatively

Visualisation is the creation of a clear mental picture of the goal that you desire.  Make a clear mental picture and then imagine or “image” the goal as already realised.  See it as a reality and play that picture over and over on the screen of your mind until you can see it with perfect clarity.  Draw it out or do whatever is necessary to create that mental picture.  Think about it over and over and over again until you impress it deeper and deeper and deeper into your subconscious.

Before you start visualising your goal achievement/success in your mind you may wish to write your vision down.  Remember to write it in the present tense as though it is already a reality: Another option is to create a vision board or passion journal and place images that reflect your preferred future.



[1] The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook

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