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How To Turn Your Life Around Before The End Of 2016

How To Turn Your Life Around Before The End Of 2016

June is a particularly productive time for me to work on my dreams. Here in Australia it’s winter. It’s hard to get up in the mornings when it’s still pitch black outside (at its latest, the sun rises after 7:30 am).

The coldness spurs me on because I wake up and I’m immediately hit with discomfort. Pain and discomfort have always driven me to work harder.

I love my summer. The heat is great, nothing’s better than sweating it out, watching cricket with a nice cold drink in your hand at the end of the year (remember, everything’s upside down down under).

I can’t help but feel guilty though if I didn’t earn that privilege, which is why I work hard during the winter months.

A third reason that June is a good month for work is because it’s the half way mark of the year. It’s a time of introspection and seeing the progress you have made so far on your goals since the beginning of the year.

Like most people, I’ve tried to stick to certain goals, but I gave up a couple months in when I didn’t see results. Old habits die hard, unfortunately.

However, if you’re anything like me, you want to succeed eventually. You want put in some hard work and see progress. A few months is usually not enough to see tangible results. A year is too long, especially if you haven’t done anything for that long before.

That’s where I’d like to introduce you to the concept of the 180 Day 180.

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What is the 180 Day 180?

The 180 Day 180 was actually the subject of an email line from a marketing consultant based out of Chicago by the name of Perry Marshall. He’s written “80/20 Sales and Marketing”, which introduces how the Pareto Principle (or the 80/20 Rule) applies to sales and marketing. He’s also co-written the “Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords”.

He tells some fascinating stories of his time spent in the “Dilbert Cube” before he struck out on his own as a consultant. I’d thoroughly recommend signing up to his email list just for a good read landing in your inbox once in a while.

One of his emails is titled, My 180 Day 180. Around the middle of the year, he lands a new job (after being laid off the day before). He’s a salesperson who has had trouble making sales. He needs them fast, trying to keep a sinking ship afloat.

Unsure of himself and constantly fighting off feelings of inadequacy and self-loath, he’s got to make this job work.

He discovers direct marketing and innovates by applying its concepts to the industrial space. Six months later, he’s working over he’s getting the biggest commission checks of his life, he’s able to breathe again and is confidently jumping from strength to strength, cutting his teeth in the trenches.

His boss is telling him:

“Perry, what can we do to keep you around?”

The 180 Day 180 challenges you to knuckle down, do deep, focused work and only look up 180 days later.

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This may result in your life doing a complete 180 and going in the right direction.

I’ve used the concept two or three times, counting down the days and I’ve been able to:

  • save up cash and pay off my credit card,
  • start a blog and build a following,
  • find freelance clients.
  • I’m currently in the back end of one — it ends on July 30th — and am looking forward to seeing the results.

Benefits of working on projects 180 days at a time

I think the most exciting thing about these sorts of projects is that it’s very easy to visualize the end result. Being able to visualize where you want to be is a key factor that affects your chance of success. Not a lot tends to change within six months unless you’re actively trying to change it.

It’s also a comfortable length of time to manage. Six months is just two quarters. When you’re starting something, you can see significant results in that time. It forces you to evaluate your goal and see whether it’s realistic.

Some people intentionally leave their goals all airy fairy but don’t give themselves a concrete deadline or result. Building a blog with 1,000 readers a day within six months is more powerful than “become a popular blogger this year”.

Most importantly, it makes you familiar with the idea of working for extended periods of time on your goals. If you haven’t stuck with something for a year, it’s easy to get distracted.

That’s why starting with six months is good. It’s halfway and once you realize you can do six months, the second six months you do is a lot easier. Then before you know it, you have done a year.

1. Decide on start and end date

The easiest step. There’s no better time than today. If you like the days to line up nicely like I do, you might consider waiting until the start of a new month.

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2. Decide on goal

The great thing about doing a 180 Day 180 is that it forces you to realistically evaluate what you can achieve in that time frame. It also makes you ponder how much you want something.

If you really want it, then this step forces you to face yourself and evaluate your approach to achieving it.

For example, let’s say you wanted to be a millionaire by the age of 30. You define this has having $1,000,000 cash in the bank by your 30th birthday. It’s six months until your birthday, therefore, assuming your current savings are negligible, you have six months to get $1,000,000 cash.

You can either go two ways at this point:

Path #1: take a “realistic” route and alter your goal so that it’s in line with your capabilities. If you aren’t particularly entrepreneurial and have never run a business before, this goal might need to be revised to $100,000.

Path #2: stick with your goal and remodel the way you think to achieve this. You will most likely need a dramatic change of lifestyle. I’d imagine you would have to quit your job and take up a high risk, high reward career. Perhaps you could specialize in selling multi-million dollar penthouses. Sell a few and you will hit your goal.

Again, if you’re determined to take Path #2, you have to really want it. If you aren’t afraid of hard work, then this Path could work out well for you.

How much are you willing to change to take this path?

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3. Visualize goal

If you can believe it, you can achieve it. Cliched, I know, but it works. Let me tell you what I’ve found works when visualizing success:

for people who hit their goals, life doesn’t change that much. If you were doing the right things day in, day out, then the results of your hard work will come in due time.
with this in mind, instead of visualizing a “happily ever after” sort of goal,visualize — in detail — a day in the life of you post goal success. Get asgranular as you can. Which bed are you sleeping in? Are you in the same home? What day is it? What time do you wake up? What do you get changed in to? What’s for breakfast? Do it for the rest of the day.

Instead of visualizing material differences, visualize how you feel.Whether you’re aware of it or not, whatever we strive to achieve, we mainly do so because we want to change how we feel on a daily basis. Yes, we ultimately want to be happier, but how does the happiness manifest itself? Who does it affect?

4. Make milestones, work backwards

OK, so now we’re getting down to business. I have often talked about changing what you believe to never lose faith in yourself again. We’ll apply that mindset here now.

Let’s continue on with the previous example — you want to be a millionaire by the time you’re 30 and you have six months to do so.

If you approach this sensibly you would know that this sort of dream is what cripples everyone, since the result relies on criteria that is impossible to achieve. Refocus the goal on milestones that you have complete control over.

Instead of “have $1,000,000 in the bank by the time I’m 30,” change the goal to “meet a new CEO every day”. The assumption of course is that CEOs have the capacity to buy penthouses, network with other CEOs who may be looking to get into the market and so on.

5. Track progress

Finally, see how you’re progressing on a regular basis. Assuming your goal is framed in the right light, it should be challenging but not impossible for you to do.

To kick up the difficulty a notch, be accountable online or to someone you trust. To have someone track your progress introduces an external perspective less likely to be subjectively impacted. For example, if you have a bad day, you might try and take a day off. A harsh but fair taskmaster wouldn’t allow that.

What if you had the courage to only do the work you love?

How much happier would you be? What separates the people who have the courage and those who don’t? Vulnerability. Accepting that they’re good enough to do the work that gives their life meaning.

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

The world has become a very distracting place, you don’t need me to tell you that. Where once we could walk out of our house or office and disappear into our own world with our own thoughts, we are now connected 24 hours a day to a network that’s sole purpose is to make us available to anyone and everyone at any time they choose to disturb us.

Of course, it is very easy to sit here and say all you have to do is turn off your electronic devices and just allow yourself several hours of quiet solitude; but the reality is far harder than that. There is an expectation that we are available for anyone whenever they want us.

However, if you do want to elevate yourself and perform at your best every day, to produce work of a higher quality than anyone expects and to regain control over what you do and when you will need to regain some control over your time, so you can focus on producing work that matters to you…

The good news: You do not have to become a recluse. All you need are a few simple strategies that will allow you enough flexibility in your day to stay focused to do the work that matters and still allow you to deal with other people’s crises and dramas.

Here are 7 ways you can stay focused and be less distracted.

1. Find out When You Are at Your Most Focused

According to research, brilliantly documented by Daniel Pink in his latest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, our brains have a limited capacity to stay focused each day.[1]

From the moment we wake up to the time we turn in for the day, we are using up our brain’s limited energy resources and, depending on the time of day, we will be moving between strong concentration and low concentration.

This means that for most people, their optimum time for sustained concentration and focus will be soon after they wake up. For others, it could be later in the evening—a kind of second wind—but that is rare.

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Once you understand this, you can take time to learn when you are at your best and to protect that time on your calendar as much as possible. If you can, block it off and use that time for the work you need to do that requires the most concentration each day.

2. Get Comfortable Using ‘Do Not Disturb’ Mode

We have the ability to switch our electronic devices to do not disturb mode. Where all notifications are off and your phone or computer will not alert you to a new email or message.

Now after testing this function for a number of years, I can happily report that it does work.

When I sat down to write this article, I put all my electronic devices to do not disturb, closed down my email and began writing. I am safe in the knowledge that until this article is written, and I turn do not disturb off, there will be no interruptions or distractions.

Of course, it is not really about whether do not disturb works or not, it is whether you are willing to turn it on or not.

Most people believe they have to be constantly available for their boss or customers. This is not true at all. What has happened is because of your always available status, you have conditioned these people to turn to you first whenever they have a problem.

You are not actually helping them at all. You are preventing them from having to think for themselves and develop the skill of problem-solving. By not being so readily available, you help them a lot more.

What it comes down to is your boss and customers are going to be far more positive with you, if you deliver your work to the highest quality and on time than you being available 24/7. Trust me on that. I also tested that one.

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3. Schedule Focus Time Every Day

This technique is a lot easier than you may think.

First, you figure out when you are least likely to be disturbed. For me, that is between 6 and 9 am. for a lot of my clients, they find the first 90 minutes in the morning at their workplace is when they are not likely to be disturbed. This is important because you want to be building consistency.

Most people start their day by checking their email and other messages. While they are doing that, they are not going to be bothering you. Now there is no rule about when you should be checking your email. The chances are email is not going to be where you want to spend your most focused time, so you can decide to check your email at say 10:30 am.

Dedicate 30 minutes from 10:30 am to 11:00 am for email processing and use the first 90 minutes of your day for doing your most important work. You will surprise yourself by how much work you get done in that ninety minutes.

4. Plan Your Day the Night Before

One of the inevitabilities of life is there is always a plan for the day. The choice is whether the plan you have is a plan of your own making or not. If you don’t have a plan, then the day will take control of you. Other people’s priorities, urgencies and dramas will fill your day. As the late Jim Rohn said:

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.”

If you take control and make it a habit to plan out what you want to accomplish the next day before you go to bed, you will find yourself staying more focused on your work and be less likely disturbed.

Now when I say plan your day the night before, I do not mean you need to spend an hour or so planning and mapping out every minute of the day. Planning your day should only take you around 10 to 15 minutes and you only need to decide what 10 things you want to complete — 2 “must do” objective tasks and 8 “would like to do” tasks. What I call the 2+8 Prioritisation Technique:

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Do not be tempted to go beyond 10 tasks for the day. When you do that, you do not have enough flexibility in your day to handle crises and other unknown issues that will pop up throughout the day.

When you do not build in flexibility, you will soon stop planning your day. Only plan tasks that will have the biggest positive impact on your work and projects.

5. Learn to Say “No”

I am sure you’ve been told this before. We are wired to please and this results in us wanting to say yes to every opportunity that comes our way. The problem is we cannot do everything and every time you say “yes” to one opportunity, you are saying “no” to another opportunity. You cannot be in two places at the same time.

Jay Shetty shared an inspiring video on JOMO “Joy Of Missing Out”. Here’s the video:

Rather than allowing ourselves to be succumbed by FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out), we should replace that ‘fear’ with the “joy” of missing out. Because of our need to please, we say yes to things we really don’t want to do; yet when we do that, we miss out on doing things that bring us joy—creating something special, spending time educating ourselves and just having some quiet alone time with ourselves.

Learn to say “no” every time you get a notification to your phone. Ignore it. Learn to say “no” to your colleagues when they want to gossip. Learn to say “no” to volunteering when the thing you are being asked to volunteer for does not excite you. Just learn to say “no”.

By saying “no” to opportunities, distractions and interruptions, you are saying yes to better and more meaningful things. Things you do want to focus your attention on.

6. Create a Distraction-Free Environment for Your Focused Time

This has been possibly the most powerful tip I learned when it comes to focusing on what is important. Have a place where you do only focused, high-concentration work.

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Now this place needs to be clean and only have the tools you need to do your work. If it is writing a report or preparing a presentation, then it needs a table and a computer, nothing more. Files, paper and other detritus that accumulates on and around people’s desks need to go. A clean, cool and well-lit environment is going to do a lot more for your focus and concentration than anything else.

The dining table in our home is where I go for undisturbed, focussed work. I take my laptop or iPad, and only have my writing app open. Everything is closed down and the computer is in “do not disturb” mode. There is nothing else on the dining table just my computer and my water tumbler.

Because that is my designated focus area, I only go there to work when I have something that needs total focus and concentration. I am there right now!

7. Be Intentional

The reality is, if you absolutely need to get something done then you need to be intentional. You have to have the intention of sitting down, focusing and doing the work.

There’s no magic tricks or apps that will miraculously do all your work for you. You need to intentionally set aside time for undisturbed focus work and do it. Without that intention, you can read as many of these articles as you like and you still will not get the work done.

It is only when you intentionally set yourself up to do the work, turn off all notifications and do whatever it takes to avoid distractions will the work get done.

The Bottom Line

The strategies and tips I shared in this post will go a long way to helping you become better at focusing on the important things in your life. No matter what they are, you are in control of your time and what you do with it and where you spend it, never give that control away to anyone else.

Protect it and it will be your servant. Give that control away and it will become your master and that is not a good place to be.

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Featured photo credit: Manny Pantoja via unsplash.com

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