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If You Cannot Explain Your Life Plans for More than 25 Seconds, You Have No Plans At All

If You Cannot Explain Your Life Plans for More than 25 Seconds, You Have No Plans At All

A recent study reported that most people can’t get through a mere 25 seconds of close reflection about their life plans. They may start off with some idea of what they want to achieve, but when questioned about the real aspects of how they will do it, like how they will pay for it, they lose focus and get confused, often falling into complete silence. It’s not that people lack ambition. It’s that their ideas are still in their infancy and most never get past that stage to having mature and solid goals or strategies.

The issue is that life plans can become so complicated and overwhelming that most people just end up settling. Instead of having clearly thought out and planned goals with strategies and tools to achieve them, they let the concrete reality slip through their grasp and surrender to an ambiguous notion of an unpredictable life. While we can’t control everything that happens in life and don’t know for sure what tomorrow will bring; while living mindfully in the moment and focusing on the present is valuable, that doesn’t mean we should abandon our goals and neglect the quest for tangible methods to assertively and actively succeed in achieving our desires.

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One method to making concrete goals and establishing solid strategies is to use the “5 whys” method. This basically refers to a technique for solving problems by simply asking why. The answer is the basis for the next question.

Here are six steps to establishing realistic goals and firm strategies to accomplishing them.

Goals

1.What makes you happy?

Make a list and be honest. What are the activities that make you happiest. Don’t limit your answers by thinking whether or not you are good at it, or if you have any qualifications or experience. Think broadly. It could be that you love cooking or sewing; playing an instrument, reading. Think about the things that motivate you. Although most people may say laying in the sun doing nothing is what makes them happy, soon you’ll be bored. Think about something you would be happy to do every single day of your life. Be realistic.

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2.What are your strengths?

What are you good at. Maybe ask others. You may not enjoy cleaning your house or car very much, but you might be really good at it and feel satisfied after the task is done. Someone may have complimented you on your ability to grow plants or care for pets. Try to think of examples of when you were accomplished at something and the pride you felt, knowing you could do it again. Often it is hard to admit what we are genuinely good at for fear of appearing conceited. It takes courage to give ourselves credit for a job well done.

3.What do you need to do this every day?

Once you have established your desires and attributes, think about the things you may need to allow you to do this every day and perhaps even to make a living from it. Do you need qualifications? Testimonials? More experience? Materials and a work space? Time? Narrow it down. Don’t be too complicated and think too far ahead. Just start at where you are now and where you want to be tomorrow. Do this every day and step by step you get closer to establishing a concrete goal.

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Strategies

1.How much time do you have?

Time is very important. If you have a full time job, are a parent or carer and have lots of responsibilities, you need to consider where this new goal will fit in and where you want it to take you. Time is very deceptive. It is easy to think we have no time, but when you prioritize your life, you can easily find it. If you dedicate only a few minutes a day to the one thing that makes you happy, slowly that time grows and eventually it takes precedence over other things that are no longer as important as you thought they were.

2.How much space do you need?

Sometimes having a work space dedicated to what you want to do is a good motivator. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it is a physical way to start to see a goal manifest. If you want to make clothes, establish a sewing corner. Buy fabrics and a machine. It doesn’t have to cost a lot either. Get things second hand, look for free stuff. Make it known what you want and soon people start giving you things, everyone has junk that to you is gold. Set up a permanent space. Maybe put up an ideas or inspiration board to be able to visualize the activity. Make associations. Anything that corresponds to your goals and life plans can be included in this physical space to build your reality.

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3.What materials are essential?

Life goals are only manifested when we start to see physical outcomes. Do you need a qualification – a framed certificate? Do you need tools and books or guides? Is a substantial investment required and do you need to start putting funds away, take out a personal loan or build the investment a little at a time? Can you get help or crowd funding? Can you partner up with someone or a group of people? Can you barter or swap, give and receive in return to start to make this goal a legitimate exchange? Soon you will have a burgeoning business.

Helpful Guide

Having a goal without good strategies cannot help you achieve what you want. However, with Lifehack Goal Setting System, in which every small progress counts, you can efficiently attain the best result of your desire. For every goal you add, you will receive practical and useful articles that guide you through the process and achieve remarkable outcomes.

To start with, you can try these health goals:

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Diane Koopman

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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