How Keystone Habits Can Improve your Life

How Keystone Habits Can Improve your Life

“Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” — Brian Tracy

 

What are Keystone Habits?

Keystone is a term used widely to define the significance of one piece or component in a system of parts. It pre-dates to the Mesopotamians who used a single solitary stone – later termed a keystone – to lock other stones in an arch. Although the arch couldn’t be completed without the keystone, it also bore the least weight amongst all the other stones.

In habit development, similar to architecture, the keystone habit symbolizes the importance of one single habit that brings together multiple other habits. The keystone habit acts as a center stone, providing support for the development of the other habits that are surrounding it.

For example, keeping an expense journal acts as a keystone habit for financial planning and other positive finance-related habits. The single act of expense journaling itself provides a gateway to the development of the other habits. In fact, the other habits develop almost in tandem with the development of that single keystone habit.

When you keep an expense journal, you track every single last cent that you spend on a daily basis, the time you spent it, what you spent it on, and quite possibly, why you spent it. When expense journaling becomes a habit, it acts a keystone in the identification of unnecessary expenditures, and the ability to see a vast overview of spending patterns. In turn, this leads to better financial goal setting, an adjustment of expenses, and other positive financial habits.

However, keystone habits don’t develop overnight. Yet, the specific act of developing keystone habits leads to major disruptions and changes to our lifestyles without even knowing it.

For example, the keystone habit of walking 10,000 steps every single day leads to a chain reaction of other positive health habits, providing momentum for weight-loss and other fitness-related goals. We become more conscious of what we eat, our energy levels increase thus allowing us to tackle our to-do list better, and so on.

 

Examples of Keystone Habits

There are several of examples of keystone habits in just about every area of life. As long as the habit can kick off a chain-reaction of other habits, it can be considered a keystone habit.

Other keystone habits include:

  • Writing 2,000 words every single day
  • Keeping a food journal
  • Not exceeding the speed limit while driving
  • Eating one apple every day
  • Writing daily to-do checklists

 

How to Form Keystone Habits

Forming keystone habits is no more difficult or easy than forming any other habit. It takes an identification of the habit itself, and a plan to form the habit over time. No habit will be easy to form. Habit formation takes work, so you have to be prepared to dig in your heels and do the work required.

A recent study at the University of London suggests that habit formation takes, on average, 66 days before the behavior becomes automatic. The study examined 96 people over the course of 12 weeks to determine just how long it took for a behavior to solidify as an unconscious and repetitive routine in the mind.

With that in mind, and considering that habit formation is going to take an exhaustive amount of work, why not focus on keystone habits? These habits will be at the core foundation of a group of other positive habits in your life. Of course, keystone habits can also be bad habits, and often, in order to form a set of good habits we have to eliminate bad keystone habits.

Either way – whether we’re forming keystone habits or eliminating them – we have to disrupt our regular routines where either the habit occurs or we want the habit to occur. For existing bad habits, every one of them has a cue-to-reward relationship. This means that there’s a signal, or cue, that begins the relationship, a routine set of behaviors that’s initiated just after, and a final reward at the end.

 

Step #1 – Identify the Habit

The first step in forming a keystone habit is to identify the habit you want to form or the area of your life you want to improve. Things like weight loss, elimination of debt, increase in income begin with keystone habits.

If you want to lose more weight, form the keystone habit of food journaling. If you want to eliminate debt, form the keystone habit of expense journaling. If you want to increase your income, form the keystone habit of effective time management. And so on.

Understand that the keystone habit will be your gateway to the other habits that will help to support and improve your life in any given area.

 

Step #2 - Create a Checklist

The next step in forming your keystone habit is to build a checklist. The purpose of the checklist is to ensure that you perform the habit every single day without fail. Since habits take time to form, you’ll have to fight an uphill battle of the mind wanting to avoid a certain habit.

The mind has been conditioned to only engage in certain types of behaviors. Behaviors outside of what it knows are foreign and suspect to it, and not a component of habit. Without a daily checklist to remind ourselves of the behavior, the mind has a funny way of evading it until habit formation begins to take place.

The checklist can have a daily alarm of reminder with the use of a smartphone calendar or some other device. The purpose of this is to send a signal to ensure that will beckon us to act.

 

Step #3 – Rinse & Repeat

The hardest part about forming a habit is forming a habit. It takes repetition, day-in and day-out. The habit won’t form overnight. But, if you can spend on your time on just one habit, why not make it a keystone habit? That keystone habit will lead to vast improvements in that area of your life.

Commit to 90 days of engaging in the keystone habit. Do it every single day without fail. After 90 days, you’ll have a basis for the habit. Stop doing it prior to 90 days, and you’re much more likely to fail. Use reminders and disruptions if you have to.

 

Good Habit Formation

If you know anything about me, then you know that I’m constantly talking about improving your life with the formation of good, positive habits. Habits are at the very heart of who we are. They’re an integral part of all that we say, do, and desire out of life. If actions speak louder than words, then habits are the chapters that those words are in.

Make the effort to form good habits in your life and watch your life blossom and grow. Focus on the small and minute changes through the development of good, solid keystone habits. Don’t try to take on too much too fast. Focus on the keystone habit, and watch the other habits eventually fall into line.

 

[Image: Kajo Photography]

7 Habits to Help Get You Through the Tough Times

7 Habits to Get you Through the Tough Times

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” — Michael Jordan

 

7 Important “Failure Habits”

We all face rough patches in life. We fail, hit roadblocks, and suffer setbacks and defeats. Life likes to throw us curveballs that way. If you’re like me, then you’ve suffered your fair share of failures. But there are a set of habits that can help you weather the storm, so to speak.

Recently, I did a post about 12 Famous People Who Failed Before Succeeding, and it got me thinking. What are the best habits that can help people through those difficult times in their lives? Lots of people (including myself) like to talk about health habits, financial habits, and a slew of other habits, but what about “Failure Habits?”

Sound strange? Well, I think not. Failure habits, as I like to call it, can help you through the difficult times. Because, it’s not what happens to you in life that’s as important, it’s how you react to what happens to you. Life is like a lens in that way – you get to choose what you focus on. Focus on negativity, and you’ll see more of it.

So, failure habits let you look past the negative. They help you focus on the positive. You sow what you reap, so if you can instill these habits in you early on, you can get through anything. When I’ve failed in the past, these are the habits that helped me to push forward, wading my way through the seas of struggle.

 

#1 – Focus on Your Reasons

If you failed at something that you thought you really wanted, did you know the reasons why you wanted them? In some past posts I talked about the importance of goal setting and having strong enough reasons why you wanted those goals. Remember, the reasons come first, and the answers come later.

You can focus on the reasons by ensuring that you know what you wanted, or presently want something out of life. These reasons have to be strong enough for you. When they are, you can get through anything. Some powerful reasons would be things like: Family, Security, Freedom, and Contribution.

Can you think about the goals that you have in life and see why you want them? Do you have strong enough reasons? Focus on the reasons, and if those reasons are powerful enough, you can get through anything. Create some emotionally-charged language that will help to push you through or past any obstacle.

 

#2 – Seek Daily Inspiration

It’s easy to get sidetracked, dissuaded, and discouraged, especially when we fail. But, if you can seek daily inspiration, and find other people who are living the life of our dreams, it’s easier to push through. No one likes failure, but it’s failure that helps to define us. And when you constantly fail, eventually you’ll get it right.

I’ve failed so many times in life at so many different things. Each time, I hated it. I hated the feelings associated with failure. I hated having to withdraw as I dealt with the blow to my ego. But I realized that failure helped to fuel me, and I searched out inspiration to help me get through it.

Whether it’s photos, videos, or articles about people, places, or companies that help to inspire you, seek them out. Use social media: sites like Pintrest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to find your source of daily inspiration. Do this every single day without fail. Remind yourself of what you want and picture it vividly.

 

#3 - Daily “Me” Time

Too often, when we’re pushing towards our goals, during success and failure, we forget about the “me” time. Whether you want to call this your “Hour of Power,” as Anthony Robbins does, or anything else, you have to schedule time for just you. This is where you focus on doing something for yourself. Whether it’s something active, meditative, reflective, or even educational, it has to be something that will help you get grounded and focused.

“Me” Time gives you the chance to disconnect from your problems in the world for a short while. It doesn’t have to be a full hour. But it should be at least 20 minutes at the start of your day. When you schedule me time, a few things tend to happen. Firstly, your mind automatically stops getting overwhelmed because it feels like there’s more time in the day. When you can schedule time for yourself to just “do you,” a mental shift occurs.

 

#4 - List Building

One habit that can help you see the tough times through is list building. If you’re not accustomed to building lists, then now is the time to do so. List building allows you to organize and prioritize your work. This includes everything from daily to-do lists that are prioritized using a time management system, to overall project checklists.

Without the usage of lists that help to prioritize your goals and daily activities, it’s easier to get sidetracked. Setup a list-building system for yourself that includes either the traditional pen and paper, or an application on your smartphone or other device. Use daily reminders to help guide and steer your time, and avoid procrastination.

 

#5 – Welcome Criticism

One of the most difficult tasks we have is to grapple with the critics. Yet, some criticism is necessary in order to achieve your goals. Why not welcome criticism in your life besides for avoiding it? Why not play devil’s advocate? Maybe someone has a point when they mention a flaw in your plan or design.

This doesn’t mean that you should allow people to steer you from pursuing your dreams. What this means is that you should listen to all advice from all sides and make educated decisions on what you’re trying to achieve. Success involves going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm, and that also includes welcoming criticism.

 

#6 - Be Decisive

It’s easy to be wishy-washy when it comes to making decisions. Most of us can tend to second-guess ourselves. But, part of driving towards success is listening to your instinct. It’s your instinct that will allow you to ultimately achieve your dreams. But it’s easy to overthink something, or even outthink yourself from doing something.

The saying goes that successful people make quick decisions and change them slowly, whereas unsuccessful people make slow decisions and change them quickly. Get in the habit of being decisive and doing all that you can to follow through with your goals. If something means enough to you, the only thing that separates you from it is time.

 

#7 - Take Risks

The final habit that will help you get through the tough times is taking calculated risks. This doesn’t mean to head to Vegas and bet it all on black. This means you should do the math, determine what works, sort through the numbers, then take a calculated risk in whatever it is you’re pursuing.

You have to be bold. Even if it means that you hit some roadblocks or even fail a few times, don’t allow it to diminish your propensity to take those risks. Often, our fear of failure stops us from pursuing our dreams. That fear can be greater than the failure itself. Learn to recognize that and build awareness towards it. The only thing holding you back in life is you.

 

[Image Credit: TheNextWeb.com]

Gallery

12 Famous People Who Failed Before Succeeding

12 Famous People Who Failed Before Succeeding

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” — Winston Churchill

 

Famous People that Failed

We all know the names. We’ve heard them time and time again. But what most people don’t know is just how they failed before they succeeded. The general consensus of success in the arts, entertainment, or business doesn’t take into account personal struggles. All we see are the personification of that success through whatever outlet we happen to come by it.

While you struggle day-in and day-out towards the fulfillment of your hopes and your dreams, know this: “If there is no struggle there is no progress.” Although Fredrick Douglas might have conveyed this statement more than 150 years ago, it’s a theme that has been evident since the dawn of time. Organisms, both small and large, have always fought for survival, struggling for progress across all spectrums of life.

Here’s a list of 12 famous people who failed before they succeeded – these were people who didn’t give up in the face of their struggles. They’re people that persevered. They pushed through their present-day limitations, had breakthroughs, and whose names have become synonymous with success in their respective fields of study and work:

 

#1 – Jim Carey

Jim Carrey

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

We all know Jim Carey as a laugh-out-loud zany comic who’s brought us some of the highest-grossing comedies of all time such as The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, and Ace Ventura. But, we don’t all know the story of Carey’s struggle. He grew up in a lower-income family with a father who struggled to keep jobs. They were so poor that he had to drop out of high school at the age of 15 and get a job as a janitor just to help support the family.

On his first comic stand-up at a club called Yuk Yuk’s in Toronto, he was booed off stage. Later, when he auditioned for Saturday Night Live for the 1980-81 season, he failed to land the part.

However, we all know about Carey’s later success. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Carey talks about how he used the Law of Attraction by writing himself a check for $10,000,000 million dollars for “Acting Services Rendered,” later placing the check in his wallet for 7 years until he received a $10,000,000 million dollar payment for his work in Dumb and Dumber.

 

#2 – Katy Perry

Credit: Glamour.com

Photo Credit: Glamour.com

Most people know the name Katy Perry, but they don’t the struggles that she went through to finally get that breakthrough she was after. Perry started her career early in her life, dropping out of high school after freshman year in 1999 to pursue singing. Originally, she was a gospel singer, taking cues from her parents who were Born Again Christians.

In 2001 Katy Perry released her first gospel album with Red Hill Records, which was commercially unsuccessful. After selling only 200 copies of her album, the record company ceased operations and subsequently went out of business. Afterward, Perry switched gears to popular music, moving to Los Angeles to record with producer Glen Ballard.

In 2003 she was signed to Island Def Jam, which was also a contract that was terminated. In 2004 she signed with Columbia Records who sought to make her the lead vocalist in a band called The Matrix. However, that deal also fell through when Columbia Records shelved the project at about 80% completion.

After being dropped from three labels, you would think that Perry would have given up. She didn’t. She continued to pursue her career, working odd jobs and doing back-up vocals until she was signed to the newly-formed Capitol Music Group in 2006. It was there that she worked on her first huge hit single, I Kissed a Girl, which started her career as a commercial success.

 

#3 – Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey's Success

Photo Credit: HomeBunch.com

Oprah had a rocky start in life. As the daughter of a teenaged low-income mother, her start was anything but glamorous. In her early years, Oprah recounts that not only were her living conditions rough, but she was always sexually abused, starting at the age of 9, by her cousin, uncle, and a family friend. At the age of 14 Oprah got pregnant, but her son died shortly after birth.

However, at the age of 14, Oprah was sent to live with her father, Vernon, in Tennessee. He helped her focus on her schooling, and she was subsequently accepted on a full scholarship to the University of Tennessee, majoring in communications. In high school, and in her first two years of college, Winfrey interned at a local radio station, helping to develop a foundation for a career in media.

But, even after Oprah was hired on to a local television station for the news, things didn’t go so easily. She was fired by the producer because she “unfit for television,” later taking a position with another station in Baltimore. Eventually, she hosted a local talk show named, People are Talking.

Later, in 1983, Winfrey re-located to Chicago, to host a station’s low-rated talk show called AM Chicago. Within a few months, the show went from last in the ratings, to higher than Donahue, which was the number one show at the time. This led to the show being renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was syndicated across the country.

 

#4 – Jay-Z

Jay-Z

Photo Credit: GQ Magazine

From an early age, Jay-Z had a knack for rhythm. But his meteoric rise to stardom didn’t happen overnight. He was faced with several roadblocks along the path to ultimate success. For example, in 1995 when Jay-Z tried tirelessly to strike a record deal, not a single label would sign him. It led him to establishing his own record company called Roc-a-fella Records with partners Damon Dash and Kareem Biggs.

After being turned down by so many labels, and eventually starting up his own record company, Jay-Z worked tirelessly to strike a distribution deal for his first album’s release. Eventually, he successfully negotiated a contract with Priority, later releasing his debut album entitled, Reasonable Doubt, which would eventually go on to hit platinum.

Jay-Z met with many failures along the road. Those failures weren’t just in the beginning of his career, but the beginning does highlight the tremendous amount of resistance he faced to achieve success. And, even at the prime of his career, Jay-Z was charged with allegedly stabbing someone at a record release party. He was tried, pleading not guilty, but later pleaded to a lesser criminal misdemeanor, resulting in three years of probation.

Considering that Jay-Z’s roots stemmed from the housing projects of Brooklyn, NY, and grew up in extreme poverty, he faced many failures and roadblocks in his life. But he never gave up. No matter what happened to him, no matter what failures he faced, he pushed through, growing as a person, and maturing to become a better individual.

 

#5 – J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling

Photo Credit: Telegraph.co.uk

Rowling is one of the most inspirational success stories of our time. Many people simply know her as the woman who created Harry Potter. But, what most people don’t know is what she went through prior to reaching stardom. Rowling’s life was not peaches and cream. She struggled tremendously.

In 1990, Rowling first had the idea for Harry Potter. She stated that the idea came “fully formed” into her mind one day while she was on a train from Manchester to London. She began writing furiously. However, later that year, her mother died after 10 years of complications from Multiple Sclerosis.

In 1992 she moved to Portugal to teach English where she met a man, married, and had a daughter. In 1993, her marriage ended in divorce and she moved to Edinburgh, Scotland to be closer to her sister. At that time, she had three chapters of Harry Potter in her suitcase.

Rowling saw herself as a failure at this time. She was jobless, divorced, penniless, and with a dependent child. She suffered through bouts of depression, eventually signing up for government-assisted welfare. It was a difficult time in her life, but she pushed through the failures.

In 1995 all 12 major publishers rejected the Harry Potter script. But, it was a year later when a small publishing house, Bloomsbury, accepted it and extended a very small £1500 advance.  In 1997, the book was published with only 1000 copies, 500 of which were distributed to libraries.

In 1997 and 1998, the book won awards from Nestle Smarties Book Prize and the British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year. After that, it was one wild ride for Rowling. Today, Rowling has sold more than 400 million copies of her books, and is considered to be the most successful woman author in the United Kingdom.

 

#6 – Stephen King

Stephen King

Photo Credit: Bangor Daily News

Stephen King is famous for many critically-acclaimed novels, most of which have been made into movies. However, Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, was rejected 30 times before it was published.

Not only that, but King actually threw the manuscript into the garbage, only later to be retrieved by his wife who wildly believed in his dream of becoming a published author.

Yet, King’s earlier years were also nothing to rave about. As a child, his family barely made ends meet, and in his later years as an English teacher, he supplemented his income by selling short stories to magazines.

Today, King has over 50 novels and has sold over 350 million copies of his work. Can you imagine what King’s life would be like had he given up? It’s difficult to imagine that such a successful author was once rejected so many times.

In his earlier years, King talks about submitting short stories to magazines beginning at the age of 16, and hanging the rejection slips on a nail until the slips were so heavy he had to change the nail to a spike.

 

#7 – Bill Gates

Bill Gates

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Before Microsoft was born, Bill Gates suffered failure in business. Known today to be one of the wealthiest men in the world, Bill Gates’s upper middle-class family is a stark contrast from some of the other successful failures out there that didn’t have well-off parents.

However, Bill Gates didn’t rely on his family. His business acumen was second to none. But his first business was indeed a failure. Traf-O-Data was a partnership between Gates, Paul Gilbert, and Paul Allen. The goal of the business was to create reports for roadway engineers from raw traffic data.

The company did achieve a little bit of success by processing the raw traffic data to generate some income. But the machine that they had built to process the data flopped when they tried to present it to a Seattle County traffic employee. Yet, this business helped to set Gates and his partner Paul Allen up for major success with Microsoft.

Although Gates failed at his first business, it didn’t discourage him from trying again. He didn’t want to give up because the sheer notion of business intrigued him. He was cleverly able to put together a company that revolutionized the personal computing marketplace. And we all know just how successful that was for him.

 

#8 – Henry Ford

Henry Ford

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Many people know Henry Ford for the Ford Motor Company, one of the most successful automotive companies of all time. However, what they don’t know is that Ford failed two times before that abruptly resulted in bankruptcies, prior to successfully launching the present incarnation of his company.

Ford is no stranger to failure, but he also didn’t give up. Yet, when we think about Ford, we don’t picture the failures because all it took was just succeeding one time. However, in 1899, at the age of 36 years old, Ford formed his first company, the Detroit Automobile Company with backing from the famed lumber baron, William H. Murphy. That company went bankrupt.

His second attempt was in 1901, when he formed the Henry Ford Company, which he ended up leaving with the rights to his name. That company was later renamed to the Cadillac Automobile Company. However, it was Ford’s third try, with the Ford Motor Company, that hit the proverbial nail on the head.

After that, we all know the story. Ford revolutionized the automobile industry, pioneering not only the Model T and the assembly line, but also the concept and notion of an automobile in every home. Driving became a “thing,” and subsequently, Ford’s Model T went on to sell over 17 million units.

 

#9 – Colonel Sanders

Colonel Harland Sanders

Photo Credit: Kentucky.com

People know him because of his iconic white suit and bow tie. Colonel Sanders was the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). Yet, the zany Sanders got off to a rocky start in life. In fact, it wasn’t until the age of 62 that he set out with a $105 social security check in hand to pitch his chicken recipe to restaurants. 1,009 folks told him he was crazy, but he didn’t give up.

Sanders worked many jobs including fireman, tire salesman, insurance salesman, and of course, a cook. He brewed up his secret chicken recipe between 1939-1940 when he figured out how to pressure fry the chicken in a faster and more consistent product all the time. He was at the age of 50 when that happened.

However, it wasn’t until 1952 that he hit the road and began trying to sell his franchise-model chicken restaurant. The first restaurant that he landed was based out of Salt Lake City, Utah, which became the first Kentucky Fried Chicken. The restaurant tripled its sales within a year where 75% of that revenue was from the colonel’s chicken.

The company grew and expanded faster than he could have ever imagined. In 1964, at the age of 74 years old, Sanders sold the company for $2 million dollars to a group of investors led by Jack C. Massey and John Y. Brown Jr. He retained the rights to the Canadian franchises and stayed on as a salaried goodwill ambassador to the company.

However, this just goes to show you that it doesn’t matter how old you are or just how much money you have to your name in order to accomplish something great.

 

#10 – Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

We’ve all heard the name before. This famous American is attributed with failing over 10,000 times to invent a commercially viable electric lightbulb, but he didn’t give up. When asked by a newspaper reporter if he felt like a failure and if he should give up, after having gone through over 9,000 failed attempts, Edison simply stated “Why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitely over 9,000 ways an electric lightbulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.”

This is also the same person whose teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything,” and fired from his first two employment positions for not being productive enough. However, Edison, through his failures, is also the greatest innovator of all time with 1,093 US patents to his name, along with several others in the UK, and Canada. This is someone who refused to ever give up no matter what.

It’s said that in his early days, he attributed his success to his mother, who pulled him out of school and began to teach him herself. It’s because of his mother, and how wholeheartedly she believed in him, that he didn’t want to disappoint her. His early fascination for chemical experiments and mechanical engineering paved the way for a future that was incredible bright. His company, GE, is still one of the largest publicly-traded firms in the world, continually innovating across virtually every spectrum.

 

 

#11 - Walt Disney

Walt Disney

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The man who has affected generations to come with his cartoon creations, was once considered a failure. Disney was fired by the editor in 1919 from his job at the Kansas City Star paper because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” However, the man who brought us Mickey Mouse and a slew of other characters didn’t stop failing there.

Disney’s first go at business landed in bankruptcy when he acquired an animation studio by the name of Laugh-O-Gram. The company was acquired because, at the time, Disney’s cartoon creations had gained popularity in the Kansas City area. But, when he hired on salaried employees, he was unable to manage money and the business wound up heavily in debt. Subsequently, he filed for bankruptcy and moved to Hollywood, California.

The early failures in Disney’s life didn’t dissuade him from moving forward. Of course, like anyone else, Disney’s failures were a blow to the ego. Anyone that has to suffer through the torment of failure and bankruptcy knows how this feels. However, it also laid the foundation for a successful career. When he formed the Walt Disney Company, all of his past failures helped to pave the way for a successful business.

Disney and the Walt Disney Company have touched the lives of millions across the globe. From cartoons, to theme parks, and animated movies, both children and adults now enjoy the fruits of Disney’s labor. Had he given up, things would have been far different. But he persevered, even through bankruptcy.

 

#12 – Sir James Dyson

Sir James Dyson

Photo Credit: Gov.uk

The Dyson Vacuum Cleaner is known around the world as the vacuum that doesn’t lose suction. But the idea for it was born long ago. Dyson first had the idea in his early 30′s when he became frustrated with his Hoover vacuum and its loss of suction. At the time, the disposable bag replacement market for vacuums was valued somewhere around the  £100 million per year.

His big idea was to use the concept of cyclonic separation to create the world’s first bagless vacuum cleaner. It took Dyson 5,126 failures to finally get it right. When he did, at the age of 36, he was faced with more resistance when no distributor in the UK would take on the revolutionary product. No one wanted to buck the trend.

So, Dyson hit the Japanese market in 1983, with a hot pink version of his vacuum cleaner. It won an industrial award in Japan, and in 1986, three years after its first introduction, he was awarded his first US Patent for it. However, manufacturers still didn’t want to take it on in other companies, so Dyson formed his own company, in 1993 at the age of 46, to market the product.

Today, Dyson is worth more than £3 billion all because of his refusal to give up. He struggled through times of failure, sorrow, and regret, but he persevered.

 

How to Turn Failure into Success: 5-Step Process

How to Turn Failure into Success

“Your greatest failures are your biggest blessings.” — R.L. Adams

 

Like many others out there, I’ve failed in my life. Failure hurts. It can cut deep, leaving you to lick your wounds for months, and even years to come. But failure is nature’s way of rebooting life. Oftentimes, when we fail at something, we can’t see through the hurt and the pain to uncover the reasons why it happened.

However, failure is evolutionary – it helps us to grow, mature, and reach deeper understandings about life, what we want, and why we want it. Failure helps us to become better persons, expanding our minds while deepening our hearts. As much as it can hurt at times, without failure, we couldn’t appreciate our successes.

If you’ve failed recently at something that you believed so wholeheartedly in, all hope isn’t lost. Failure isn’t the end of the road. Whether it was failure in relationships, love, business, finances, career, or anything else, failure isn’t the end. In fact, failure is just the beginning.

 

Turning Failure into Success

I know that turning failure into success isn’t easy. There’s usually a long road ahead after someone fails at something, especially when that something was once believed in with every fiber of their being. But turning failure into success isn’t impossible. People throughout history have done it and so can you.

But it’s not easy by any means. After we fail, we tend to spend a lot of time doing soul searching. That soul searching usually leads to one of two situations:

  1. Give up entirely
  2. Try Again

Almost all of us have given up entirely on something after failure, no matter how big or small that failure was. From marriages to careers, and everything in between, something that once meant something to us, after failure, didn’t really mean that much at all anymore.

But does that mean that if we fail at something we didn’t really want it in the first place? Or, is that the pain of failure forces us to create some dissonance between the old goal and the new post-failure self?

 

5 Steps to Overcoming Failure

So, what is it that separates the people that have failed in the past and tried again? How is that J.K. Rowling suffered 7 years through poverty, a divorce, the death of her mother, loss of her job, and 12 separate rejections from major publishing houses, to eventually publish the first Harry Potter book?

How did Henry Ford go bankrupt twice before finally succeeding with the Ford Motor Company? How did Colonel Sanders, founder of KFC, suffer through 1,009 separate rejections for his chicken restaurant franchise-model, with only $105 to his name, and eventually succeed?

The way these people did it, and the way countless others have suffered through the hurt and loss of failure to eventually taste success, is first by having a strong enough deep-rooted reason why they needed to succeed. Success wasn’t optional to them; it was a must. Anytime something is a “must,” the only thing that separates you from that goal is time.

If you want to turn failure into success, here’s what you need to do:

 

Step #1 – Strong Enough Reasons

If you don’t have a strong enough reason why you need to succeed, failure will be likened to an atomic bomb, leveling your hopes and your dreams in its wake. But, when the reason is strong enough, you can overcome anything. Come up with a strong enough reason why you must succeed at something. This is the first and most important step.

 

Step #2 - Seek Inspiration

It’s easy to get dissuaded and sidetracked when you’re pursuing your goals. Find something that inspires you to keep you going. Create an inspirational board at your home or even on your personal computer. Pin photos that you’ve found depicting what you want out of life. Stare at success in front of you; see it, feel it, breath it, and mentally live it.

 

Step #3 - Get Organized

There’s nothing that will stop you more from turning failure into success than the lack of organization. If you’re not organized, do something about it. Establish and set some goals, create some good habits, and learn to manage your time effectively. No one can do these things for you. You must develop the skills to accomplish and achieve your goals on your own.

 

Step #4 – Overcome Procrastination

One of the biggest things that tends to hold us back in the pursuit of all things positive in our lives is the silent killer: procrastination. It acts as the Electro Magnetic Pulse for goals, completely disabling our ability to purse them in our lives. Without overcoming procrastination, there’s absolutely no way to accomplish your hopes and your dreams.

 

Step #5 – Take Action

You’ve heard it before – the proverbial “take action” slogan. But, how many people take action towards their long-term goals every single day? When we don’t take action, we allow those goals to slip further and further into wishes rather than expected destinies. Even if you make only 1% progress each day, the results stack up over time. No matter how little or small, take some action towards your goals, and eventually failure will turn into success.

 

 

25 Habits for Improving the Quality of your Life

25 Habits for Improving the Quality of your Life

“Fact: If standard of living is your number one objective, quality of life almost never improves. But if quality of life is your number one objective, standard of living invariably improves.” — Zig Ziglar

 

How to Improve the Quality of your Life

Do you find yourself feeling frustrated on a daily basis? Do you feel like a zombie, waking up each day to the same repetitive cycle that seems never-ending? Has the quality of your life decreased over time, resulting in a loss of energy, vitality, and enthusiasm for the future? 

We all get frustrated from time to time. Life can be overwhelming, even for the most astute-minded individuals. Without understanding where our lives are headed and why they’re headed there, the tough times can seem overbearing. Usually, we want to throw our hands up in silent resignation and utter the words, “I give up.”

However, life doesn’t have to overwhelm, and it most certainly doesn’t have to frustrate. You can improve the quality of your life by making a few small adjustments to your routines by altering your behavior and your way of thinking. And keep in mind that you’re not alone; we all go through long periods of frustration, anxiety, fear, upset, and worry.

It’s not difficult to overcome some of our natural tendencies to slip into a state of marginal depression. Sometimes, life doesn’t turn out the way we want it to. But, oftentimes, the quality of our lives has more to do with the foundational habits that we routinely run on a daily basis. By improving our habits, we can improve the quality of our lives on multiple spectrums.

 

Defining a Quality of Life

Firstly, let’s describe what we mean by “Quality of Life.” For those of you who think that the quality of your life is equivalent to your standard of living, you’re wrong. Now, your standard of living, which essentially equates to your income, does have a marginal effect on your quality of life, but it isn’t the full picture.

Quality of life, as defined here, is the sum total of your health, happiness, vitality, leisure, and income. This formulaic approach helps to paint a better picture of the overall quality that people are subjected to. Yet, many people simply define their quality of life by the amount of money they have. And, while money is a good barometer, it isn’t the full equation.

Now, money does make the world go round. People with access to money and resources can most certainly improve many areas of their lives. But it’s also been proven in studies that those same people aren’t statistically that much happier. An increase in income only equates to a temporary improvement of happiness. Eventually, happiness levels baseline again.

Think about it in your past. Maybe you received promotion you were hoping for or you landed a dream job. For a short period, you were happy. But it was fleeting. Happiness doesn’t last forever when it comes to monetary gains, and it’s not the full picture. While money does give you access to “things,” there’s a reason why the saying “The best things in life are free,” exists.

 

The Hedonic Treadmill

In 1971, 2 behavioral psychologists, Donald T. Campbell and Phillip Brickman, coined the the term, “Hedonic Treadmill,” also known as “Hedonic Adaptation.” The term makes reference to the natural tendencies for humans to revert back to a set point of happiness after major changes – either positive or negative – to their lives.

The Hedonic Set Point, then, is a baseline of happiness that we all have, which we tend to revert to, even after things like a traumatic event or a major windfall of cash through say a lottery winning. In a study published by Campbell and Brickman, they showed that both lottery winners and paraplegics all returned to a baseline level of happiness some time after the event.

They further argue that we all have a baseline Hedonic Set Point, which is determined through hereditary means and experiential knowledge. And, although the baseline level of happiness might be different for everyone, the concept is very important to understanding the root of happiness and improving the quality of your life.

 

Improving your Life

There are certain ways that you can positivity influence the quality of your life. Increasing things like income is much more obvious to people than say increasing their happiness, health, or vitality. Money seems cut and dry. You either have more of it or you don’t. It’s easy to quantify.

But how about the rest of it?

Health, happiness, vitality, and leisure are also important aspects to the quality of life. How do you go about improving those?

Through the promotion and adherence to a certain set of positive habits.

 

Good Habits Increase the Quality of your Life

If you want to improve the quality of your life, you must do so using good habits. You have to eliminate bad habits and form good habits. Easier said than done, right?

In a new book that I’m just putting the final touches on now, I talk about what it takes to transform your life through something that I’ve coined “Habit Shifts.” These are small disruptive and integrative behaviors to existing routines that helps to boost the quality of your life in the long term.

Good habits help to foster an increased level of happiness, vitality, health, income, and leisure. It just won’t happen overnight. Here are the top habits to help improve the quality of your life across these 5 spectrums:

 

Happiness Habits

When it comes to our overall level of happiness, there are 5 top habits that you can institute on a daily basis to boost your overall level of joy and content.

 

#1 – Smile, even when stressed

The effects of smiling on stress have been well-documented. Smiling helps to send a strong impulse to the mind, which then alters your neurochemistry. Studies have shown that people who were told to hold a genuine Duchenne smile on their faces had lower heart rates after stressful activities.

If you can’t force yourself to smile, put a pencil in your mouth and the natural curvature of your mouth will help you to engage s standard smile. Try this for 15 to 20 minutes per day. You’ll be surprised, even if you feel depressed, on just how much this elevate your mood.

 

#2 – Daily gratitude

Spend 15 to 30 minutes every single day listing off what you have to be grateful for. Even if you feel like you have nothing to be grateful for, search for something. Maybe you’re in a financial hole, but at least you have the intellect in your mind and the ability to walk, talk, and reason. If you search, you can always find something to be grateful for.

Oftentimes, when we think about it, we dwell on things that we’re unhappy about. Until we lose something that we took for granted, such as a person, health, freedom, job, or anything else, we don’t realize just how good we had it. But you can change that. Thank the universe every single day for all that you have every single day. Put it out there in the world. Make it a habit.

#3 - Connect and spread love

One sure fire habit to develop that will boost overall happiness is the act of connecting and spreading love. Give someone a hug or let someone hug you. Pick up the phone and tell someone that you appreciate them, or simply listen to what someone has to say. You’ll be surprised and just how satisfying it will be to take an interest in someone else’s life.

This takes one phone call or in-person meeting per day. It can be with someone that you already spend your time with. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Show them love and kindness; pour it from your heart. What you put out into the world, you receive back 10-fold. Make this a habit and you will live a much happier life.

 

#4 – Meditate

This doesn’t have to be a religious experience. Simply practicing the art of meditation will boost your overall happiness, decrease stress, lower blood pressure, and ease anxieties. One recent study, published in JAMA’s Internal Medicine states just that: mindfulness meditation will ease the psychological stresses associated with depression, anxiety, and pain.

All it takes is 15 minutes of mindful meditation to achieve this habit. Sit quietly and be present. Don’t think about the past or the future. Don’t dwell on things or worry, just be in the moment. Sit silently with  your eyes closed and listen to the sounds around you. Feel the air moving in and out of your lungs, the warmth of the sun on your shoulders, the coolness of the breeze moving across the room, and so on. Just be present. That’s all it takes.

 

#5 – Daily Learning

On a daily basis, learning is critical for our happiness, but it also affects other spectrums of our life’s quality as well. It allows us to grow, mature, and gain experiential knowledge of the world. It allows us to put life into perspective, and ultimately achieve our dreams by laying the groundwork for our personal and professional lives.

Find a newspaper, magazine, video tutorial, blog, or anything else that you enjoy using as a learning resource. Learn every single day and spend 15 to 30 minutes doing this. You don’t have to commit to huge blocks of time. As long as you do a little bit every single day, but you do it every single day, over time, this habit will help you to be a much happier and well-rounded person.

 

Health Habits

These are daily health habits as opposed to yearly health habits such as visiting the doctor or dentist. You should institute at least these top 5 health habits each and every single day.

 

#1 - Eat breakfast

You’ve heard it before: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And it’s no lie. Studies have shown that women who skipped breakfast at least once a week were at a higher risk of developing Type II Diabetes. By eating breakfast, studies have also shown that men had lower incidences of heart disease.

The benefits are even far greater for eating breakfast every single day, and stretch into an increase in memory and weight loss, and a lowering of LDL (bad cholesterol). Your body needs a healthy, balanced, and nutritional breakfast to help it operate optimally throughout the day. Don’t rob it of that.

 

#2 – 10,000 steps

Maybe you can’t exercise every single day. But you can most certainly ensure that you walk at least 10,000 steps. Walking 10,000 steps has extraordinary health benefits. Too often, we don’t walk even close to 10,000 steps. In fact, studies have suggested that waking 10,000 steps per day not only helps with weight loss, but that it also helps to decrease your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

If you don’t presently do much walking, then this might pose some difficulty for you. However, there are hacks here. You can change up your routine, for example, if you presently drive everywhere, by walking a longer distance to and from your car. You might find this cumbersome at first, but you will build the habit up slowly over time. Do what it takes to hit your 10,000 steps per day goal.

 

#3 – 64 ounces of water

Everyone knows the health benefits of water. Human adult bodies consist of up to 60% water, the brain and heart consist of 73% water, and the lungs consist of approximately 83% water.  But, too often, we don’t take in enough water. We generally tend to get our water intake from sugary sodas, coffees, and other unhealthy drinks.

The general rule of thumb is to drink at least 8 8-ounce glasses of water, which is 64 ounces. But, if you want to get more technical and follow more scientific guidelines, the Institute of Medicine determined that men should be 3 liters (13 cups) and women should be getting 2.2 liter (9 cups)

 

#4 – Vitamins & minerals

There are so many health benefits to ensuring that you get the proper vitamins and minerals every single day, that they’re too long to list. Ensure that you’re taking at least one daily supplement to receive the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs every single day. These are necessarily for all types of optimal mind & body functioning.

Oftentimes, we don’t get the necessary vitamins and minerals simply from the food and drink that we consume. Considering that most people consume a predominately unhealthy variety of food & drink, this is no big surprise. Make this a must-have health habit for you and find an excellent once-a-day supplement that you can take to satisfy your daily needs.

 

#5 – Brush & floss teeth

Brushing & flossing might not seem like a must-have health habit, but it is. There are so many health benefits associated with brushing and flossing every single day. They help to stave off gum disease, which, if left untreated, can result in even more serious illnesses such as heart disease, erectile dysfunction in men, and delayed conception in women.

Other side effects of gum disease are dementia and arthritis, and that patients experiencing gum disease also have problems with memory loss, joint inflammation, and rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore,

 

 

Vitality Habits

The amount of energy that you have in a given day has a lot to do with your habits. People with poor habits tend to have a lack in energy and vitality. Habits effect not only your physical state-of-being, but also your mental state-of-mind.

 

#1 - Time Management

People who effectively manage their time have an increased amount of energy and vitality. Managing your time demands daily attention and a pursuit of the important over the urgent. This means delineating your tasks so that you’re pursuing those all-important long-term goals and not simply reacting to the urgent matters that come up in your day.

Time management can be achieved by creating lists and building tasks for the day based on their order of important and urgency. This also involves the elimination of bad habits such as procrastination, over-watching television, over-surfing the internet, and so on.

 

#2 – Get at least 7 Hours of Sleep

Getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night is critical to your vitality. So many important functions take place in the mind and body when we sleep. It’s our body’s chance to rest, unwind, and recharge. While we’re consciously out, so to speak, our unconscious mind and body are busy at work restoring, recharging, and re-energizing.

Most people suffer from sleep deficiency, which has an overall effect on mood, energy, health, and mental well-being. Multiple studies have suggested that not only doe sleep help to improve things like memory, but it also helps to boost the longevity of life, increase awareness, and spur creativity.

 

#3 – Eat Green foods

In order for the body to survive, it must maintain a pH level of 7.365, which is slightly alkaline on the scale. When we ingest foods, the body breaks them down and uses their foundational inorganic components for the basis of its energy. That can either be acidic in nature (i.e. sugar, coffee, etc.) or alkaline in nature (i.e. fruits, vegetables, and so on).

To meet this necessity for an alkaline demand by the body, we must ingest foods that are alkaline in nature. The best kinds of foods are green foods – foods that are organic in nature such as root vegetables, fruits, lemons, peppers, and so on. Too much acid can lead to coma or death, and in less extreme cases, other illnesses.

 

#4 – Exercise

Exercising at least 20 minutes each day can have enormous health benefits. Most people don’t make exercise a habit, and in turn, suffer from a lack of vitality. The body needs to move and you need to break a sweat, for it to be considered exercise. And, while walking 10,000 steps each day increases your overall health, it’s not the same as exercising.

Find a simple exercise regimen and stick to it. Regardless of what kind of exercise you do, simply do something. Whether it’s light jogging, weights, yoga, or some other lightly-strenuous activity, merely getting started will help to build the habit. Don’t expect to go from zero to hero overnight. Building this habit takes time. Start small and build slowly over time.

 

#5 – Inspirational Input

One of the best ways to add vitality to your life is through daily inspiration. What’s your inspiration? What inspires and motivates you to push towards your dreams? Give yourself the added boost needed by seeking out some form of information, whatever it may be.

One of the best ways to achieve this is through imagery. Pictures are most certainly worth a thousand words, and by hanging those photos somewhere you’ll see daily, you can help to inspire and motivate you towards your dreams. We all get a little bit frustrated time to time, but if you spend 15 to 20 minutes each on inspirational input, you’ll see enormous results.

 

Income Habits

Whether you want to make a thousand dollars more a month, or a million, developing good income habits help to drive us towards those goals. Check out the 5 most popular income habits you need to implement on a daily basis.

 

#1 – Set & Review Goals

Setting and reviewing goals on a daily basis is important to achieving your income goals. This is one of the best habits that you can have towards the pursuit of your monetary goals. S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal setting involves setting (S) specific, (M) meaningful, (A) achievable, (R) relevant, (T) time-bound goals that are (E) evaluated, and (R) re-evaluated per time.

Develop a system for setting goals and ensure that you engage in goal setting every single day. Pursue the goals that are important to you, and ensure that you build checklists to help you accomplish what you want over time.

 

#2 – Save 20% of your income

Oftentimes, it takes adhering to a strict schedule of saving over a long period to get ahead. This money isn’t just for emergencies; it’s moment-of-opportunity cash. It’s money that needs to be used when the right opportunity for investment presents itself. At least 20% of your income should be saved, in order to build up your funds for investment opportunities.

Your savings should be automated. Setup a savings account to automatically deduct the funds from your personal account every single time you get paid. Ensure that the money goes out before you can even get used to seeing it in your checking account and make sure that you can’t touch it in your savings account.

#3 – Track & audit expenses

Many people can tell you their income right off the bat. They know just how much money they make since it generally tends to be fixed. But, most people can’t tell you how much they spent in a certain category of expense last month. Close enough attention isn’t paid to money that’s going out, just money that’s coming in.

Tracking & auditing expenses should be something done on a daily basis. Whether you use a notepad or a digital spreadsheet, it’s important to know every penny going out the door. Small leaks sink big ships. $5 per-day latte habits equate to $1825 spent on coffee a year. $20 lunches out every single day equates to $7300 a year. Track and audit all of your expenses.

 

#4 - Education

Education is one of the most important income habits that you can harbor. Without education, advancement over time in career and income becomes incredibly difficult. And, education must be instituted on a daily basis, and not something that happens once or twice a year. Spend at least 30 minutes each day with education in your career or towards investments.

If you’re not subscribed to a newsletter, magazine, or newspaper in your intended field, then this is the time to do so. Whether you read it online or in print, subscribe to something that can help to advance your career. If you want to educate yourself in investments, even better. Spend each day learning just a little bit, and over time, you’ll see tremendous results.

 

#5 – Daily budgeting

Create and stick to a budget, and follow it religiously. This should allow you to save and invest your money over time. If you don’t stick to a budget, it’s much harder to get ahead and accomplish your income goals. Knowing just how much money you can or can’t spend every day will help you to get ahead.

Take your monthly budget and divide it into a daily budget. Cut expenses where you can and put as much money as possible towards your savings. Time will pass by quickly so ensure that you’re putting your money where it counts.

 

Leisure Habits

What you do in your spare time has a significant impact on the quality of your life. There are 5 habits that you can institute when you do happen to have time to yourself, which will considerably improve your life.

 

#1 – Get organized

“Clean house, clean mind.” Spend a few minutes of your leisure time organizing your surroundings. Take 5 minutes to clean up your desk, declutter, or simply to throw things away. You’ll be surprised at how much your quality of life will increase when you get organized.

But, getting organized isn’t just about cleaning and decluttering. Getting organized also has much to do with developing habits that will help to shape and mold the direction of your life. Know where you’re going and ensure that you have a certain sense of clarity. Focus, envision, and get organized.

 

#2 – Contribution

Most people take their leisure time to themselves. However, to increase the quality of your life, developing the leisure habit of contributing will help to make an enormous difference. By contributing, you’re sending a clear message to your unconscious mind that there’s more than enough for your to go around, both of your time and your money.

And, even if you don’t have extra money to contribute, contribute your time. There are others out there that are in dire straits and need help in any form, and giving your time is one of the best gifts that you can give. Spend some time every day seeking out ways that you can contribute.

 

#3 – Socialize & network

Boost the quality of your life by socializing and networking. It’s been said that 79% of rich people spend 5 hours or more networking, whereas the poor spend 16% of their time doing so. But, networking doesn’t have to be just solely for business. take an interest in other peoples’ lives and you’ll be surprised just how much it will come back to you.

 

#4 – Do one thing you’re afraid of

Do one thing that you’re afraid of every single day. Take your leisure time to the next level by developing this habit. What are you afraid to do? Why are you afraid to do it. Too often, we can’t get ahead because of how scared we are of something. Fear and anxiety seem to be crippling to us. Overcome your fears and force yourself to do just one thing you’re afraid of doing.

 

#5 – Do one thing you’ve been putting off

Do one thing that you’ve been putting off every single day. This is a tremendous way to overcome procrastination and build the leisure habit of moving your life forward. Create a list of all the things that you’ve been putting off. Then, commit to spending just 15 minutes each day doing one of those things. Even if you can’t complete it, make sure that you spend 15 minutes doing it.

How to Lead a Purpose-Driven Life

How to Lead a Purpose-Driven Life

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”  – John F. Kennedy

 

Leading a Life Filled with Purpose

We all have hopes and aspirations for our lives. We think about the kind of car we want to drive, the job we want to have, or the home we want to live in. We have loose-knit goals that we’ve obscurely formed in our minds.

But we’re not happy. 

We go from day to day wishing and hoping for things that never seem to materialize. We tend to lack a sense of purpose that doesn’t push us past our present-day limitations nor helps us to break down the barriers to achievement.

Without purpose, we’re left floundering, like a fish out of water flapping around in a fight for survival. But how do we live a life filled with purpose? How can some people wake up each and every single day juiced about life? How can those same people have an undying purpose that helps to carry them through the tough times?

Well, living a purpose-driven life isn’t a concept that’s new or cutting-edge, but it’s something that’s most certainly necessary and revolutionary at the same time. When you live a life that’s driven by a clear and undying purpose, things take on a different meaning.

So, how is it done?

 

Finding your Purpose in Life

We can all live a purpose-driven life, not by just setting some obscure goals in our mind, but by actually drilling down into our core values and beliefs, then setting real goals that are inline with those values and beliefs. If you’ve never taken the time to define your core values and beliefs, here’s your chance to do so.

If you’ve set goals in the past that weren’t aligned with your core values and beliefs, you might have found yourself getting frustrated and eventually giving up. When what we say we want and what we truly believe on the inside conflict with one another, we experience frustration, fear, anxiety, and worry.

Usually, when there’s a conflict with our core values and beliefs, we tend to give up. We push and push towards something in life that we thought we once wanted, but we hit that proverbial brick wall and throw in the towel. If this has happened to you in the past, then it’s time to align your goals with who you are and what you actually want out of life.

 

Your Core Values and Beliefs

Core values and beliefs have been instilled in us from very early on. Over time, those core values and beliefs have also shifted, changing and growing with our life experiences. Finding your core values and beliefs isn’t too difficult, but it does require a bit of soul searching, so to speak.

How is this done? 

Firstly, for your core values, you’ll need to come up with single-word values on what you value most in life. Have you put some conscious thought into this at all lately? If you haven’t, don’t worry. But it’s time to dig deep down inside and materialize your values out in front of you.

Grab a sheet of paper and pen, and start writing out what you value. Come up with a list of 10 values that you hold in the highest regard. You can find a great list of 418 values here. For example, here are 10 common values:

  1. Family
  2. Contribution
  3. Growth
  4. Sincerity
  5. Vitality
  6. Security
  7. Freedom
  8. Fortitude
  9. Self-Control
  10. Certainty

 

Now, your list is going to be different than this. There are hundreds of values that you can have, but the 10 top values are the most important to you. But, to understand your core values, you have to narrow this list down further to 3 absolute must-have values. Those will be considered your core values.

Why core values?

We all value many things in life. However, when we can narrow down specifically what we value out of life to the top 3, we can achieve a greater clarity in the pursuit of our hopes and our dreams. When goals conflict with core values, then those goals might not actually be what you want out of life.

So, narrow your list down to the top 3.

For example, in this list, I would narrow it down to:

  1. Family
  2. Contribution
  3. Growth

 

If one of my goals isn’t inline with these three core values, then it means that I have to take a closer look at my goals and quite possibly rewrite them. Similarly, when you write out your own core values, you can compare them to your goals and ensure that your goals are in harmony with those values.

 

Defining your Beliefs

Aside from your values, your beliefs are helping to drive your life. What do you believe in? These aren’t just the superficial beliefs, but the ones that run deep-down to your core. Think about just how powerful your beliefs are. They help to govern and control the direction and output of your life.

If you believe wholeheartedly for or against something, you’ll manifest that eventually.

But finding your true beliefs is often hard. For example, you might say you want to make more money in your life, but if you’ve been taught to believe that “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” or that “Money is the root of all evil,” your own beliefs might be holding you back.

Think about some powerful beliefs for a moment. I’m talking about politics, abortion, gun control, and so on. Think about how strong some peoples’ beliefs might be. It’s hard to change what people believe in or why they believe in it. So, you have to uncover your own beliefs to see how they’re governing your life.

So, how is this done? 

Considering that most goals revolve around either money, people, relationships, or health, you have to uncover what your beliefs are in these areas of life.

 

Here are some examples:

  1. Money Belief – Having too much money is greedy. I only need enough to survive.
  2. Money Belief – All rich people are greedy or crooked. If I want to make money, I have to deceive people.
  3. Money Belief – More money means having more problems. The more I accumulate, the bigger my problems become.
  4. People Belief – All people are liars. And if they get a chance, they will take advantage of you.
  5. People Belief – There’s  no “I” in team, so I have to work well with others in order to achieve my goals.
  6. Relationship Belief – All men / women cheat. There’s no such thing as an honest relationship.
  7. Relationship Belief – All men / women are trustworthy if you give them a chance. Not everyone cheats.
  8. Relationship Belief – People in business are ruthless. It’s either screw or be screwed.
  9. Health Belief – Skinny people are unhealthy and unhappy. There’s no way to be skinny and be happy.
  10. Health Belief – I’m just big-boned. All big-boned people can’t lose weight. It’s how we’re made.

 

Of course the beliefs can go on and on. Even though some of these aren’t conscious beliefs, they’re unconscious beliefs that have been developed over time. For that reason, they may be uncomfortable or difficult to unearth. You might not want to feel this way, but you do. And, deep down inside these beliefs are holding us back from attaining certain goals.

Of course, we also have positive beliefs as well. But, for the most part, the beliefs that hold us back from achieving our goals are negative and critical, both of ourselves and of others. However, if you want to live a purpose-driven life and be able to achieve all of your goals, you have flip the script on your beliefs.

 

Flipping the Script on your Beliefs

In orde to achieve notable things in life, you have to flip the script on your negative beliefs. Your positive beliefs will help to empower you, but your negative beliefs will help to hold you back. So you need to flip the script on your negative beliefs.

By rewriting your beliefs so that they’re positive, they’ll help to support your goals.

How does this work? 

It’s easy. All you have to do is write the exact opposite out of your beliefs. What do you believe in when it comes to those four areas of your life? If you think that people are greedy and that money is the root of all evil, you have to change that. If you have money goals, then your beliefs have to support you.

Rewrite your beliefs so that they’re positive. Here’s an example:

  • Old belief - All rich people are greedy or crooked. If I want to make money, I have to deceive people.
  • New belief – All rich people are hard working and have solid habits that help to support them in life. If I want to be rich or succeed, I have to focus on habit development.

After you rewrite your beliefs, you have to drill them into your mind. Say them in the morning, during the day, and at night, until they are ingrained in you. Repeat them until they are part of your mentality. Habit formation takes 3 to 6 months, so you have to convince yourself of these beliefs in order to make them real and have them support you.

 

Goals verus Core Values and Beliefs

In order to live a purpose-driven life, your goals have to be inline with your core values and beliefs. If you’ve never written out your goals before in the past, now is the time to do so.

Goal setting is important. It allows you to materialize your true desires in front of your mind’s eye. Without actually setting goals, we tend to not have a concrete direction in life and get sidetracked much more often.

It’s time to set your goals in harmony with your core values and beliefs. Read the post on S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goal Setting and make sure that those goals are inline with your core values and beliefs. This will help you to lead a purpose-driven life. The goal setting should be the final step because you want to uncover your core values and beliefs first.

Once your goals are inline with what you value and believe in, you can achieve anything. But, the longer that there’s no harmony there, the longer it’s going to take you to achieve your goals.

 

Your Mission Statement

Once you have goals that are inline with your values and your beliefs, you need a mission statement in order to tie it all together. Companies write missions statements to set the tone and direction for the corporate culture. And you must do the same. If you don’t have a mission statement, then you can’t live a purpose-driven life.

But, writing out a mission statement isn’t too difficult, especially once you’ve uncovered your values, beliefs, and written goals that are inline with those. But this mission statement will give you a better sense of clarity and direction for your life.

So, how does this work?

I would suggest you read some missions statements for popular companies. For example, here’s Apple’s mission statement from a recent video they released:

 

If everyone is busy making everything, how can anyone perfect anything? We start to confuse convenience with joy, abundance with choice. Designing something requires focus. The first thing we ask is, what do people want to feel? Delight, surprise, love, connection. Then we begin to craft around our intention. It takes time… There are thousand no’s for every yes. We simplify, we perfect, we start over until everything we touch enhances each life it touches. Only then do we sign our work. Designed by Apple in California.

 

So, what’s your mission statement?

Define your mission statement and you too can lead a purpose-driven life. Interweave what you value, believe in, and your goals, and bring some clarity to your day-to-day and approach life with a new zest and zeal, lifting up the clouded veil of obscurity and confusion.

 

Top 7 Habits to Help Boost Productivity

Top 7 Habits to Help Boost Productivity

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” — Paul J. Meyer

Boosting your Productivity

If you’re like most other people in the world, then you can use a boost to your productivity. For whatever reason, you get sidetracked. Things seem to interrupt your day and you have a hard time focusing. But you’re not alone. According to one study, employees spend approximately 20 hours online per week, 5 of which are on non work-related sites.

Of the time wasted at work, 45% is spent surfing the internet, 23% is spent socializing, 7% is spent on personal business, and 25% is spent on other non work-related activities. People get sidetracked for many different reasons and their productivity declines. If you’ve fallen victim to a lapse in productivity, be assured that there are remedies.

By developing and harboring solid habits that can help to foster a more productive and goal-oriented life, you can overcome these lapses in productivity. Since, in order to get ahead these days it takes an extraordinary amount of focus and drive, any boost to your daily productivity capabilities is a much needed boost in the business world.

 

Building Better Habits

If you’ve followed along with some of my posts up until now, you know that I’m mildly obsessed with the concept of habit development. If you want to succeed in life, you have to have successful habits. What most people chalk up to luck of the draw or being in the right place at the right time, is simply a good solid habit foundation.

The problem is that, for the most part, when we see success glorified through the media, we don’t get to see just what those people suffered through to get to where they are. We don’t see the sleepless nights, the countless hours, nor the failures and upsets. All we see is success personified before us.

From fancy cars, to nice watches, yachts, mansions, and globe-trotting lifestyles, the rich seem to get richer and richer. But they didn’t get that way through luck; it was through the development of good habits that were employed repeatedly over time. Those good habits developed a foundation for a successful and more productive life.

So, if you want to succeed in life, you have to do what it takes to develop productivity habits that are going to serve you and not hinder you. No more spending endless hours in front of the television or mindlessly surfing the web. No more procrastinating and putting off until tomorrow what needs to be done today. No, it’s time to be productive. It’s time to build some better habits.

 

Top Productivity Habits

Your productivity can be improved by focusing on the development of 7 very important habits. These productivity habits will help to boost your overall performance in the workplace. And, since it’s usually difficult for us to find the motivation to get things done without developing good habits, these methods are sure to boost your performance levels in any occupation.

 

#1 – Follow a Morning Ritual

Successful and productive people follow a morning ritual. Anthony Robbins calls this your Hour of Power. The first hour of your day sets the tone for the rest of it. Don’t spend your first hour trying to frantically respond to emails, phone calls, or anything else. Your morning should be focused on your mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Exercise, read, meditate, or write. Do something for yourself; anything.

 

#2 -Set & Review Weekly Goals

Goal setting is a productivity habit that should become ingrained in your mind. But this isn’t just about long-term goal setting. Productive people set weekly goals and they review them on a daily basis. They also track their goals with precision. This helps them know where they are, how far they’ve come, and how far they have left to go. When you can see your weekly goals in front you, it’s harder to get distracted.

 

#3 – Prioritize Daily Tasks

Once you’ve set weekly goals, you can create daily tasks that will help you to prioritize what you need to do for the day. Ensure that you use lists and time management techniques for getting things done. One rule of thumb is to do one thing every day that scares you, one thing that you’ve been avoiding, and one thing that will move your business or career forward at the beginning of the day.

 

#4 - Follow the 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule, or the Pareto Principle, states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts. In sales, this translates to 80% of sales coming from 20% of the salespersons, and 80% of revenues coming from 20% of the customers. By harnessing this principle, you can effectively discover where your results are coming from, and replicate those efforts. Analyze your efforts and see where your results are coming from. Then, harness those efforts and do your best to replicate them.

 

#5 - Strategically Allocate Breaks

Productivity declines over time without taking brakes. One of the best productivity habits that you an develop for yourself is to take plenty of breaks throughout the day. The rule of thumb would be to take one 5 to 10-minute break every 2 hours of work. Even if you sit at your desk and read an article or focus on something that’s not work-related, breaks are a highly important method to boosting your productivity.

 

#6 – Manage Energy Not Time

Although time management is a crucial skill to have, managing your energy is more important. When your energy levels are low, so is your productivity. Most people’s energy levels sink just after lunch. Why is that? When we eat heavy lunches, 50% of our body’s energy goes to digesting that food. The blood rushes to our stomach and we become fatigued. Eat smaller meals throughout the day and healthy snacks. Managing your energy will help you manage your time and boost productivity.

 

#7 – Snuff Out Procrastination

Procrastination is the silent killer. If you’ve been a victim of procrastination, you’re most certainly not alone. But, it’s your job to ensure that you snuff out procrastination. There’s no room for it in your life. If you want to get ahead, you have to find ways to overcome your natural tendencies to procrastinate. Setting goals and prioritizing tasks is one way to overcome procrastination. Others include following the 15-minute rule, changing your environment, and locating an accomplice.

Top 10 Rich Habits: What the 1% Do Differently

Top 10 Rich Habits - What the 1% Do Differently

“Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.” — Benjamin Franklin

 

Developing Rich Habits

The 1%: glorified by the media, touted by corporations, and cultivated in elite social circles, the global personification of the rich is nothing new. Ever since the dawn of modern economies, the rich have been put on a pedestal. They’re part of the seldom few that have figured out how to exit the rat race and live a life on their own terms.

However, for the most part, the popular belief is that the rich got rich by cutting corners; they got rich, not through perseverance, dexterity, and integrity, but through some other under-handed means. Somehow or someway, they did something that wasn’t completely aboveboard, or they got lucky. Maybe, they were in the right place at the right time. They most certainly didn’t work hard for what they have, right?

Wrong…

The truth of the matter is that the 1% foster a certain set of rich habits early on. They slowly build from the ground up, avoiding temptations, working hard, saving and investing their money for the future. They’re less interested in the here-and-now. They have control over their egos and they look at the pain-pleasure paradigm in the long-term rather than the short-term.

 

The Pain-Pleasure Paradigm?

Let me explain…

In life, we do more to avoid pain than we do to gain pleasure. The pain-pleasure paradigm runs our lives. This is why students wait until the last minute before cramming for exams and furiously writing papers. It’s also the reason why people put off doing their taxes until the week or night before they’re due. And so on.

We always do more to avoid pain than to gain pleasure, plain and simple. But, it’s a bit more involved than that. The pain-pleasure paradigm exists, for the most part, in the short-term. Genetically speaking, this is the selfish-survival instinct in us. It stems down to our roots of survival at all costs. But the mind also extends this past actual physical survival and more into the day-to-day living of life across all spectrums, including financial survival.

But, the difference between the 1% and the 99% is that the pain-pleasure paradigm is shifted from the short-term to the long-term. The 1% have cultivated their rich habits by flipping the pain-pleasure paradigm. They do more to push through pain in the short-term so that they can experience pleasure in the long-term.

This is the exact opposite of how most people live. We are always doing more to gain pleasure in the short-term. We do things like drink alcohol excessively, smoke cigarettes, eat fatty foods, spend frivolously, and so on. These are all in-the-moment-of-pleasure activities. The mind and body are reveling in the short-term pleasure.

So, how do we move past this?

 

Flipping the Script on Bad Financial Habits

The top 10 rich habits don’t develop overnight. They’re cultivated through moral guidance, upbringing, and a different financial outlook. Although the rich might be portrayed as having hit the jackpot, if you will, it didn’t actually happen that way. Someone in their lineage actually helped to develop and foster the habits to reach the 1% by leveraging the top rich habits for guiding their financial lives.

So, if you want to reach the 1%, or come close, you have to institute these rich habits over the long-term and not just the short-term. It takes years and years, even decades of focus and hard work. The 1% didn’t become the 1% by being lucky, in the right place at the right time, or through some under-handed means. They got there through the institution of these rich habits.

But, what are the rich habits and how can you institute them to get yourself out of debt and build a strong financial future for yourself and your family? Well, first thing’s first –  you have to flip the script on your bad financial habits first. And, you have to look at the pain-pleasure paradigm in the long-term, not in the short-term.

Well, how do you do that? 

 

Step #1 – Write Out the Cost of your Bad Habits

The first step to flipping the script on the pain-pleasure paradigm is to write out the cost of your bad habits. Why is that? Well, the ego has a clever way of shrouding its behavior within excuses and cleverly-disguised reasons. It says things like:

  • “It’s okay to buy this right now. I know that I have some debt, but I really need this because it’s on sale. If I wait any longer, I might lose the opportunity to ever own it at this price.”
  • “I know I need to save money, but spending $5 a day on a latte isn’t that bad. It’s really more of a hassle than anything to have to bring my own coffee to work every day. “
  • “My cigarette smoking isn’t that bad, especially since I don’t smoke that much. I only smoke half-a-pack per day so it doesn’t cost me that much. I’ll quit soon, but it’s not really doing that much to hurt me right now.”

Regardless of what your bad financial habits are, you have to write them out. The cigarette smoker that spends $10 every two days on a pack of cigarettes, is spending $150 per month. That $150 per month could be put towards savings or retirement. If you don’t take a financial accounting and write out your bad habits, your ego can continue to shroud its behavior in excuses and reasons.

Tally up the cost by keeping careful track of things. If you have a latte every day or you eat lunch out every single day, how much is that costing you per month? Remember, all costs add up when accumulated over the weeks and months. A $5 per day latte habit is costing $1825 per year. That money could be put away towards retirement.

While costs might seem low on a small-scale, they escalate when you look at them in the bigger picture. Rich habits might look minuscule at first, but when instituted over time, they can create tremendous results. These habits often require a mental shift in thinking. So, write out the cost of your bad habits so that you can’t hide from them.

 

Step #2 - Write Out the Reasons Why You Must Succeed

Financially speaking, what are your goals and what are your reasons for wanting to succeed? Do you really want it bad enough? If your bad financial habits are setting you back in life, and you can identify the actual cost that it’s inflicting on your future, why should you really care in the long run?

Without strong enough reasons why we must succeed, we won’t find the solutions to our woes. If you feel like there’s not enough time or money to go around, then you have to take a good and solid look at your habits. If those habits are setting you back, and you have a strong enough reason why you must succeed, then you can abolish those bad habits.

Flipping the script on your bad habits isn’t impossible. But, it can’t be done without a strong enough reason why it must happen. Without that, you’ll continue on with the emotion-numbing activities of engaging in just about anything that acts as a distraction in your life. Reasons come first and answers come later. Find a strong enough reason and you can flip the script on your bad habits.

Here are some examples for reasons to eliminate bad financial habits we saw in step #1:

  • “No, it’s not okay to buy this. Just because something is on sale, it doesn’t mean I need to own it. If I ever want to achieve my long-term financial goals and provide a worry-free financial future for my family, then I’ll put off this and other meaningless purchases today, saving and investing my money instead.
  • $5 a day on a latte is too much money to spend. Sure, right now it might seem like a small amount, but added up over the course of months and years, that habit can get expensive. I want my children to have all that they need in life, and have the security and freedom to do what they please. I can easily take coffee from home and save that money instead.
  • My cigarette smoking habit has cost me far too much money. If I stopped smoking, after a year or two of saving and investing, I could put that money towards opening my own business and finally becoming financially free one day. That means more to me than indulging in such a senseless waste of money.

 

Step #3 - Find a Daily Source of Motivation or Inspiration

Oftentimes, it’s easy to ignore what we don’t see. If you want to have rich habits, not only do you need some solid goals and to be able to eliminate your bad habits, but you also need to find a good source of motivation and inspiration. Because, we all get frustrated sometimes in the pursuit of our hopes and our dreams. It can get exhausting at times.

When we push and push and don’t see immediate results, the mind has a funny way of turning us against ourselves. We say things like, “Just one more time won’t hurt,” or “It’s not a big deal, we can save money from the next paycheck,” and so on. No, it is a big deal. Find a source of motivation or inspiration on a daily basis and don’t give up.

Never make excuses for breaking good financial habits. Never allow yourself to let go of your hopes and your dreams due to a little bit of frustration. Life is going to be hard. You’re going to get overwhelmed at times. But you can’t give up. As time passes, you’ll get closer to your goals, but if you throw in that proverbial towel, you’ll feel sorry later.

So, find a good source of motivation or inspiration. Search our articles or stories on people who you can relate with that succeeded in accomplishing their dreams. Find out what stumbling blocks those people had in the pursuit of their financial goals. No one got there by walking along easy-street. It was hard work. Never forget that.

 

Top 10 Rich Habits

Okay, so let’s just say you’ve managed to break some of your bad financial habits. Let’s say that you were able to eliminate some of the frivolous expenses that have been bleeding you dry on a monthly basis. Now what? What are the top 10 rich habits that the 1% institute consistently over time?

 

Rich Habit #1 – Save 20% of your Income

Some people might think that saving 20% of their income is nearly impossible. Well, let me tell you that it’s not. And, if you feel like saving 20% of your income is going to be virtually impossible, that’s all the more reason why you must do so. If you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, you might find this very difficult. But, there are always ways to cut your expenses.

 

Rich Habit #2 - Track All Expenses

Most people track their favorite sports teams. They can list off all the statistics about their favorite ball player. From basketball, to football, to soccer, and every other sport in between, the whole world is obsessed with their favorite teams and players. But, most people also can’t tell you the first thing about their expenses. You have to track your expenses, down to the last penny, if you want to live like the 1%.

 

Rich Habit #3 - Pay Down Debt

If you’re accumulating debt every month and not paying it down, then you’re most certainly not employing one of the sacred rich habits. Paying down and paying off debt should be a top priority. If you’re not in the green every single month, then there’s a major problem. Immediately make a plan to pay down and pay off your debt, rather than think about ways to accumulate more of it. Focus on your highest interest credit cards and loans first, then move to the second highest ones, and so on, until all of your debt is paid off.

 

Rich Habit #4 - Immediately Open Bills

Do you have a tendency to ignore your bills when they arrive? Do you have a secret place that you stash them so that you don’t have to look at them? This is the general tendency we have, especially when we’re living in the red. When we can’t afford to keep up with our monthly payments, we prefer not to look at what’s due. This makes it easier for the ego to allow us to engage in those emotion-numbing activities that include overspending. But, you have to open up your bills immediately when you receive them. Don’t ever hide from them.

 

Rich Habit #5 - Pay On Time, All the Time

Never pay your bills late. This is one of the most important rich habits. When you pay bills late, your credit suffers, but so does your sense of self respect. No one wants to feel like they’re running away from their obligations. Don’t ignore bills that are due. even if you can’t afford to pay all of what’s owed right at this moment, call your creditors and make a plan. Don’t hide. Change your financial lifestyle and focus on getting rid of debt rather than accumulating more of it.

 

Rich Habit #6 - Audit Expenses Monthly

One thing that some people fail to do is to audit their expenses. Do you save all of your receipts and compare them against your credit or debit card statements every single month? You would be surprised just how many errors you will find if you cared to look. You have to audit your monthly expenses and ensure that what’s going out the door is actually what’s owed by you. Make it a habit to get organized, financially speaking, and stay that way. This will also help you to budget better as time goes on.

 

Rich Habit #7 – Budget, Budget, Budget

You have to ensure that you budget yourself on a monthly basis. If you don’t know how much money you can spend, it’s easy to overspend. Don’t count on tomorrow’s income to pay for today’s expenses. Create a real budget and stick to it. Ignore your peers and others who coax you into spending more than you can afford to. Worry about yourself, make a plan, create a budget, and stick to it.

 

Rich Habit #8 - Invest in your Home

For most people out there in the world, their personal home is their biggest investment. If you don’t own your own home, then you’re breaking one of the cardinal rules of the 1%’s rich habits. Ensure that you own your own home and you invest in your home wisely. Upgrade the important parts such as kitchens and baths, and over time, it will pay off handsomely.

 

Rich Habit #9 - Invest & Track Savings

Now that you’re saving 20% of your income, it’s important that you put that money somewhere wise. Be sure to diversify your investments and track them on a monthly basis. Study up on where your money is and just how well its faring. Don’t obsess, but also, don’t forget. And, never spend your investment funds on frivolous purchases. The 1% are able to live off of the interest that their investments bring in, but they didn’t start that way. You have to build slowly over time.

 

Rich Habit #10 - Mind Your Own Business

The last, but not least, rich habit is to mind your own business. Mind your own business, you ask? Yes. If you presently work for someone else, then it will be fairy difficult for you to join the 1%. Sure, it does happen, but it’s much more rare. Save up 6 months of living expenses and start your own business, and build it. Over time, you’ll see that business grow and your financial stresses will easy. But it won’t be easy; it never is.

 

 

 

Overcoming Writer’s Block by Building Better Habits

Overcoming Writer's Block by Building Better Habits

“I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.” — Ernest Hemingway

 

What is Writer’s Block?

One of the greatest hurdles that writers have had since the dawn of the written word has been to overcome writer’s block. It’s a time when frustration, anxiety, and fear of failure tend to creep in. We want to write, but we can’t seem to find the inspiration within us to do so.

Oftentimes, when we’re stricken with the inability to write, we tend to overthink our prose. We worry that the first draft won’t be perfect, or we simply get overwhelmed with the sheer vastness and size of the undertaking of publishing a novel, or even a short story for that matter.

But these hurdles aren’t foreign to other creative types as well. Unless you’re working an assembly line, creativity is required in most occupations. Artists, musicians, fashion designers, jewelry designers, architects, and countless other occupations require some degree of creativity.

So why is that you don’t hear about architect’s block or designer’s block? Why is that writer’s block has become the most popularized term amongst the creative world. Is there some differentiation between writers and other creative types? Or, is that writers are generally the ones to lament more about it?

Well, there most certainly are other creative blocks, but writer’s block has become a term that’s been so popularized. However, simply put, writer’s block is steeped in myth. What writer’s block is boils down to bad habits. So, curing it involves a habit shift, or a habit overhaul if you will.

 

Curing Writer’s Block

After an exhaustive search of the Web for the term “cures for writer’s block,” I was surprised at just how much of a variation in suggestions there seems to be for writer’s block. Of course, writer’s block itself isn’t an incurable disease, nor is it a physical disease. In fact, it’s described as the author’s loss in the ability to produce work.

The range of suggestions goes from free writing, to timed writing, to making lists, brainstorming, group sessions, and so on. Also, there seems to be no shortage of wacky suggestions for curing writer’s block as well, such as listening to the rain, shutting down your computer, washing the dishes, and so on.

But, overcoming writer’s block can be simple when the focus is on habits and the development of good writing habits. And, if you’ve followed along with my blog for any amount of time now, you know that I stress the importance of good habits. Habits create the foundation for our lives, and most certainly, good writing habits can allow us to overcome any degree of writer’s block.

 

Building Better Habits

The best way that you can overcome writer’s block doesn’t have to do with coming up with wacky or zany methods for getting your writing done. Curing writer’s block and overcoming the difficulties associated with the creative process reside in the development of better habits.

Since habits are at the foundation of all that we are, it’s the cultivation of better habits that will allow us to push past our present-day limitations and break down mental barriers.

And, I’m not just saying this from the outside looking in. I’m the prolific author of over 40 books. Sure, there are times that I get stymied in the creative process. But it’s through the cultivation of good habits that I’m able to push past those perceived limitations in my creative-mind.

 

How to Build Better Writing Habits

Most authors are stymied because their habits really don’t empower them. And, habits, which are etched into the neural pathways of our minds, control so much of our focus and behavior. If we “feel” like we can’t write, and our underlying habits of procrastination, avoidance, and emotion-numbing activities such as over-surfing the Web or watching too much television build setback after setback, the mind has greater difficulty overcoming these hurdles as time passes.

Over time, it gets harder and harder to overcome writer’s block because the habits of procrastination and not writing becomes more and more ingrained. So, a habit shift has to occur. We have to review the behavioral routines that are causing us to not write, and we have to embed small changes into those routines so that it will empower us. Then, we have rinse and repeat.

Here’s how it works…

 

Step #1 – Identifying the Routine

The first step in overcoming writer’s block by building better habits is to identify the routine of behavior that you’re running when you’re not writing. Why is this so important? Well, the mind has a clever way of hiding fears and anxieties as excuses. It allows us to reason that we can’t do something or don’t want to do something that we know we need to do, because of some other mentally-pressing matter.

However, by identifying the routine in the mind, you can help to break the bad habit and build better ones. This is going to take some careful awareness on your part. Thoroughly examine the mental reasoning and routine of behavior that you go through when you sit at your desk to write. What are the thought processes in the mind? Why are you overwhelmed or stifled for creativity?

So, for example, let’s take a look at one such routine of behavior. Clark is a journalist looking to start a career as an author. His workload at the paper is high and he wants to break away from the 9-to-5. Clark’s goal is to become a best-selling author and not have to be a slave to deadlines working for someone else.

  1. Clark thinks about writing his novel and contemplates ideas of what he wants to write about.
  2. Clark begins to write an outline but becomes overwhelmed – anxiety sets in.
  3. Clark quickly realizes that he has other work deadlines and suddenly shifts his focus.
  4. Clark starts to write his news piece for work and the time slips by – he uses up all of his free time for the day.

 

Step #2 – Analyze the Breakdown

In every routine, there’s a step that leads to a breakdown in concentration and a shift in focus. For Clark, that step was #2. In that step, clark became overwhelmed. He thought about the sheer vastness of the project of writing a book and simply put it off. Anxiety set in for him and the fear of not meeting his deadline at work was overriding of his desire to write creatively.

Of course, in this analysis, Clark’s breakdown was in that step of overwhelm. This is where the psychic apparatus took over and the subconscious thought processes forced him to avoid pain and gain pleasure in the short term. But, the pain-pleasure paradigm, if applied to the long term, would see him put off writing for his job and write like the wind for his novel.

But, the pain-pleasure paradigm doesn’t generally apply to the long term. The mind doesn’t want us to see the long-term results when they’re detrimental; it only focuses on the short-term pleasure. We put off doing our taxes until the last minute, because at the last minute, the pain of not doing it exceeds the pleasure of putting it off any longer. And students put off studying for an exam or writing a paper until the last minute because of the same pain-pleasure paradigm.

Analyze the breakdown here and look at it carefully. What specifically did Clark think about to get overwhelmed? The answers might surprise you. This analysis of the breakdown is highly important since it’s going to be at the root cause of the not-writing habit that forms and strengthens over time.

Here’s an example of the analysis for Clark:

  1. Clark’s overwhelm involved the sheer vastness of the project – when he thought about how much work had to be done, his mind shut down and retreated from the potential pain of an exhaustive process.
  2. Clark’s anxiety stemmed from his fear of being a failure – he thought about spending months or even years on writing a book and having it be ridiculed by his friends, family members, or peers.
  3. Clark’s nervousness involved not being bale to produce good work at his job due to a loss of focus – although the novel would be great for his long-term income, he was afraid the quality of his journalistic efforts at work would suffer. He thought about potentially losing his job and not having any income to support himself.

 

Step #3 - Disrupt the Routine

In order to build better habits, we have to first disrupt the routine of the bad habit. In this example, Clark is unable to write due to a breakdown in his desire for building a good writing routine. He overthinks, overanalyzes, and gets overwhelmed. We can see the fear and anxiety that Clark faces as his mind weighs and analyzes everything against the pain-pleasure paradigm.

In order to disrupt this routine, you first have to be able to identify it and analyze the breakdown. Once you see the breakdown, there are two things that you need to do in order to disrupt this routine:

  1. Come up with excuses on why all of the mind’s thoughts are false. Clark has to reason why he wants something and why he’s able to achieve it. This is going to allow him to get past the fear, anxiety, and nervousness of achieving his goal of writing a novel.
  2. Come up with one or two exercises that will allow you to disrupt the routine as soon as it occurs. For example, in Clark’s situation, he decides to read his excuses and engage in one hour of free writing. He decides to write stream-of-consciousness to disrupt the routine of not writing.

 

Step #4 - Integrate New Behaviors

The fourth step in overcoming writer’s block by building better habits is to integrate new behaviors into your routines. The goal is to build a routine that will empower you and not limit you. If you have a tendency to procrastinate and put things off, not only do you have to disrupt that pattern, but you have insert a new behavior in as well.

This is easier said than done, but all you have to keep in mind that this merely requires consistent effort on a daily basis. As the days, weeks, and months progress, that new pattern will be built up over time. You have to come up with new behaviors that you can integrate into your routine. Pick one or two writing exercises and do them until inspiration strikes.

There’s also a necessary mental shift in focus. Most writers are perfectionists – they want to write the next best literary novel and tend to overthink the process too much. If writing is a passion, which it is for most writers, the focus should be on just writing and not overthinking the process. If you overthink the process in any area of your life, you’ll get frustrated and give up easily.

For Clark, he picked writing exercises to integrate into his routine. His new routine looked something like this:

  1. Clark thinks about writing his novel
  2. Clark starts to write an outline of his novel
  3. Clark gets overwhelmed
  4. Clark shifts his focus and interrupts his pattern
  5. Clark chooses one writing exercise and sets a timer for 15 minutes
  6. Clark free-writes until inspiration hits then begins to write his novel

 

Step #5 - Rebuild and Repeat

The only way that you can build a habit is through constant repetitious behavior over time. Habits don’t form easily. They take months and months to actually solidify in the neural pathways of the mind. And, bad habits that have been around for years are seemingly impossible to break because they are etched so deeply in those same neural pathways.

Once you identify a new routine, you have to rebuild your habits and repeat. By integrating new behaviors that will empower you and not limit you, you can build better writing habits and overcome writer’s block. All you have to do is commit to repeating the routine for at least three months. This is the most difficult part of building better habits, but if you can get past that initial hurdle, you can most certainly take it all the way.

 

How to Harness the Pareto Principle

How to Harness the Pareto Principle

“Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation, there is sure to be failure.” — Confucius 

Understanding the Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle – also known as the 80/20 rule and the law of the vital few – states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes. The principle was named after Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land was controlled by 20% of the people, and that 20% of the pea pods in his garden produced 80% of the peas.

Since its introduction by business-management consultant, Joseph M. Juran, the Pareto Principle has been applied and proven to exist in virtually all areas of life. Whether it’s mathematics, economics, business, software, health, or energy, the Pareto Principle finds itself statistically embedded into virtually everything.

So, why should you care? 

Well, if you have a set of goals that you’re working towards, you can harness this single principle to literally explode your results by simply following a few steps that I’ve outlined below. This will aid you in getting closer to your goals much quicker.

 

Leveraging your Time with the Pareto Principle

Time is our most precious resource; it’s universally equating since we all have the same amount of time in our day. But most of us don’t use that time efficiently. We have productivity peaks when we’re most effective at whatever it is that we do. There are certain tasks, times of day, or even days of the week when we tend to produce the best results. So, by identifying these productivity peaks, and applying the 80/20 rule, we can optimally harness time and catapult our results.

Does this really work?

Yes. If you’re able to identify which 20% of your causes are producing 80% of the results, you could magnify your results exponentially by harnessing this principle. Once you’ve identified the 20% of the causes, you can devote more of your time to those causes, thus expanding your results. This applies to finances, time-managmenet, project management, and virtually every other area of life.

 

Real-World Applications of the 80/20 Rule

What’s even more interesting is that the 80/20 rule has been found to apply not only to the base-level of result, but it’s also further extensible as well. For example, if 80% of the sales comes from 20% of the customers, that 80% of sales from the top 20% of customers comes from 20% of that subset as well. Meaning that the top 4% of customers are producing 64% of sales. This was part of the argument presented by Perry Marshall in his book, 80/20 Sales & Marketing.

Now, imagine harnessing this principle to not only be able to effectively identify what specific inputs are producing the greatest outputs, but also be able to replicate and leverage this to exponentially grow any figure in any field. So, to extend the previous example, this would mean identifying that 20% of customers producing 80% of the sales, and going out there and finding more of those specific customers. Or, it could mean, identifying the 20% of daily tasks producing 80% of the results in whatever field you’re employed in, then focusing added time on those specific tasks to increase your output. Make sense?

So, how do we get started?

 

Step #1 – Identify Goals

The first step in harnessing the Pareto Principle is to identify your goals. When you know what your goals are, you have a target. Without a target in mind, the Pareto Principle is not very beneficial. If you’ve never done any goal setting, now is the time to get started. Goal setting is essential to progress and growth in any area of your life. It gives you a steady target for your mind’s eye.

Without goals, we feel a bit lost. We might think we know what we want in some obscure fashion, but we haven’t actually materialized those goals in front of our eyes. But, by writing out your goals, they become more real. Check out the recent post on S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goal Setting and set some real and meaningful goals for your life today.

 

Step #2 - Track your Progress

The second step in leveraging the 80/20 rule for exponential growth in any area of your life, is to exhaustively track your progress. If you’re in sales, this means you should track the number of leads per day, how many phone calls or contact attempts you made (and the type of those attempts – i.e. email, phone, in-person, and so on), how many sales you closed, the dollar amount of those sales, your profit, etc.

Create a spreadsheet for yourself, whatever the goal may be. If you have a goal to lose weight, track it exhaustively. How much did you weigh this morning? What precisely did you eat (write it all down)? How many calories went into your body? How many calories left your body? What’s your BMR? How many steps did you walk? How much cardio did you do? Get the picture?

 

Step #3 – Identify the 80/20

Now that you’ve tracked everything exhaustively, you can identify your 80/20 subset. Which 20% is giving you 80% of the results? Once you’ve identified the 20%, you can work on scaling out your 20%. For example, if you’ve identified that 80% of your results in marketing are coming from a particular online campaign, scale out that campaign. Now, this is why tracking is so important. You have to be able to identify where your results are coming from.

 

Step #4 – Scale or Outsource

Depending on the type of goal you’re working towards, once you’ve identified your 20% subset, you can either scale out or outsource. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, and you find that 80% of your income comes from a specific 20% of your clients, your goal would be to scale or outsource that subset. How would you do that?

Well, if 80% of your income comes from 20% of your clients, but you spend 50% of your time on it, by reducing the time spent to 25% by outsourcing certain tasks related to that work, you can spend more time on scaling your business by locating more clients like your 20%. All you have to do is identify your 20% target demographics’ customer profile, and engage in marketing efforts to gain similar clients.

This applies to any measurable and trackable goal that you can have in life.

 

Step #5 – Identify the 20% of the 20%

To harness the true power of the Pareto Principle, if you want to exponentially explode your results, you have to identify the 20% of the 20%. The 20% of the 20% of your subset – or the 4% – is producing 64% of your results. So, if you can identify this elite subset, then you can truly develop explosive results by scaling out further.

The 4% of your subset are in a class of their own. The 20% of the 20% is your optimal peak performance segment. Identify this segment and replicate it in any way possible. This should be your utmost important task. Find this 4% and foster it, replicate it, and nurture it, and you’ll find yourself producing explosive results in the long term.