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31 Magic Tricks to Simplify Your Life

31 Magic Tricks to Simplify Your Life

How many times has life overwhelmed you? It’s okay. It happens to everyone. The world moves at breathtaking speed. You have a hundred times the choices and ten times the work. Blink your eyes, and everything has changed. Where do you start, and when will it end?

Take a breath. Relax. You have permission. You don’t have to drop out or quit to simplify. More importantly, you don’t have to sacrifice your sanity and life’s simple pleasures to get what you want. All you need are these 31 magic tricks.

1. Choose to be happy.

At a young age we’re taught there are winners and losers. Life becomes a game to earn the most points, often measured in dollars and trinkets. Along the way, we lose our soul. I’m not saying don’t set goals, just the opposite. It’s the why that’s important. Goals should be born from your passions and the desire to grow and learn, not to achieve trophies for self-validation.

This requires a decision to be happy, to live in the now. In other words, be grateful for what you have. Appreciate what’s in front of you. When you can do that, it will be easier to achieve the impossible. If you’re stuck on the how, read The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky.

2. Change your mindset.

Mindset expert Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, explains that people have either a fixed or a growth mindset. Those with fixed mindsets need constant validation. They see success, talent, and fate as predetermined by genetics or your last name.

Those with growth mindsets see challenges in the world as opportunities to learn and grow. They understand no one is perfect, and that the process and failures along the way creates growth, fulfillment, and achievement. If you want to simplify, embrace the growth mindset and release the baggage of everything else.

3. Imagine it’s the last day on Earth.

Imagine the world is about to end. What would you do, and who would you do it with? Would you quit your job, kiss the girl (or boy), or spend the rest of the day with your family? Or, would your reflection on the time you’ve squandered paralyze you?

Life is too short to waste being miserable. Decide what’s important, and let go of the rest.

4. Forgive.

Choose to be a victim or forge your own destiny. People may inflict harm but forgive them anyway. While you’re at it, forgive yourself. Don’t let the baggage of what other people have done keep you down. You can’t change events, but you can change your reaction to those events. It’s the sum of your reactions that determines the course of your life.

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5. Think about what you would do if you lost everything.

Imagine you are in a building, a tower right after a plane hits. The lights go out. The room turns black. Soot fills your lungs. You’re halfway down the stairs when the stairwell buckles from the collapse of the tower next door. You survive, but just barely. You escape with your life and nothing else. Your job is gone, and so are your friends and coworkers.

That’s the story of what happened to thousands of people after 9/11, and the lessons you can learn from them are many. The simple truth is that life is what matters. No one can take away what’s in your mind, the experiences you’ve had, or the wisdom you’ve gained. Everything else is just window dressing.

6. Reflect on those who have nothing.

Millions of people lack the basics most of us take for granted, things like running water and a bed. If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re not one of those people, so what right do you have to complain?

If you want to simplify your life, strip down what’s dragging you down. Don’t worry about what you don’t have. Quit keeping up appearances and complicating your life with unnecessary stuff and the stress that goes with it. Let it go. Focus on what you really want, not what other people expect you to have.

7. Rediscover your childhood dreams.

As a teacher, I hate when other parents, coaches, and teachers tell students to be realistic. Will Smith said, “Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.” Yet, many of us believe the sick twisted lie that we should be realistic. We’re told to set “achievable” goals so we don’t set ourselves up for failure. The irony is that it’s the failures that teach what is required to live a fulfilled life.

Jeff Olson in The Slight Edge explained how he read an article which stated only ten people cry at the average funeral and only one-third of the people who are supposed to go actually show up. The question this raised for him was: Why waste your time worrying about what the rest of the world thinks when they don’t even bother to show up at your funeral?

It’s true you won’t always achieve your ultimate dreams, but it’s not about the dream. It’s about the ride. The one thing that is true, is that you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t try. Don’t listen to those who’ve given up or allowed fear to paralyze them. Don’t waste your time cluttering up your life with other people’s expectations. Discover your passion, stay the course, and I promise you won’t live a life of regret.

8. Discover who adds value to your life.

Your parents were right. Don’t hang around bad people. By bad people, I’m referring to those who don’t add value to your life and who are a net negative.

It’s been said you become like the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If you spend time with people who tear you down, you’ll be torn down. Choose wisely and let go of the dead weight.

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9. Change your inputs.

Stress, misery, confusion, indecision, and frustration are perceptions reinforced by thoughts. Strong evidence supports the belief those perceptions are reversible if you change the words you tell yourself. Many of us don’t realize it, but we frequently tell ourselves self-defeating things that reinforce negative beliefs. If you want to change those beliefs, elevate your self-talk.

Don’t stop at self-talk, change your other inputs. Listen to or read constructive books, audiobooks or podcasts. Take half an hour a day on your commute or from your entertainment time to listen to something constructive. Remove the clutter of your mind and replace it with clarity and direction.

10. Reflect daily.

Take stock of your day and reflect on your accomplishments. Write them down. Write down what went wrong, when time was wasted, and which irrelevant tasks kept you busy instead of effective.

11. Exercise.

You don’t have to spend hours at the gym to benefit from the mental clarity and rush of endorphins that comes from physical exertion. Spend five to fifteen minutes a day in your home or outside to boost your energy level, improve your overall health, and allow your mind the chance to decompress. Spend more if you like, but start somewhere.

12. Unplug.

We have more free time than ever, so why do we feel like life is moving at ever increasing speeds? The answer is information is exploding, and so are devices used to access it. Each notification breaks our focus. We lose time in the shuffle, and our day flutters away.

It’s easy to chase the white rabbit of information down the internet hole. Limit the time you spend on your devices, and take the time to completely unplug and free your mind. Allow yourself time to think. You’ll be surprised at your amazing insights.

13. Meditate.

Many highly successful entrepreneurs meditate. They do it for one simple reason: It keeps them focused amongst the chaos. I encourage you to try mindfulness meditation. Scientific evidence points to many benefits including improved memory, focus, and reduced stress.

14. Take a nap.

Fifteen to twenty-five minutes a day may be all you need get back on your A-game and regroup midway. I stack my habits of meditation and napping each day once I get home from work. You may do it at lunch. Napping will increase your energy and focus. In the process, you will feel less stressed and overwhelmed.

15. Get enough sleep.

Don’t try to be superman. You can achieve your goals and still get the required seven to eight hours of sleep needed to function at peak performance. If you get enough sleep, you’re more effective with your time, and your body will thank you. If you don’t have enough time, it means you need to let go of what’s keeping you busy instead of effective. There will always be more stuff you can do. Force yourself to stop. Create a daily deadline, and stick to it.

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16. Take a few weeks off.

Great epiphanies in life will often come when you’ve removed yourself from the day-to-day clutter and routine. It’s also a great way to enjoy life and recuperate from life’s demands. A few innovative companies are catching on and reaping the rewards. Take advantage of the time you have, and don’t be afraid to ask for it.

17. Make a bucket list.

Create a long list of things you want to do, regardless of how absurd they sound. Shape your list around things you want to do, not accomplishments you hope will impress others. When the opportunity presents itself, do those things. It’s your life. Step out of your comfort zone. Take a risk, and simplify your life by doing what excites you.

18. Pretend to go on vacation.

You don’t actually have to take  a vacation to benefit from one. Just think about what you would do if and when you have the time. If the things you would do can be done where you live, start doing them. Save time normally wasted on meaningless tasks and use it to do what’s important.

19. Pretend that you have only five minutes to prepare.

If you truly want to declutter, imagine you only have five minutes to pack. Now imagine the vacation is permanent. You’ll quickly realize most of the stuff in your life you don’t need. If you want more suggestions, Tim Ferriss has some great tips in The Four-Hour Workweek.

20. Simplify your calendar.

If your to-do list never ends and keeps getting longer, it’s time to put your items on a calendar. Scheduling may seem like the opposite of simplifying, but when done properly, it actually makes you feel less overwhelmed and increases your effectiveness.

Evidence shows only eleven percent of people complete their to-do list. When you put your items on a calendar, you commit to completing it, but you also have a clearer perspective of the time available and enhanced judgment about what can be completed in a given day.

21. Schedule buffers.

Create buffers during your day to regroup and decompress. Schedule them on a calendar, and be religious about avoiding appointments and other work during that time. It will improve your focus.

22. Organize.

I’ve read the reports that creative minds are more cluttered. That may be true, but if you organize your home and your life, it’s easier to see what you need, what you want, and what is simply trash. A cluttered home is a cluttered mind.

23. Simplify your life.

One powerful way to simplify your life is to systemize it with a master document. I prefer Google Drive because I can access it wherever I go. The document contains clickable links to other Google Docs that focus on specific areas of my life.

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In business, systemization is necessary to scale up effectively. In life, it’s easy to forget what you’ve learned and what works if you don’t write it down. A master document can also include your action plan, goals, and habits. It’s a shockingly powerful way to simplify your life and accomplish more with minimal effort.

24. Be flexible.

A master document may sound rigid, but it’s actually easy to change. In life, if you’re stubborn, you create unnecessary headaches for yourself. Be willing to go with the flow when things take an unexpected direction, and listen to different opinions. You don’t always have to agree, but if you refuse to move, it will only be a matter of time before your life’s branches break.

25. Simplify your errands.

Group similar tasks. Don’t waste time switching back and forth between things. Quit checking your email every time you get a notification. Doing so reduces productivity and increases stress. Shut off your notifications. Instead, do those tasks all at once. Apply the same principle to other actions. When you do, you’ll feel less busy and have more time to do other things.

26. Supercharge your focus.

Quite wasting time on the eighty percent of things that have minimal impact on moving you forward. Use the Pareto Principle and focus on the twenty percent that matters. This requires that you first take inventory of your time.

27. Give yourself the slight edge.

Think like the tortoise instead of the hare. If you produce small but consistent action towards your goals, you’ll progress more than the person who gets excited, overworks and burns out. It’s the slight edge over time that makes all the difference.

28. Use the Pomodoro Technique.

Drop the multitasking and focus on what needs to be done using the Pomodoro Technique. Set a timer for a desired length of time, and shut out all other distractions while you work on the task. Reward yourself when complete. You’ll be more productive, and you’ll start looking forward to completing the tasks on your calendar.

29. Say No.

Don’t spend time doing things you don’t want to do. Learn the art of saying no and allow yourself the opportunity to say yes to the things that truly matter.

30. Simplify your priorities.

Your daily calendar shouldn’t be littered with too many things. Pick the three things that will help you be most effective at your current life priorities and do them as early as possible or at times that work best for you.

31. Simplify your goals.

Goals are great, but supercharge your life-plan with a singular focus. Take the advice of entrepreneur expert, John Lee Dumas, and elevate one goal to the top of your list with a completion deadline. Break that goal into smaller milestones and achieve them with the magic of your daily three priorities. When you focus on one goal at a time, it will be easier to accomplish more without feeling overwhelmed.

Now that you know the 31 secrets, apply that knowledge. You have the tools needed to break the cycle of stress and distraction, but you won’t realize the benefits if you don’t take action, so do something about it, and do it now.

Featured photo credit: Steven Businger via soest.hawaii.edu

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Roy Huff

Author, Scientist, Teacher

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Last Updated on February 20, 2019

13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with Them and Enjoy the Ride

13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with Them and Enjoy the Ride

Fear. I spend my life talking about fear — fighting fears, fixing fears and understanding fears. And yet I doubt I get 10 calls a year from people saying “Mandie can you help me fix my fear?”

Why is this so critically important to you?

The realization for me is that fear is not the fundamental driving force in your life it’s what regardless of whether I’m talking to a doctor, a teacher, a CEO’s, a senior citizens or teenager – every single one of those conversations has a direct correlation with your world.

Fear can range from the overwhelming desire to look away or stop in your tracks to literally fleeing your country and the life you knew. In this article, I will share you with 13 tips to face your fears and enjoy the ride.

1. Know That Fear Is Real, but Can Be Overcome

Right now around the world people are facing fear — real fear. Fear that I pray my children and I will never experience. Does that lessen my fears or your fears in your relativity safe 21st century life?

When I look at the world we all live in, I find that fear like so many other emotions can mean so many different things to so many different people:

  • The child who has to be physically dragged to their first day of school.
  • The man facing the judge.
  • The woman with her hand poised over the buttons over her phone because she has to walk down a dark corridor late at night alone.
  • The man as the surgeon says “count backwards from 10 Mr Smith.”
  • The woman that’s told “We are sorry, we can’t help you.”
  • The man that faces the empty circle of a gun and prays for his very existence.

These and a million more (Portrayed in every kind of movie, book or song you could imagine) are what make us human. We face fear and somehow move forward or are stopped in our tracks.

Like the rabbit in the headlights of the car that veers off through the field away from the tyres of the car or stays still praying for salvation. Like someone will save them. Sound familiar?

Fear is huge. Fear is everywhere and yet fear can be overcome, controlled and can even be a power for good.

2. Accept Your Fear

Firstly if you aren’t facing the barrel of the gun, atrocities that make the news or impeding death, that’s a good start. However it doesn’t mean your fear is any less real.

We are quick to say “I can’t moan, my life is not as bad as X.” While in theory, that’s honorable your appreciation of Mr. or Mrs. X’s horrific life won’t change anything directly. So accept your fear is relative to you.

And here’s what can be done.

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3. Get Some Perspective

I found myself asking anyone that would answer “what is your worst fear”. The answer that intrigued me the most came from my daughter (15 years old and she usually has a copy of Fight the Fear – my book – in her school bag so she can help someone else be as positive and confident as her. No matter what life throws up.)

And her fear, surprised me — heights. I pointed out that we live in a sprawling bungalow (one storey) and the highest she goes is two storeys’ at school! She laughed but added, fear isn’t like that Mum. I know it’s not a real fear, but it’s like when you stand on a chair and feel unsafe.

That girl will go far. Because she truly gets fear.

We know something is scary and yet we still do it. Why? Because we have a perspective to the fear. When you lose perspective, it can feel too big, and too scary.

So look around you to get some perspective on your fear:

  • Are you really at risk?
  • Will this kill you?
  • Which leads us on to..
  • If the worse was to happen what would it be?

4. Hold a Hand

As a coach, it is my job to holds someone’s metaphorical hand and help them face a fear.

Like the child petrified of the thunder storm or the teen that can’t get back in a car again after failing their test, your job as a parent is to reassure, encourage, enable and motivate someone to face something that ideally they never would choose to again.

We know many of our fears aren’t real. However, it is only when someone guides us with love, respect, lack of judgement and safety are we able to get through fear. And trust me, you can get through your fears. I’ve seen it so many times.

Ask yourself:

  • If the worse were to happen, what would that be?
  • Could that really happen?
  • If the worse did happen, how would you recover?
  • If the worse were to happen, what would you need to do next?

By seeing fear as not the end destination but part of being human, you can see through it’s wily evil ways and move forward.

5. Know Whose Hand You Hold Either Physically or Emotionally

This helps with fears for the rest of your life.

Think of someone you can always rely on (and ideally you won’t just answer yourself because that adds a lot of pressure to your existence!) And you will find that you’ve already found a way to get through fear.

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The beauty of this is that it means that fear becomes part of life not something to be feared and shied away from.

It means you know you can turn to your friend, partner, colleague, parent, sibling and say “Right I need to deal with this, and I’m going to need you to help me.”

For one moment, think about it from the other person’s view point. When we get to help other people we feel valued, loved, respected and lots of other positive emotions and we get a good dose of positive chemicals setting off in our bodies too.

Your fear, and your determination to fight it, helped someone else too. Now that’s cool right?

6. Understand That There Are Some Things Fear Will Never Touch

I like to find role models in life — people who have faced heroism, history changing moments, war, atrocities, miracles, life saving inventions.

Not everyone was looking for greatness, however they all found it. And one of my favourite books to date is written about Alistair Urquhart, the forgotten highlander. If this doesn’t get turned into a film in the future, then no man’s story is likely to.

Alistair went through the most horrific experiences in the 2nd world war. If you think of one of the awful things that happened back then in our world, Alistair went through at least 3 of them! Asked afterwards how did you cope? He talked about how whatever they did to his body, no matter how they starved, tortured, threatened or mocked him, they couldn’t have his mind. In his mind he was free.

Of all the people’s voices I’ve heard in my head over the years, this is one of those statements that reminds me anything is possible if you have faith and hope.

Look for the things in life that fear can’t touch. They will create confidence and faith for the future, whatever you face. And they will give you a sense of why being you is awesome.

Of all the billions of people on this planet, no one will have an answer identical to yours!

7. Process Your Fears to Carry on with Life

Being brave is not about sticking your chest out and smiling regardless of what hell you endure. It is about finding a way to emotionally process your fears to be able to keep going.

I have a tool kit of things I can rely on – tools, strategies, techniques. They include people to hug or talk to, music. hobbies, walks on the beach and even my favourite food. It sounds mad but at the times where I have questioned “how will I get through this?” I’ve found immense joy in doing the most unlikely of thing that makes me smile.

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It may be a short lived moment of happiness. However, it reminded that nothing stays the same and I can find away.

One client told me that it was crazy when it felt like their world was falling around their ears to run a bath to the brim (you don’t waste water) get the best bath oils, light too many candles, lock the door and drink a glass of bubbly (champagne is only for special occasions.)

Did that moment fix the disaster that my clients life felt? No, however it gave them a moment of calm and the brain is far quicker to find solutions, resolve and motivation to keep going when you do that.

It may feel like madness to do something you love, however it can be a powerful way to help you find solutions to the fears you face in life.

8. Assume the Worse

If you read the statement from the client above. Notice how they assumed it was wrong to fill the bath up to the top? How bubbly is only for special occasions?

Think how naughty they felt to be doing something that was not allowed?

  • Think about what age it may have made them feel?
  • Think about how they feel about champagne?
  • What special moments it’s been a part of in their lives?

And you can see how the assumptions they made about their “right” to have these things was not healthy.

When I drag the assumptions out of people’s words for them to see, they are often struck by how negative the words make them feel.

Don’t assume your words aren’t impacting on you. You can go through fear and actually enjoy the ride when you take the time to understand how you are letting words get to you.

9. Take a Fear That Feels Insurmountable Right Now.

If you were to repeat it to me out loud, what would you say?

Would you have blame on yourself in there? Would you assume others can do it and it’s just you? Would you feel small, unsuccessful, useless, unworthy?

Usually, when you do this exercise, you are able to spot the untruths that run wild in your head convincing you that you are doomed. And rarely when we are faced with our assumptions is there is a lot of evidence to them.

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10. You Are Not Defined by Your Fear

One fear does not define your life – be mindful of that. It is likely to lead you to thinking of all the times you’ve succeeded and bring a moment of calm, confidence and faith back to you.

11. Go with Fear

When you learn to go with fear, you could find yourself actually having fun, no seriously – having fun.

I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.

Notice how they’ve found their hidden fears and want to face them?

One client said “I knew this was going to be tough, and I knew I couldn’t fight it alone and I knew you would be the one to help me.” Before I sat an incredibly successful, confident, capable business owner with a family and a social life to die for.

However, I’ve learned that the most successful looking lives can hide things that impact on life, success, love, happiness and business.

We didn’t start with the fear that they felt was holding them back, we broke the fear down, and found lots of little obstacles that had been deemed as “life” and “unchangeable” and “that’s just the way it is” by developing awareness to the little steps on the road to their obstacles to happiness and success they were able to tackle them in a different way.

12. Discover Great Skills in Your Scary Moments

And in that clients words “I came here to work with you to grow my company, and my own personal skills. I didn’t expect to get the children to be cleaning up after themselves and my partner being more attentive! It all feels a little magic.”

The moral is that out of the scariest of moments, we can find great skills we didn’t know we had. Find better, healthier, happier ways to live and find ways to enjoy life more. (And have a bit of magic!)

What a great place to be in ready for the next fear that thinks it’s going to get in the way of you, right?

13. Own Your Fear

Think back over these tips and come up with at least one example for each one. Write them down. Put them on your phone. Turn them into a piece of art. Turn them into a poem. Frame them. Go for a fast walk across the fields, beach, down town and repeat these things in your head to the sound of your feet on the ground.

We rarely take the time to appreciate how far we have come, how much we can achieve or what we are capable of – by really owning the tips in this article you will have given your brain a big fat dose of “Damn right I can do this!” and the motivation and accountability to say “Let’s find a way” through any fear.

You can’t help but feel good when you see that can you? And fear doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

More Resources About Fighting Fear

Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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