Why work is NOT a necessary evil

Everyone dreams of avoiding work, but work is where we find fulfillment! To create, to add value to the world, to bring our best talents to the table, to connect, to strive, to be stretched. That is the opportunity that work gives us.

Too often people look at work as what they have to do in order to get what they want. That’s a limited, narrow view. Work does have benefits like paychecks and career advancement, but we should be working for more reasons than those. When working we are taking our skills and using them for something of importance. We are serving others; We are creating beauty, connection, and a better life for people.

It's a shame that work is seen as boring, annoying, forced and unhappy. It shouldn’t be that way, It should involve energy and excitement.

Willpower < Habits

If you have to decide every time you wake up, whether you'll get up early and go to the gym, you are forcing yourself to make that decision every single time. And with a limited amount of willpower, as you wrestle with that question, you will more often give in, then if you......Develop a habit.

Discipline is merely forcing yourself to create habits that will be right and beneficial for your life.

 If you make a commitment to getting up early every morning, eventually it won't be difficult anymore, it will be routine. Once you have eliminated the opportunity for you to make a choice; When you aren’t giving yourself an option, then you can start to develop a habit.

As humans, we don’t really like change. So if you can change once, and then stick with it, then you can let  routine take over instead of relying on your willpower and good decision making skills every time. As you work more with habits and less with willpower, you'll find you have the capacity to create a better life.

Are we there yet?

How will you know that you have arrived if you never knew what your destination looked like? The answer is, you won’t.

We all have goals, and dreams we are looking to achieve and an idea of the person we want to become. We may casually think about it, or possibly even ruthlessly pursue it.

But as we are moving forward, if we fail to contemplate where we came from, and how much we have grown, we always feel like we aren’t reaching our goals and we aren’t the person we want to be. We never feel closer, because we don’t know how far we’ve come. So sometimes its necessary to look back in order to see the path forward more clearly.

Also we can work very hard to get somewhere and not even recognize that we've arrived. A good method to prevent that from happening is to visualize success. You discipline yourself to imagine what success will look like, how you will feel, and condition yourself for that moment. So that when you do get there, you'll experience what you knew you would, and you will be ready to recognize and celebrate!

It's time to celebrate!

Celebrating our achievements is important. It encourages and motivates us to keep on striving! While It’s natural for us to be excited about accomplishments we sometimes feel bad talking about it because others can think it's self promotion. But sharing your success story with others is a huge part of celebrating. So find friends that you can share your accomplishments with. Establish that you aren’t bragging or one-upping them. Create a place where its okay to tell yourself that you did a good job, and to share that with someone else.

Those moments of celebration can help to motivate future achievement. Success builds on success and every time that happens we should stop to recognize it.

The monster in the closet

Fear is a strong motivator and a strong paralyzer. We don’t want to live a life without fears, because that means we aren’t doing anything difficult or world changing. We want to learn to live with those fears, and to recognize that we have them, but not allow them to overtake our lives or paralyze us from action. Our fears are irrational and yet still convincing.

When you face your fears, instead of allowing them to hide and lurk in the corners of your mind. When you bring them out, state them, tell someone else, then they start to shrink. They start to seem silly and trivial. The monster in the closet is there, but always smaller than you imagined :)

Because your mind runs away with you, that terrible conversation you have to have, always goes better than you thought it would. Your imagination can be wild and is unconcerned with fact.

So bring out your fears, examine them with your logical brain instead of allowing them to play on your emotions. You will be able to see the truth and falsehood behind the fears and you will be able to deal with them.  You won't get rid of fear completely, but you will recognize and acknowledge those fears and choose to move forward anyways.

Active vs passive fun

Active fun engages your brain with problem solving (puzzles) or it develops a talent like drawing or a skill like skateboarding. it involves your muscles and your intellect. It requires you to focus, to be present and to think. It involves achievement and with group activities, cooperation.

Passive fun is where you are being entertained. Someone else is creating the fun and you are just watching. ie sports, movies, or surfing the internet.  You aren’t required to have skill or to participate or to engage any mental faculties at all. All you are have to do is observe.

Sometimes you need to completely disengage and just passively be entertained, but I think we could all add more active, creative fun into our lives and still feel refreshed and rejuvenated afterwards.

Real work

Real work, is bringing value to the world, not just doing what your boss tells you to do. Real work is seeing needs for other people and filling those. It's not pushing papers or punching a time clock. Real work is creating something that will benefit others. Something they will value and appreciate.

But to do real work you have to care. You have to care about people, and creating change. You have to want to and work to matter.

Do you deserve to rest?

Do you find yourself working hard so that you can deserve some time to rest? That sounds very normal, but its actually a trick question. You should never be working hard so that you earn rest.

Rest is not a reward. Rest is a need!

You wouldn’t deprive yourself of food or sleep because you haven’t earned it. (Okay, well you might, but you can realistically look at that and say you can’t keep that up for long!)

Same with resting. You need nourishment, inspiration, enjoyment, rest, relaxation, and breaks. If you don’t take time to rest you can’t be productive when you're supposed to be, and you can’t put your heart and mind into your work because you just don’t have it in you. You are exhausted and depleted.

Sure, you can push yourself for a while, but eventually you will break down. Just like your body stops running without food, your inspiration and creativity will crash and die without proper nourishment.

So if you think you don’t deserve to rest. You are sadly mistaken and doing yourself a disservice. When you give yourself permission to rest, then you will have what you need in order to move your goals forward.

An odd way to motivate yourself to start

Do you have trouble starting something?

A great way to encourage action in yourself is to start writing your to-do list differently.

Don’t write yourself “reminders” that you have to sort through to understand.

You will find yourself starting projects and tasks faster, if you write your to-do list in active language

instead of passive language.

Using a verb will help to compel you to action.

The action is so clear it feels more like a command than a suggestion.

So keep in mind that your to-do list isn't a reminders list, but an action list!

PS.  If the action word isn’t compelling enough, change it to a stronger verb

The Enemy of Productivity

Multi tasking is not a skill, it's a detriment to getting things done. It kills productivity. It stifles creativity, and it's the complete opposite of focus. It's physically impossible to do two things at once, unless one of them is mindless like walking or breathing. Even when talking or listening, we actually have reduced attention span and won’t hear or say things as well if we are trying to do other things at the same time. So when we are “multi tasking"  we aren't doing two things at once, we are just switching our brain rapidly from one task to another. Which this makes it virtually impossible to concentrate. We scan the crowd when in a conversation, we check email incessantly while working on an important project and we get......So. Little. Done. Not acceptable!

It's best to sit down and do one thing at a time, and then move on to the next. If we completely finish something, it can be out of our brain and we can use all our energy and attention to tackle the next project and complete it. If you struggle with concentration, try these two simple techniques to improve your focus.

1. Set a timer. 

Don’t try to go all out and concentrate for an entire day. If you aren’t used to it, you will be fighting your brain the entire time trying to maintain the willpower to keep your thoughts and mouse from wandering. Instead, give yourself 30 minutes where you will be ultra focused and allow yourself to do absolutely nothing but the task at hand. That amount of time is manageable for you to focus, and then you can take a break and do little tasks. Then try another 30 minutes, then another, and eventually you will have learned to control your impulses to do lots of things at once.

2. No interruptions.

turn off your wi-fi, cell phone, alerts and lock your door. Yes we usually sabotage ourselves by checking email, texting etc. But a huge amount of interruptions are generally from the outside as well. You can control that. Take a break. Unplug, and be productive. If you are afraid of missing something important, let people know that you won’t be available so they can contact you later. Tell them you have a dead zone from 2-4pm every day, and then disappear into your project. Even just two hours of focused work is better than an entire 8 hour day with too many water cooler conversations, internet surfing and bathroom breaks.

When you are engrossed in your work with zero interruptions, you will find yourself refreshed and much more productive.  Try it out!

Have Enthusiasm!

Have enthusiasm!

It's such a valuable principle which is so simple and with a little conscious effort can become part of who you are.

Enthusiasm is contagious. You can encourage and uplift someone who is having a bad day just by your own excitement for the day. If you greet someone with a wide smile and a genuine excitement that they're there, its almost impossible for them not to be affected by that. Excitement and enthusiasm for life will make those around you feel it too.

Love life, and those around you will learn to love it too. They will look forward to seeing you, and start to reciprocate that excitement. If you can make someone feel valued, important and worthwhile, you have made a friend. Every personality is different and everyone shows their enthusiasm just a little bit differently, but we can all recognize when someone is genuinely happy to see us. it takes so little to communicate that, and so little to make someone’s day happier and brighter. It’s a shame we don’t take advantage of that huge opportunity more often.

It's an upward spiral because the more enthusiastic you are with people, the more they are with you, and then that makes you feel good, and you become even more enthusiastic, and you keep going up and up. There’s no way of knowing the limits of that!

Is this your final decision?

We dance at the starting line forever. We stand cautiously weighing the risk, the cost, and wanting to make the perfect decision before starting something.

We feel like a man jumping off a building. Once we jump, there's no going back. We can’t change, we can’t stop, we must see whatever we start to completion. This can cause a lot of anxiety and inaction. We feel like this is the final decision, and the only one we get to make.

But that's flawed thinking. The beauty is that we can be flexible. We can change mid sentence, redirect our course, or stop all together. Action even in the wrong direction is better than no action at all. If its no longer a good goal, we can let it go.

But when you stand, contemplate, consider and let everything swirl around in your brain. When you make no move towards starting until you know exactly where you are going, and know you're going to get there, you will start very few things.

Starting is clarifying: Once you have started something, you can have a more realistic picture of what it actually entails to finish the project. You'll realize whether you're still passionate about the project, whether it has value and whether you should continue.

Starting helps you to gain momentum. If you wait too long to start something, the excitement will die off, which you could have used to catapult yourself closer to success. You can spend a lot of valuable time and energy planning and thinking about starting your goal instead of putting that energy towards actually creating.

Also, the mental energy of thinking about something can be more daunting than actually doing it. When you have ideas swirling around in your brain that you aren’t taking action on, that doesn’t mean you aren’t still working on them. You are expending energy thinking about them which is the exact energy you would be using to actually do it! It's terribly inefficient and steals your productivity.

Of course planning is incredibly valuable, but too much planning can paralyze you to action. And then what good is a plan if you don’t put it into motion? All it is are words on a paper; dust bunnies collecting as proof that you didn’t have the gumption to start your dreams.

It's worse to have a dream and not do anything about it, then to not even have a dream.

So get started. Stop waiting for the perfect alignment of your thoughts, your plans and your circumstances.

If you asked my advice....

You have no limits, except the ones you place on yourself Our problems are trivial

Actions come before feelings

Learn to take a joke

Do things that scare you

Admit you are wrong.

Agree with the person who is accusing/arguing with you. Nothing kills an argument like joining their side

You choose how you feel, and how you let others make you feel

Give true, accurate compliments, we all need them

83 things I want to tell you before I die

1. Laugh more, you’ll live longer 2. Be enthusiastic about life. It’s contagious

3. Hug your family more than you do

4. Do something new, don’t keep doing the same things, expecting different results

5. Be self aware, but not so self aware that you become self involved

6. Seek to understand and seek to be understood yourself

7.  Check your internal dialogue. How you talk to yourself, determines what you think of yourself

8. Visualize success. So you know once you get there

9. Set realistic expectations for other people, so you won’t be disappointed by their actions

10. Create a daily task list, so nothing gets out of hand

11. Schedule time for relaxation and enjoyment, it’s not a reward, its a need

12. Be brutally realistic about your present circumstances, and wildly unrealistic about your future

13. Get up early, you’ll be more productive

14. Find others who support you, not who want to change you

15. Don’t talk about yourself as much, instead listen

16. Seek to bring value to other people

17. Take care as to how you present yourself, that’s what people will judge you on

18. Life is a joyful, beautiful, messy thing. Don’t miss it

19. It’s not about you

20. Celebrate accomplishments. It’ll motivate you to reach more goals

21. Don’t assign motives to people’s actions

22. Help others, you will find more joy helping others, than helping yourself

23. Love whoever is right in front of you

24. Chase your dreams, you’ll feel more alive

25. Workout. You will age slower

26. Give random surprise gifts, they mean more

27. Try for difficult things and be okay to fail

28. Make good decisions, you’ll have to explain yourself to someone

29. Don’t worry, its incredibly silly

30. Compete with yourself, not others

31. Send handwritten cards

32. Eat to live, not live to eat

33. Take that chance, you’ll be glad you did

34. Dance, you'll feel freedom

35. Read classic literature

36. Choose your friends wisely, you will become just like them

37. Say “no” kindly, and often

38. Get rid of clutter, it slows you down, and holds you back

39. See past what people are, to what they can be

40. Go to church, your soul needs nourishment just like your body

41. Be grateful, its the surest way to contentment

42. You are beautiful. Don’t think otherwise

43. Work hard, thats how dreams are built

44. Love deeply. It’s risky, but it’s worth it

45. Take a personality test, you will discover a lot about yourself and others

46. Live inspired. You’ll never want to go back

47. Change the oil in your car as recommended

48. Don’t miss an opportunity to encourage someone

49. Share your stories, your dreams and your goals or we’ll never know

50. Wear jewelry, you should never feel frumpy

51. Regularly eat dinner as a family, it will keep you close

52. Ask about your child’s day and listen, or else someday you’ll want to know, and he won’t care to tell you

53. Doodle with sharpies, they spark creativity

54. Read to your kids, a love of books is one of the greatest gifts you can give them

55. Listen to music, it will uplift you

56. What you tell yourself is what you’ll come to believe

57. Make good habits, you’ll do the right thing without even thinking about it

58. Don’t be in a job you hate, Life is just too short

59. Recognize there are more than two options. Be creative looking for solutions

60. Get a color analysis, it’s a great investment

61. Think the best of people, if you’re wrong, oh well!

62. Don’t lead people on, in business or love. You are wasting their time and yours

63. Clean under your bed, you’ll find something you're missing

64. Smile, it’s contagious

65. Be extra kind to your cashiers and waitresses, they are serving you

66. Take care of your health now, before it’s too late

67. Lift weights and run. Don’t do one to the detriment of the other

68. Be generous, your money is worthless unless put to a good cause

69. Don’t allow others to shape your perception of yourself

70. Be yourself, we all so often aren’t

71. Join a group, community is powerful

72. "Bored" should be a nonexistent word, there’s so much life to experience

73. Be patriotic

74. Care about your freedoms because if you don’t, someone else will and you might not like it.

75. Keep your promises, even promises to yourself

76. Don’t live this life with bitterness and hatred, you are only hurting yourself

77. Get perspective. It’s the best way to avoid self pity

78. Be curious about life

79. Your life has meaning or else you wouldn’t be here

80. You’re not alone in your troubles

81. Don’t do anything you’d be embarrassed if your mother found out

82. Drink more water. Your body is 60% water. You’re just not drinking enough

83. Be authentic and genuine, and you’ll be irresistible

What are you really feeling?

We tend to rationalize things in our life and force ourselves to feel a certain way. We can be angry and upset, and then look around us and say what right do we have to feel this way? While this is a good reality check and helps us to have perspective, sometimes it's healthy to look at a situation and ask how do we truly feel about this?

Forget about what you are supposed to feel, or how others think you should feel, and ask yourself what are you really feeling? You may feel hurt because a friend didn't call when rationally you know that they're busy. You should recognize that it's not rational, but you still need to acknowledge those emotions.

If you feel a certain way, you may succeed in talking  yourself out of it, but it would be beneficial before you do that, to consider and get to the bottom of why you felt that way. If you never acknowledge how you are feeling, eventually your emotions will get tired of always being forced aside and they will rebel. That could create a nervous breakdown or worse. And It’s much better to deal with emotions as they come, then working through years of emotion all at once.

What I learned from waffles

Sometimes the process of thinking about, gaining momentum and transitioning to a different task, is more frightening, and worrisome than actually doing the project. Once you gain momentum you can make progress, but getting things moving can be extremely difficult. My strategy?  Shorten the transition time

If I think I should do something, instead of putting it on my list to do at a different time, and dread starting it, I force myself to quickly start the process. If I can short circuit the struggle for momentum, than I can be more effective, faster.

I discovered this trick through waffles. I often wouldn't make waffles because the process seemed too involved. The thought of getting out all the tools necessary seemed like a large project just to have food.

Well one day I decided within 3 seconds of thinking about it, that I would indeed make waffles and that I would time myself. I set a timer, and started. I got out the mix, put in all the ingredients, started the griddle, made the first waffle, and cleaned up the dishes within 5 minutes.

All those times I told myself I wouldn't make waffles because they would take a long time, but the truth was, the thought of making them seemed daunting and involved. Once I decided to do it, it was extremely painless, and efficient.

Don't make the same mistake I did. Don't handicap yourself from starting things because you allow yourself too much transition time.

Oh and yes the waffles were delicious.

"That was just practice"

Zig Ziglar said  “Be hard on yourself and life will be easy; but be easy on yourself and life will be hard” If you’re disciplined, you’ll reap rewards regardless if you ever succeed with what you were trying to do.

Remember that diet you actually finished? Or when you spent the week focused and productive at work because of a deadline? Maybe you didn’t see the results you were hoping for. Maybe you didn’t make your deadline, maybe you didn’t lose that last ten pounds. But don’t despair! The sheer mental work it took to control and train yourself to do the right thing will stick with you long after the project failed. You recognized what you were capable of, and your mind “muscles” got stronger.

That mindset turns those seemingly failed attempts into a success of sorts. It became no longer all about the results, but about practicing and building the character qualities you need to be successful.

Think of it like a little kid playing table tennis. He swats the ball and it hits the net and rolls backwards. He looks up cheerfully, and says "Okay, now we're playing for real." That just now? Yeah, that was just practice.

Why you should answer “Hi, how are you” more honestly

If you’re having a bad week, do you let others know? Or do you pretend that everything’s fine?

Obviously we shouldn’t go around spouting off about our problems. But if we never allow people to see that something’s wrong, we’ve done them a disservice. If no one is aware of our needs, they can’t take the opportunity to help, because they don’t even know it exists!

You can be honest about “how you are”  without creating a scene or delving into deep issues. You can get across simply the idea that you aren’t your usual self and a little more tenderness and concern could be of help.

Next time life seems difficult, be transparent enough so people have the awareness to rise to the occasion and provide encouragement and comfort.