“The block of granite which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak, became a stepping-stone in the pathway of the strong.” Thomas Carlyle
When I was young, I loved the sense of adventure that went with rock hopping. Across a creek, near the beach, along a river bank I’d step, or jump, from rock to rock. Some surfaces were slippery, some unsteady, some too small, and often I ended up wet and bruised. Nevertheless, I loved accepting the challenge of making progress towards a new place. Despite some difficulties, each stone was part of the journey that led to achievement, to a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.
In my grown-up life, while difficulties are still there to be faced, I retain the excitement of making progress towards new places and new experiences. My 19 stepping stones are tried and tested techniques that have helped me smooth the way ahead.
Well, go on. Just try some of my 19 techniques to empower yourself. Who knows? Maybe you, too, will grasp the excitement and be empowered to live a more productive and happier life.
1. Accept that awful stuff happens.
The usual reaction to things not going your way is to resist and fight against them. By accepting things as they are, even though you don’t want them to be that way, you’ll develop a more peaceful state of mind. Saying a mantra will help – “I hate things being this way but I accept that this is my reality just now. I’ll work through this situation calmly and resolutely.” Slowly but surely, you will empower yourself.Advertising
2. Adopt a flexible attitude.
Being flexible means you can face daily changes without creating too great a stress reaction in your body. When something’s not working, be ready to consider other ideas. Changing your approach to meet the change in circumstances is essential for a happier and more successful future.
3. See challenges as opportunities for growth.
Ask yourself what you can learn from challenges as they arise. Is this a chance to become stronger? By turning these situations into positives, you’ll avoid resorting to overeating and other negative behaviors – the most usual ways of coping.
4. Use questions to empower you.
Instead of asking disempowering questions such as, “Why is this happening to me?” use a more positive question format. Questions that invite creative thinking are the best. An example might be, “What alternative actions could I take in these changing circumstances?”
5. Change negative thoughts to positive.
Negative thoughts that harbor unhelpful beliefs only hold you back from achieving. So monitor your thoughts. When you’re aware that they are negative, change them immediately into positive thoughts. You’ll be amazed at how much happier and confident you’ll feel.
6. Relish change.
Realize when it’s time to change direction. Often we think of change as negative. But change can be very exciting and positive. Embrace new thoughts, new opportunities and new ways of living. Even though change is difficult to initiate, sometimes it’s essential.Advertising
7. Calm yourself when you’re getting uptight.
When you’re calm, you are in control. You’ll think through the problem with more clarity. Make time to listen to relaxing music, or sit quietly and visualize a place where you’ve been that evokes calm and contentment. It will help you focus on what’s really important.
8. Believe you’re good enough.
It’s too easy to think you’re not good enough to get through difficult situations. Look at your abilities. Tell yourself that you are awesome and you can handle anything that can possibly be thrown at you. Believe in yourself.
9. Face reality.
Don’t try to hide from problems that present themselves. Come face to face with them and persevere no matter what. It’s a tough thing to do, that’s for sure. Look for solutions in unusual places.
10. Prepare yourself for busy times.
When weighed down by being too busy, prioritize your jobs until life becomes more manageable. Sticking to a plan will help you get back on track. Start each day with the most immediate job on your list.
11. Encourage and help others.
Take every opportunity to be a source of hope and encouragement to others. Looking outward instead of inward gives opportunity for you to contribute to the well-being of others. Your happiness and confidence levels will rise.Advertising
12. Make each day sparkle.
Instead of letting doubts, worries and fears about what might happen creep into your day, look for ways to make your day sparkle. Be positive about the fabulous things that lie ahead. You don’t know what those things might be, but that’s okay. You’ll move forward with excitement and courage. Shawn Achor’s TED Talk, How to Make the Present More Positive, includes some enjoyable ideas for staying positive and focused.
13. Be full of thanks.
Thinking about all those things that are going right in your life, keeps life in perspective. Be grateful for the now – for where you are at the present time. Now is the start of big things to come. Being grateful helps you see there is so much that usually is taken for granted. Gratitude improves productivity and leads to happiness.
14. Schedule play time.
For your body to remain in balance, you need to have work time and play time. Your brain and mind will benefit from varying what you do each day, particularly if you include some fun time in your schedule. Follow this with diligence and notice how you feel. There’ll be a spring in your step – even a lasting smile.
15. Get physical.
Spend some time outdoors every day. Being physical, through aerobic activities, gives you the energy to carry you through the difficult times. Exercise will help you reach your goals. You’ll be charged with enthusiasm for all things positive.
16. Take time out.
Take regular mental breaks such as mindfulness. Being mindful enables you to be more accepting of yourself. Sit somewhere quiet. Breathe in to energize your whole body. As you breathe out, believe that anxiety and tension are leaving your body.Advertising
17. Stay connected.
Spend time with people whose company you enjoy. It’s important to stay connected to friends and family, so you have people who can encourage you. You’ll appreciate their support.
18. Be an optimist.
Understand that life consists of hill and valley cycles. This doesn’t mean that you react positively to good days and feel down-in-the-dumps on the not-so-good days. It means being optimistic that the good days ahead will carry you through the very difficult days, without suffering excess stress.
19. Laugh often – and “live happily ever after”.
Laughing will help you cope better with any difficult situation. Of course it’s not easy to laugh when you’re going through a rough patch. But lightening up when you see a funny sign along the way, or smiling back at someone who is happy, can do wonders for you. You’ll have a bubble and sparkle that wasn’t there before.
Finally . . . . .
Let the stepping stones metaphor remind you that despite life’s inevitable missteps, many rewarding opportunities and moments lie ahead. The crucial thing is not what actually happens as you travel through life, but how you respond to what happens.
Choose to use some of these 19 stepping stones . . . . . and enjoy a happier, calmer and more productive life as you learn to empower yourself.
Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com
Last Updated on September 16, 2019
How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators
You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.
We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.
The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.
Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:
1. Break Your Work into Little Steps
Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.
For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –
- (1) Research
- (2) Deciding the topic
- (3) Creating the outline
- (4) Drafting the content
- (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
- (6) Revision
- (7) etc.
Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.
2. Change Your Environment
Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.
One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.
3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines
Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.
Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.
My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.
Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines
4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops
If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.
Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.
I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.
5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action
I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You
Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.
As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.
6. Get a Buddy
Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.
I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.
7. Tell Others About Your Goals
This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.
For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.
8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome
What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.
9. Re-Clarify Your Goals
If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.
Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?
10. Stop Over-Complicating Things
Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.
Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.
11. Get a Grip and Just Do It
At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.
I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.
More About Procrastination
- 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life
- 10 Best Ted Talks About Procrastination That Will Ignite Your Motivation
- Types of Procrastination (And How To Fix Procrastination And Start Doing)
- What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)
Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com