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5 Surefire Ways to Improve Your Personal Strengths

 

One of the things that I believe is necessary for people to perform at a high performance level on their life journey is to become aware of what they’re naturally good at in life. I’ve mentioned several books that you can learn about this with (StrengthFinders and Standout are my top two), but this really is the beginning of your journey.

The next step of leveling up in life is working on these strengths. In the video above, John mentions that you need to focus on your strengths and not on your weaknesses. However, he doesn’t exactly say how you can do that.

Here are some strategies that I’ve used in the past which will help you improve your personal strengths.

Gain Experience

When I was a kid, one of the coolest things to look forward to during the school year was when we would go on field trips. I think as a kid, you want to go because it’s a change of scenery from the regular class room. Also, the longer it took to get to the destination, so that meant more time you had on the bus to mess around.

Those days were awesome.

Looking back, though, I think those field trips had more lasting impressions on me on what I remembered than talking about the same thing in class. Was it because of the change of the routine? Sure. Perhaps that’s what started the the vivid memories, but being fully engaged in the environment I’m sure helped as well. Whether it was a trip to the Children’s Museum in Indy to study dinosaurs, or a trip to Metamora to learn about canals and to ride a train, those were the days that very particular memories have stuck with me.

Later in college I had lab segments for many of my courses. Professors said that these sections were for hands on learning. Well, I’ll tell you, I was horrible at many of the in class activities we had. (I was so horrible in lab that I came close to failing most practicals!)

However, thinking back now I realize that if it wasn’t for the lab section of many of my undergrad courses, that I wouldn’t have done as well in the rest of the course.

In both situations, I can think back now and realize how important those times were, even though (especially in the case of the lab sections) the material stretched me a little bit. Today, I compare many of the road trips I’ve been on with my past field trips. Likewise, when it comes to doing things that I’ve never done, I can think about the labs that I was in and think “Well, I know nothing can be that bad!”.

In the end, it’s that hard earned experience that will launch you further than if you just passively heard about it. It gives you confidence that you know what’s going to come up around the bend. Having dealt with similar situations before really helps you be confident in that you can handle whatever you’re doing with ease. And it also means that you can share something with others about how it went last time.

Get Feedback

Verification is key. Just ask any comedian.

Do you know why comedians are really funny when you just hear about them and then later they’re not as much? It’s because until the point where you’ve heard them, they’ve probably been working on that same joke routine for 5 to 15 years! From small audience to larger audience, to finally getting noticed by Comedy Central and then possibly on to sitcoms – they’re working on the same material.

After the Comedy Central Special has aired or the sitcom has run its course, what happens to these successful comedians? Many would say they go underground.  It could be that, sure. Another thought is that they haven’t had time to get their new material as polished as their old stuff… or they just don’t feel the need to!

Similarly, when you’re doing an activity that utilizes your strengths, make sure you’re asking for feedback. For one, it makes you better at your strengths. And two, it might just keep you relevant to your potential audience!

Keep a Journal (Write Stuff Down)

Ok, so as you might be aware, I recently started writing down weekly plans. This has been game changing and I’ve only been doing it for a couple of weeks now. I now know why teachers have to lesson plan. It’s amazing the difference of work you can get done when you plan out when you’re going to work and get stuff down.

On top of this, I’m also keeping ideas down as part of my daily journaling. Journaling is just as important as the weekly planning because it’s really easy to later examine what you’ve already done.

Writing things down is also important because it just stares back at you. It doesn’t change. You can keep coming back to it and adding. Obviously, the opposite of that, simply speaking things and trying to remember them… is not so functional. It’s real easy to go from one idea to the next. Never really planning anything out.

Just get things recorded and you’ll later be able to act on them or make them better. (In fact, a recommendation that Pat has is using sticky notes if you’re looking to brainstorm. He does this for books.)

Participate in a Mastermind (or another type of study group)

Think tanks, masterminds, roundtables, or simply small groups – whatever you call them – can be huge. Not only do you get the benefit of immediate feedback, but you also have the benefit of multiple people contributing to making each other better. Throwing an idea out and reflecting upon it with a group is obviously going to have much better results than you just working on it yourself or with one other individual.

Follow in the Footsteps of Others

One of the sayings that I’ve heard over and over about being mentored and/or coached on a strength is that particular mentor or coach has probably seen it before. So the question is, “Do you want to find the land mines yourself or would you like to know where they are and get through the path faster?”

Personally, I’d like to know where the potential problems are going to be and learn from others about them.

To do this, you can either personally interact with someone 1on1 (probably expensive) or you can spend time reading books and online resources that they have produced. Either way, just one hour a day spent towards using these resources will help you grow a great deal. Depending on the topic, after a month or so, the results of study and fine tuning start compounding and you’ll notice a great difference.

Homework

Ever since I started on my self development path back in 2006, I’ve believed that we should focus on growing our strengths, and get help on our weaknesses. Once you figure out what your strengths are (again, I’m a Connector and a Teacher according to Standout), work on gaining experience doing those strengths, getting feedback, keeping a journal, participating in groups, and studying great resources. You’ll find that your efforts in these areas will pay great dividends in your personal growth.

If you have already started developing your strengths, I’d love to hear how you did it. Was it one of the ways above or something completely different?

Want Less Drama in Life? Stop People Pleasing!

One of the things that so many people complain about in their life is the amount of drama that is in it. And one of the biggest problems that causes this drama between us and other people is an inner feeling that we have to make everyone like us; we need to be the solution to everyone’s problems. We need to be there for people so they continue to be our friend… or just nice to us.

At first, we like this feeling with people. We all like to feel that we’re important. We like to feel that the more we help this person, the more they’ll see us as a reliable and trustworthy friend and/or more.

However, as time goes on, we might start feeling that they’re taking advantage of us. That if we don’t do what they ask, they’ll be upset and we won’t hear the end of it.

“It’s their fault that they don’t understand me! If they understood my position, they’d stop asking so much from me!” you say?

Not necessarily. As adults, being stretched thin is totally our call. More than likely, we were the one’s who said yes to helping them in the first place. They asked and we agreed.

We all have demands in life that need our attention. On one hand, some of us are just better at asking for help from others. On the other, some of us are more inclined to be the helper.

If you are that helper type who wants less drama in your life, maybe ask yourself how you can get out of your situation.

More importantly, “How do we stop people pleasing?”.

First, you need to start expressing your concerns and opinions around others by communicating more clearly.

And second, by working on yourself some so it doesn’t happen as much as in the future.

Start Being Ourselves Around Others and Communicating More Clearly

If you find out that you’re a people pleaser, you might be wondering what you can do to stop it right away. Well, that might be a little hard depending on your situation. I mean, you still more than likely want to remain friends with these people – you just want to change your relationship with them a little. So let’s look at some of the things you can do right away that will help give you some space and time to figure out the deeper issues.

Stalling  – Not exactly the best tactic as it’s not very clear per se, but I have to put it in here if you’re looking for some immediate help. You’ve probably already played dumb or said you have too much going on to deal with their request right now (…however they can call you later).  Simply remember that this tactic only gets you so far and that as soon as you say yes, you’re stuck.

Ask for What You Want –  If you’re with a group of people, just say what you want to do. You might not change anyone’s mind, but it might surprise you that some of them might have wanted to do the same thing… they were just too afraid to say anything.

Compromise – If you’re with one other person, simply go for the trade. It might be as simple as saying, “If we do this, I’d like to to this.” Don’t try and force your decision on them. Remember, you’re trying to eliminate stress here. Do it for both parties.

Set a Time Limit – Another way of getting out of doing something you don’t want to is actually agreeing, but saying you can only do it for so long. This is a form of a compromise, but instead you’re giving yourself room to part ways.

Learn How to Say No (Don’t Give Excuses) – Sometimes, none of the other tactics are going to work. Perhaps you don’t like a co-worker’s friends. Or you get stressed at certain events. You simply don’t want to do whatever is being asking of you. When this happens, you’re just going to have to grin and bare the response. Just remember to be POLITE in your response. A simple “no, thanks” typically goes far.

Do Something For Yourself – Many of us agree to do what others are doing because we don’t want to be left behind. However, it’s totally ok for you to do things on your own if you are left behind. In fact, you should learn how to embrace it! None of your friends want to go to the other movie you suggested? Check it out on your own time! Let other’s opinions be things to consider in your decision – just not the final factor.

Whichever of these that you choose, remember that in the end, no one is a mind reader. So remember that they’re not used to you actually voicing an opinion. Also, don’t expect them to suddenly start waiting for your response.

The Harder but More Rewarding Part – Working on Ourselves

Until you examine who you are and adjust, you’re still going to attract the same kind of people in your life. This is true of not only people who want to take advantage of you, but all negative people. So let’s start digging deep and start changing some things around a little bit.

Examine Your Fears – Most of the time when people are people pleasers it’s because we are afraid of the outcome of not pleasing others. In a worse case scenario, if we start expressing our needs, will others accept them? If the answer to that is no, ask yourself if they’re really worth keeping around. Are they a lifter or a weight in your life?

Recognize Your Successes (Keep a Journal!) – Another reason we are people pleasers is because we feel that going with the flow of others adds value to us. You’re totally aware of their success, but of they of yours? Remember times that you have accomplished things. Even if you don’t think they were a big deal. To someone in the world, they are. Did you learn how to finally use roller blades? Good. Got your first meaningful job? Great! Celebrate your wins no matter the size and keep a record of them so you can look back in the future if needed.

Examine Boundaries (and Create New Ones) – Treat others the way you’d like to be treated. Do you tolerate the intolerable? Or do you strive for excellence and set the bar up there for others as well? Learn how to identify and label unacceptable behavior for others. When they do it ask yourself why they’re even in your social group.

Stop Basing Your Own Worth By How Much You Do For Others – I saw a post on Facebook not too long ago that said that if the world was full of love that worth would not exist. Here’s the thing: if you hang out with people who do appreciate and respect you, you’re going to find out that you have all the worthiness you need to be successful in life. Stop

Consider the Source (Are You Being Manipulated?) – Sometimes people are just manipulators and you’ll have to learn how to sniff them out. A classic line that manipulators use is “Oh, you’re so great at XYZ! Would you help me with mine?” That doesn’t sound so bad, but on top of that they’ll try and coax you into doing something you hadn’t planned on and try to tell you what your availability AND time frame is to said job. They make the decision for you.

Run from these types of people.

Practice Successive Approximation (Create an A-Z plan and list) – Sometimes you’ll have people in your life that just can’t take the hint. You’ve tried several of the above tactics and they’re still being persistent in trying to get your attention and/or telling you how you can help them.

In this case, you’ll need a plan to get from where you currently are with this person to where you want them in your life. If they’re actions are predictable, this will be much easier to carry out.

An example might be noisy neighbors. Step 1: Just greet them. Step 2: Next time you see them, mention how noisy the neighborhood gets. Step 3: If they didn’t get the hint yet, just go knock on their door and politely ask for them to quiet it down.

Consider who you want to give your time to. – Ultimately your choice is yours to make. Do you want to spend time with someone who constantly makes you feel bad or with those who will respect and care about you?

Don’t be Scared of the Fallout – If someone in your life isn’t happy that you’re setting boundaries and starting to care about your own time and what you invest it in, perhaps you don’t need that person around. I know this is the hard part, but it isn’t your job to worry about what others think of you.

Realize You Can’t Be Everything to Everyone – Frankly, you are who you are. You have your strengths and weaknesses, as does everyone else in the world. Don’t expect to be Superman. Just realize that no one is perfect and you shouldn’t expect for yourself to be. When you have to say no, it’s ok. Just remember that you’re saving yourself in the long run by not rescuing everyone.

You only have so much time on Earth. Make a Stand. Make Your Time Your Time.

Homework

The next time you’re feeling that angry feeling towards someone “controlling” you, think about who they are. If they’re not a boss, client, or family member ask yourself if you need them in your life. Even if they are a supervisor, client, or family member, ask yourself if this constant frustration is worth your long term time and energy. If it isn’t, start looking for a new job or different clients. If it’s with a family member, figure out ways of limiting your time with them. Whatever is in your life right this instant isn’t what you’ve always had and always will have. Change is inevitable. Just become the catalyst and change it yourself.

Developing Life Changing Habits Through 5 Types of Triggers

A Little Background in Habit Formation Theory

There are two books that are pretty interesting reads about habit formation. The first one, the Power of Habit (via Audible), Charles Duhigg talks about The Habit Loop. In this loop, there are three parts to forming and reinforcing habits.

1. The Cue / The Trigger – the event that actually starts the habit

2. The Routine – the actual habit that is performed

3. The Reward – what doing the habit gets the participant

In the the second book, Hooked (via Audible), Nir Eyal takes this loop and adds another piece called:

4.  The Investment – The longer we spend doing a habit that yields favorable rewards, the less likely we are to stop doing that habit.

Each phase of the loop is important in developing new habits. If it wasn’t for a cue, we wouldn’t start the routine. If it wasn’t for the routine, we wouldn’t get the reward. If it wasn’t for the reward, the cue wouldn’t mean as much to us in the future. Therefore, we wouldn’t spend as much time on it. So on, and so forth.

Simple enough, right?

Note: In the video above Brendon talks about the importance of Triggers. The term Trigger is another name for the term Cue. Personally when I think of the word cue I think of a cue ball. When hit by the pool stick, the cue ball starts a series of events that hopefully lands a ball in a pocket during a pool game. Likewise, when I think of the word trigger, I think of a trigger on a firearm that starts the whole chain of events that pushes a bullet out of that firearm. Personally, I use them interchangeably, but we’ll stick with Trigger for the rest of the post.

In this post, we’ll be specifically talking about Trigger use and formation. I believe it’s the most important part of the Habit Loop and probably the one we have the most control on.

Trigger 1: Time

In Brendon’s video, he talks about setting alarms to be triggers. Time is probably the easiest way to start habits. Most of us start our days with alarms that starts a chain of events where we’re getting ready for the day. (Others are luckier where they don’t need an alarm to start their day. They’re triggered by kids, pets, or even the sun. Wouldn’t it be nice?)

How and when to use it: In the video, he talks about setting three alarms on your phone to keep yourself calm throughout the day. This helps someone be more present. For me, I use alarms to remind myself when to keep hydrated. Using time as a trigger is typically used to do something that you need to do a reoccurring daily basis.

Trigger 2: People

When I’m around other people, I have an internal switch that goes off. Most of the time, I’m an introvert. But when I’m around others (especially networking), I go into extrovert mode and start talking to everyone I can. Why? Because both of my strengths involve interacting and adding value to other people: teaching and connecting.

Other people will use others as a trigger as well. If you’ve ever heard of social drinkers, these people use others to tell themselves when to drink. While it might not be the best habit to have, the end result is the same as mine: connecting with people.

The difference of the two habits is that I learned mine from hanging around other successful people. While the social drinkers might have learned their habit from their party days at college.

How and when to Use it: Depending on who you want to connect with, you’ll need to practice a method of connecting. Whether you’re the life of the party, the host, OR the bartender, you can’t afford to be socially awkward. Learn how to be normal (which we’ll discuss at another time) and enjoy others’ company.

 

Trigger 3: Places

Sometimes it can be really hard to get through a kitchen, especially if there’s pie sitting out. Or walk by a pool at the YMCA without wanting to jump right in. Places can be triggers too.

However, among all the triggers, places can be the start of the most mindless habits. This can be good and bad. If you’re an addict and you’re exposed to whatever you’ve been addicted to, it’s much easier to indulge. Likewise, if you’re that same addict and you’re putting yourself in all new situations, it’s much easier to find something else to put your mind on.

Studies by David Neal and Wendy Wood from Duke University suggest that new habits are actually easier to perform in new locations. They say that old locations mean old habits and old routines. If you’re trying to perform a new habit, you’ll have to break the old cycle which can be very difficult. Likewise, new places are like blank slates. There aren’t any pre-existing triggers, therefore it should be easier to start a new habit.

I know for me that I do all my work in an office. Why? Because anywhere else I go I can’t seem to get that same work done. I’ve set the office setting to work and the rest of the house for other things.

How and when to Use it: As mentioned before, locations can equally trigger good and bad habits. First, if you’re trying to do something new, see if you can’t find a new place to do that new thing. Are you working out after several months or years of not regularly? You should probably go to the gym (unless of course you suddenly find all of your furniture replaced by exercise machines). Are you trying to start a business at home? You better not start typing in your comfy chair in the living room. Instead, if you have a spare room/space, go there. If you don’t, go to a nearby coffee shop or restaurant with Wi-Fi.

Trigger 4: Emotions

Many people eat when they’re bored, sad, or even anxious. For most of my life, that was me. Or if you don’t eat, maybe you play video games instead. Either way, these habits are caused by emotions. And as we all know, those who let their emotions dictate to them, don’t live a very happy life.

Emotional habits tend to happen when we’re not present. If you think about the video and Brendon talking about the alarm trigger for a minute, it’s almost a double trigger. First, the alarm triggers you to breathe in a way to make you calmer. As you get calmer, you become more present. If you’re present, you can make better choices. You’re not running on emotions at this point, you’re running on logic. And this new logic can help you build better habits.

How and when to Use it: One thing you can start doing is trying to sense any weird habits you have. Do you bite or pick at your nails? Do you fidget? Then, when you identify them, figure out what caused them. Do they start from you being anxious or bored? Are you still feeling that way? If you are, sense that feeling and then make yourself do something else. Perhaps you can start a few exercises? Or you can take Brendon’s advice and do a breathing technique to calm yourself.

Trigger 5: Notifications and other Events

The last kind of trigger that I know gets the best of me are beeps from my phone and tabs flashing or showing numbers in Chrome because of new messages. If it has a sound notification, I typically got to deal with it. If it’s visual, it gets harder as time goes on. This is the bad side of events being a trigger. However on the other side of the coin, you can build new habits by what’s called Habit Stacking. Habit Stacking is a new term I learned from my mastermind in which you start with one habit. As time goes on, you add another. One such habit stack might be our waking up or going to bed ritual. When it’s time to get up, you typically have a routine that you do. It can be as simple as using the toilet, taking a shower, and then brushing your teeth. Or perhaps you’re one of those who like to start coffee first and then do a few exercises?

How and when to Use it: You should not that the smaller the habit is, the easier it is to put into your life. It’ll probably much easier to eat healthier in the morning than suddenly becoming an early morning runner. However, that said, it really depends on your goals. If you want to feel like you’ve accomplished something by running a mini-marathon, then perhaps the running routine might be better followed by a shake later on in the day.

Picking Your Next Habit Trigger

Regardless of which habit you want to do, you’ll need to make sure that the trigger you choose for that habit is specifically defined and actionable. For me, I like to do certain exercises a day. I typically do them right after I’m done getting my shoes on for the day. I’ll do 35 pushups and then walk the dogs for 20 minutes. After that, I’ll be fresh and alert and ready to get my day started.

Experiences with Triggers?

In the comments below, I’d love to hear how you’ve used triggers in the past for good or bad habits. If you do have some bad habits you’d like to get rid of, what are some ideas that you have to weed them out of your routine?

5 Steps to Successful Weekly Planning via Tony Robbins

Weekly planning. It’s something that many of us might not be familiar with. Especially if we’re having to deinstitutionalize ourselves from the academic and/or corporate world. But the thing is that planning is a vital element to be successful in self made career.

So let’s see what Tony has to say on the matter:

“I Don’t Have Enough Time.”

When I was first getting started with LTD, one of the first CDs I ever heard had a Diamond talking about how people have a top few excuses about why they don’t want to start The Business. The number one reason was this phrase.

The CD continued, “There is no bigger killer of dreams than those five words”.

But the truth is, everyone that has ever lived has had the same amount of minutes in a given day and in a given week. Lack of time never stopped Picaso from painting, it never stopped Steve Jobs from creating and building Apple, and it sure hasn’t stopped Tony Robbins from connecting with tens of thousands of people (yearly) from all over the world.

So the question is… how do they do it?

When it comes to time, they have a strategy. Most of us don’t. In fact, I’m still learning to keep an ever more productive calendar and this is why I wanted to share the strategy with you.

The first thing to do is stop telling yourself that busy people are special. They’re not. They simply have found a strategy that works for them. Then they execute, adjust, and execute again.

Most people go into the week with little planning going into what their week looks like. At best, they have a jumbled list of tasks.

I fear, however, that many of us were taught to act this way. From day one in Kindergarten, we’ve been told when it’s time to stop something and then move onto the next task. Those who went to college had even more of this ingrained into our heads.

This is one reason doing something you love is not easy. We’re not used to setting our own schedules.

If you’re wanting to do something on your own, you need to have a strategy, otherwise you’re going to sink back to default which is waiting for someone to tell you to do something.

However, you should realize that the strategy that successful people have is not just for them. You can learn it too.

5 Step Weekly Planning Method

So below you’ll see the overview of the different steps. While we note that many execute, learn, and then execute again, there are 3 other important steps.

1. Commit To Success

2. Be Present

3. Reflect on the Past

4. Plan the Future

5. Fill in the Gaps

So let’s dive in.


1. Commit To Success

It all starts with the Routine

When you’re committing to success, there are two vital parts you need to take note of. First and foremost is the actual point in the week in which you do the planning that we’re going to be laying out here. Personally, I like to do it on Sunday. Sundays have always felt so “Ugh, here comes another week” most of my life that I want to replace that feeling with a “Oh snap. Here’s the stuff I’m looking forward to doing this week!”

However, if Sunday doesn’t look good for you, then perhaps the first thing on Monday might be better?

Either way, you’ll need an hour to do this. (Possibly up to 2 hours if you’re just beginning your journey and aren’t in a groove yet!) Also, make sure you do it before checking emails or any other weekly tasks.

Action Step 1: Write down your planning time and schedule it. That’s the first thing you have to commit to each week. Committing to yourself.


2. Be Present

Building the Framework (Visualizing the Big Picture)

So, as I’ve said plenty of times on NI before, you always want to start with the end in mind, right? When you get there, how will you know? What does success actually look like? Where do you want to be in the next 3 to 10 years? What do you want to be remembered for? Think of these items as your framework for what you’re doing. Without the foundation, whatever you do this week won’t be anchored properly.

In fact, it might help to put this in some sort of visual aide so that you remember quickly it from week to week.

Action Step 2: When meeting with yourself, reconstruct your goals and framework to get there. This first step should be relatively short. 2-5 minutes at most.


3. Reflect on the Past

What Were Your Wins?

First part you can look forward to is celebrating your wins. People rarely take the time to appreciate the things they’ve accomplished before diving into what’s next. Personally, I know I’m horrible with this. Learn how to be proud of things you’ve done. Learn how to give yourself a compliment – a good grade.

Here’s something that was a win for me last week: I was able to edit all of the first AoL podcast using a software I didn’t know much about. Had a awesome Fizzle meeting with Maria and Jon Ridge. Talked about a business opportunity he’s excited about. Also looked into becoming an online tutor. I feel that tutoring and teaching is a great way to connect with people.

Action Step 3a: Take 5 to 10 minutes listing 5 to 10 wins that you had this week.

 

What Did You Learn?

Sometimes a win isn’t actually a win. Sometimes it’s something your learned. What major things did you learn about? Any quotes you want to share? Or how about things that inspired you? Or possibly found out about people you’d like to connect with? You need to keep track of these things!

Something that I learned this past week: It doesn’t matter how many people are signed up for an event. If it’s free, there’s a good chance they’re not going to come. I had 4 other people besides Jon, Maria, and myself listed for the Fizzle Meetup. None of them showed. Would be interested in finding out why.

Action Step 3b: Take 2-5 minutes going through any notes, shares, and ideas from last week. List all the lessons that come to mind.

 

What Didn’t Happen?

Finally, here’s the part that many dread in their day to day life. Funny enough, though, it’s actually what most of us have to deal with when it comes to reviews at our careers and even in school. So the reason we hate it so much is because that’s what we’re used to is bad news in our reviews.

However, we should only care about the things that actually mattered. Don’t worry about the small stuff.

The stuff that went south – did it happen for a good reason (maybe other important things happened?), or was it a bad reason (getting sucked into social media debate that lasted on and off all day long?). What could you have done to avoid it? If you see yourself going down that path again, what can you change?

Something that didn’t go my way last week: I wanted to record another one or two more conversations for the podcast. However, due to weird technological issues, I wasn’t able to get either. Looking forward to recording them in the future. Also wanting to go through some of Pat’s newbie stuff so I can remember how bad he was so I don’t feel so terrible myself!

Action Step 3c: For 2-5 minutes come up with a list of things that didn’t go right and what you can do to improve next time. For bonus points, you can start taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong – even a meteor strike.


4. Plan the Future

Determine Outcomes for the Week

We’ve already looked at where we are by thinking about our goals and developing the framework to get there. We also have quickly looked at the past. Now it’s time to look at what’s coming down the pipeline.

The next step is thinking about our outcomes. Personally, my outcomes come from the Pillars of Happyness.

A good amount of outcomes to do on a weekly basis is probably 5 to 7 items. If you’re thinking of the Relationship Pillar, maybe you could start that new dating site profile. Or if you’re looking at the Health Pillar, perhaps something like getting a gym membership might be a good goal. You get to decide how big or small they are. Whatever they are, make sure that they’re propelling you to your long term goals. So surfing Reddit all day might not necessarily be a great decision.

A big goal for me this week is to get this post out on time. I’ll be having some connectivity related problems this next week and I just want to make sure that before I don’t have access, that I get it posted.

Action Step 4a: For 5 to 10 minutes, make a list of 5 to 7 outcomes that you want to get done for the week.

Schedule Everything You Want to Get Done – Seriously.

This step is one I struggle with. I have issues with scheduling. However, everything I do takes up time in my day. However, while most of us realize this, we typically don’t try to do anything about. I would guess that if you took all of those 5 to 7 outcomes that you just listed that you’d probably need a lot more time in a day then you actually have.

This is the reason we feel that we never have enough time in a day. While we might just make a list, most of us usually underestimate how much time something is going to take. Since everything takes time, we need to assign actual time to those items that matter the most to us.

Action Step 4b: For the next 5 to 15 minutes, look at your 5 to 7 tasks you just listed in Part a. Spread those out throughout your week while doing only 1-3 per day. Now actually reserve the time on your calendar. The key is assigning real time to each task.


5. Fill in the Gaps

Make Room for your Miscellaneous Items for the Week

So you have your outcomes and then broke them apart into smaller manageable daily lists. Next, you have to fill in other stuff. Have a meeting you need to go to? Put that in. Have a mastermind that you’re a part of? Put that in. Taking classes from Fizzle? Get those in there.

By the end of this process, you shouldn’t have any stray lists or tasks in your head or on stickies around your desk.

Also, while you’re at it, you might want to take a little bit of time to touch base with some people this week.

Ask yourself two questions:

  1. Who can I add value to this week?
  2. Who can help me get done what I have coming up?

Do both of these weekly as I can tell you that you can’t keep all your good ideas in your head. You’ll forget by morning (even if you don’t you’ll definitely forget by the weekend!).

Action Step 5: For the last 5-10 minutes, look at what’s left on your to do list*. Now looking back at your schedule. Think about where you could fit these little tasks and connections in. Schedule all of them!

*A multi platform tool that will help you organize your to-do lists is Trello. You can use Trello on your desktop, laptops, mobiles – whatever.


Bonus Tips

So here’s the deal, even with this strategy, you might have some small questions in getting everything in that you want to get in. So let me see if we can predict those:

Q: Everything keeps taking longer than I expect! What can I do to make better predictions?

A: As Frank Forte would say, “The Analytical in me thinks that if you believe you’ll take an hour to make a blog post, you better schedule it for an hour and a half or two”.

Q: So, I got behind on day one. I had everything planned out just like you said. Now what?

A: Did you have buffer time? If you planned on having a 45-60 minute conversation, did you leave the extra 15 minutes of buffer time? They might have wanted to talk longer.

Q: So, I put in buffer time and I still am not getting everything done I want to. Now what?

A: You’re just going to have to be ok in not getting everything done this week. Nobody’s perfect.

Q: I find that by the time I get to some important tasks in the day, that my energy is giving up to do them. How do I get them done?

A: If you find yourself not having enough energy to get things done (I’m a night owl naturally, I don’t have that problem), you might want to get everything done at the first part of your day. You can even take that another step and do all your important tasks at the beginning of your week.

 

That’s It. There’s my strategy. Now, what are your hacks?

Think I’ve missed anything? Is there anything you’d add or need cleared up? Let me know in the comments below.

11 Ways to Be Happier Day to Day

Empaths and Narcissists. Two very different types of people. You could say that they’re extremes. On one hand with the empath, you have a person who feels everything that is going on with themselves and the people around them. Perhaps they feel that they’re “out of this world” or misplaced because they see all the emotion. That they have superhuman powers to read people. To sense vibes. Many times, they absorb all these emotions that are around them feeling weighted down by the burdens of the world.

On the other hand, you have the narcissist. One could say that this is the opposite of the empath. They look at others as instruments to get what they want. Many times, these people have become like this because of some sort of pain they received earlier in their life. Furthermore, the narcissist won’t realize that the world doesn’t work this way. That the world is a two way street. They’ll literally do anything to get where they want to get to in life.

In either case, neither will likely be able to create their own happiness. The empath might think that having their own happiness is too selfish. The narcissist, on the other hand, will think that their unhappiness is everyone else’s fault. So why should they put time into it if no one else will?

That said, I think most of us that have struggled or currently struggle with being happy fall somewhere between these two extremes.

Your Happyness is Yours to Build

Just like many things, Happiness is a journey, not so much a destination. The Founding Fathers knew this when they mentioned it in the Declaration of Independence. If you should remember anything about July 4th this weekend, is that in the United States it is the God Given Right to live life, be free, and strive towards our own happiness – whatever that might be. So as we come to this celebration of what the US stands for, I wanted to break down 10 things that we can do to be more happy.

The reason why I recommend the Four Agreements on a regular basis is because I believe it has led me to be happier myself. The agreements are as follows:

Be Impeccable with Your Word

Don’t Take Anything Personal

Don’t Make Assumptions

Always Do Your Best

In these four, I’ve come up with a list of 11 key everyday practices that can help you gain more happiness daily.

Be Impeccable with Your Word

Stop Complaining

Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems. – Zig Ziglar

Chances are you don’t want to be around some that complains all the time. So why would anyone want to be around you if you do? If you must complain, give yourself 5 minutes to do so. Better yet, instead of complaining about something, instead look for a possible solution? No solution? Focus on the positive and perhaps cut a joke.

Focus on the Positive Things in Life

When you focus on problems, you’ll have more problems. When you focus on the possibilities, you’ll have more opportunities. – Unknown

The more you focus on negative things in your life, the more they’ll come in. It will show up in your work, your relations, and everything else. Instead, shift your attention to the positive perspective. In return, more positive things will come.

Blame yourself, not others

The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you can change anything in your life. – Hal Elrod

Every one us is where we are in life due to choices we’ve made in the past. Sure, our circumstances are different, but more often then not, many of us take the easier route which in the long run makes us weaker for the hard stuff in life. Take the challenges as they come in life and you’ll be prepared for when crap really hits the fan.

Don’t Take Anything Personal

Stop Caring About What Others Think of You

If you care about what other people think, you will always be their prisoner. – James Frey

Every great leader, artist, entrepreneur, and/or political leader (George Bush is a painter now… wha!?) ignored what people thought of them at one point or another. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be able to take off. Instead, if others are tearing you up, realize it’s more than likely because they’re envious OR threatened by you.

Stop Needing to Be Right All the Time

Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues. – Confucius

Learn to laugh at yourself. It’s ok to stand up for things you really believe in, but not on every subject. In stead of trying to be right, learn how to see other people’s point of view. When I argue politics on Facebook, I typically do after understanding the other side’s perspective. Start asking more questions to see other’s points of view, it might open a whole new perspective for yourself… one that you incorporate your old perspective and theirs into an ultimate right answer! 😉

Don’t Make Assumptions

Stop Judging

Ask Questions to Clarify

Begin challenging your assumptions. Your assumptions are the windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile or the light won’t come in. – Alan Alda

This is simple. If you’re interested in being successful, learn to make things clear at the beginning. Yes, it’s impossible not to assume 100% of the time, especially if you’re doing something that has been multiple times before, but make sure you’re always asking questions to clear things up before it gets worse.

Always Do Your Best

Be Present

What is presence? It is a grounding and harmony in this very moment; it is a physical alertness, an emotional acceptance, a spiritual awareness and union with what is in front of us in the here and now; it is a vital consciousness to who we are and what we are sensing; it is a mindfulness to what is meaningful; it is the Way – Brendon Burchard

Brendon talks all the time about his life mission being “Did we live? Did I love? Did I matter?”. So often we find ourselves living in the past in how good things used to be. Or we live in the future in how we want things to be. Live in the present. You’ll never get to the future you want if you don’t appreciate where you are now.

Be Fearless

Being Fearless isn’t being 100% not fearful, it’s being terrified but you jump anyway… – Taylor Swift

Fear is a strong motivator in life. Perhaps possibly the strongest to not be great. Perhaps you’re worried about leaving friends behind. Perhaps you’re worried that you might fail in whatever you’re setting out to do. The hard truth is that at the end of the day or even your life, you’re going to wish that you at least tried to do something vs always dreaming “what if”. Don’t waste the gifts that you’ve been given. Go Do Your Thing.

Stop Being So Hard on Yourself

The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel. – Steven Furtick

I know I’m my own worst critic. I know that inside of us there’s a fan and there’s the scrooge. For many of us, we’ve been told our entire lives that we can do anything we want to do… just don’t screw up. Furthermore, school taught us, pass without failing.

What we don’t learn until after school is that we don’t learn in life without failing. Failing is part of life. Once you accept this, then you start relying more on the fan to motivate you. The scrooge will always be there saying, “you don’t deserve to be awesome”. However, as you start gaining success, you’ll listen to the fan more and more. While you might not be perfect, you give value to others.

Stop Worrying About the Small Stuff

Worry is a misuse of the imagination. – Dan Zadra

We worry about everything and anything. Part of limiting what influence the scrooge has is to realize that others aren’t perfect either. Just because someone isn’t replying to your emails, texts, or phone calls doesn’t mean they suddenly don’t like you.

Learn to focus on what you can do in the current moment and not worry so much on what the outcome is going to be.

Your Turn

So below in the comments, let me know what you do to feel happier on a day to day basis. Are there any tricks or tips that you do when you feel yourself getting down? Chime in and share!

Millennials as Entrepreneurs, Part 10 of 10: Where To Get Started

In the end, as I mentioned in the last part, the decision is yours to make in whether or not being an entrepreneur is right for you.

 

A few good questions that I’d recommend asking yourself can be found in this article:

 

  • Are you comfortable with uncertainty?
  • Are you willing to put off good for the great (even though the great isn’t guaranteed?)
  • Can you wear multiple hats when needed?
  • Can you deal with a daily emotional roller coaster?
  • Can you stay committed to building a successful business even though there will be plenty of barriers set before you?

 

If you answer yes to all of these, then you’re good to go. If you realize that life is not a practice run, I don’t see how you can’t say no. Everyone deserves an adventure in their life to find out what they’re made of.

 

Personally believe that we only live life once and we should all at least try going solo once. Maybe it works out, maybe it doesn’t and it’s a big learning experience. Either way, at least you’d know.

 

Figure Out Your Type of Business

 

As we’ve explored, there’s plenty of business opportunities out there. Which one will work best for you? The main thing that I want you to think about is that there’s really no true offline business anymore. I mean, you can be, but you’ll be doing yourself a major disservice.

 

Even if you decide to go towards starting say… a daycare, for example, you should probably be adding some sort of online element. Parents would love to check up on the activities that are going on with their kids and what adventures they’re going on from day to day. Heck, if you get something like a GoPro, then perhaps you can strap one on to them from time to time and see what they see? Or heck, start writing a blog about tips and tricks to correspond with what they did during the day (This is just me thinking out loud.) Can you imagine how many customers/kids this daycare would get vs those that didn’t?

 

Educate Yourself, Leaders are Learners

 

Remember, as a business owner you need to be a leader. One thing I learned out of being in LTD was that Leaders are Readers. However, you don’t need to actually read books. You need to be learning. Whether or not you’re learning from audio books or listening to podcasts, or watching educational videos, you need to be learning regularly.

 

The best thing you can do is not look at it as a chore, but as part of your strategy. Start utilizing a filing method (Evernote or something similar would be useful) so that when you have say a post or doing something new, you can fall back on that information. That fresh perspective on the topic will make you look good to your customers.

 

Affiliate – Find a Community that Supports Your Decision

 

Another thing that will help is affiliation. Learn about your potential community before you dive into it. There’s different ways you can do that. You can mingle with potential customers, or you can mingle with other like minded people who are in charge of their own startup. Both have huge benefits in being involved with!

 

B2C Groups – Going to groups that have potential clients is a great way to figure out what products you need to develop. For example, if you’re wanting to start that daycare, find out from other parents what kinds of things they do or don’t like about daycares that are available to their kids. You can ask these parents individually or host an event. Either way, you’ll be getting valuable information that will give you a leg up on your competition.

 

B2B Groups – In Indianapolis, I like to think we have a huge tech startup community. Obviously, not as big as certain places on the west and east coast, but still something pretty strong. I think a big part of that is Verge and the The Speak Easy.

 

As I’ve seen these groups grow up, the party has just gotten bigger and bigger. Groups like these support tech startups – which is huge in Indy. However, there’s groups like Fizzle.co that support online businesses.

 

If you’re wondering if there’s a nearby group interested in what you’re wanting to do, check out meetup.com – you’d be surprised on what’s on there. If there’s nothing there, then perhaps you should start a group? Here’s a recent SPI podcast that illustrates how important masterminds are. Perhaps a good place to find people to be part of your mastermind might be reddit?

 

Next Step? Take Action.

 

If starting a business is something that you want to do, start as soon as you can. Is there something you need to get trained in first? Assuming that you’ve talked to people in that field and that you really want to be a part of, that might be your first step.

 

If there’s no special training required, perhaps your next step is to start looking into hosting your site. Or if you want to start in the real world, perhaps your next step is figuring out how you can start finding customers.

 

Whatever it might be, it’s time to start your adventure.

Millennials as Entrepreneurs, Part 8 of 10: Leading is An Ideal Goal for Us

In part 1 we discussed some statistics about what Millennials want in the work place. I’ll share them again:

 

  • 64% of them say it’s a priority for them to make the world a better place.
  • 72% would like to be their own boss. But if they do have to work for a boss, 79% of them would want that boss to serve more as a coach or mentor.
  • 88% prefer a collaborative work-culture rather than a competitive one.
  • 74% want flexible work schedules.

 

Look at that second number. 72% of us want to be our own boss. To do that, we have to run our own business. And to do that, need to have some sort of leadership skills.

 

The World is Full of Followers who want to Lead

 

In the 6th installment of this series, I talked about The Prussian Education System contributing to why Millennials are Lost. How it has been used to create a population of soldiers who follow the oligarchy of the Progressive Movement that originally installed it. They want and continue to want followers.

 

The other contributing part to the Lost Generation can be found in part 1, when we saw how Millennials generally want a lot out of life.

 

The catch is that these two ideas contradict each other. One of them is going to have to yield to the other.

 

So far it seems it seems that many of us don’t know which to choose. In fact, many of us are even pushing back our internal clocks to have more time to develop “Me”. It seems like a whole lot of confusion. Do we invest in a job that might have the conditions we’re used to or do we invest in ourselves and create that atmosphere for ourselves?

 

Leaders Get The Credit Through Failure

 

If there’s one thing that we’ve learned from our role models growing up is that leaders get the credit. From our coaches in high school, to athletes in the pros, to politicians, and award winning actors, we see that those who succeed get the most credit. It is almost intolerable for us to be unsuccessful. We have grown up most of our life believing that we CANNOT and MUST NOT fail.

 

The problem with this is that we now have a generation of people who don’t really know that failing is a part of learning. That we can’t really learn something until we’ve tried to apply knowledge and screw up.

 

Many of us have not heard of all the failures that successful people have had before they were successful. However, it’s true.

 

As it’s suggested then, we need get out there and fail quicker! Otherwise, the alternative is taking a seat and job hopping in the new economy – something that personally I don’t want to do. I’d prefer security.

 

Leadership is Something Learned

 

Leadership for most of us is appealing and scary at the same time. We know that if we want things to go our way, that we must appeal to others to follow our plan. If we’re successful with spreading the idea, then we find ourself leading. At the same time we know leadership can be lost as quickly as it can be gained if we’re not careful with our followers. So we need to learn how to lead with purpose.

 

A big key in being a leader is actually studying it. Seeing what other people have done successfully before us and actually studying those actions. We can do that through case studies, or the hard way through personal experience OR we can cheat and read books by authors like John Maxwell.

 

Once you have successfully gained influence of others and can wield it successfully, then you are on the path of being a true leader. But just like anything else in the self development world, it’s something that you’ll need to continue to study.

 

Leading By Example

 

In the comments below, I’d love to hear about your experiences at being a leader. Whether you’ve had success or have failed at it, let us know below. Also, if you did fail, what did you take away from the experience?

 

Next week, in part 9, we’ll discuss making the big choice. Those that succeed in building a business will be the ready made leaders after 2020. Will you be a leader or a follower? We’re in a perfect place in history to make our collective mark for other generations to follow!