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Financial, Relationship and Spiritual Growth. Personal Development. Leadership.

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Halftime Report: How Are Your New Year’s Resolutions Going?

clockIt’s July 1st! The perfect time to take an assessment of how we are doing on our New Year’s resolutions. Did you make any at all? If you did, you have already separated yourself from 25% of the population. Do you still remember what they were? If so, you are probably ahead of another 25% of the population. If you can tell me today what your New Year’s resolution was for 2013, then you are ahead of the average person in the US even if you haven’t even started on them yet.

Before you pat yourself on the back too hard though, keep in mind:

  1. 51% is still a failing grade, and
  2. I just made up those numbers anyway

A lot of authors and speakers talk about looking forward towards your goals (I’m one of them). But we should also take some time to reflect on our past and on our journey. We can often get caught up in the busy-ness of being busy. When that happens we can get off-track and realize that our habits are no longer moving us towards our goal.

A personal trainer friend of mine became so focused on exercise that he neglected proper rest and recovery time. He would push himself to the point of injury (sprain, pulled muscle, stress fracture, etc…), then not allow proper time to heal before pushing himself again. He broke out of that habit when he realized that he had lost sight of his goal in the pursuit of the process. His goal was not to exercise, his goal was good physical health.

There is a young start-up company that I’ve been following on Twitter for quite a while now called Cirion Group. Here is a very simple tweet that they posted that made me stop and think:

“What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned this month?”

Even though I consider myself a lifelong student of personal growth, I didn’t have an answer to that question. That month I had read five books, listened to and attended several lectures. But that simple question stymied me and I told them as much. Here’s the rest of that exchange:

@ciriongroup To be honest, I’m a little disappointed I don’t have an answer to this off the top of my head…

@Matt_S_Law it’s an easy thing to overlook. It’s a great question to add to your calendar/reminder each month

The human creature is designed to achieve, the brain is designed as a goal-seeking mechanism, and we are happiest when we are in the process of fulfilling a worthwhile purpose. But it is easy to forget the “Why” of our activities when we get too focused on the “How.”

So I’m calling a brief time-out for everyone at the halfway point of this year to ask: How are your New Year’s resolutions going?

If you never made one, make one now.
If you haven’t started, then start now.
If you’ve kicked at it on occasion, make a definite commitment of time and energy towards achieving it now.
If you are that rare person that has been striving towards it non-stop since January 1st, then take a day off and ask yourself a few questions:

  • How is my progress? Am I seeing results or am I just doing a lot of activity that is not actually accomplishing anything?
  • How is my motivation? Am I still visualizing my goal on a daily basis? Is my daily activity drudgery or is it inspiration for me?
  • How is my life? Am I neglecting an important part of my life? My business, my family, my health?

Whatever your vision, goals and habit that you have or have not incorporated into your life prior to today, pause for a moment. Take some time to reflect. Take some time to replenish. Take some time to refocus. Do not lose sight of your vision amidst your daily activity; whether that is activity relevant to your goal or activity that is irrelevant to your goal.

So, one more time: How are your New Year’s resolutions going?


Back in the Saddle Again



I haven’t updated my blog for quite a while because I’ve been sick. You would think that being stuck quarantined at home with my computer wouldn’t affect my writing schedule but I’m sad to say that it did. I’ve basically been a vegetable for about 12 days. Barely left the house, barely talked to anyone because I near-totally lost my voice for half that time as well.

So, now that I’m finally coming back to the keyboard I had to decide whether I should address the issue of why so much time has past since my last post or if I should just sweep it under the rug, ignore it, and just hop back into action and pretend like I had been posting twice a week like always. Which seemed like the cowards way out, so I think I’ll write about Matt’s laziness today.

I think a big part of being a writer in this new generation is being transparent with your audience. Even–or perhaps especially–in my niche of motivation and personal growth. Sure I’d like to think I can help to inspire everyone to improve their lives in some way, but I don’t think I can do that by pretending to be a perfect human paragon of creativity and industriousness.

I’m not. I get lazy on occasion. In fact, I know myself, and if I allow it, I can be a human paragon of lazy.

Here are some things I’ve done in the past to combat my natural inclination towards laziness and keep myself productive:

  • Routine. By establishing fixed routines, you eliminate any mental effort devoted to scheduling and just get the work done. My first book included a section on the Power of Habit, and in fact my first book was written because I had created a habit for myself of writing for 15 minutes every day. Also, consistent writing makes it easier to keep going than constantly stopping and starting. Even just these last few sentences came easier than the first two sentences as I dusted off my brain and got to work. Be persistent, be consistent. Develop routines that yield good results.
  • Sleep. More specifically, not sleeping too much. While I was working a real job, I was actually capable of operating normally on 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night. Since I haven’t had a normal job since July of last year, I haven’t had to wake up at any specific time. So, I didn’t. I would sleep in. And when I slept in, I would end up going to bed later, until eventually I’m sleeping until after noon on a regular basis and sometimes sleeping up to 10 hours a day. This was definitely something I needed to stop, so my solution was simple: I set up a new routine. I made a promise to myself that I would leave the house by 8:00 am every morning. It really didn’t matter where I went as long as I got myself up and out of bed and out the door. Sometimes I would just put on my shoes and walk around the neighborhood. Most times I would grab a chai tea latte and sit at a table at the mall near my house and do some reading, writing, and voice messaging. That routine actually was working great until I got sick.
  • Health. When I am physcially fit I am more mentally alert and capable as well. Years ago while my mother and I were full time caregivers for my grandmother I quit my gym membership. Years after that I aggravated a back injury and had to stop running. But if I let myself get too weak physically I also lose a lot of IQ points and have trouble with my mental concentration. So, with no gym and running off the table I started doing yoga just to keep myself somewhat fit–and lucid. I developed a new routine. I would do 15 minutes of yoga every day. In fact, just type in “15 minute yoga lower back workout” into YouTube and you can probably work out to some of the same videos that I do. It’ll be like we’re virtual gym buddies. (As an aside, I think I am finally well enough to start running again. Just last month I went for short jogs 3 nights in a row… until I got sick).
  • Forgiveness. Eventually something will happen that will knock you off your routine. I, for example, got sick and started sleeping in, stopped exercising, and stopped writing and talking to people (that last one wasn’t really my fault). When you make a mistake, you get lazy, you lose your momentum. But the simple fact that you feel guilty about your laziness means that you are a good person inside. Forgive yourself and move on. I could probably write an entire book on the subject of forgiveness alone, because I think it is one of the greatest shackles that we attach to ourselves that prevent us from moving on. Sometimes it’s forgiveness of someone else, but more often it’s forgiveness of ourselves. And the greater the expectations you have of yourself (once again, because you are a good person) usually the more brutal you are with yourself. Forgive yourself.
  • But not too much. Because even though I was sick, and even though I was lazy, my own hardships are always fairly trivial compared to what someone else is going through right now. So I don’t take my laziness lightly. Wasted time is never recovered. So forgive yourself, but pledge to do better next time.

So, back to my regular writing, regular posting, and for anyone who happens to be holding a glass of wine in their hand right this instant: “To your health.”

Do you sometimes feel discontent with your productivity? How do you handle laziness?