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Letting Go of That Ego Before It Gets Hold of You

Letting Go of That Ego Before It Gets Hold of You

I confess, sometimes that head swims in the clouds and I prance about quite happy and headless. Doesn’t even take much for the head to go loose, a little success, a few possessions, some consistent compliments, and there it flies away to glory, on its own trip to what mostly turns out to be disaster.

So much is written about boosting self confidence, but what happens when you go overboard, when you start valuing yourself a bit too much and the confidence goes into overdrive, giving way to that big ugly ego. That’s the thing about ego, it’s never small, and it’s never pretty. It eats away at every single aspect of our lives. The enemy you sleep with until, well, until no one really wants to sleep with you, or work with you, or have anything to do with you.

We don’t even realize when it happens, when we become that egoist who cannot bear to be wrong. Who always listens to the boss while going oh shut up in the head. Who waits days for that sorry to come from the partner (while pretty much dying inside). Who stops talking to friends altogether because they pointed out a mistake. Who doesn’t want to even associate with those bunch of not my class people and who contemplates murder if anyone cracks a joke at their expense.

How can you not be a person you don’t even realize you have become? How do you kill that ego before it kills who you really are? Well, here are a few tough ways (I wanted to write easy but that’s just lying!).

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Don’t just be honest with yourself, be brutal.

It’s like that out of body experience people talk about. Once in a while, float out, hover over yourself, and critically analyze the person you see (you know, the way you analyze that particularly irritating person in your team right before appraisal time). Pretend you are your colleague or spouse or friend and evaluate what this person is to them – the good, the bad, and the really ugly.

Be objective, use a sheet of paper if you have to (yes pretty silly, ensure you are alone while conducting such nerdy activities). A little objective analysis and you will see that ego dissipate. The by product is a clearer life path (and probably the need to get drunk depending on how ugly the ugly is).

Make fun of your own silliness.

You can’t be so awesome that you have no attribute worth laughing at (your friends from college could give you at least 10 in less than a minute). Every day, spend a few moments laughing at yourself (OK, make it once a week if the idea is too mortifying to begin with).

A little joke on something silly, a genuine joke, not one of those smartly crafted lines that are meant to sound like self deprecation but actually stink of self appreciation. So if you are stick thin and crack jokes on your apparently increasing weight which is invisible to the naked eye, please, for the love of God, just stop (before Karma comes calling, and by Karma i mean 20 pounds).

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The thing about genuinely laughing at yourself is that not only does it keep that ego away, it also makes you more endearing to others. Besides, it is the best kind of humor. If you are the butt of your own joke, no one can get offended!

Sometimes, when you realize you are wrong, say it out loud.

We all have those moments in arguments or discussions when we realize that we are completely and ridiculously wrong. We still continue supporting our point with all kinds of baloney. That’s not a bad thing, if we accept ALL the mistakes we actually make, we will come across as pushovers who are not to be taken seriously. Sometimes though, you can make an exception and just accept it.

“OK yes, I think you are right, my bad” – it’s a magical thing to say out loud. Helps your head float down to mother earth and makes the other person respect you more for your honesty. Saying it out loud helps you realize that you really are wrong, that you can be wrong, that you are not the most ‘right’ person in the history of human existence.

You may be going ‘Oh I’m not that person anyway’, but if you were to check with your spouse/friend/colleague whether you have been that person, the answer may be very surprising (and very irritating).

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Attempt things you know you are not good at.

Most of us don’t want to spend time doing such things. Remaining within the familiar helps us get a higher success rate which keeps our self esteem and social image intact. That can be a good policy to follow most of the time, but not always. If we never ever fail, our exaggerated sense of self will go on expanding. Of course it also means that we never learn new stuff which is downright boring.

So bake that cake and leave the windows open for when it burns. Take on a new project at work and accept the fact that you will not be awesome in the first month (by the second month kindly do get awesome, experimentation is fine but you need to keep that job). New things and new failures equal less ego and more growth.

Remember the person you have been.

If your past is spotted with times that you would rather forget, remember them. The algebra paper you flunked, that one time you tripped on stage, the first job interview you ruined or that first date when your fly was open the whole time. Don’t think of it often, but once in a while, think about the times when you were a lesser person than you are now. Remember that older version, so that the newer version remains balanced. Recollecting past errors not only keeps Mr. Ego in check, it also prevents you from repeating those mistakes.

To be honest, while I may be writing this piece, I’am no expert at managing my own ego (if you are a friend of mine, kindly stop that rigorous nod of agreement before your head falls off). It is extremely difficult to follow these deceptively simple rules, to remain grounded and true to who you are.

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Developing an ego is as easy as gaining weight and letting it go is as painful as shedding those extra pounds. Nonetheless, this is the diet for a healthy mind, needed for a happy soul. So while I realize I may have served up broccoli in the above few points, all I can say is ‘Eat Up, folks!’

Featured photo credit: Spirit Science & Metaphysic via spiritscienceandmetaphysics.com

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Last Updated on April 8, 2019

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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  1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
  2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
  3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
  4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
  5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
  6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
  7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
  8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
  9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
  10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
  11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
  12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
  13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
  14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
  15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
  16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
  17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
  18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
  19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
  20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
  21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
  22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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