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Five ways you steal happiness from yourself

Five ways you steal happiness from yourself

Isn’t happiness an elusive desire among all of us?

How many books, seminars and articles are written explaining how to achieve happiness and how to maintain it? Perhaps we sometimes lose out on happiness by focusing on the wrong things. We get so worried and caught up pursuing happiness that we never actually stop and really feel that happiness we have. Often it is the counter intuitive path that is actually the correct one. How many articles about happiness tell you that the way to achieve happiness is to set goals, have achievable aims, have a great job or be in a relationship? However, how many people have an amazing job and are unhappy? There are so many folks in good relationships and yet, they also feel miserable. Why would that be so?

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Here are some easy to use ideas about thinking differently about happiness. Do you fall into the trap of any of these thought habits?

1.Trying to impress others

Are all your decisions really your own? Do you ever bend your decision making to fit in with others or please others? It could be something relatively harmless such as which movie to watch or a restaurant in which to eat. Have you ever met successful people in good jobs, be that as a lawyer, a doctor or other professionals? Yes, they earn well but also, often, they feel down and miserable. Why? Medicine was what mom and dad wanted for them. It was not actually their own choice at all. Aim for choices that are good for you, not to please others.

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You steal your happiness when decisions are not in line with your gut or when you don’t listen to what you know to really be right for you. Happiness is about feeling a calm inner contentment about your choices and decisions. Try to please others and you will lead their life not your own life. Feel okay about expressing opinions that are unpopular. It is preferable to be true to you and find yourself in the minority than to conform and sacrifice your independence and feel weak.

2. Wishing to control everything, ourselves and everyone

We all need to feel that we are in control. However when you find it hard to go with the flow and relax, then anxiety increases. Think about all those things you actually can’t control. We all lack control over the weather, the stock market, world events and most importantly, other people’s behavior. Are you someone who allows rainy weather to bring your mood down? When you think clearly about it, you are simply wasting valuable energy on something you can’t control.

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Stephen Covey talks about two areas, your circle of concern and your circle of influence. You may be concerned about pollution,the snow, global terrorism, your children’s futures or what to prioritize today at work. We all have many concerns. Then of course, there is the circle of influence. What though can you really actually influence and affect in a meaningful way? Where these two circles overlap is where you can create change.

3. Having expectations that relationships should be fun and always make you happier

We have been speaking about happiness but have not talked about how you achieve it. In reality, happiness is not a goal in itself but a by-product. When you are living in line with your values and what you hold to be important and what brings you fulfillment, then happiness flows by itself. Relationships can be happy and relationships can be rocky and stormy. Happiness is the by-product of making the right decisions and living your life well. A relationship will not solve your self doubt or insecurities. The right relationship will help you face them and the wrong relationship could make them worse. Either way relationships bring you face to face with all your faults and insecurities and of course all those little bad habits. Great communication is always essential. You both need to talk it out sometimes. After all, the only real way to find happiness is to aim to be living with integrity, by expressing clearly your needs and asking for those needs to be met by loved ones.

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4. Waiting for the time to be 100% right before acting

Those things which we believe will bring us happiness always involve a leap of faith. A business venture is never guaranteed to be a magic wealth generator, you need to believe it will work and probably put some hard work in too. Committing to a relationship is about putting reservations aside and being prepared to open your heart to the possibility that your heart may get hurt. You can try to ‘look before you leap’, but no one has a crystal ball that can predict the exact outcome of future events. For many decisions in our lives, often the time will never feel exactly right, but if your instincts say yes, why not say yes too, wholeheartedly? Don’t allow past experiences to tell you that the future is something to be scared of. If you believe you can do it, don’t wait for the perfect time, since it will never arrive and you will regret not acting right now.

5. Expecting guarantees that things will always work out well

Scientists looking for cures for diseases such as cancer know that their first attempts won’t always result in success. They try and try and try again. Success is always about being rejected, failing and learning to do things better. There are never guarantees and taking risks is a part of the gamble.

There is a wonderful saying attributed to a therapy called NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) that says that “There is no such thing as failure but only feedback.” In other words, you never failed the test but the experience gave you valuable feedback on how to do better next time and succeed. The team who lost the football match will look at the tactics, view the match and consider what could have been done differently. Calling yourself a failure is very unhelpful, especially if you realize that you never failed but simply at that time just needed more skills or more insight to succeed. A step back can actually hold the secrets to true success and happiness.

Featured photo credit: Stokpic via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

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 –

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  • (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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Reality check:

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

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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