In last week’s post, I talked about the approach I’ve added to my morning routine, particularly the process of filling out a morning journal. A section of that journal is focused on writing out your most important objective (i.e. goal, project, or desire) to improve your focus on your goal. I explained why in last week’s post.
I want to address this point because I discuss the ideals of goals vs. systems in my book, Optimize for Victory. While I think it’s important to set goals, I caution people to ensure they do not get overly focused on their goals without having a consistent system or process in place to achieve them. In many cases, we can get overwhelmed by the idea that something is missing in our lives, hence the goal; in fact, we can get so focused on the lack of it, that the stress related to achieving that goal can backfire on us. We may end up putting it off or not achieving it at all.
Therefore, I recommend a hybrid approach in my book. I do not think adding the morning journal opposes that. If anything, I think it complements the Tracking System I talk about in my book, a system for getting things done. Crystallizing your focus on what’s important through the morning can help you gain clarity while you continue to work with your robust system to achieve your projects and dreams.
Don’t forget to get cash back when you shop through Ebates this holiday season!
As we approach the end of 2017, it’s natural to look back on the year and review our personal progress. We ask ourselves: did we achieve the goals and resolutions we committed to at the beginning of 2017?
I’ll be the first to admit that I did not for a number of reasons. Those reasons range from personal struggle (feeling sick/immobile in my pregnancy, giving birth to my second child, mourning the death of my grandfather, etc.) to shifting and changing my mind on some of the ideas and goals I had. The latter is okay, by the way. As I have mentioned in previous posts, it’s important to take action. It’s better to take action and “course correct” along the way than to be completely idle and do nothing. On the other hand, it’s also okay to rest and “sharpen the saw” (as Stephen Covey has said) for a period of time, if needed. In full transparency: I actually had a mixture of action in some instances, and rest other times, depending on what was specifically going on in my life at different times over the past year.
(And let’s not forget that a newborn gets up multiple times a night, and she still wakes up at least once per night now!)
While some of my lack of progress was due to “course correction” or personal struggle, I must acknowledge that a portion of it was also due to lack of discipline at times. I didn’t have the self-discipline to take action in some cases due to “analysis paralysis” and in other cases I got off-course in my personal habits. Admittedly, I got away from my own Design Your Success system after the birth of my daughter. And I paid a small price for it (i.e. I didn’t achieve as much as I would have liked; but, to keep perspective—it’s not the end of the world!).
What I experienced is natural for everyone, especially when you’re dealing with major life changes. The important thing to do now going forward, however, is to acknowledge where you are and then to move forward. And this can be done very easily and in small, easy steps.
To address my own situation, I started doing the following:
I am working on my mind and brain again by listening to audiobooks, reading or taking in visual content that is aligned with who I want to be in my free time (mentioned in this interesting video presented by Impact Theory featuring Tom Bilyeu and neuroscientist Moran Cerf, Ph.D.):
Warning: do not listen around small children; sometimes Impact Theory’s videos use adult language.
The Morning Journal is a new addition for me, but powerful. More and more anecdotal evidence (and perhaps even scientific – I need to do more research) is coming out in articles and books about “millionaire morning” routines.
I set up my morning journal to address the following:
I am: This gets me in the right mindset in terms of the kind of person I want to be for the day (i.e. “I am focused. I am disciplined. etc.)
I will: I physically write out my most important goal or project: “I, Lisa Kardos, will…” (right now my goal is around a new course I’m creating!)
Gratitude: it’s important to optimize my mind and realize the blessings in my life, so that I can start my day from a place of thankfulness instead of bitterness.
Morning reflection: This gives me a chance to flesh out my thoughts or get them “out of my system,” so-to-speak.
Some people may balk (or like) the I will section because they resemble affirmations. In all honesty, I do not care how they are labeled. Some people will call them affirmations, others will call them goals, and some people will question the number or the wording. I look at them as a tool, because it’s the same way I learned math or other concepts in grade school: writing something down a number of times forced me to focus; the repetitive nature helped drill those concepts into my subconscious.
So if you are interested in increasing your focus and setting up your day for success, you are welcome to download the Morning Journal here (free; no opt-in required). I will probably write more about the morning routine in the future, but this is a start!
Also note that the “Daily Journal” (used in the evening) is still available for download here. And as always, feel free to check out additional resources below.
(Note that there is special holiday pricing for my books on Amazon and Kobo; Amazon should update the price to $0.99 later today!)
I leave you with the peaceful view I woke up to today (it snowed here in New Jersey!)
Today I’d like to share some thoughts I’ve had recently about two seemingly-unrelated topics that have been on my mind (and they are actually related, as I will explain).
One topic I’ve been thinking about is due to my work with students and young professionals for their careers. I often find that individuals are so stressed and concerned about getting a job that they keep thinking in terms of what’s best for them; they’re not necessarily thinking about the potential employer. In other words, they are not putting themselves in the shoes of the potential employer who is thinking, “Why should I hire this person?”
While it sounds straightforward to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, very few people do it. They think they’re bringing out the most important points in an interview, but it really takes a level of “mind mastery” to put aside your own ideas and to put yourself in the shoes of the manager.
The manager wants to hire someone who is going to make his or her job easier. That means hiring someone who can think ahead (anticipate problems and propose solutions, as an example). It’s extremely hard for people to get past the anxiousness they feel in order to achieve that level of thinking, and it’s especially hard to demonstrate that in an interview. The ones who can are typically the ones who can get the jobs or get the promotions. I know from first-hand experience after interviewing hundreds of candidates at career fairs or in my office for jobs over the years. Often their resumes looked good, but many of the interviews suffered.
This brings me to the second topic, that of “mind mastery.” Our minds are what make us so powerful as humans, and yet we can be limited by our minds at times. This is one of the reasons I study this area so much. I don’t like being limited by my mind, and I’m always looking for ways to feel like I’m in charge of my mind (and not the other way around)! As an example, if I wake up and I know I’m supposed to work on something, but I say, “I don’t feel like doing it today,” and consequently don’t work on it, I’m a victim of my mind. Most people wouldn’t look at it that way, but I do.
While this can get into a lot of philosophical thought (who am I if I’m a victim of my mind, for instance!), the bottom line is that we can often get hung up by our minds. Many people will say these are due to habits, willpower, etc., but it in the end, it all comes down to getting past our minds. Working with our habits and willpower are actually methods that can help us. So if we can figure out how to get past the voice telling us not to do something, using some of those techniques, we’ll have won. And getting back to the interview example, if we can master our mind to the point of putting our own agenda aside and demonstrating how we can provide value to someone, we’ll have succeeded in the interview.
I don’t have all the answers but I will continue to study this area and also help others, because to me this is one of the trickiest things to manage in life (in terms of success or overcoming a challenge).
So the next time you say, “I don’t feel like doing this” yet you feel frustrated that you’re not achieving what you want, remind yourself who’s in charge 😉 and in the future we’ll get into more techniques on how to master your mindset to overcome your challenges.
I just want to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! I am grateful to you, my readers and course participants. Also, I know that this can be a frenzied week and time of year. Thanksgiving is intended to be a time of counting our blessings and grounding ourselves in our gratitude, however it can be hectic preparing for the meal and celebration (and also a little crazy with Black Friday the next day!).
If I start to feel stressed during weeks like this one, I just remind myself to “draw the box.” I think of the comments and issues from others as being outside my box, and I remind myself of the idea: what can I do in this moment. What can I control?
Just taking a breath and thinking about the box produces a subtle but powerful shift; by shifting my attention off of my anxiety and stress, I can transition to a healthier mental and emotional state.
If you are feeling stressed this week, try to draw the box (more info in Optimize for Victory). I hope that helps bring you some peace.
Again, have a very Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the time with loved ones.
All the above concepts are touted in the areas of personal and professional development. In some ways, it’s almost a vicious cycle. People seek help in order to take the next step—to overcome a problem or to improve a particular area, but it can be paralyzing.
In the process of trying to take the next step to improve, you hear all these things you are supposed to be doing, and in doing so, you deepen your state of inaction—because you don’t know where to start. You may think, “Well I don’t have a vision, so I’d better create that, but then I have to improve my productivity, and then I have to improve my mindset…so I can’t really improve anything until I fix all those,” and in the end, you wind up doing nothing—because you need to return to your survival mode. How can anyone improve all those at the same time and see a difference in their lives the next day?
And in many cases, people actually feel worse about themselves, because they start taking inventory of all the things they are not doing. And that certainly doesn’t lead to individuals overcoming their challenges or achieving their dreams more easily!
One of the most common questions I hear is with regard to not knowing how to take the next step. It’s very easy to get caught up in realizing everything you’re not doing as described above, and that can be justification for not making expected progress in your life. This is why I am focused on resources that can help you take action. It’s even one of the reasons I use the word “optimize” because it’s like what we do in engineering—let’s yield a high quality product with minimal cost (i.e. yielding an even higher quality product for 100x the cost, in time/money, may not be profitable nor will it provide you the supply you need for your customers tomorrow!).
If we’re looking to improve something, we don’t necessarily want to take a year to get our systems in place; we typically need a different result as soon as possible and need to “optimize” the current situation for the better. And while it’s important to have good systems in place, realistically people need to see improvement more quickly. Therefore, I suggest taking action as soon as possible (while keeping in mind the overall system you’re aiming for in the future). I’m concerned that if you work on the system and don’t take action immediately, you’ll get so focused on perfecting the system that nothing will actually get done in the process!
Over time, you’ll find that the small improvements will compound, which is often discussed in the Kaizen approach. And if you do this intentionally, knowing the overall system or place you want to wind up, you’ll find that life helps you “course correct” along the way. But you can’t “course correct” unless you start taking action.
Therefore, if you’re in the boat of not knowing what to do next, check out my baby steps article for reference, and also keep the following in mind:
Just start working on what makes sense. While it’s important to take time to reflect and take a step back, don’t do that for days on end while waiting for an epiphany. Take a break and then get back to the task at hand.
If you’re not happy with your current situation and want a change in your life, keep doing #1 while also investing in yourself: take a few minutes each day to think about your overall system.
Sometimes when I present the above two points, an individual will respond to me and say, “Yes, but what makes sense for the next step?”
Naturally this is something best discussed in person. It’s very personal, but it may help for you to use some of the tools discussed in Success Blueprint or Design Your Success Academy. It’s hard to cover all the iterations of where you could be in your life or imagine what your situation is. But my quick, general advice would be:
Continue what you’re currently doing and just keep trying to do your best at it until you’re clear on your new goals. For instance, if you’re in a career you don’t like, keep working at it while you start preparing for a new one (taking online courses to increase your skills, posting your resume, etc.)
If you’re stuck not necessarily in terms of wanting a career change, but you want to feel better about yourself in terms of discipline or productivity, try to implement one small change while you continue to invest in yourself (described above). For instance, if you can’t bring yourself to start something you don’t want to do, create a spreadsheet (described in Optimize for Victory) and track your progress on simply working on it, with no expectation to how much time you spend on it. Your goal is to ensure the time you spent on it each day is simply not zero (0).
To wrap up, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s understandable. It’s easy to “go down the rabbit hole” so-to-speak when you’re looking to make a change. Start small and enjoy the compound effect of small improvements each day as you keep your intention about the new person you want to be (or new career, or whatever it is your heart desires!).
And one final note: I’ve noticed that as hard as it is to start something I don’t feel keen on doing, it typically doesn’t seem as bad once I’ve begun it, and I often feel a sense of relief and a release of tension for at least finally starting it!