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This Is What Happens When People Are Questioned About Their Life Plans For More Than 25 Seconds

This Is What Happens When People Are Questioned About Their Life Plans For More Than 25 Seconds

Have you ever been asked what your life plans are? It is somewhat of a daunting question. You may find yourself stumped. You might begin ok but after a while you may lose momentum and trail off. If this sounds familiar you are not alone.

25 seconds is the limit when talking about life plans

A recent study conducted by Theresa Colmaryk, published in the American Journal of Psychology, found that when asked about their plans for life the average person was only able to sustain their line of thought for 25 seconds.

Colmaryk noted, “While most individuals’ plans for the future hold together for the first few moments of explanation, we found that by the 20- or 30-second mark, people typically begin trailing off into ambiguity, equivocation, or flat-out silence”.

The majority of people did not seem to have thought extensively about their plans and as a result they were not able to explain their ideas.
“In about 38 percent of cases, it appeared participants’ aspirations had been subject to so little critical inquiry that the simple exercise of explaining the first step of their plan aloud—be it to purchase a home, to travel extensively, or simply to learn a new skill, like cooking—caused the entire thing to unravel right before their eyes in a period of no more than six or eight seconds.” Said Colmaryk.
What is surprising, however, is that although they could not explain their plans everyone remained confident that they would achieve their goals.

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Confusing goals with strategies

Many of us have a tendency to confuse goals with strategies. Once we have set goals we often believe we can achieve them without thinking about a strategy. It is important to know the difference between a goal and a strategy when thinking about one’s life plans.

Freek Vermeulen writes in his article What Strategy Is Not:

“…there is nothing wrong with having an aspiring goal, but strategy is how you endeavour to accomplish it. Strategy involves making choices; genuine choices.”

Often we shy away from thinking about stagey as making decisions and choices can often be difficult. Sometimes we need to make tough decisions like ending a relationship or looking for a new career path; and this can be demanding.

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Vermeulen explains strategy as “Your route towards the goal”. In this way the goal can be seen as the destination and the strategy is the path you need to travel to get there. It is essential that we consider the route if we wish to achieve our goals.

Vermeulen gives the example of a goal as follows. He says that a goal may be striving to win the 400 meter Olympic race by aiming to run fast. He notes that this is a valid goal but it does not reveal anything about how one intends to achieve this goal.

Strategy is not the same as goal setting

In the article titled Strategy Is Not the Same as Goal Setting Peter Winick defines strategy as follows:

“Strategy is an exercise in problem solving. While the problem may be as varied as the development of your platform, the launching of your book, the way you will gain market share or the way you will differentiate yourself and your content in the market place, these are all problems that a well thought out strategy is focused on solving.”

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So according to Winick we can view a strategy as something that leads to the solving of a problem. We are faced with many problems in life and it makes sense that we need strategies when addressing these problems. Strategies can be tuned when they are not effective. It is important to set a strategy and really focus on it so that even if you are far away from your goal you can reflect on your strategy and change it as needed.

“Goals that support the strategy are critical, but goals do not solve problems. Goals are a measure of progress. Goals support the strategy.”

Says Winick.

It is thus important to have a goal and a supporting strategy; but not to get the two confused.

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Summation

When considering your life plans give a thought to both your goals and your strategies. Know the difference and consider both as equally important. If you give serious thought to what you plan to do in life, chances are you will be able to answer questions about your plans for more than 25 seconds.

It’s often uneasy to start. An organized program or guide would help a lot. Lifehack Goal Setting System is here for you! 

What is that?

A hearty system that makes every small progress counts.

How would it help?

For every goal you add, you will receive practical and useful articles that guide you through the process and achieve remarkable outcomes.

Without health, it’s really hard for us to achieve anything, so why not start from some tiny healthy habits?

Check the below six common goals and click into it to add to your goal.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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