Reflection and Morning Journal (free download)

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 started Using a “Morning Journal” to solidify my morning routine, to help optimize my mindset and my day (more about that below).

 

 

  • 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.

 morning_journalmorning_journal

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.

 

Some would argue it may not be the best way to get focused or disagree with the approach, but right now I’m looking for results and it’s working for me. Interestingly, Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) looks at it the same way. Again, this is just a tool to get focused by working with our reticular activating system in the brain.

 

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!)

peaceful_winter_photo

Additional Resources:

Books:

Optimize for Victory: A Simple Approach to Overcome Challenges and Achieve Your Dreams

 

Optimize Your Productivity: The Counterintuitive Approach to Get More Done in Less Time (Today)

 

Success Blueprint: Get Out of Survival Mode, Regain Control of Your Life, and Get Ahead at Work and in Life

 

Course: Design Your Success Academy

Check out my #AmazonInfluencer Gift Guide page!

This is too much. Where do I begin…?

Cultivate Good Habits.

 

Improve Your Mindset.

 

Create a Vision.

 

Hustle.

 

Be Disciplined.

 

Set Goals.

 

Be Productive.

 

Wake up Early.

 

Do this, don’t do that…

 

A bit overwhelming, right?

 

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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:

 

  1. 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.)

  2. 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!

 

Additional Resources:

Books:

Optimize for Victory: A Simple Approach to Overcome Challenges and Achieve Your Dreams

Success Blueprint: Get Out of Survival Mode, Regain Control of Your Life, and Get Ahead at Work and in Life

 

Course: Design Your Success Academy

How to Change Your Life When You Don’t Know What You Want — in 7 Easy Steps

With 2017 approaching, some people have already started thinking about their upcoming goals for the next year. These individuals are the ones that always seem to know exactly where they are going and always seem to be in control. They know what they want, and they are going for it! And, they even seem to like and enjoy what they are doing in their lives.

In other cases, however, there are individuals who don’t like what they are doing in their lives or careers. They don’t know what to do next, and they don’t know what they want for their future.

If you are in the latter group, you may be wondering, “What’s my next step? How do I change my life for the better, if I don’t even know what I want?”

If you’re in that situation, and would like some answers — and to change your life — there are seven steps you can begin to take (today)! Feel free to check out the highlights in the following presentation, or keep scrolling to read the entire article!

 

Step 1: Let go of the idea that you need an epiphany before you take the next step.

I have worked with some clients who feel trapped and stuck by their decisions. They may have built up their education and expertise in an area that turned out to be unappealing, or they may feel like they have plateaued in their career.

In the vast majority of these cases, I have found that these individuals know they are unhappy, would like things to be different, but don’t know what they want. As a result of not being sure of what they want, they just keep waiting for the “lightning bolt” to strike them. They keep hoping for an epiphany, that moment of clarity which gives them all the answers. In fact, in many cases, they may be seeking answers in the wrong places, or asking lots of people for advice, but getting nowhere because they keep waiting around for that unattainable moment of hearing, “Do this exactly.”

Therefore, the first step to changing your life, is to actually let go of the idea that you need an epiphany or major moment of clarity to make change in your life. Waiting around for inspiration will lead to simply more waiting around, and typically no answers!

 

Step 2: Shift your mindset: you just need to know the very next step…not the exact destination!

Building on Step 1, once you let go of the idea of needing an epiphany, it’s best to start shifting your mindset to the idea that you don’t need to know all the answers, or even what your eventual path or destination will be.

The key to changing your life is taking action. While it’s important to think before you jump into something (more on the process of deciding the next steps shortly), the most important thing to consider is to take a next step in the first place! The idea is that taking action will actually give you more answers.

For instance, once you take the very next step, and you begin the process of getting data and feedback about what you are trying or attempting, you’ll start getting the answers you have been seeking — such as “I like this” (or don’t like it). Beginning this process will enable you to collect feedback as you go along and eventually you will be able to “course correct” and make adjustments because your goals will become clearer as you collect the data you need to make your decisions.

 

Step 3: Take inventory: Write down all the things you know how to do and all the things you are interested in!

Now that you have let go of the idea of an epiphany, and understand the importance of taking action, it’s time to start the process of figuring out what those next steps will be! To do this, it’s often helpful to “take inventory” of your life. Often we are running on autopilot — we don’t even realize what we know (or don’t know). Therefore, I recommend taking a few minutes to list out your skills and interest areas. This will give you something concrete to work with in the next steps, and it will help you get organized!

 

Step 4: Identify the next step for each skill and interest area from your inventory.

Once you have your concrete list of skills and action areas, you can create an adjacent column, and list out the very next action step for each of those skills or areas. For instance, if you have writing skills, the next action step would be to further those skills or make a product from those skills, such as a book or a blog. You could list out the next action step to read a book on the subject of writing or publishing a book.

Though you may have a “hunch” about an area you should explore, it’s best to attempt to be as objective as possible during this process so that you consider all options and possibilities. Therefore, be sure to list out your next action steps for every area you listed!

 

Step 5: Choose one of the next steps you identified and start it.

Now that you have everything laid out on paper, everything from your interests and skills to the identified next steps for each of those areas, you can visually see all the possibilities available to you. After reviewing all this visually, you can more easily choose an interest or skill that you would like to pursue further.

Naturally it may be difficult to make this choice. Taking some time to examine your feelings about each of the areas, and also what may make sense logically for the ones you feel strongly about, will be helpful for your decision on which area to pursue.

It’s also important to consider that it’s not “the end of the world” if you start to pursue one of these paths and later determine it’s not right for you (more on this in the forthcoming steps). To a certain extent, you need to rule things out so that you can narrow your focus. Sometimes you don’t know what you like until you try it. Again, this is better than sitting around and waiting for inspiration to hit you. You’ll have made the most of your time by beginning the process to get feedback and answers for your life.

Once you have chosen which next step you’d like to take, you’re ready to take the action associated with that step!

 

Step 6: Identify and take the very next steps for the path you started

After taking that first step, it’s important to assess what the next few immediate steps would be for the path you began, and take the corresponding actions identified. This part of the process is a “data collection” period. Often you don’t know if you like something or if it’s right for you based on the very next step; you need to take at least a few action steps, and spend a few weeks or months on it. Of course this is case-by-case and dependent on the specific area you chose.

The important thing is to be observant during this step: notice if you like this path so far and focus on your progress. The first few steps of any process, especially something new or outside of your comfort zone, will be difficult, so be careful not to immediately rule out a path. After you hit a milestone and have completed a number of steps, however, you can get a better assessment of where you are (and where you’d like to be).

 

Step 7: Evaluate and make adjustments based on the feedback and data you collected.

Collecting data, feedback and making observations from Step 6 will enable you to implement Step 7, essentially to “course correct” as needed. As mentioned in Step 2, having additional information will enable you to make informed decisions about your path forward. You can determine if you’re on the right path, or if you need to tweak your path slightly. You may be able to refine your focus and create a goal around that path. There are so many more possibilities that will open up to you once you have taken these steps, especially as opposed to waiting for an epiphany!

In summary, these seven action steps are not hard in and of themselves — in fact they are quite easy to take, once you have accepted the idea of making change through very small, daily changes (which is more realistic than waiting for a bolt of lightning or overhauling your life)!

To learn more about this, and to access special checklists and additional information and resources on this topic, check out my new book, Success Blueprint: Get Out of Survival Mode, Regain Control of Your Life, and Get Ahead at Work and in Life.

Success-Blueprint-Get out of Survival mode, regain control of your life, and get ahead at work and in life

You can access the Amazon version by visiting: http://success.lisakardos.com!