With 2011 already well under way, I hope your year has got off to a good start. Here are some ideas I hope will inspire your or help you be more productive:
1: NOW is the time to reclaim abandoned resolutions
The frenzy of the New Year holidays is actually is the worst time to make resolutions. With things settled down to a more normal routine this is the perfect time to get back to any abandoned resolution and actually make it happen.
1. Make sure the goal was realistic. If not, adjust it.
2. Consider what stopped you this time and any other time you've gone for this goal without reaching it.
3. Brainstorm how to overcome that obstacle. If you need help coming up with a strategy, get it (let me know if I can help).
4. Implement your new strategy and set a regular time (at least once a week) to analyze how it's working.
5. Adjust as necessary and keep going
2: Visualization's missing step
Lots of books, therapists, and motivational speakers encourage you to be more positive. Good advice, but how do you actually go about it if you are a glass half empty kind of person?
One way is to use mental contrasting. Visualize what you want and make the images/ sounds/ feelings as vivid as possible. However that's only half the process. Then mentally contrast the desired outcome with your current state. Focus on how things are now in the relevant arena. Research suggests that this takes you away from mere wishful thinking and toward practical planning and implementation.
ACTION: Choose one arena in which you are not satisfied with how things are. Regularly visualize first how you'd like things to be, then how they are. Follow your natural inclination to come up with ways to bridge the gaps.
3: When you say yes, you are also saying no (but maybe not to the right things)
If you're a people pleaser, you find it hard to say no. Most of us hate to disappoint others. The result is that we say 'yes' to too many things. I really like a point I encountered on The Personal Excellence Blog, namely that when you say yes, you're also saying no.
Whatever time you devote to the new "yes" activity will mean "no" to anything else you could have done in that time. And there will always be more to do than there is time to do it.
ACTION: Look back over how you've used your time the last few months. Did you make time for the things most important to you? If not, what did you say 'yes' to that took time that could have been better-spent? Would it make sense to say 'no' to that from now on - at least sometimes? If someone else is involved, share your reason: "I've enjoyed spending time working on the committee, and now I'm going to take some time to work on my novel."
4: Can we harness the power of our butterfly minds?
I have a hunch that perhaps you, like me, have a butterfly mind. I mean the tendency to fly from topic to topic, project to project, and interest to interest. Having lots of interests and curiosity is great but sometimes this comes at the expense of consistency - at least that's my experience.
I've been looking into methods to capture the power of the butterfly mind rather than trying to deny it. Below is an approach I think is worth trying out.
ACTION: Choose one arena in which you'd like to take consistent action. Plan several different ways of approaching it so that you don't get bored, or distracted by new activities--in other words, get distracted within the activity rather than outside of it. When you start to feel your interest waning or the pull of a distraction, switch to a different mode.
For instance, one activity I've dabbled with but not been consistent is creating podcasts. I think one way for me to do them consistently is to plan to use a few different formats that will give the kind of variety I enjoy--interviews, a bit of comedy, on location, etc. I'll let you know in a future bulletin how that works out and I'd love to hear your experiences if you try this strategy with a goal that's meaningful to you.
5: What's your "rocket fuel"?
Do you sometimes find it hard to get started? One simple and useful tool is what I call our "rocket fuel" word or phrase. It uses the power of association to fire up your motivation. Here's how it works:
(1) Think of something you'd really like to achieve. For an example let's use reaching your ideal weight.
(2) Pick a word or phrase that represents this goal. Choose something that has a bit of oomph. For instance, rather than "ideal weight" you might go for "lean and powerful" or "fit and fabulous." You won't be saying this out loud and nobody else has to know what it is, so feel free to choose anything you like.
(3) While thinking of the word or phrase, vividly imagine how you'll look, feel, and sound when you've achieved the goal. With the weight goal you might imagine yourself looking in the mirror and seeing the trim, healthy, energetic version of yourself and feeling proud and excited about it. You might imagine the compliments you'll hear, and the energy you'll feel. Repeat your word or phrase several times in your mind as you do this. Repeat this exercise at least a couple of times a day for a week.
(4) When you're feeling sluggish - for instance, in the morning when you've promised yourself you'd get up and take a walk but you're feeling tempted to stay in bed - say the word in your mind. All of the positive associations you've built up in your visualizations will come rushing into your mind and help you get out of bed. Also use it at decision points: to eat that piece of cake or not to? Mentally saying the word or phrase will help you make the decision that's consistent with your goal.
ACTION: Choose your own "rocket fuel" word or phrase and put the power of this technique to work for you.
6: And a quote to consider:
"Remembering you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart." [Steve Jobs].