Get Ready To Evaluate The Last Year

Get Ready To Evaluate the Last Year

Before you move forward with new goals, it’s important to evaluate the last year. You can gain valuable insights that can help you achieve your goals when you pause to reflect. But you have to approach this evaluation of the past 365 days with a special attitude.

This isn’t about making harsh judgements or fixating on failed projects.

Don’t use this time to mentally beat yourself up. You won’t gain anything valuable from shaming yourself for past mistakes.

Instead, focus on looking for patterns and trends that impacted your goals. It’s best to handle your evaluation as if you were reviewing a friend’s year. With the level of detachment this brings, you’ll be more open to learning from the process.

Choose the Right Environment

Make sure you begin your evaluation in a quiet, calm environment. If you’re trying to evaluate your year in between cooking dinner and helping the kids with homework, your picture of the last year may not be that clear and you may miss important realizations.

When it comes to your evaluation, you’ll want to do it in a quiet space. It can be helpful to play soft instrumental music or to turn on a white noise machine. This allows you to get into a relaxed frame of mind.

Limit Interruptions

You may also want to silence your phone and log off of social media.

The constant dings from your cell and social sites can be distracting and you may find it difficult to get back on track after an interruption.

It’s also important to pick the best time of day to do your review. If you’re a morning person, then you may be too exhausted at the end of your day to give your full attention to the year’s evaluation. You should to try to schedule your review during a time when you feel alert and energized.

Take Your Time

Keep in mind that you can break your review up into smaller chunks of time. You don’t have to dedicate five hours out of your day to this project.

You can choose to break your sessions up instead. Many people find that one hour sessions are best. It gives you plenty of time to reflect on your year without causing you to feel overwhelmed.

If you find doing your year’s evaluation difficult or complicated, it might be best to get help from a good coach. Your coach can help you approach your year in review with a positive attitude. With a coach’s guidance, you’ll be able to identify the lessons that you’ve learned in the past 365 days.

Journal Your Thoughts

1. Have you found a quiet environment where you can review your past year?
2. Have you set aside the time for your evaluation? Is this a time when you’ll feel energized and alert?
3. Have you decided to stay detached from your evaluation so you can be open to the lessons you’re about to learn?

Looking Back at What Worked

It’s time to look back at your year. Approaching your review with a positive attitude is important because it helps you to see your accomplishments clearly.

If you’ve overwhelmed and don’t know where to start your year’s review, consider asking yourself these questions:

What saved you time?

You may have saved time by outsourcing certain tasks, like bookkeeping or content creation. Take a look at what you outsourced this past year and how it helped your productivity.

You also might have saved time by developing systems to handle your work more effectively. For example, if you’re a coach, you may have moved to an online scheduler that allows clients to book sessions with you during your available hours. This means that instead of scheduling every appointment yourself, you’re able to devote your time to more important tasks.

What made the most money?

Examine the different branches of your business and see which ones made you the most money. Did your web design package prove to be a big income generator? Did your new product bring you a flood of new customers?
Knowing which activities are making you money is important. You don’t want to invest your New Year into tasks that aren’t growing your business.

What created the greatest amount of personal pleasure?

Now it’s time to look through the year’s projects and evaluate them in a different light. You want to focus on the ones that made you happy.

Ask yourself why you felt happy when you worked on these projects. Did you get to tap into a skill you’ve always wanted to use? Did you discover a talent you didn’t know you had? Whatever your reason why, make sure you write it down so you can remember it later.

What relationships developed that you’re excited about and why?

Growing your online community is done one relationship at a time. That’s why it can be helpful to review your relationships over the past year.

Did you become friends with another business owner that you might want to partner with later on? Did you hear from several customers that love what you’re doing and want to beta test your next project? Make a list of the new relationships you’ve developed and why they matter to you.

What positive breakthroughs did you make that have impacted your mindset for the better?

As you’re evaluating your past year, reflect on your mindset. How is it different now? Did you experience a mindset breakthrough that changed the direction of your life? Did you invest in learning more about mindset and how it affects your business?

Think of your twelve-month review as a great way to dig up your past. You might just find a few golden nuggets that will help you in the coming year.

Journal Your Thoughts

1. Which projects brought you the most personal pleasure?
2. What relationships have you developed that you’re about? Why?
3. What positive breakthroughs did you make that have impacted your mindset for the better?

Be Honest About What Didn’t Work

You’ve carefully delved into the past year and found the positive moments. You celebrated your wins, embraced your favorite projects, and taken a look at what activities made you a nice profit. But now it’s time to step back and discover what didn’t work.

During this phase of your New Year evaluation, it’s important to remember that you aren’t judging yourself. What you’re judging are your projects. Just because a project failed that doesn’t make you a failure.

What projects flopped in the past year?

Did you try something new this year that didn’t work out? Maybe you tried Kindle publishing only to sell ten copies of your e-book. Maybe you launched a project that your community wasn’t enthusiastic about.
If a project failed, you need to identify it and consider why it failed. Maybe you didn’t spend enough time marketing your new Kindle e-book. Maybe you didn’t listen to your community’s needs and that’s why your project flopped. Acknowledging your failure is the first step to learning from it.

What did you invest time and money into that gave you the least return in profit?

Every project requires energy and attention from you. Are you nurturing projects that are sick and dying? These projects will often give you every little in return for all your effort. It might be that you have a blog that you’re still trying to get traffic to after months or even years. It might be that you’re still updating your course on web design even though no one’s buying it.

You have to examine the projects that are siphoning time and money from your business. Is there another healthier branch of your business that you could invest your time and money into?

What tasks or projects did you find yourself dreading?

Most business owners have at least one or two tasks on their plate that they don’t enjoy. Perhaps you hate designing graphics for your blog or you dread coming up with fresh content for your podcast every week. Make a list of tasks that you don’t enjoy. Look them over and ask yourself if you can drop or outsource some of these projects.

Are there people in your space that you feel unenthusiastic about?

Not every business partner or client is going to be a good fit for your business. Maybe you originally took on a client because you needed to pay the bills but now you make enough that you don’t have to worry about that. Perhaps you’ve been business partners with another entrepreneur who’s now going in a different direction than you are.

No matter the relationship, it’s important that you take time to consider why you no longer enjoy working with this person and what you can do about it. It might be time to let that demanding client go so you can embrace one that you’re enthusiastic about serving. It might be time to say goodbye to your business partner and find a new one to work with.

Keep in mind that you are more than your ideas. You are a human being on a quest for your dreams. If you approach this part of the evaluation with this in mind, then you’ll be able to learn as much from your failures as you have from your successes.

Journal Your Thoughts

1. What projects flopped in the past year?
2. What did you invest time and money into that gave you the least return in profit?
3. What tasks or project did you find yourself dreading?

What Were You Hoping For That Didn’t Happen?

It’s time to think back to the beginning of last year. You were probably reviewing your year and dreaming new dreams. You may have felt hopeful that this would be the year you would finally succeed. You may have been determined to accomplish your goals no matter what.

But no matter how hard you may have worked, some things just didn’t happen. Let’s examine why you didn’t meet some of your goals and what you can do about that.

What didn’t you accomplish?

First, you need to make a list of what you didn’t accomplish. Did you set big income goals or plan to travel to a different country? Did you want to publish a book or speak live at an event? Were you looking for a new business partnership?

What goals were you enthusiastic about?

Once you have a list of what you didn’t accomplish, you need to review the goals that you did accomplish last year. What made some goals stand out for you? Why did you prioritize some goals over others? If you had the year to do over again, would you still choose the same priorities?

Did you really want to accomplish these things?

Before you go any further, you need to look over your list of failed goals.

Did you really want to meet that goal or did you add it to your list because you felt pressured to do so? For example, maybe a lot of your friends started a weight loss program and you set a ‘lose weight’ goal simply because you wanted to be included.

It’s important to remember that it’s OK to let go of goals that you never wanted in the first place. By releasing these goals, you open more room in your life to pursue the goals that really matter to you.

What contributed to other goals slipping by without your full effort?

After you’ve reviewed your list and let go of the goals you didn’t care about, you should take a long look at why you didn’t put your full effort into the remaining goals that you wanted to accomplish. Were you so overwhelmed that you didn’t know where to start? Were you afraid of how accomplishing such a big goal could change your life?

You need to be honest with yourself about why you didn’t accomplish these goals. Remember that it’s easy to dream a big goal and write it down. But it can be tough to break it down into actionable steps. That’s where a good business coach or a trusted mentor can help you.

Once you’ve completed this step, it’s time to look at the upcoming year. You’re now ready to come up with fresh, hopeful dreams for your future.

Journal Your Thoughts

1. What didn’t you accomplish in the past year?
2. Why did you set these goals? Did you really want to achieve them?
3. What contributed to these goals slipping by without your full effort?

Create A Framework For A More Awesome New Year

You’ve spent some time carefully evaluating last year. You’ve mined the previous year for valuable lessons and paid attention to signs of trouble areas. Now, it’s time to tackle your New Year planning.

This is an exciting phase and you may be tempted to set the same goals again. You might tell yourself that this time you’ll really do it. Albert Einstein is loosely quoted as saying doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results is a sign of insanity. You need a new plan of attack or you’ll experience the same results you did last year.

It can be helpful to build a framework and use it to guide you this year based on what you’ve learned about yourself during your evaluations.

Do more of what worked.

If you’ve been following along, then you already have a list of projects that you enjoyed and that worked well for you last year. This year, focus on what you enjoyed about these projects and try to re-create that feeling with new projects. For example, if you discovered that you loved making videos last year, then maybe you’ll incorporate more videos into your business. Perhaps you could add videos to an existing course and convert it into a video course.

Do less of what you dreaded.

The projects you work on should light you up. They should make you shine and give you a sense of pride. If you have projects from the last year that you hated, look at ways you can do less of them. Maybe you learned that you don’t enjoy offering group coaching because you prefer to offer one-on-one help. You should aim to move away from services and products that aren’t enjoyable to you.

Do more of what created profit.

Look at the projects that brought in the most profit for you last year. Usually, these are the projects you enjoyed the most and felt passionate about. You want to fill your New Year with more projects that made you money.

Do less of what sucked time and money.

Sometimes, we work on projects because we think we have to. It might be that someone told you that the best way to make money online was to do ABC.

It might be that you started offering a certain service because you need the experience when you were first starting out.

Whatever your reason, you have permission to let go of the projects that suck your time, your money, or your joy. If you offer a service you’re ready to retire or if you’re still offering a course that no longer fits with your business, set an end date.

Then let your customers know about this end date. Explain that you won’t be offering this course/service/product after your chosen date.

You can give yourself and your business a great gift by hiring a coach for the New Year. Pick a coach that has achieved success in area that you’d like to be successful in, too. For the best fit, look for a coach that shares your life values.

You can talk with your coach about what you’ve learned in the last year and invite him or her to partner with you during this year’s journey.

Journal Your Thoughts

1. What goals are you enthusiastic about achieving this year?
2. What are you going to do differently in your business this year? Why are you doing it differently?
3. Where are you going to be focusing most of your time and energy this year?

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Your Success Report

Introduction

When you look at your life, you may be miles away from your goals and dreams – so far you wonder if you’ll ever get there. This gap can be especially frustrating when you feel like you’re working hard to move forward.

Unfortunately, just “working hard” doesn’t assure success. There are a lot of other elements and factors that determine how far you go and how close we come to achieving the life you imagine. This report discusses ten factors that play a part in holding you back from your dreams. If you can surmount them – or even a few of them! – your efforts will be supercharged, moving you past obstacles that formerly held you back.

Don’t try to tackle all ten at once. Read through the report and see which one or two resonate with you the most strongly, and start there.

There’s plenty of time for the rest.

One note: In this report, the words “dreams” and “goals” are used interchangeably. In reality, they are very different things: After all, a dream is a goal without a deadline. But since the principles here are equally applicable to goals AND dreams, I’ve used them as synonyms.

Reason #1: You Don’t Know What You Want

If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much…Jim Rohn

Before you can get anywhere, you need to know where you are going. It sounds simple, but when it comes to life goals or dreams, it’s not so clear. We think, “I want my business to be a success,” or “I want to be happy.” But ask 100 different people to define success, or to say what makes them happy, and you’re going to get 100 different answers.

That’s why when it comes to getting what you want, the first step is to decide – specifically – what you want in your life. Not in generalities, but in specifics. For instance:

NOT: “I want to be skinny,” but, “I want to wear a size 10 and have my BMI, blood pressure, and cholesterol in healthy ranges.”

NOT: “I want to be financially secure,” but, “I want to be debt-free and have $100,000 in the bank by the time I’m 50.”

NOT: “I want a new job,” but, “I want a job that allows me to work flexible hours from home, making $20 an hour, using my skills in word processing and business management.”

 

Specificity is critical in goal-setting for several reasons:

1.    If you only have a general idea of what you want, you can only get a general idea of how to achieve it. It’s like driving: If you know you want to drive from Portland to Philadelphia, you have a general idea of how to get there – and you may end up in the Schuykill River or on the wrong side of the tracks. But if you want to see the “Rocky” statue in front of the art museum, you can fine-tune your approach to get yourself exactly to the point you want.

2.    Being specific saves time. You will intuitively be able to sort through opportunities that are presented to you and know immediately whether they are in line with your goals or not.

3.    Being specific helps your mind create a vivid picture of what you want. Once your mind can picture it, it’s much easier to achieve it.

If you’re having trouble specifying your dreams, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What does it look like?
  • How will you know when you’ve made it?
  • When do you want to achieve this goal?
  • What does it feel like, taste like, smell like?
  • What would a day in your dream life be like, from the time you get up until the time you go to bed?

Write these answers down and revisit them frequently to see if they’re still true, and to remind yourself of what you’re working towards.

Reason #2: You Don’t Have a Plan to Get from Here to There

You can know specifically what you want to achieve, what it looks like, and when you want it – but without a plan, you’re like a vacationer to Paris who forgot to buy his plane ticket. Whoops!

The next natural step after determining WHAT you want is laying out a plan for getting it. Where many people make mistakes is assuming that having a plan is an all-or-nothing proposition: They need to have a carefully scripted path from A to B, and then on to C and D, with no unknowns, and no changes.

 

Not so! In fact, ask any visionary who’s achieved anything of merit, and they will say that the path they thought they were going to take wasn’t what ended up happening. But they’ll also tell you that knowing the first few steps and committing to them were critical to their success.

 

Take someone who wants to lose weight. They know what they want to weigh, and they’ve decided to try Weight Watchers combined with walking 30 minutes a day. That’s all they need to get started because it gives them the next steps: To sign up for a meeting, attend the meeting, and begin walking.

 

What they can’t anticipate, though, is the weather. Or pizza night with the girls. Or the fact that they seem to be having trouble losing weight on the prescribed plan after a few weeks of success and need to shake things up a bit.

 

Situations change; that’s a given. Rare is the plan that is laid out in excruciating detail on Day One and followed without adjustments. You have to be prepared to make changes along the way, but you also have to know what “the way” is. Without any plan at all, you are a victim of your circumstances, not knowing what’s going to move you closer to your goal and what’s going to take you farther away.

 

So after you’ve set your end goal in living color, figure out that one next step you have to take. Trust that when you take that step, you’ll see the next one and the next, forward to success. You’ll know when you need to move left or right, but only if you move until the point you see ahead of you. Sometimes it’s only in retrospect that the whole path is clear, like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs strewn behind them.

 

Reason #3: You Lack the Resources

Have you ever watched a show like Clean Sweep, Trading Spaces or The Biggest Loser and said to yourself, “Of COURSE they can lose weight/clean out their clutter/redesign their home. They have a team of experts at their beck and call!”

Well, while not everyone – and in fact, very few of us – can have Oprah’s dietitian, Jillian Michaels for a personal coach, and an interior designer to rework our home, we do need to find and use resources to help us achieve our goals. If we find ourselves stymied on the way to success, we just might be experiencing a lack of resources.

Resources fall into several types. Let’s look at each one and discuss ways to get the resources you need to get where you want to go:

Monetary. Usually, when we think we don’t have the resources to complete a goal, we think it’s a monetary issue. It’s true that some goals take cash, but most of the time, we think of money as the solution to all our problems. While it can definitely help smooth the way, there are other methods to getting the resources we need besides purchasing them. For instance:

Bartering. Trade your expertise for someone else’s services. If you’re looking for a personal trainer, swap your Internet marketing skills for her training.

Borrowing. One of the biggest disadvantages to our geographically disconnected world is the inability to borrow from each other. But why not reconnect with your neighbors? Someone may have a car they’re not using and would be glad for you to use it to get to your night class across town.  Someone else may have a summer house on the shore and would be happy to let you camp out there for weekends in the winter to work on your book. You won’t know until you ask.

Renting/Timeshare. Pretty much anything you want or need, from a horse to a car to a ski house, can be available for a timeshare or rental. Go online and google your desire and see what comes up.

 

Time. Time may be even more of an issue than money when it comes to reaching your goals. We often say, “I just don’t have the time!” when we mean, “It’s just not important enough to me right now.” The truth is, we all have the same number of hours in the day. You don’t have any fewer hours than the person who’s out there training for an Ironman, or staying up late to work on her new business idea. If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way.

 

Support. Our cheering squads are resources, no doubt about it. And while the people closest to us may not understand why we want to build a log cabin in the woods or start a summer camp for disadvantaged ferrets, there are people out there in the greater world who would gladly cheer you on. All you have to do is find them.

There really are no valid excuses when it comes to lack of resources. Put it this way: Whatever you think your excuses are, someone else in a tougher position than you has already found a way to achieve what you want to achieve. You can do the same.

Reason #4: The People Around You Don’t Support You

In the last section, we discussed lack of resources, including lack of support. In my experience, that is the biggest obstacle for people reaching their goals. Isolation, or even downright discouragement, can thwart even the most dedicated individual. To put it bluntly, you need a cheering section.

 

Few people like change, especially change they don’t ask for or control. Those closest to us in our everyday life have a vested interest in keeping things – including you – the same as they’ve always been. After all, if you lose weight/get out of debt/get a new job/quit drinking/start a new business, what does that say about them?

 

There will be three groups of people in your life:

1.    Those who are avid encouragers. They get up early to go to the gym with you, find magazine articles on starting your own business, and offer to house-sit while you go to a conference. These people are golden!

2.    Those who don’t get it and don’t talk about it. They watch from the sidelines, scratching their head, as you start eating green, talk about SEO or autoresponders, and wonder what you’re up to now. They won’t actively discourage you, but the fact they don’t even ask about your latest accomplishments can leave you feeling bereft and slightly depressed.

3.    Those who are out to make you fail. That sounds harsh, but it’s true; a certain group of people will not want you to quit smoking, or find a new job. They like things just as they are, and they take it as a rejection of them and their choices if you succeed. Note: Unfortunately, these are often the people who are closest to us.

The solution is to minimize your contact with those who discourage you, and maximize your contact with those who want you to succeed. Avoidance can be tough if you happen to be married to a discourager; this is when you’ll have to make a decision about what’s most important in your life, maintaining the status quo or reaching your dreams.

 

If you need more supportive people, you can find them! Here are some resources online to track down like-minded individuals:

  • Meetup.com. Type in your city and your interest and find other small business owners, organic farmers, or model train aficionados.
  • Yahoo! and Google Groups. Search for others who are interested in the same types of things you are.
  • Twitter. Search by hashtag (#) for your area of interest.
  • Facebook.com. Tons of pages on everything from mothers who run to pet groomers.

 

One other way to find supportive people: Find a coach! A personal trainer, a business coach, a dietitian… there are tons of experienced professionals who can help get you where you want to be. The benefits of their experience can save you time and money as you pursue your dreams.

 

There’s no need to go towards your goal alone. Whether you hire a coach or find a virtual buddy to back you up, there are people who would love to see you succeed.

 

Reason #5: You Don’t Really Want What You Think You Want

 

Everyone wants 2.4 kids and the white picket fence… right?

Everyone wants a vacation home in the mountains… right?

Everyone wants to look like Jennifer Aniston or Brad Pitt… right?

Everyone wants to run their own business and be their own boss… right?

 

Wrong.

 

When it comes to dreams, one size most definitely does NOT fit all. Our dreams and goals are as individual as we are, and adopting someone else’s goals as our own can feel like wearing someone else’s shoes: It looks okay to everyone else, but to us, it feels awful and gives us blisters.

 

There are thousands, if not millions, of people out there striving for the wrong goals. Wrong not because there’s anything inherently bad about them, but wrong because the goals they’re aiming for are wrong for THEM.

 

There’s the med school student who loved her accounting and finance classes in college… but set any thought of being an accountant aside because her mom and dad are both doctors.

 

There’s the successful salesman who would really love to chuck it all and teach English, but he’s making too much money and only a crazy person would throw away a six-figure paycheck.

 

There are frustrated dentists, bakers, and candlestick makers. There are frustrated sheep farmers, personal trainers, bail bondsmen and police officers. Frustration knows no geographic, socioeconomic, or race or religious boundaries.

 

The only way to know if the goals you’re aiming for are the right goals is to figure out if they are your heart’s desire. Sometimes it takes some detective work to peel back the layers of societal and family expectations to get at what YOU really want.

 

There are clues all around you: If you fall asleep dreaming about something, wake up thinking about something, and find yourself perking up whenever you meet someone doing what you’d like to do, you’re on the right track. Meanwhile, if you get a sinking sensation when you pull into the garage of house with the white picket fence, or find yourself calling in sick to that six-figure job “everyone” would kill to have, then you may be in the wrong place… for you.

 

So what do you do if you find you’ve been chasing after the wrong dream? You readjust. You find ways to move your current life closer to the one you really long for. Maybe that means getting up an hour early to work on your mystery novel. Maybe it means spending your weekends teaching art to inner city kids. Maybe it means volunteering to do taxes at the senior center. Take a small step and see how it feels. Then take another, and another, until you know deep in your heart you’re on the right track. If you are, the momentum will carry you forward.

 

 

Reason #6: You Lack the Skills

Someone can know academically how to remove an appendix, but you wouldn’t want someone to take a scalpel to you who had never been trained – no matter how many books they’d read and videos they’d watched. There can be a big gap between knowledge and skill, and that may be what is holding you back.

 

Once you’ve identified what you need to learn, the next step is to try it. Skill can only be developed in one manner: Through practice. You can’t create a top-notch video… until you create a bunch of not-so-great ones. You can’t cook a gourmet meal… until you create a bunch of so-so ones. You can’t give a standing ovation-worthy keynote speech… until you give a few snoozy ones. You can read, study, learn, and learn some more – but until you actually try and refine your skills, you’re not going to get better.

 

There are a couple of misconceptions that hold us back from putting our knowledge to work:

 

1.    We think we need to “know it all.” The problem with gaining knowledge in today’s online world is that there’s no end to what we can learn. There’s always another class, blog post, video, article, or guru that we can consume. Solution: Pull the plug. Remind yourself that you cannot have perfect knowledge, and that is okay.

2.    We think knowledge is better than practice. In fact, the opposite is often true. Practice, as the old saying goes, makes perfect. There’s no substitute for picking up the golf club and swinging it over and over again – but that practice could very sell substitute for reading another book on hitting the perfect drive.

3.    We fear imperfection. We somehow think that “everyone else” is perfect and never falls down, sends out an email with an embarrassing typo in it, or otherwise struggles at first. This is so false; anyone who has mastered something, from making money to making a cake, went through failure first.

 

Sometimes, the only solution is to get out there and try. Publish the first blog post. Send in the first article. Sing the first song. Refinement comes through practice, and there is no shortcut to mastery. You can read as many books as you want, but true skill will only come with trial and error.

 

Reason #7: You Lack Stamina

Take a sprinter on a long run with a marathoner and you’ll notice something: The fastest man in the world isn’t so fast once you get past the first 10 miles. The marathoner, who started out at a more moderate pace, slowly overtakes the sprinter who has trained himself for short distances. It’s the classic tale of the tortoise and the hare.

If you tend to start out with a bang on a new idea or project, only to get discouraged when you hit that mental “wall” around mile 13, you may be out of shape. And while you may be banking on becoming the next overnight success, you need to know that:

A.   The true overnight successes of today become the one-hit wonders of tomorrow, and

B.   Most overnight successes were many years in the making.

 

Look behind virtually any rags-to-riches story, from Susan Boyd to Zappos, and you’ll see that years went into the preparation for their time in the limelight.

 

If you see yourself having trouble with your stamina, it’s time to work on building your endurance. Here are some exercises to help you:

1.    Track your progress. Often progress is so incremental that you can become discouraged before you hit your goal. Write down the successes – small and large – and review them regularly to remind yourself that you are making progress. You may even want to make a large visual representation of your goal and track your progress towards it, just like schools put up huge thermometers to show how much money they’ve earned towards their pool fund.

2.    Pace yourself. The marathoner knows that going out as fast as possible in the first mile is usually a recipe for disaster. Yes, you’re excited about your new venture, but keep some of that excitement in reserve. You may feel like staying up until all hours working on your business plan, and while that’s great, don’t expect to be able to maintain that level of commitment for weeks or months on end.

3.    Cross-train. Find other activities to give you a break from your main focus. You just might find that time away from your goal refreshes and energizes you, and keeps you from burning out. Even if it’s just an evening a week, make sure you take mini-vacations.

4.    Find a partner. Partners are great whether you’re heading to the gym or working your way through med school. Sometimes an outside commitment is needed to help you stay accountable and stay on track. Having someone who understands the challenges you’re facing can make all the difference between giving up and going on.

 

While a sprinter can be in great physical shape, most goals require a long-distance mindset. Remind yourself what the tortoise knew: Slow and steady wins the race.

 

Reason #8: You’re Scared of Failure

 

Any coach can point to a handful of clients who seemed to have all the talent, resources, and determination in the world, but for some reason, they were never able to reach their goals. They talked the talk, and walked the walk – for a while. But suddenly, they disappear into the sunset, becoming just a distant memory.

 

In my experience, it’s fear of failure that keeps these people stuck where they are, despite their resources and skill. They somehow figure that they’d rather be where they are, safe and sound, then venture out into the unknown and possibly not succeed that which they’ve set out to accomplish. They come up with every excuse in the book as to why they can’t do such-and-such:
-It’s too cold.

-It’s too hot.

-Everyone knows you don’t start (fill in the blank) in the summer (or winter, or fall, or spring).

-They need to take another class.

-They need to get their office ready.

-They need to wait for their youngest to start kindergarten, their oldest to start college, their husband to die, their wife to get well.

 

There’s always a reason why now is not the right time – but the real reason is that they’re simply afraid of not being able to make the grade. And then who knows what would happen if they (gasp!) failed?

 

Ironically, it’s the fear of failure actually causes them to fail! And they’re still alive, stuck in their little shell. So I guess failure wasn’t so bad after all, was it?

 

When working with people who have a fear of failure, sometimes direct questioning is the best method to get them to recognize their obstacle:

 

If not now, when?

If not you, who?

 

If you have this goal on your heart, then it’s there for a reason. You may be the only person who can bring that particular goal to reality in the exact way you dream of. If you don’t do it, no one will!

 

The truth is, there is never going to be a perfect time to start. And the truth is, you’ll likely have some stumbling blocks along the way. Everyone does. But you have to reach a point where staying where you are and never unwrapping your dream is more painful than any risk of misstep or failure. Then, and only then, will you be prepared to move forward. And I bet you’ll find it wasn’t anywhere near as scary as you thought it would be.

Reason #9: You’re Scared of Success

Susan wanted to go back to school after her twins had left for college to get her law degree. She wasn’t worried about being the oldest one in her class. She wasn’t worried about keeping up with the studies. She wasn’t even worried about taking the LSAT. Here’s what worried her:

“Who will take care of my dogs if I go back to work full-time? They’re used to having me home all day.”

 

This talented, vibrant woman was willing to put the imaginary wishes of her dogs three or four years from now, before her own desire to become a lawyer. Something else had to be going on!

 

A little digging showed that the dogs were just a convenient excuse. What she was really worried about was upsetting the carefully crafted balance she and her husband had stuck in their married life. He was the breadwinner; she was the homemaker. If she did something different, she wasn’t sure how he would respond. What if he left her? What if the friendships she’d cemented over PTA bake sales and field trips and Little League games couldn’t weather the change from stay-at-home mom to career woman? What if she lost everything she’d built her life upon?

 

Susan was afraid of success. Actually, it wasn’t fear of the goal itself, but of the byproducts of achieving her goal. The domino effect of making one change in her life – going back to school – might be more than she could handle.

 

If you find yourself not doubting your abilities, but feeling anxious about pursuing your goal because you’re not sure what will happen if you do, you may be like Susan. And it is a legitimate concern. Change often begets more change – more than we bargain for. But there are ways to prepare for it.

 

1.    Talk to the people closest to you. Share your fears about the changes in your relationship that might happen as a result of pursuing your goal. You may be surprised to find that they don’t care one whit whether you’re dressed in blue jeans or a three-piece suit; they just want to know they’ll see you at Bunco once a month.

2.    Be honest about your concerns. Don’t misplace your anxiety about your marriage onto your dogs – or your kids.

3.    Realize that change usually happens in increments. Yes, going back to school will be a radical change, but the subsequent adjustments in relationships will be more gradual. You will have time to talk about them and discuss them.

4.    Work with a coach or other expert. Coaches are trained in managing change, and will be able to help you predict some of the other secondary adjustments that may result.

 

Yes, things will change. But not all change is bad; in fact, you may find that your life in every area ends up better than you had ever hoped it would be. And that the dogs don’t miss you all that much anyway.

 

Reason #10: You Don’t Think You Can.

When it comes right down to it, there’s only one real barrier that will keep you from achieving anything you set your mind to, and that’s this: Your belief in yourself. If you don’t honestly believe you are capable of achieving your goals, your chances of doing so are very limited. And by the same token, if you honestly believe you CAN achieve your goals, there’s nothing that can stop you.

 

Many of us grew up with a limited sense of self-esteem and self-confidence. We constantly doubted our ability to do anything, from cross the street by ourselves to get a date. While this could spring from overprotective parents, who just wanted to protect us from the big, bad world, it resulted in lack of confidence that carried over to our adult life.

 

The only way out is through. The only way to build self-confidence is to do things you are nervous about. That means talking to strangers in line at the grocery store if you’re hoping for a career in direct sales, or posting some of your poetry on your blog if you’re interested in becoming a writer. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

 

There is no shortcut to self-esteem or confidence. No one can give it to you, which is where so many of the school programs aimed at enhancing kids’ self-perception go wrong. It must be earned, the old fashioned way, through risk and reward.

 

The great thing about confidence is that you can start small. If you want to complete the Ironman Triathlon, you don’t have to start at Lake Placid. Instead, you can run around the block and swim a length of the pool. Then you run a mile and swim two lengths, and bike home. You build and build and build, and while you’re building your muscles, you build your confidence. You know you can swim two laps because last week you swam one and a half. You know you can sell $500 in a week because last week you sold $400. You know you can get three customers because you have two right now. And so it goes.

 

Sometimes you may fail; you only make it one and a half lengths, or you only sell $467 in a week. But by looking at where you’ve come from and how far you’ve gone, you know that the next step is within your reach. And when you feel that in your very soul, you will be unstoppable. There is no obstacle or challenge that will be too large for you to overcome, because you know you can.

 

Conclusion

 

After presenting ten different reasons you aren’t where you want to be, it’s my intent not to overwhelm you with information, but to inspire you. Maybe you’ve identified only one reason you’re stuck where you are; maybe you saw yourself in all ten! In any case, I hope that you are prepared to make some changes to move yourself forward.

 

It doesn’t take huge movements to make progress; in fact, sometimes the biggest results come from the smallest actions, like giving up sugary soda, or making one more cold call at the end of the day. It’s the repetition of those small acts over time that brings about huge results.

 

I hope that after finishing this report, you have some clear ideas of changes – small and large – that you can undertake right now, today. I wish you only the best.

 

 

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A Self Development Plan For Success

A Self Development Plan For Success

A plan to get you started taking action to become a better you and achieve excellence.

A New Year hails a new beginning for most of us.

Some may resolve to quit smoking, lose weight, get a new job or get our finances in order.

By February, some of our resolve has vanished, mainly because we couldn’t get over ourselves.

We’re our own worst enemies when it comes to change.

What most of us need is a plan that we can understand and stick to, through all of the hurdles, temptations and stress that enter our lives.

 What you need is this Self Development Plan that contains five basic elements that you need to overcome yourself and win the battle to achieving success.

The elements are:

Spiritual-You don’t have to be religious to be a spiritual person. When a person has spiritual strength within, they have a built in belief system in themselves that will propel them on no matter what the problem.

Habits

 

We all have some habits we’d like to rid ourselves of, but some habits are debilitating and affect many areas of our lives in a negative way. For example, smoking is a habit that keeps us away from others and damages our health. Drinking too much can do the same.

Stress

Too much stress in our lives can lead to depression and anxiety and take a toll on our health. Find a way to control stress and you’ve found a key element toward positive self-development.

Relationships

There are many types of relationships in our lives – family, spouse or love interest, friends, money, co-workers and even food. Until we address the toxic relationships in our lives that keep us from success and positive self-development, we’ll be lacking in that part of our lives.

Body/Mind

As you care for your body – so you care for your mind. Without exercise, the proper diet, avoiding chemicals and other contaminates in your life, the body doesn’t function as it should – and neither does your mind.

As you take this journey of Self Development, turn inward for answers. You’ll find that there are some that you’ve always known for sure – and some that will be a big surprise. Keep a journal about your progress and setbacks, and learn about yourself in everything you strive to do.

Awaken Your Spiritual Guide

A spiritual guide isn’t like a genie in a bottle. But it can be magical when you know how to develop the spiritual guide within so that you and you alone are in control of your destiny.

In Rhonda Byrne’s best-selling book, “The Secret,” she illustrates how your life experiences are created by you. You’re the one who controls your thoughts – which ones will make a positive impression on you and which will set you back. The object is to become so absorbed with the positive thoughts that negative thoughts can’t enter.

It’s completely your choice as to which thoughts you’re going to let enter your mind and take control – for minutes, hours, days or for the rest of your life. Your life’s spiritual experience depends on which you choose.

Inevitably, negative thoughts will creep into your mind when you least expect it, and that’s where practice is key to changing those thoughts back into positive ones that you and you alone will harbor.

How to Control Your Thoughts

Being able to successfully control your thoughts so that you can control your life from within is one of the best ways to awaken your spiritual guide. When you focus on positive rather than negative thoughts, you become a powerful ally to yourself, firmly pointing your destiny in a direction that will help you conquer anything holding you back from success.

When you’re truly in charge of creating your life’s destiny, you become confident and assured because your mind is nurturing rather than tearing down and preventing you from enjoying life to the fullest extent possible.

In the beginning, it sometimes takes a conscious decision on your part to stop the flow of negativity, but eventually you’ll come to the place where the negative thoughts simply “ping” off your mind before they can cause damage.

You may believe that a negative thought has already done its damage by simply entering your mind. But, a thought only damages your thinking process when it’s allowed to linger – to become a strong and powerful force in your mind, repeating itself when necessary to keep you under its “spell.”

To lessen the impact of negative thoughts, begin to think of them as separate from yourself. Only when you begin to realize that negative thoughts are foreign invaders and not part of your true thought process will you be able to release them quickly and effectively.

One way to control thoughts, especially negative ones, is to immediately concentrate on something else. Pick up a good book that’s hard to put down, put on some music that makes you sing and/or dance or exercise your body to clear your mind. It works almost every time.

Letting a negative thought linger in your mind can be appealing to you – especially when you’re in a particularly vulnerable state of mind. When you find yourself entertaining a negative thought, think about the origin of it. Once you know that the thought is from a place of despair, lack of confidence, fear or lack of self-esteem, you can consciously choose to reject it.

Meditation is one of the best ways to control your thought process. As you calm the mind, you can better concentrate on the powers you possess within. These unique powers can “harness the universe” and bring about positive thoughts that will bring you abundance and clarity.

Try meditating at a time when your mind isn’t running rampant with thoughts, either positive or negative.  Meditation will bring you peace of mind – and you’ll find it easier to thwart any negative thoughts that come your way.

Actions Speak Louder than Words to Our Minds

“As ye think, so shall you be,” is an old saying that would be great if it worked. But, just because we think the good thoughts doesn’t mean that we’ll perform the same actions. Again, it takes conscientious effort to act as we think.

For example, if you’re trying to get in shape for the New Year, simply thinking it won’t make it come true. You have to give birth to the thoughts and make them come true by keeping a watchful eye on your diet and getting into an exercise program that will turn the dream into a reality.

Use your own inventiveness to think of ways you can act on the positive thoughts that come your way. Also, think about what it would mean if you acted on the negative thoughts that enter your mind. Use your imagination to conjure up ways that will highlight the affirmative things in your life and you’ll be that much closer to controlling your thoughts.

We sometimes don’t act on positive thoughts because of opinions. Try to keep an open mind about events that happen and people who come into your life. Acting in a positive way toward something or someone you’ve already formed a negative opinion about can open our minds in a way that helps us to listen and better understand an ocean of possibilities.

Joy vs. Sorrow

We’re all periodically visited by joy and sorrow in our lives. What we do with the experiences set apart the survivors from those who let either one overtake them. If you never experience sadness, you’re missing one of the great character-building elements in your life. If you never experience joy, you’re missing one of the greatest building blocks to success and true happiness.

 

Sorrow can turn you into a bitter person and ruin what chances you have at true love and abundance of good things in your life. It can keep you from unlocking the door to the part of you that contains your spiritual guide.

 

Everyone experiences sorrow in a lifetime of experiences. You may be having trouble getting over the death of a loved one or the ending of a relationship. You may have gone through an awful tragedy that has altered your life and the lives of those you love. This is where your spiritual guide can be the most benefit.

 

Grief is a normal part of life, the same as birth and deaths, but if you dwell on the grieving times of your life, you’ll never experience the joy that your spiritual guide has in store for you.

 

But, how can you be happy most of the time when there are so many terrible things going on in the world? Perhaps you’ve lost your job and face eviction from your home and are confronted every day by bills you can’t pay and phone calls demanding that you do.

 

It may sound simplistic, but when you feel that sorrow permeates your life and you just can’t rise above it – think about times in your life when you felt truly happy. It doesn’t have to be a major, money-spending splurge – think about the smile of a child when you read a book to her. Think about taking a walk with your dog and seeing her delight in every smell that came her way.

 

Those are just a few samplings of the little things that you can think about and do to get your mind off the sorrow you’re feeling and back to the happiness that’s still available in your life.

 

You may even want to write down some things you’re happy about – a gratitude journal about what’s positive in your life. Listening to beautiful music, watching a funny or gratifying movie or reading a good book are just some of the things in your life that you can be grateful for.

 

Eventually, you’ll have to deal with situations like unpaid bills or evictions notices, and you’ll experience sadness when this happens. But, deal with them as best you can and then move on.

 

It doesn’t help at all to focus on self-pity or “what ifs,” — only driving you further into a rut. Choose to think about happier times and those to come or you’ll continue to live a life without the proper spiritual guidance.

 

By choosing to focus on happiness rather than sorrow, you’re choosing to control your thoughts and when you do that, the spiritual guide that may be laying dormant in your mind will listen and respond.

 

Don’t Become Victim to Your Thoughts

 

You can become a victim of your thoughts as easily as you can become a victim of identity fraud if you’re not diligent about protecting your mind. Just as you’re careful to shred documents that could become dangerous if they land in the hands of an identity thief, so should you be especially diligent about letting thoughts enter your mind that are going to make you a victim of negativity.

 

It takes real effort to reject negative thoughts. It’s tempting to succumb and wallow in the self-pity they sometimes bring, so practice “catching” them just as you would catch a ball.

 

That skill took practice – you probably missed the ball on the first try, but as you practiced, you became more adept. When you find a negative thought about to enter your mind, catch it as soon as possible and give it a good swift kick to the outside.

 

Communicating with Your Spiritual Guide

 

Communicating with your spiritual guide is the best way to develop a relationship with this powerful force in your life. When you know the proper and most effective way of communicating, you’ll begin to develop and nurture the intuition you were born with. Unless you’re constantly engaged in forming a relationship with your spiritual guide, the ability wanes and – just like muscles that are seldom used – it loses its power.

 

When you don’t communicate with family, friends, boss, coworkers and other people in your life, the relationships become weak and you eventually become out of touch with what’s going on and problems will ensue.

 

It’s the same with your spiritual guide. Lack of communication can keep you in the dark about what steps to take next on your life’s path and will prevent your natural intuitive powers from helping you.

 

You can communicate with your spiritual guide the same way you would communicate with other people in your life – talk to it. That doesn’t mean you should walk along babbling to yourself, but communicate by your thought process. Ask yourself questions and then answer them to get a clear picture of what’s really going on in your life.

 

Be as creative as you can in communicating with your internal guide. For example, when you ask yourself a question, draw from the deep recesses of your mind to gather the information you need to get the answers.

 Saying Goodbye to Bad Habits

Before you can stop a bad habit, you have to first figure out why you’re doing it. Are you bored, frustrated, anxious, sad or depressed? Are your bad habits triggered by certain events in your lifestyle?

For example, do you overeat when you sit down to watch television or bite your nails when you’re nervous or anxious? Only after you’ve identified why your bad habits are taking over your life (or at least making you miserable and keeping you from enjoying as much of life as you could) can you wage an effective war with them.

To realize the pinnacle of self-development for this year and beyond, you’ll need to begin working on the bad habits you identify as being negative forces in your life and start to change them. Begin by writing those habits down on paper. Then, you’ll be able to develop the strategies that will help rid them from your life.

 

The strategies will vary from habit to habit. You may need help from a doctor or counselor to quit a cigarette habit, drinking or gambling. And when you discover that certain triggers are actually causing the bad habit, you may be able to quit it cold turkey by avoiding the triggers.

 

Remember that old habits die hard, and you may have to endure a few setbacks before you’re successful.

 

Knowing Your Triggers

 

Triggers that help to promote and prolong bad habits are sometimes difficult to identify. If all you had to do was connect a habit with a situation, place or whatever constitutes a trigger for you, quitting a bad habit would be easy.

 

Unfortunately, that’s why we have so many industries that make their money from bad habits – such as smoking, alcoholism, hoarding or gambling. Breaking bad habits just isn’t easy for most people.

 

Some bad habits are especially difficult to break because they’re “hidden.” When you experience jealousy and experience it often, it’s probably something you think about more than act upon.

 

But, it’s still a bad habit – and one that’s most likely affecting relationships and how you interact with others. Once you understand that your subconscious mind is promoting these disastrous thoughts, you can use mind control techniques to oust them – and your subconscious mind will eventually get the message.

 

The longer you’ve had the bad habit the longer it may take to get rid of it. Think of it like a diet plan — the more weight you’ve put on, the longer it will take to trim down your body. You can also reduce bad habits in stages and gradually train your mind to get rid of the thoughts a little bit at a time until they won’t bother you again.

 

You’ll want to avoid “trigger” situations that promote the bad habit for the first days, weeks or even months until you feel that you can handle it on your own. If you’ve ever begun a diet plan, you’ve probably avoided your favorite calorie-laden restaurant or having lunch with friends.

 

It’s been proven that the more friends you have at a luncheon, the more likely you are to indulge. Putting yourself in the way of a trigger situation when you’re trying to get rid of a bad habit is a bad idea.

 

After you’ve built your confidence for awhile and practiced replacing bad thoughts and actions with positive ones, you will have created new behavior patterns that will help you resist temptation. Here are some bad habits that most people complain about and solutions for how to break them:

  • Nail-biting or other nervous habits

 

These types of habits are usually caused by stress or boredom. You may grab a cigarette if you smoke or immediately begin to chew on ragged nails or cuticles.

 

Make it a point to catch yourself at the beginning of these bad habits and immediately do something else. Get up and walk around for awhile, get into a project you’ve been avoiding – anything that keeps your hands from turning to the same old bad habit.

 

  • Compulsive shopping

 

This habit may get you into some serious financial trouble or you might end up with “stuff” you don’t even need or want. The best way to curb a compulsive shopping habit is to make a list of what you need before you go shopping. This might mean that you carefully plan menus, put everything on the grocery list that you need and then stick to the list!

 

If clothing or shoes is your downfall avoid those department stores that make you spend money on things you don’t need. If you shop online, avoid those sites where you’re apt to go crazy with a credit card.

 

The same applies to clothing, shoes and accessories as with other things that might tempt you – avoid the triggers for awhile until you build a strong reserve of will power.

 

  • Gossiping

 

Gossiping is one of the most destructive elements of our society. Even if you don’t engage in it, you’re connected to it if you listen and give it credence. Gossip can crush positive thoughts and leave your energy level severely diminished.

 

Amazingly, idle gossip can also weaken your immune system. It’s a toxic energy that is stressful on your body and mind and has no place in your life. Do you watch gossip shows on television or read gossip magazines?

 

If so, you’re tuned in to the gossip energy and probably engage in it at work and among family and friends. The only way you can exorcise gossip from your life is by refusing to read or listen to it. Don’t purchase the supermarket gossip “rags” and if someone begins to gossip in person or on the phone, simply walk away or hang up.

 

When your emotions tell you that you’re listening to gossip, choose the high road and refuse to let the negativity into your life. It may take some will power at first, especially if gossip is a big part of your life, but you can kick the habit.

 

  • Swearing

 

Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” What does that say about us if we have a habit of constantly using swear words? Swearing has become so common these days that it may almost seem acceptable.

 

We hear it on television, in movie dialogues and within the workplace.  But swearing is a bad habit that can reduce respect that people have for you and definitely shows a lack of character. It’s also immature and gives a bad first impression.

 

If you want to kick a swearing habit, begin by getting it through your head that swearing is a negative influence in your life and serves no positive purpose. Begin to break the habit by leaving out casual swear words from your speaking vocabulary.

 

Your speech may sound stilted at first, but take your time and get used to a more “elegant” way of speaking. You’ll soon appreciate the difference – and so will everyone else.

 

When you’re having an especially stressful time, whether a day or a moment, try to cope with the problem rather than cursing about it. Think of alternative words to use rather than the usual swear words – and above all, be patient with yourself. Bad habits are hard to break, but if you persevere, you can do it.

  • Hoarding

 

Compulsive hoarding can morph into a serious problem that may take medical intervention to eradicate. You’ve probably seen stories on television that highlight hoarding (a recent program is called, “Buried Alive”) – stacks of clutter and even animals living in filthy conditions can indicate a serious hoarding habit.

Some of these people don’t see their hoarding as a problem, but if you know you have a bad habit of collecting and keeping items that serve no purpose and want to do something about it, you can probably teach yourself to break the habit by reading some books on organizing. If you think you have a serious compulsive hoarding habit, call a professional organizer that can help put you and your stuff back on track.

  • Bad Financial Habits

When bill paying time comes, do you find that you’re always robbing Peter to pay Paul, juggling finances just to get along and perhaps ending up with lots of late fees? If you answer yes to that question, chances are you’re plagued with bad financial habits.

Bad financial habits include overspending, getting yourself into too much debt so that you can’t pay your bills on time – or can’t pay them at all. What if you lost your job or source of income tomorrow – would you have enough money saved to tide you over until things turn around? You may have the knowledge about what you should be doing, but certain habits are keeping you from realizing your dreams.

Again, knowledge of exactly what you’re doing to cause financial problems is key to you breaking the habit. Begin to track your spending and cut out those things that are non-essential.

Leave the credit cards at home and begin to pay them off by paying more than you’re required – especially on those credit cards that charge the most interest. And, be sure to pay them on time to avoid late fees.

  • Anger

An uncontrolled anger habit can denote depression and intense emotional pain. It can ruin relationships, keep you from advancing in your job or career and can cause long lasting depression – even though anger sometimes makes you feel good as you’re “getting it out of your system.”

But anger is a negative emotion that sometimes has a domino effect such as yelling at your family after your boss yelled at you that day. If anger is causing problems in your life, there are several ways to combat it.

First, take a deep breath before expressing anger at any time. Don’t speak during the anger moments. Instead, vow that you’re going to think about it first. Remember the old Chinese proverb: “If you are patient in one moment of anger you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.”

  • Jealousy

If you’re seeking a path to self awareness and you’ve developed a bad habit of jealousy, you’ll never find complete happiness or become aware of all that you could accomplish if jealousy wasn’t a part of your life.

Jealousy is usually an emotional reaction that comes from your own insecurities. Dealing with it means that you quit reacting to scenarios that cause the behavior. Controlling jealous thoughts and behavior is something like controlling a car racing downhill with no brakes.

To avoid the tragedy that’s about to happen, you should have avoided the hill in the first place. In order to avoid the hill, you have to change your core beliefs that make you react jealously to a situation.

When you find yourself engaged in a jealous reaction, shift your thoughts so that you can cast the feelings from your mind. If that means immediately doing something else, do it.

If part of your Self Development Plan includes getting rid of bad habits, know that controlling your thoughts is the quickest and best way to do it. It doesn’t matter if your habits run the gamut from smoking to laziness to being a workaholic – your every reaction to these habits can be controlled in a good way by first recognizing the origin of the habit and then find ways to turn your thoughts in another direction.

 

You might be able to eradicate bad habits for awhile, only to find that you relapse in a moment of weakness. Don’t give up. Figure out why you relapsed so that you can prevent it from happening again. Above all, don’t become discouraged and think of yourself as a failure. Don’t slip back into the patterns that formed the habit in the first place.

 

Eventually, changing your thoughts and your bad habit patterns will become easier and more natural for you to do. Aristotle said that “excellence is not an act, but a habit.” It takes just as much effort to develop the habit of excellence as it does to keep repeating the old bad habits.

 

All bad habits have triggers that come before you actually engage in the habit. For example, for some people a shower might indicate that it’s time to wake up, dress and go to work while for others a nice warm shower might signal that it’s time to go to bed. One trigger makes you wide awake and the other makes you sleepy and lethargic.

 

Whatever good and beneficial habits you’ve formed are worth reinforcing. The ones you consider bad and that you want to change must be carefully analyzed and then replaced by positive ones.

 

Many therapists say that the best way to replace a bad habit with a good one is to pledge to abandon the bad habit for only 30 days. Be sure that your plan includes how you’re going to replace the habit with new, positive thoughts and actions – then, for 30 days do your best to be consistent. By the end of the 30 days your new habit should be stronger than the old – bad – one.

 

Work on one bad habit at a time. If you try to do too much, you’ll simply become overwhelmed and discouraged.  Begin the process of eliminating bad habits by starting with a “small” one – one that you consider do-able. Each time you eradicate a bad habit from your life, you’ll feel more in control of your destiny and will be able to more easily master the next bad habit.

 

Another good way to ensure the success of eliminating bad habits is to tell others about your plan of action. The more help you can get for “your side,” the more support you’ll be able to count on to see you through it.

 

Try to maintain a good attitude while you’re going through the process of kicking bad habits. That will get you past a great deal of the frustration and obstacles that come your way.

 

Keep positive by surrounding yourself with positive friends, do things you like to do, meditate and be forgiving of yourself while going through this time of change in your life.

 

Learning How to Deal With Stress, Depression and Anxiety

 

Stress, depression, anxiety – we’ve heard so much about these mental and physical ailments – that they’re detrimental to our complete happiness, stop us from achieving all that we can – and, they can turn into killers.

 

Medical experts have deemed stress as one of the top causes of strokes and heart attacks. It makes sense. When our body experiences stress, it’s attempting to defend itself. That’s great if you’re running from a swarm of killer bees, but if your body is experiencing constant stress, the system can become overwhelmed and break down.

 

You can suffer mental and physical consequences from too much stress. Even good experiences can cause stress in your life – and stress can lead to depression and anxiety. Preparing for a future wedding day, even though it’s going to be a joyful occasion, can cause a truckload of stress and when the big day arrives, the stress may come tumbling down in the form of tears, anxiety and even anger.

 

The thing that sets apart those who can handle stress effectively and those who can’t is how each of us reacts to the stress that might come our way. For example, there could be two people working for the same company and in the same work environment.

 

The company is losing money and may have to lay off employees. One person frets and complains about all the “stress” of having to come to work each day knowing that could be the last. How is she going to pay bills and buy food?

 

The other person, however, has prepared for a situation where she might be out of a job – perhaps from illness or layoffs. She’s put aside a nest egg that can get her through the next few months in case she’s laid off. Rather than thinking of how she’s going to get by, she’s thinking about going into business for herself – or networking to find another job, should she have to.

 

Each person has the same type of stress, but one is prepared while the other one isn’t. Handling stress by dealing with surprises before they happen is a good way to reduce the way stress affects your life.

 

Other stressful situations aren’t so easy to prepare for. For example, the death or illness of a spouse, a child leaving home or a tragic accident can’t really be prepared for in terms of reducing the stressful effects it has on your life.

 

Signs of Too Much Stress in Your Life

 

Since happy events can also cause stress, it’s sometimes difficult to know when a health or mental problem is stress-related or stems from another problem. Since stress leads to anxiety and depression, it’s important to know both the mental and physical signs that may signal we’re suffering from too much of it in our lives.

 

Stress, depression and anxiety are so closely linked to both our mental and physical well being that some of the signs are same. Some signs that might indicate that you’re suffering from one or more of these maladies are:

 

  • Headaches

 

Nagging or frequent headaches may not be caused from sinus or health problems. They could be a direct cause of stress in your life.

 

  • Chronic pain

 

Backaches, chest pain and other annoying aches in your body may signal a health problem, but they can also be a sign that you’re suffering from stress.

 

  • Nausea and other stomach problems

 

Like chronic pain, stomach or digestive problems could be caused by health or diet related issues. They can also happen because of stress and anxiety.

 

  • Heart palpitations and high blood pressure

 

Definite signs that stress could be an issue in your lifestyle.

 

  • Weight gain or loss

 

Compulsive eating problems often occur because we’re stressed, depressed or anxious about something. Some people eat more when stressed, but others feel so anxious that they can’t eat at all – neither of which is healthy for your body.

 

  • Constipation

 

If our bodies are stressed, our systems don’t work the way they should. Food doesn’t get digested properly and constipation may occur frequently.

 

  • Insomnia

 

Interrupted or erratic sleep patterns are a leading sign that you may have too much stress in your life. Insomnia can make us lose productivity at work, become irritable and forgetful.

 

  • Irritability

 

Do you find yourself flying off the handle at your children on a constant basis or snapping at coworkers until everyone avoids you? Being irritable when there’s no reason is a sign of stress.

 

  • Losing Focus

 

We all forget once in awhile, why we walked into a room or can’t focus on a project we need to finish. But, if you find yourself losing focus on a regular basis and becoming highly disorganized, you might be a victim of stress or anxiety in your life.

 

Sadness and crying can also be signs that you’re depressed. Almost any change in your feelings and routine that’s causing unhealthful or mind altering stress in your life should be addressed quickly by your health care provider or make changes in your life and thoughts to end the problems.

 

Managing Your Stress, Depression and Anxiety

 

If you don’t learn to manage stress, depression and anxiety in your life, it could lead to serious health problems. There are several ways to control these difficulties, including more physical activity and relaxation techniques such as meditation. Some methods to control stress are:

 

Meditation – a deep thinking strategy where you let go of surface feelings and go into a deep conscious awareness. Many people use meditation to rid their lives of stress, but they also use it as a pathway to clarity and enlightenment.

 

Chronic sufferers of pain use meditation to relieve physical symptoms. It’s a very powerful method of controlling both your mind and body and done at home, it won’t cost you a thing.

 

To effectively put meditation into practice, find a room that’s comfortable and quiet. Don’t try to meditate in the middle of the living room while Spongebob Squarepants is blaring out of the TV and your toddlers are running circles around you.

 

Set the temperature of the room to something cozy to you. Not too hot and not too cold. Have a place on the floor where you can sit comfortably and get deep into thought. Practice some deep breathing techniques and spend at least 30 minutes meditating each day. Maintain good posture in your back as you sit with your legs folded “Indian style.”

 

Yoga – a mind-body connection is what yoga has to offer, and it helps you tune into yourself and tune out stress on any level. Hatha yoga is the most beneficial for stress relief (there are many different yoga styles to choose from).

 

Yoga also engages you in controlled breathing, which quiets your mind and helps your body with a renewed sense of energy and calm simultaneously. As with meditation, you’ll want a nice, quiet place where you can practice your yoga poses. And invest in a comfortable yoga mat too.

 

Self Hypnosis – a form of tapping into your mind and realigning the way your mental state is headed. You’re not hypnotizing yourself so that you’re not in control. In fact, you’re hypnotizing yourself to regain control over your thoughts.

 

You’ll be gently suggesting that your mind take a different thought pattern and by doing this repetitively, you’ll help a new habit form so that eventually, your new thoughts replace the old ones and stress doesn’t bother you as much.

 

Exercise – it relieves endorphins instantly so whenever you pick up your body and move, your stress goes to the wayside. You don’t have to sprint across town to get that “runner’s high” either. You can walk briskly.

 

You can do many forms of aerobic exercise to help your brain release endorphins, which are those “feel good” hormones that help keep stress at bay. In fact, in a 2003 scientific study, scientists found that even swimming released endorphins.

 

Counseling – for some, stress relief may not be found in the form of exercise or meditative processes, but in talking to a trained professional who knows how to help you work through your issues.

 

For some people, it just helps to have someone lend an ear to their problems and tell them it’ll be okay, or give advice on how to better handle a certain situation. Find someone that you trust and then schedule a few sessions until you feel better about things and the stress has lifted.

 

Relationships Are Key for Setting Yourself Up for Success

 

Success means different things to different people. Some may equate success with money and things while others may feel successful if they have and maintain great relationships with most everyone in their lives. Climbing the corporate ladder to achieve a pinnacle in a career path is also a measure of success for some people who are driven to succeed.

 

At any particular time in life, a person may be successful in one or more areas, but very ineffective in others. If you want to be “successful,” you must first define what success means to you. Then, you can begin to work on the areas necessary to fulfill that desire.

 

You can break down your plan into parts that are easier to handle. For example, if you want to lose 20 pounds, you’ll first need to develop a plan and set goals. The plan might include a diet that you know you can stick to, exercise that feels like fun and gathering inspiration so that you can meet all of those goals.

 

Achieving Financial Success

 

Since so many people equate true success with monetary worth, let’s focus on that. In today’s economy, simply paying the bills on time might be a financial goal you’re trying to reach.

 

There are basically 4 key elements involved in achieving financial success – mindset, commitment, education, and action – and you need to build relationships to make all of these work. These elements all work together in solving the mysteries of achieving the monetary success you want from life.

 

Developing a Winning Financial Mindset

 

A positive financial mindset is essential to achieve monetary prosperity. If you think poverty, you’ll live in poverty – but, if you think wealth and financial success – you’ll be much more likely to achieve it. And if you build relationships with people who have a similar wealth-building mindset, it will rub off on you.

 

Everyone knows that what you spend your emotional energy on is what you reap from it. If you’re putting all your time and energy into something that doesn’t make you happy – like a dead-end job – you’ll grow old thinking of “what might have been.”

 

Fortunately, there are ways to change your negative thinking and get back on the road to financial independence and even wealth. Every positive step in your life begins with a decision.

 

If you haven’t yet made a decision about what you want to achieve in life, you have no life’s purpose and your life’s path will reflect that as the days, months and years pass by. Surround yourself with successful people and foster relationships with them. Mentors are important in any successes you might have, so develop those relationships as much as possible.

 

Focus your thinking on what you want out of life and don’t let it go – not even for a moment. Developing a positive mindset takes patience, practice and determination to succeed.

 

After you’ve accomplished some of the goals you set for yourself, you’ll recognize success and how it feels. The more you’ve accomplished, the less chance there is of losing your focus.

 

Educate yourself by figuring out who you want to learn from. If debt is your goal, see if Dave Ramsey’s lessons suit your style. If not, try Suze Orman or another debt and finances guru.

 

Learn about ways to make and invest money and choose methods that you like and excel at. There are no shortcuts to achieving wealth, and you must spend time educating yourself about how to spend your time getting to your ultimate financial goals. The great power of Rome certainly wasn’t built in a day – and neither will your financial wealth.

 

Create a financial plan that includes goals, both large and small. Celebrate the small victories that you achieve and keep them at the forefront of your mind as you move on to the next goal.

 

Periodically revamp your plan as you take action. Things change – like the economy and unforeseen hurdles in your life – and rather than abandoning a successful mindset, you must work hard to keep it.

 

Document everything about your thinking and goals so that you create a path that you can refer to when you need it to reaffirm goals or become motivated. Documentation is also important so you can have a paper trail of everything you do. It’s smart financial planning to protect yourself with documentation.

 

Remember to have fun along the way. Enjoy life as you’re planning for your financial future so that you won’t become bored or jaded about the whole plan.

 

Relationships Can Be Tricky

 

To be successful in any relationship – whether with a friend, family member, spouse, love interest, co-workers, mentor or boss – you have to work at them to be successful. You won’t keep a friend for very long if you let the relationship become stagnant, so you must keep in touch at least periodically.

 

If you become so engrossed in your career or job, the relationship with a spouse or family members can suffer. So, balance is the key for keeping a relationship intact and thriving. Some entrepreneurs get bogged down in this manner because they’re building a business solo – with a goal of spending more time with their family.

 

Unfortunately, they spend years trying to increase their level of success, so they dedicate too much time to cultivating their income and not enough time enjoying the fruits of their labors with those that they love.

 

Make sure you take time each day to tell those you care about why they’re special to you. And think about it yourself as a way to feel grateful each day. Don’t focus on the negative aspects of your spouse – think about that you do love about them.

 

Taking Care of Your Body and Mind

 

When you take care of yourself, mentally and physically, it naturally attracts the right people to you in your life. You wake up every day feeling good about yourself. Others feel good about you, too.

 

So let’s attack this portion of your self development plan in two parts. First, we’ll talk about the mental portion and then we’ll talk about the physical development options you have!

 

Improving Your Mental Outlook

 

Sometimes all it takes is a simple switch from being a glass half empty kind of person to a glass half full personality. Which one are you now? You can do several things to start looking at life in a whole new way.

 

First, buy a gratitude journal. They have some amazing ones that include inspirational messages or quotes on each page to give you a springboard for your thoughts. Write down things you are grateful for at the end of each day so that you get a good night’s rest and wake up feeling serene.

 

If you prefer, keep your gratitude journal with you at all times and keep track of the little things you feel grateful for. It can be something as simple as, “a young man gave up his seat on the bus for me when I was feeling tired.” Or, it can be something big like, “my boss told me he was so impressed with my performance that he’s giving me a 10% raise!”

 

Work on finding gratitude out of negative situations, too. It’s hard, but this is the first step in helping you turn your life around and make it one of wonder and amazement rather than disappointment and frustration.

 

For example, if your girlfriend breaks up with you, write down something positive about it, such as, “Chelsea broke up with me when I wasn’t ready to end the relationship yet, but I am grateful that she didn’t draw it out longer and that I’m now free to find the one true love of my life.”

 

One thing you should do with your gratitude journal that not many people remember to do is reread it from time to time. Make a special time, like on Sundays, when you review the previous week and remind yourself of all of the things you have to be grateful about.

 

Positive affirmations are another method you can use to create a good mentality. Positive affirmations can be sued for stress relief, but also for building self esteem. Each person will have different ones, but you basically make them your mantra for living life!

 

You can say them in front of a mirror, whisper them to yourself whenever you need a boost throughout the day, or mentally recite them as you lay in bed waiting to fall asleep. The key is to engage in some sort of positive talk with yourself each and every day.

 

With positive affirmations, you’re making statements, such as:

 

  • I nourish my body with the right kinds of foods.
  • I deserve prosperity in my career.
  • I give love in a healthy relationship and receive it from those closest to me in my life.
  • I believe in myself and my abilities to achieve my goals.
  • I am at peace tonight.
  • I choose to live my life freely, without restraints so that I can enjoy all that life has to offer.

 

Visualization is yet another method you can employ to achieve happiness. Visualization is when you picture life the way you want it to appear as if it has already happened. But you try to do more than just a 2D image in your mind.

 

For instance, if riding along the coastline in a convertible would relax or inspire you, then you would imagine that scenario as if you’re looking out of your eyes, not looking at yourself. Imagine the wind in your hair, the scent of the ocean breeze coming off the sea. Focus on vibrant colors and even how the steering wheel feels in the palm of your hands.

 

Enhancing Your Physical Appearance and Health

For some people, the need for self development may lie in a health aspect of their physical being, while others simply want to be more personally satisfied with their appeaIf you want to look better for yourself and for those around you, then you might try some of these options:

 

Assess your current weight and see if you’re at a healthy BMI. If not, devise a workout and diet regimen designed to help you reach those goals.

Update your look with a new haircut. Some people have the same hairstyle they had a decade ago, and once they allow the stylist the freedom to bring them up to date, hey feel years younger.

Take care of your nails. When you go to shake hands with someone and your bitten nails and cuticles are the first thing you present to someone, it doesn’t reflect well on you. Manicures are not expensive, and you can easily learn how to take care of your hands at home.

Moisturize your body. It’s the largest organ you have – your skin – and yet we abuse it with suntans and harsh chemicals. Every day, moisturize your face, neck, and the rest of your body and soon you’ll appear younger and more refreshed.

Go for a makeup lesson. We sometimes get in a rut with the way we do things. Go to a makeup counter at a department store and have them give you a makeup lesson. You may feel fresher once you learn that you’ve been applying your eyeliner too heavily or that your stark red lipstick is making your fine lines show up whereas a more muted color gives you a flawless appearance.

Update your wardrobe. You don’t have to spend a small fortune, but every once in awhile, add a new piece of clothing to your wardrobe that’s current and timeless in nature. Shop when things are sale and buy clothes that fit you well.

If health is your main concern, then you’ll want to address any issues that you’ve neglected lately. Some people put off going to the doctor – especially if they’re just run down and tired all of the time.

Schedule a well check up with your physician to rule out any thyroid problems, diabetes and chronic fatigue issues. You want to make sure that your iron levels are up to par, too, since that can cause a depletion of energy.

Some report a more healthful feeling when they adhere to a holistic strategy like Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a rhythmic movement that helps you achieve a sense of peacefulness. The goal is to focus on the present and not on stressful situations that occurred earlier or that you’re worrying will happen soon.

You could look into herbal supplements to help you with stress, depression, and energy, too. Certain herbs like cayenne, Siberian ginseng, gotu kola and Ginkgo biloba helps with energy levels and in staving off depression.

Always check with an herbal expert before using herbs on your own or combining them with your current medications, since they can have adverse reactions in certain combinations.

 

Putting Your Self Development Plan to Work for You

 

As you embark on this journey to better yourself, you’re going to encounter a lot of friction. Sometimes with yourself and sometimes with others. You may second guess yourself about some of the big changes you’re making, and it’ll be hard because you’ll be getting out of your comfort zone.

 

Sometimes you’ll be moving along content in your journey and someone will chime in with their opinions about what you should or shouldn’t be doing and telling you how to do it better.

 

Be grateful that they care enough to provide you with their insight, thank them, and them continue on your path as you see fit. You don’t need to engage in an argument with someone who isn’t aware of every element you’re dealing with in your life.

 

Work on one self development goal at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to look perfect, have an optimistic attitude 100% of the time, rake in tons of monetary wealth and make everyone like you in one day.

 

Pick the area you feel needs the most work and chip away at it until you’ve mastered it to your own personal satisfaction. Then move on to the next most important goal you have in mind and work on that.

 

Don’t be afraid to admit one tactic didn’t work for you and then try something else. For example, you might try counseling and end up feeling awkward talking to a stranger. Then you try self hypnosis and you feel more in touch with yourself than ever before!

 

You may choose to share your self development journey with others. This is fine as long as the person you’re sharing with won’t turn the tables on you whenever you falter. For example, if you tell your mom that you’re going on a diet to lose 20 pounds, and then she raises an eyebrow when you have a brownie at a family get together, or scolds you, it can hamper your results.

 

Becoming a better person means you need to first think about what kind of person you want to be. Don’t set unrealistic expectations of yourself. Make your goals doable and easy at first and work on the harder issues as time goes on.

 

Soon, you’ll feel great about the life that you’re living and the person that you’ve become. And you can spread the word to others who are in the same boat about how you changed your life and achieved the kind of success you’ve always wanted.

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