So many of our dreams at first seem impossible,
then they seem improbable,
and then, when we summon the will,
they become inevitable – Christopher Reves
So many of our dreams at first seem impossible,
then they seem improbable,
and then, when we summon the will,
they become inevitable – Christopher Reves
Real growth takes effort, not just once but over time. One thing is for sure, if you persist and commit to persisting until you reach your target, taking action every step along the way, nothing will stop you getting where you want to go.
Want a serge of energy? Do this right now! You have ten minutes?Here are the steps:
1. Choose an area of life you are going to develop (clue – what do you really want right now?).
2. Write down your desired outcome clearly, measurably and with a time for completion.
3.Brainstorm all the actions you can take to get you there
4.Do an action every day.
The payoff is priceless.
Power! As you read that word what comes to mind? A modern day dictator or a medieval king? A Ferrari race car or a bolt of lightning?
Power means different things to different people. For me, it’s a pretty emotionally charged word, and if it is said with intensity, I really feel it in my body.
I believe that every one of us wants power, it is one of the key human needs. The extent and form of the power we are after and the level of desire for it are totally personal, but there is a basic need that we all share, power over ourselves.
An ancient Jewish text (Ethics of the fathers) puts it this way: ‘Who is mighty? One who conquers his inclination. As it says, stronger is a person who is slow to anger, than one who conquers a city’. I think that this passage holds a great truth for us all. Real might, real power is internal. The common need for power is not to subjugate others, it is to master oneself so that one has mastery over his own actions and thoughts.
What would life be like if you were totally in control of yourself, your behaviors, your interactions with others, your use of time? Here’s my answer. Happiness and ultimate high self esteem.
As Gandhi said, ‘happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
Throughout your day you are making decisions constantly. What should I do now, my email or my sales call? What should I focus on – should I turn off my phone for the next hour? Should I walk or take the elevator? All actions we take bring us closer to, or further away from our goals and targets. All decisions either strengthen our power or weaken our power. Your power really is in your own hands.
There is only one thing that is totally equal among all the people of the earth. The number of hours you have per day. The question is, how do you leverage that time, and what results do you get (long term and short term) from the 168 hours a week that you have.
People often come to me and ask how they can sort out a ‘time issue’ that they have. John, an entrepreneur, was having a ‘what’s the point’ day. ‘Nothing seems to be working, every time I have a good day, the next day I crash. I just don’t see my business growing the way I had hoped.’ Sandra, a nurse, was doing fine on her job, but once she got home, she would procrastinate on all the things she needed to do. ‘Can you help me to focus today?’ she asked me.
The short term answer with these requests is to treat the symptom. With a short pep-talk I could help John to lift himself and get on with the things he needs to do to make his business work. Sandra could make a list of the things she needs to do, and choose a few each day. They would be helped for that day, and maybe a few days afterwards, but that would be it. Why? Because John’s feelings and Sandra’s procrastination are simply the results of a faulty process, and until you fix the process, the symptoms are going to keep on coming.
John’s lack of motivation was a result of not having a real plan for success. He kind of knew what he had to do to build his business, but it wasn’t organised in a way that gave him short, medium and long term measurable goals and steps. These goals and steps are essential because without them, important steps are forgotten or left unfinished, and thus making the goals unattainable. Goals are also crucial for motivation, especially when the going gets tough.
Sandra procrastinated things that she really didn’t want to do, and didn’t need to do. She earned enough money to pay for help so that she could focus her remaining time on her children. Forcing her to ‘overcome’ her procrastination may have got the things on her list done, but would have left her unfulfilled.
The lesson? When thinking about your time, what’s right about it, and what’s wrong about it, don’t just try to deal with the symptoms. Go as deep as you can into the process. What is actually going on that is causing the symptoms? How can I change the structure of my day, how can I manipulate my environment, how can I change my thoughts and emotions to ensure that I will create the results I need?
System thinking and acting, is the key to leveraging you time and your power.
Do you know what the flow is? Do you remember a time when you were working on something, when you were engaged to the extent that time just flew by, and by the end of your session you looked back, astonished at the progress you made? How did you do it?
The way we do it is by getting into the flow. Sportsmen call it the zone. Its that ‘relaxed focus’ that allows you to get on with the job, at optimum speed, while using the least resistance. To get to this stage, you need to be 100% engaged in the project. Focused, yet calm. If you can remember the experience of being in flow, you will remember feeling comfortable, possibly even mildly euphoric, so apart from the results, it’s a great place to be.
What is the opposite of flow? It’s being unfocused and tense. Jumping from one thought to another, from one task to another, worrying and feeling anxious about outcomes are what stop us from getting into flow, and from filling our potential. There is no doubt that nowadays we have unparalleled opportunity and at the same time, these opportunities and expectation often get in the way of us fulfilling our potential, and reaching a place were we are productive and calm. Why? Because possibilities and choices create conflicts, and conflicts, prevent free flow.
So what is the answer? There are many, here is one that has worked for me (in fact it is working for me right now as I right this).
Carve out for yourself ‘flow periods’. Time in your day that you purposefully and carefully remove all internal and external distractions from yourself. In broad terms that means:
1. Set aside a limited time to work on an important project. Schedule it!
2. Plan what you need to do in that time and ensure you have the necessary materials
3. Find a space you can be alone (or at least communicate with the people around you that you are out of bounds for the next x minutes and also when you will next be available)
4. Turn all your phones off
5. Ensure you don’t get to see about or hear of any incoming email
6. Temporarily immobilize any other incoming computer communication avenues (chat, skype, etc. )
7. Have your diary at hand so that anything you remember, think about, or worry about during your flow session, can be written down and dealt with as soon as your session is over
The computer is such a powerful and amazing tool, and has such ability, that just being on a computer, and being online can be a disastrous distraction. You have to know yourself. You may need to spend your flow time away from your computer or setup rigid rules to keep yourself out of time conflicts and into flow.
I believe that every person on this planet needs at least one flow period a day to maintain productivity and sanity. Try it, enjoy it, and post a comment about it!
Please also comment on how you get into the flow. Have a flowing, powerful day!
Do you have too much to do and too little time? If you had forever, do you think you could accomplish more?
In the 21st century, our biggest time management challenge is deciding what to focus on. Think of you for example. You are sitting at your computer (and I’m not clairvoyant) and for some reason, you have decided to read this blogpost. You are probably connected to the internet. That means there are literally trillions of pages of information and entertainment that are wooing you towards them – right now. Yes, people and companies have spent billions of dollars to position themselves so that you, yes you, will find their website, interact with them and perhaps even buy from them.
Never before in history has there been so much information, so much entertainment so much potential ‘time usage’ right on your fingertips. And guess what, two things are happening. Firstly, the amount of material is growing every split second. Secondly the technology is creeping further and deeper into our lives.
I’ll give you an example of this creeping. On Sunday morning I’ll be taking a 5 hour flight to the UK. As my kids are not coming with, I’m excited for the opportunity to do some work, read and perhaps do a little meditation, without the distraction of the internet or my phone. Yet we all know that it wont be long until that little haven has disappeared too.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think technology is bad. I think its amazing and useful. What I want to point out is the effect this technology is having on our lives and our time.
Time management has always been about decision making, about choices. Since the beginning of man (or soon after…) a person’s time in this world has been limited, and (at least for the free man) the options of how to fill that time has been endless. Every person has to make choices of what they are going to invest there time in. What I believe has happened in the last decade, is that time management has basically become a major conflict in our lives.
Inner voice 1: ‘Aha, I have a new email – I wonder if it was the one I was waiting for from a possible investor – let me just have a quick peek!’
Inner voice 2: ‘But my wife needs me – she hates it when I bring my work to the dinner table’
Inner voice 1: ‘It’ll just be a minute – she may not even notice – okay, I’ll go to the bathroom and check, then she really wont know so she wont be bothered’
Inner voice 2: ‘She may never know, but aren’t you valuing your work over your family? Why are you working anyway?’
Let’s leave it there for now. You can finish the episode in your head. (And let’s be honest, unbridled blackberry use at home aint a good idea if you love your family, or yourself.)
Conflict is not inherently bad. It just is. Everyone alive experiences inner conflict and relationship conflict. It is part of being alive. All it really means is that there are two seemingly incompatible ideas or plans of action. The problem with conflict, is when we don’t deal with it properly. This is perhaps the basis of much of the strife in our lives internally, in relationships, even internationally. And if we ignore it, it gets worse.
So what is the answer? My answer is managing our time using a conflict resolution model. If we can resolve our time-conflicts in a positive way, we will make the right decisions in how to utilize our time. We will improve our focus and accomplish more of our highest priorities.
And now, you want to know how? Who the heck knows? If you want to know then subscribe to this blog! All (or lots anyway) will be revealed…
If you had to eat a frog today, would you eat it in the morning, afternoon and evening? Most people would put it off until as late as possible. All day that frog would linger in your mind, souring all that you do.
Things we have to do but don’t like doing are just like that frog. If we leave them until later, they can stress us out all day. And if we don’t deal with it today, it’ll stress us out tomorrow too.
Choose a frog each day, something you really don’t like doing, that once done will be good for you, and do it first thing. Get it out the way as early as possible, and even reward yourself by doing something important and enjoyable next.
Please go and have some fun eating frogs and then come back to the blog and post a comment when this has made a noticeable difference to your life!
‘Know where your time goes’ is the first step towards controlling your time and improving your life and productivity. Naturally, we are not very good at this. A few minutes can feel like forever, and hours can fly by. Do you spend a lot of time working on your computer and online? Have the courage to find out what you are actually doing and for how long? To jumpstart your productivity go to www.rescuetime.com . The Free Solo Lite version of rescutime is good enough for most of us. It will let you know how much time you are spending on ‘exel’ and ‘word’, and how long you are spending on each website. You can set yourself goals and measure your success. Note of caution. It tracks all your online activities – make sure you have nothing to hide
What we can achieve in any area is determined by the resources we have. The scarcest resource is the limiting factor. When it comes to accomplishment, the limiting factor is time. Remember the film Groundhog Day? If you don’t, let it be the next film you watch. In the film, after numerous failed suicide attempts Phil starts to use his magical gift of ‘extra time’ to perfect himself. He works on his character, he builds up new skills, and he altogether turns his own nightmare into an absolute dream. And then he wakes up. And he realizes that he really did create goodness in his life, and he continues to live his dream.
Fantasy? Yes and No. Yes? We don’t get the chance to live any day twice. No? The major elements of our lives remain the same every day, and through our use of time, we can slowly and steadily live more and more of our dreams, improving ourselves and growing our skills.
We all have 24 hours a day, 168 hours a week. Sure everyone has different talents, and we can’t necessarily do what someone else can. So what CAN we do?
The first step is to become aware that all your dreams, goals and accomplishments are limited by the time you have. Your relationship to time is the one determinant that will have the greatest effect on our life. Think about the person who is given 6 months to live. Suddenly, each moment is sacred, relationships are central and the scarcity of time becomes all too apparent. Lets not wait!
The second step is to record where your time goes. What gets measured improves. What doesn’t hardly has a hope. We are painfully unaware of where our time goes, yet it effects the life that we lead, the emotions we feel and the relationships we have more than any other factor.
The third step is to manage time. Decide what you want to achieve and set aside the time to you need. Communicate with others, so they will help you to limit and stay away from the things that take away from your ‘life’, and help you focus on what matters.
One of the interesting ironies of modern life is the amount of time that we spend watching and talking about famous people. We may marvel at their accomplishments, or talk them down. Sometimes their lives look easy. The way sportsmen play makes it look effortless. Have you ever thought – I wish I would live like that? I certainly have.
The secret of the success of all these people is hard work. it takes thousands of hours of practice to be a professional sportsman – even if you were born with talent. The good news is that each one of us can accomplish great things and we don’t have to spend thousands of hours on it all at once. Time is cumulative, so lets start today to actualize our power.
Time is totally irreplaceable. Cultivate a tender loving care of time and the reward will be living your dreams.