Thursday, December 24, 2015

12 Steps to Stopping Procrastination

12 steps to stopping procrastination
“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone” 
― Pablo Picasso
Procrastination can cause many problems in your life, but it is a bad habit you can change if you are willing to put in the effort.

There are a number of reasons for procrastinating, so your first task is to determine why you are procrastinating. Are you afraid of failure? Do you fear success? Do you have a little negative voice in your head telling you that nothing you do is ever good enough?

Once you discover the reasons for procrastinating, you can take steps to make procrastination a thing of the past and enjoy a more successful life. Here are twelve strategies you can try:

1. Do the hardest and most unpleasant tasks first  

Get them out of the way so you can feel proud of what you’ve accomplished. Everything else will seem easy after that.

2. Break down big projects into smaller ones  

Do a little bit, then move on to another part of the project. Eventually these blocks of work will all add up to a complete project.

3. Schedule work time and break time   

Sometimes you don’t need long hours to complete a task - just consistent, focused effort for short periods of time. Work for 25 minutes, then take a break for five minutes. Do this for four sessions, then give yourself a reward of a longer break such as 15 to 30 minutes. Continue in this manner until you complete the task, and then move to the next item on your to-do list.

4. Transform your tasks 

If you find the task dull, boring or difficult, turn these negatives into a positive. For example, if it is dull, promise yourself a reward once it is done. If the task is difficult, what wonderful new things will you learn in the process of accomplishing it?

5. Avoid perfectionism 

Remember that it does not have to be perfect; it just needs to get done. Do your best, but don’t miss a deadline either.

6. Keep your work area organized  

Make sure you have everything you need to do the job in the same place. Also keep your computer organized by using folders and file names with keywords in them that accurately describe the contents.

7. Ask for help if you need it  

Often a project might just seem too overwhelming. Ask others who have the skills you need to help you get the job done.

8. Reward yourself after the work is complete  

Do something nice in your breaks. Organize a fun activity once the work is finished.

9. Manage your time  

Use planners and diaries to keep track of all deadlines. Give yourself a cushion so you are not stressed and working down to the wire.

10. Establish your priorities  

Deadlines are a fact of life. Determine what must be done first, but be prepared to switch from one task to another if your current assignment is due at the end of the week but a new one comes in that needs to be done by the end of the day.

11. Focus on finishing 

Don’t work hard for a while and then just peter out. Stay focused on getting to the end even if it means pushing through. Edit as needed once the job is done.

12. Turn off your inner critic 

As you are working, just let it flow. If you are writing, don’t agonize over every word or typo. Review and edit it all at the end as you push towards your deadline.

Once you have tackled the bad habit of procrastination, you will soon start to create an impressive track record of accomplishments of which you can be justly proud.

Merry Christmas! 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Negative Effects of Procrastination

"Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and
its toll on success and happiness is heavy." - 
Wayne Gretzky
Procrastination is a bad habit that can have many negative effects on your life. If not dealt with effectively, procrastination can damage your job, relationships and even your mental health.

Why We Procrastinate

Studies have shown that more than 20% of people can be described as "chronic procrastinators" who will always put off until tomorrow what they could or should be doing today.

There are a number of reasons why people procrastinate - from fear of failure to passive aggression that states (consciously or unconsciously) that no one is going to tell THEM what to do.

No matter what the reason, people’s expectations and needs are not met, which can often lead to the end of a job or the breaking up of a relationship.

Procrastination can make you miss out on countless opportunities. As humans we tend to avoid pain and seek pleasure. We avoid things we don’t like in the mistaken belief that the temporary enjoyment we get from procrastination is worth it. The pleasure will be short-lived, however, and only lead to a lot more pain in the long run.

The Negative Effects of Procrastination

Here are some common things people procrastinate about, with often disastrous results:

  • We put off going to the doctor, then discover we have a serious illness that could have been treated more successfully if we had gone sooner.
  • We wait to pay our bills even if we have money in the account, leading to late fees and other charges.
  • We don’t do our taxes until the night before they are due, and then make a mess of it and miss out on our refund or get audited.
  • We miss deadlines at work, which affects our annual review. This can lead to not getting a raise or promotion, or even not keeping the job.
  • We miss deadlines at work in reference to our share in a larger project. We let down the whole team, and if someone has to take up the slack, this will cause resentment.

How Procrastination Can Negatively Affect All Areas of Our Lives 

In addition to all of these obvious effects as a result of procrastination, there is the wider effect of negativity and stress that can only build over time. Stress can cause fatigue, a lack of sleep, a weakened immune system and stomach issues.

At work, we will be stressed because we are under constant pressure to perform. Each missed deadline only increases this pressure. This can transform even your "dream job" into a nightmare. Failure can mean a poor reference, which will make it even harder to find and keep a good job.

At home, you might procrastinate about even the simplest of tasks you have promised to do, such as mow the lawn. This leads to tension, with the person needing the work done and you procrastinating because you hate being told what to do. Their reasonable question regarding when it will be done turns into "nagging."

Eventually, after countless promises from you, they either ask someone else, hire a professional, or do it themselves. If you are unreliable with a lot of little things, they will decide you are unreliable in general and the relationship will end.

Procrastination may seem like you are winning, seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. However, the consequences can be a great deal more painful if you do not take steps to nip procrastination in the bud.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Financial Cost of Procrastination

The Financial Cost of Procrastination
"The future is that time when you'll wish that you'd done what you aren't doing now."

Procrastination is Expensive

Procrastination in your professional life can cause a great deal of strife in your relationships. This strife will become magnified to the point of very serious financial consequences for your career or business you own if you do not take steps to stop procrastinating and get on with all of your essential business tasks. 

The most serious consequence will of course be monetary, due to lost wages and lucrative business opportunities. So why do people do it?

Why People Procrastinate at Work

Procrastination can be the result of a fear of failure, or of success. No one likes to feel a failure, so it may seem reasonable to do nothing rather than to work hard and have your efforts criticized.  

In terms of fear of success, it feels wonderful to be admired, but being put in the spotlight is not something everyone wants. It also means others will have higher expectations of you because you’re a "star."

Related to this is perfectionism. You might hate being seen at what you feel is less than your best, so you will endlessly tweak your reports or PowerPoint decks and run out of time for other important tasks.

Procrastination can also be the result of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. The work is going to be difficult, so you will just do one, two, three enjoyable things and then get started. You are rewarding yourself without ever doing the work, and meanwhile the clock is ticking. 

The Clock Is Ticking

Procrastination can have serious effects on your career or the company you own because things need to get done in a timely manner in order to keep the business pushing forward with its goals. You have to show you are aligned with those goals as an employee by doing the work assigned, or you will be seen as unreliable. 

An unreliable worker is too much of a risk for most companies. It also causes a great deal of resentment if others need to cover for you or pick up the slack. The more they cover for you, the more you might procrastinate. Eventually you will be found out and lose that job, which could lead to financial disaster. 

The CEO as Procrastinator

If you are running your own business, being a chronic procrastinator can lead to financial troubles that become so bad you might go bankrupt. 

Good partnerships and happy customers are the lifeblood of any successful business. Good marketing keeps the cash coming in.  

There are a number of essential activities in every modern business, including:

* Good business communications
* Marketing, offline and online, such as running a website and social networking
* Customer acquisition
* Follow through in relation to new opportunities
* Seasonal promotions 
* Partnering with vendors
* Contracts being put together in a timely manner
* Bills being paid - rent, utilities, essential supplies and so on
* Taking inventory
* Re-ordering inventory and supplies as needed

...and much more.

We can see that most of these activities need to be done on a regular basis, usually monthly, though of course that can change during the busiest time of the year such as Christmas. Procrastinating will only lead to lost opportunities, which can have severe financial consequences your business might not be able to recover from.

If your job or business is starting to feel like you are always a day late and a dollar short, it’s time to stop procrastinating and get on with what needs to be done to make your career and company healthier.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Negative Side Of Not Being Truthful With Yourself

The Negative Side Of Not Being Truthful With Yourself
"Truth is incontrovertible.  Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is."
Winston Churchill
Being an authentic person is all about living in an honest and truthful way, without trying to hide your feelings or being afraid to admit your weaknesses as well as your strengths.

There are many reasons why we try to hide who we are. We say yes when we really mean no so that we do not disappoint people, or through fear of being disliked. We go along with our spouse’s plans to see the latest football game at the stadium or chick flick at the movies even though we can’t stand them because we do not want to ‘rock the boat’ in our relationship. We see a total disaster looming on a project at work but don’t dare speak up for fear of being ridiculed or seen as too bossy, unfeminine, weak, or scared.

All of these examples of inauthentic living might not seem like a big deal, but if you find yourself constantly behaving like this all day, every day, not being authentic can soon take its toll on your mental and physical health. You might think you are “getting away with it” or “faking it ‘til you make it”, but there are many emotional and even physical health-related consequences of living an inauthentic life.

The Emotional Consequences of Not Being Authentic

The emotional consequences of leading an inauthentic life include:

  • Low self-esteem - Feelings of not being appreciated, loved or valued for who you are.
  • Low self-confidence - Feelings of “not being good enough” to be yourself.
  • Low self-worth - Feeling like you are a fraud or don’t deserve your good fortune, also known as “impostor syndrome.”
  • Keeping up appearances even if you are in serious trouble - Thinking you always have to play a role to keep people happy or fulfill certain expectations; living behind a mask for fear of what others will think of you.
  • Feeling like a caged tiger - As your inauthentic behaviors increase, so too can your feelings of “being trapped” in a relationship or certain role, such as the perfect wife, the dutiful son, the successful businessman.
  • Low self-respect - You will not be able to respect yourself, let alone earn the respect of others if you don’t actively try to be truthful and live your best life. You may think you are fooling people, but most will sense you are being insincere or a fraud in some way.
  • Low self-regard - Always trying to make others happy, while feeling miserable yourself. You go along with things for the sake of a quiet life. You don’t allow yourself to say no and to mean it.

The Physical Consequences of Not Being Authentic

All of these emotional consequences will usually be accompanied by physical changes in the body, which over time can lead to serious health issues. The physical consequences of living an inauthentic life include:

  • Stress
  • Tension
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Lack of self-worth and therefore of good self-care
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Backache
  • Jaw pain from grinding your teeth
  • Lowered immunity, so you are less able to fight off illnesses like colds

Now that we have talked about the ways in which being inauthentic can affect our body, mind and spirit, you might recognize one or more of these as consequences you’ve had to deal with, or physical symptoms you’ve been trying to relieve with medication or unhealthy strategies - like drinking too much alcohol or eating too much. If any of these consequences resonate with you, it is time to take steps to get back on track to lead a more authentic life.

Friday, November 27, 2015

There Are Advantages To Being Disliked

There Are Advantages to being disliked
"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly."
English Proverb
Most of us are taught to be people pleasers from a very young age, so the idea that there are any advantages at all in being disliked is probably a new one for many of us. The biggest advantage is that it frees us to be our authentic self, shaking off the shackles of society expectations as we forge our own destinies.

There are actually many advantages to being disliked and unpopular. Here are just a few.

Being True to Yourself

You may wish to be popular and the life of the party at work or school, but popularity is not as enduring as being true to yourself. Being true to yourself means making smart choices that allow you to look in the mirror each day and be proud of what you see.

Not Bowing to Peer or Parental Pressure

The idea of being ourselves can be almost unthinkable when we are children, as we bow to our parents’ wishes so they will praise us. We are also prone to give in to peer pressure, even when we know it is wrong, because ‘everyone is doing it.’ For example, millions of people all over the world use heroin, but that does not make it a valid lifestyle choice any sane person would wish to make. Yet countless numbers of people experiment and get hooked on drugs because of peer pressure, from the nicotine in cigarettes to the alcohol in beer, wine and spirits.

Setting Your Own Goals

By listening to all the naysayers who might have written you off as useless, you are free to set your own goals. In fact, being told you can never do something is often the inspiration to achieve exactly what they say you will never be able to do. It’s fun to defy expectations. And on the way to your goals, you will find positive people who will support you.

Achieving Your Dreams

A lot of people talk big about what they are going to do or be. If you’ve ever been to a high school reunion, you have probably been surprised to find that the people who were so popular and seemed to have the most potential have achieved little or nothing in their lives. By contrast, there are those who were disliked or even bullied, but used those negative experiences to spur them on to success. As the phrase goes, “Living well is the best revenge.” Achieve your dreams, and never stop dreaming.

Being Freed from Time Wasters and Meaningless Distractions

If you are unpopular and disliked, you will save a lot of time and energy by not having to jump through all the hoops everyone expects you to. You can say no and mean it without worrying what other people think or getting saddled with all the terrible jobs that no one else wants to do. You can focus on your own career instead of having to save the butt yet again of your lazy colleague in the next cubicle who is actually earning more than you.

We are not talking about being mean or spiteful, but of living your life with honesty and integrity. By doing this, you will set an example for others and attract other sincere people to you. You will often become the person whose opinion everyone respects because you are such a good example of a person in tune with their feelings and successful in all areas of his/her life.

Now that you have discovered the main advantages of being disliked, go on - live a little. See how many false friends you can weed out of your life by just being your authentic self. Chances are you will never even miss them as you move forward to achieve all your goals and dreams.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Are You Living a Lie?

Are You Living a Lie?
"Unless we love the truth we cannot know it." -Blaise Pascal
Here’s a quick quiz for you. Answer honestly. Do you feel:

  • Like you are constantly hiding behind a mask?
  • Worried that others will not like you?
  • That if you say no, you are a bad person and will be letting everyone down?
  • Trapped in a life that does not seem to be your own?
  • Like you are always comparing yourself to others, with them on top and you on the bottom?
  • As if you're finding yourself not good enough, no matter how hard you try?
  • Afraid that if your boss, co-workers, spouse or children found out X about you, they would never look at you in the same way again?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then the likely truth is that you are living a lie.

You are not the only one. It is an easy trap to fall into and can be a deep and difficult one to climb out of. But the effort can be well worth it if the result is a happier, healthier you.

Reasons Why We Could Be Living a Lie

It seems as if almost from the moment we are born, we have a certain role in the family with a certain set of expectations, both spoken and unspoken. Our family and the wider world is telling us who we are supposed to be rather than allow us to express who we really are. Our parents want us to be happy, of course, but we just might not have within us what it takes to be a doctor or lawyer, get accepted to their prestigious alma mater, or follow in their career footsteps.

On the other hand, our parents might have low expectations for us; maybe there’s never been a college graduate in the family, or they did just fine working in a hardware store all their lives and that should be enough for you too.

We get a range of messages about how we are supposed to do, think, and be. Children should be seen and not heard; we must never waste food; we should always clean our plates. Over time, these habits become second nature to us. However, they are not necessarily healthy or helpful if they lead to, for example, being terrified of speaking in public or being vastly overweight.

When we go to school, we might have a teacher who is never satisfied no matter how hard we try. Or we might be told we are not good at X and so we should not even bother to try. We might be bullied over the way we look, dress, speak, or even for being too smart or too stupid at school. Rather than get encouragement or support from the adults who influence our lives, we are told to ‘man up’ or be more ‘ladylike.’

There are now more opportunities for both men and women to defy traditional expectations, but the truth is that we often internalize various unhelpful attitudes and actions as normal and therefore judge ourselves as abnormal or less than perfect if we wish to live our lives differently.

The peer pressure and parental pressure can soon result in us constructing a mask of the ‘perfect’ child, sibling, spouse and so on. As the pressure builds from outside to conform, your own authentic self begins to feel trapped and miserable, like a caged tiger the zoo pacing back and forth, longing to be free.

If you have been living a lie in order to please others, you owe it to yourself to start taking action to live a more authentic life in which your true self can shine through.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Are You Sick and Tired of Not Knowing What You Want From Life?

Are You Sick and Tired of Not Knowing What  You Want From Life?
Ralph Waldo Emerson addressed a graduating class at Harvard University:
"Young men, be careful what you want, for you will surely get it."

Every year thousands of kids are asked what they want to be when they grow up. Many don’t know. Even worse, many adults are still struggling to figure out what they want from life. Like many, they fall into the trap of doing what’s expected of them. They end up bored, unsatisfied and make poor decisions based on the life they are living now. They never follow the dreams they had as a kid; instead they wander aimlessly without any goals or direction.

That’s pretty scary.

If you don’t know what you want in life, isn’t it time your figured it out? People who know what they want function better in society, know where they are headed, are happier, and make better decisions in life.

Use the following seven tips to help you figure out exactly what you want in life.

1. Be selfish with your time. If you are constantly saying yes to other people for your time and commitments, you can’t figure out what you want to be doing. Put yourself at the top of your list. Ask yourself what you would be doing right now if you had no family, friend or job obligations.

2. Don’t regret things you did or didn’t do in the past, or saying no to others. It’s your life and you should live it the way you want that makes you happy. Constantly regretting things from your past stops you from going forward.

3. Sit down and really think about what you need the most in your life. Is it family and love? The freedom of creative expression? Financial security or serving others? List your priorities. Think about the legacy you want to leave when you exit this world.

4. Figure out what makes you really happy. Is it being around kids or helping the elderly? Maybe it’s traveling or owning a successful business. Determine what the one thing is that makes you the happiest. Then you’ll have a pretty good idea of where you want to be in life.

5. Know what upsets you. Be specific. If you don’t like your office job, figure out what exactly you hate about it. Is it your workload? Or your freeloading co-worker? Or maybe it’s being inside when you’d really rather be out of doors all day long. Can you fix it? Or make changes somehow?

6. Remain positive. It may take time to truly determine what you want to do. You’re likely to have some detours along the way and make some decisions that will affect how you continue. Keep a positive attitude to help you keep going.

7. Question everything. Are some of your thoughts limiting beliefs? Things like “I’m not smart enough to do that” or “artists have to starve before hitting it big” are thoughts that limit you taking action and exploring whether this is something you might be interested in doing.

Not knowing what you want to do or get out of life can be depressing and scary. We all have a purpose but many don’t know what it is yet. Not knowing where you’re going can lead you to make poor choices along the way as well.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

How About Those Mets!

I am a Tampa Bay Rays fan now but this morning I teared up and actually cried some when I heard the Mets had beat the Cubs. Hearing about the Mets brought back so many memories - great memories of being with my dad and brother at the Mets games in Shea Stadium. It seemed like during 1969 we were at every home game and watched every away game on TV. My brother and I knew the players. We knew Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan and Jerry Koosman - you see my dad made sure we were introduced to all of them. I remember the night we got off the elevator and Tom Seaver shook my dad's hand and said to me "How you doing kid." My dad, my brother and I were there that game in 1969 when the Mets beat the Cubs and became the amazing Mets. So I say to all of you, "How About Those Mets!" Not because they beat the Cubs last night but because the memories they helped make for two brothers of a great dad. It's a memory I will never forget. How about you Chris Heiser?

When You Know Yourself You Make Better Choices

When you know yourself you make better choices
"When you know better you do better." ~ Maya Angelou

You’ve probably heard it before: follow your passions and let your passions help you make good decisions. But what if you don’t know who you are or what your passions are? How do you get to know yourself so you can make better choices?

After all, don’t you want to be happy and know you are following your life’s purpose with the decisions you make? To experience peace you need to live in harmony with your true self. When you know who you are and what you want out of life, you are prepared to make better choices.

So, how do you get to know yourself?

Begin by understanding what makes you different. Explore what you heart desires by tuning out what the rest of the world thinks you should be. You’re not in school, so you don’t have to act like everyone else to fit in.

Your favorite school subject or color isn’t what knowing who you are is about. Knowing yourself is about understanding you on the deepest levels. It means knowing your purpose in life, at least as close as you can get to knowing.

Know that you aren’t born knowing yourself. Knowing yourself takes conscious effort with intention and purpose. If you don’t know who you are, it becomes obvious to you and others sooner or later. It’s like living a lie - a fake life. When you don’t know who you are, you don’t know what you want either. This means you can make decisions based on the wrong things and end up in places, jobs, or situations you aren’t happy with.

There are several ways you can learn who you are.

Understand your own personality. 

Ask friends what they think your personality is. Dig into your own feelings and knowledge about your personality. Your private personality might be different from your public one. Get to know what you are and who you aren’t. When faced with a situation, ask yourself why you did something a certain way. 

Dig into your core values. 

These are the moral codes and the principles you live by. List out your top 7 to 10 core values. These are the ones that will play the biggest roles in making decisions, how you communicate and your day-to-day activities.

Which values will you never compromise on? Is it honesty, integrity, or security? Or do you value financial comfort, wisdom, responsibility or loyalty?

Know your body’s limits, flexibility, balance and abilities. 

Knowing your body’s abilities helps you decide on the types of challenges you can take on.

Explore your dreams and hopes of your future. 

Knowing your dreams helps you make the right choices for the type of life you want to live. For example if you want to become a writer, ask yourself what type of writing you want to do. How proficient are you at writing and can you improve? Are you willing to make it a huge part of your life? Your dreams should be a part of every decision you make, especially big decisions.

Get to know your strengths and weaknesses, your likes and dislikes and your quirks and perks.

Knowing what you like and dislike and your strengths and weaknesses gives you the confidence to make good decisions on everything. What brings you joy, gives you a sense of satisfaction or makes you crazy? Your likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses are what make you unique.

Get to know yourself. Knowing who you are and what you want to do with your life helps you make better choices in the end.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Have You Ever Wished You Could Change A Past Decision?

Have you ever wished you could change a past decision?
“Stay away from what might have been and look at what can be.” ~ Marsha Petrie Sue
There is no such thing as not ever having any regrets. Regrets over past choices can dwell in the subconscious for years. It’s a feeling or thoughts that replay over and over again. More than likely you can’t change your past choice. That doesn’t mean you have to constantly worry about what-ifs and should-haves, though. Regrets are the perfect opportunity to learn from your mistakes.

You are only human - Keep in mind everyone makes mistakes. Forgive yourself - and then move on. Know that you made the choice you thought was right for you at the time. In the future you will be better prepared for making decisions.

Learn from your mistake - Identify what the mistake was and what caused you to make that decision. Did you make a quick choice without weighing your options? Were you trying to please someone else? Once you know why you made that choice, you can focus on doing it differently from now on.

Focus on what you can control - Cheating on your boyfriend wasn’t a good choice. Unfortunately you can’t change that. What you can do is move forward from where you are.

Accept the blame for your choice - This is especially healing if your choice hurt others as well.

Challenge the way you think - Realize that the choice you regret making is a step towards going in the right direction in the future. Mistakes can often present challenges we don’t think we’re prepared to deal with. But in reality those challenges are moving you into new opportunities.

Employ the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) - CBT is a type of exercise therapy that teaches you to change your habits and patterns of thinking. It can help you change your feelings of regret or shame, and instead focus on emotionally healing the harmful thoughts.

Write down your regrets - Ask yourself why you chose that option. List the questions you keep asking yourself. This helps you overcome those feelings that are keeping you stuck or revisiting your choice.

Use regret as a way to make changes - Recognize when your regrets can be used to change or improve yourself. When you are faced with new choices, you can use the regrets as a way to help you make better choices.

Start fresh - It’s never too late to start again. You can’t change the decisions you’ve already made but you can learn to make better choices in the future.

Constantly revisiting and regretting choices you’ve made in the past can cause you to be stressed and feel anxious. It can lead to depression and worrying about any decisions you make in the future. Let go of the regrets. Learn how to leave them in the past and to make better decisions that won’t lead to regrets in the future.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Are You Passive Aggressive?

Are you passive aggressive
"I am not passive aggressive.  Unlike some people I know."

What Is Passive Aggressive?

Passive aggressive is a behavior that strives to resist the demands of others and direct confrontation. For example, if a passive aggressive person doesn’t want to participate in a meeting, they might pretend they didn’t get the memo about the meeting or intentionally misplace the meeting notes so the meeting needs to be rescheduled. They can’t say “I don’t want to go to the meeting,” and they’re not willing to just go and keep their opinion to themselves, so they sabotage the meeting so it doesn’t happen.

This happens in communications as well. Here are some examples of passive aggressive behaviors and statements. If you recognize yourself in more than a few of these, you’re probably passive aggressive.

Putting Someone on the Defensive – If you say, “Why on earth would you wear that?” that’s a passive aggressive statement. You’re putting the other person on the defensive. Your other choices are to stay quiet or to let the person know that you don’t like what they’re wearing. Instead, a passive aggressive person subtly attacks.

Insinuating Yourself into Situations – Do you ever find yourself saying “I wish I had…” or “I wish I was invited to…” when you know that the person you’re talking to is in a position to grant your wish? This is passive aggressive behavior. A more straightforward approach might be to say, “Hey, do you think you could get me invited to…”

Insincere compliments - Classic passive aggressive behavior includes compliments that aren’t really compliments. For example, if your best friend buys a home and invites you over for a housewarming party and you say, “what a great little starter house,” that’s a compliment that actually belittles their new home. It’d be better to find something that you really like about the home or to simply congratulate your friend on their new home.

Sabotage, keeping score, and other indirect behaviors are also signs of a passive aggressive personality. Everyone has moments. Strive to be more sincere about what you say and be aware of the reasons why you may be passive aggressive. Are you afraid of confrontation? Do you want to express your needs or your opinion but you’re not comfortable? Start small and begin saying what you mean.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Are your Instincts making good choices?

Are Your instincts making good choices?
"To find yourself, think for yourself."  - Socrates

You Hear It Everywhere  

"Listen to your intuition."
"Trust your gut."

But what happens if you’re not in tune with your instincts? Maybe you’re afraid of every little thing, or you’re so optimistic you think the fairy godmother will arrive on your doorstep this time.

It could be your true feelings, or those gut instincts are so distorted you can’t tell the difference.

What does an instinct or hunch look like? We’re taught our entire lives to overlook our intuition and that we should think things through logically. However, your instincts are thoughts, too. Your instincts are also feelings you have in a deep-seated part of you.

Learning how to recognize these feelings from the thought-based reactions will help you make good decisions for a happy, healthy life.

Instinct versus Thinking

Humans have been developing their senses for millions of years. Impulses we have from our instincts or gut reaction are often deep and the most likely to be what we truly want.

When you rely on your thoughts to make a decision, you might have a tendency to second-guess yourself.

The difference between thought and feeling is sometimes difficult to see. “I’m going to die” is a thought, while panic is a feeling or a sensation.

When you are faced with making a decision, you need to tap into your feelings or the sensations the decision is producing in your gut. Don’t look at the emotional reactions to your thoughts. Instead feel the sensation the decision gives you.

Recall a positive situation you’ve had in the past. Now, think about how you felt. Were you smiling and relaxed? Did you have a warm, fuzzy feeling you couldn’t explain? Those are feelings.

Of course, you want to make sure you aren’t under stress, pressured or in love when you are going with your gut to make a decision. You should always be in a calm, relaxed state when accessing your instinct so you don’t end up making a rash choice.

Tuning into your feelings, those gut-wrenching instincts that we all have, will help guide you into making good decisions.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Identify Your Self-Esteem Triggers

"Lack of something to feel important about is almost the greatest tragedy a person may have."  - Arthur E. Morgan

Most people experience different degrees of self-worth depending on what’s going on in their life. For example, you might wake up in the morning feeling great and then you get an email from your boss and the rest of your day goes downhill from there. Self-esteem isn’t something that remains static. It changes according to your experiences and mindset.

How much it changes depends largely on your awareness and your ability to let go of any injuries to your self-esteem. The awareness component is key. If you can identify your triggers, you can then learn to prepare for them and manage them without suffering a blow to your self-esteem. So how do you identify those triggers?

Step One: Evaluate Your Current Sense of Self-Worth

In general, how do you feel about yourself? Would you say that you have a healthy sense of self-esteem and self-worth? Do you feel like your self-esteem could use a boost? It’s important to understand your current sense of self-worth because you can take steps right now to begin to strengthen it. Additionally, your current sense of self-worth can impact how significant your response is to self-esteem triggers.

Step Two: Look to the Past

Reflect on the people and situations that made you feel badly about yourself. What happened and how did it impact you? For example, maybe you were overlooked for a promotion and it made you quit your job. Maybe you submitted an idea to your boss or a book to an agent and it was rejected, so you quit trying. Maybe you asked someone out on a date and were turned down, so you stopped going out.

Other examples might be more personal. Maybe you told a family member how you were feeling and they disregarded your feelings. You might have felt stupid or overly sensitive. It impacted your self-worth. Evaluating the past can help you prepare for and become aware of your present and your future.

Step Three: Pay Attention to Your Thoughts and Feelings

Learn to pay attention to how you’re feeling when you’re triggered. For example, if you receive criticism, does your heart hammer in your chest and you get angry, or do you hear the criticism without a significant emotional response? If you get rejected, do you feel sad and withdraw, or do you evaluate the situation and try again?

How you respond to different potentially triggering situation can help you see where your self-esteem can take a hit and where it is strong. You might feel very confident in your professional life and lack self-esteem in your personal life, or vice versa.

Learning to identify your self-esteem triggers can help you better understand yourself. It also gives you the tools and information you need to evaluate situations differently and manage your emotional response to them. You can control how much of an impact someone or something can have on your self-esteem.

Monday, August 31, 2015

How to Stop Taking Criticism So Personally

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle." - Plato

How do you feel when someone criticizes you? If you’re like many people then your reaction and response depend on a number of factors. It may depend on who is criticizing you. Your mood that day and disposition can also play an important role. Of course it can also depend on how they criticize you and what they’re commenting on.

Regardless of the situation, you can change your reaction to the criticism. You can learn to control your emotional reaction to criticism and not let it impact your self-esteem.

Evaluate the Source

When you’re receiving criticism it’s important to evaluate the source. A perfect stranger posting a comment online is much different than hearing something negative from your significant other. The deliverer of the criticism is important. What’s equally as important is the motivation for their criticism. Are they trying to help or hurt? Understanding the source of the criticism can help you frame it better.

Look for the Benefit

Assuming that the feedback is coming from someone who is trying to help, then focus on what you have to gain from the criticism. For example, a writer who hears from their editor that the dialogue feels forced can take that information and improve their dialogue. They can become a better writer. There is power in listening to criticism.

Detach from the Feedback

What other people think about your skills, characteristics, knowledge and so on actually has no impact on who you are as a person. Their opinion isn’t your reality – it’s theirs. And vice versa - just because you think someone is cruel doesn’t make them cruel. Detach from the feedback and remember that it doesn’t define you. You define you.

Feedback and criticism can be difficult to take under any circumstances. Remember who you are. Learn from the feedback and remember to pay attention to the person delivering the criticism. How much does their opinion really matter to you?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Help Someone with Low Self-Esteem

“Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in.” 
― Shannon L. Alder

Do you know someone that has low self-esteem? They may put themselves down often or seem frequently depressed or sad. They may also martyr themselves and put everyone else first. The signs of low self-esteem aren’t always easy to see, but if you pay attention there are usually clues. So what do you do if you know or love someone who has low self-esteem? How can you help them?

Get Them Involved

People with low self-esteem often get there because they have had a few negative experiences and they’ve withdrawn. Involve them in a group or activity that you think they might enjoy. At first it will probably take some arm twisting. They may be hesitant to join. You may have to get creative. One approach is to tell them they’ll help you by going along. For example, if you’re trying to get them to join a group, you might let them know that you’d like to try the group but want them there for assurance.

Give Them Positive Feedback

Negative feedback is common and it can have a significant impact on someone with low self-esteem. You can help balance that negative feedback with positive. However, when you do give positive feedback it’s important to make sure that it’s genuine and specific. For example, “You did a good job” isn’t specific. However, “You’re very skilled at expressing your ideas,” is specific. It tells the person that you are paying attention and that your feedback is genuine.

Express Your Care for Them

There are many ways to show someone that you care about them. Small things like remembering past conversations and asking how things are going shows that you care. Listening to them when they talk and asking questions is another way to demonstrate care. Do nice things for people that you care about to help boost their self-esteem.

Encourage Them

What goals and dreams do they have? Ask about their personal and professional pursuits and offer encouragement. If they ask, try to provide assistance in the form of support and even planning. You may be able to show them how their strengths will help them achieve their goals and dreams.

Strive to be positive when you talk to them. If they express a negative thought or mindset, try to balance it with something that is true and positive. For example, if they say they’re not very smart, you might remind them that they are a math whiz and really great at solving complicated problems.

It can be difficult to support someone who has low self-esteem. You want any encouragement and support to be genuine. If they sense that you’re giving them false encouragement and saying things that you don’t mean, it can hurt their self-esteem even more. However, by staying positive, focusing on strengths and getting them involved, they can learn to build a solid concept of self-worth and healthy self-esteem.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What Do You See When You Peel Back Your Layers?

Are you Self-Aware?

If you asked most people if they were self-aware, they’d probably say, “yes.” We all like to think that we know ourselves. You know your strengths, weaknesses, and personality type. You understand your thoughts, values, and opinions too, right? The truth is that most of us could use a little work on our self-awareness. We aren’t as self-aware as we think we are. And there are some sure-fire signs that is the case.

Do You Get Defensive?

Defensiveness is a sign that you’re not as self-aware as you might think you are. When a person feels frightened or scared they can become defensive. Instead of facing their fears and looking at the situation honestly, which might show you some things about yourself that you don’t want to know or face, you become defensive. It’s all an attempt to avoid confronting whatever it is you don't want to confront. The next time you find yourself feeling defensive, take a step back and ask yourself why. What are you trying to avoid facing?

Are You Controlling?

If you suddenly become controlling or start to micromanage a situation, it’s another sign that you’re avoiding facing a harsh truth. Or you may be avoiding dealing with something that’s important to you and your life.

Behavior Changes

Other behavior changes can be a sign that you’re not as self-aware as you think you are. Beyond getting defensive or becoming more controlling, you might find that your behavior changes in other ways. For example, you might become reclusive if you’re trying to avoid facing something, or you might become a social butterfly so that you can avoid thinking and being alone with your thoughts. Becoming passive aggressive, blaming others, or playing the victim are all signs that you’re not dealing with something that is important.
These behavior changes and personality traits all come from a place of avoidance. If you’re avoiding your thoughts, needs, feelings, and opinions then you’re not self-aware. Quite the opposite in fact; you’re avoiding being self-aware and that never helps you or anyone else.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Living with Less Means Living Well

There are no victories at bargain prices.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Living with Less Means Living Well

Living with less simply means that you only spend your money on things that are valuable to you. Think about what you’ve purchased in the past month. Did you need all of it? How much of what you purchased actually brought value to your life?

Living with less doesn’t mean that you don’t have nice things in your life. It does mean that you have fewer nice things because you only buy items that you love and items that add value.

Living with Less Means Taking Care of What You Have

With so many disposable items in the world, it’s easy to take them for granted. For example, you can head to the store and buy a $200 couch. When that couch is stained it’s not a big deal to throw it away and buy a new one. Or you can buy a $2000 couch that you love, take great care of it, and have it around for the next ten to twenty years.

Living with Less Means Prioritizing Memories, Not Material Items

Would you rather have a new shirt every week for a year or a vacation? A 35-dollar shirt purchased each week adds up to 1820 dollars. That can be a nice vacation. When people look back on their lives, they remember the good times that they had, not the items that they owned. Living well with less means prioritizing those good times.

Living well with less is about remembering what’s important to you. It’s about setting priorities for your life and then creating a lifestyle that supports those priorities.