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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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Rebecca Beris

Rebecca is a wellness and lifestyle writer at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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