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Don’t Always Go With The Flow. Shape Your Life For The Better With These 5 Questions

Don’t Always Go With The Flow. Shape Your Life For The Better With These 5 Questions

Picture this: you’re celebrating your 68th birthday. Retirement, finally! The office throws you a little party, the boss gives you a gold pen, but the festivities leave you feeling hollow inside. What happened? Where did all the time go? You went to college, entered the corporate world along with your classmates, and your life and dreams passed you by. Sometimes you shouldn’t just go with the flow. Instead, find that hidden door and escape the mainstream world before you regret it.

Shape your life for the better and uncover your true heart’s desires by asking yourself these five questions:

1. Where do I need to go to find myself?

What do you truly want in your life? From work, lifestyle, to relationship…What do you prefer? What suits you the best? Without exploring well before settling down, you’re very likely limiting yourself living a life you might not really enjoy, but just happens to be the only way you know.

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Go somewhere to know more about yourself. You’ll never know what you really want unless you try more. Most of us underestimate our potential and stop ourselves from going further. Take the first step and everything will be different. If you go to a new place where the culture is nearly the opposite of yours, you’ll learn even more.

2. If you could do anything at all, what would it be?

Have you always wanted to be a beer taster or a stunt double in the movies? A truffle hunter, pearl diver, or a monkey trainer?

Forget what other people do, the family business, or traditions. Reply with your heart. What kind of job do you really want? Putting the practical concerns aside, what would you really really want to do even if no one tells you to? What would you still enjoy doing even if it’s not paid?

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3. Dig out the reasons

You may know the places you want to go and the jobs you prefer, but have you ever asked yourself the reason behind those particular choices? Let’s say if you’re interested in having your own restaurant. Is it because you’re really passionate in cooking? Or you like a manage a restaurant to make every customer happy? If you’re passionate in cooking, are there any other choices? Like being a Youtube blogger or a master chef?

Find your why and seek out the motivation behind your wildest dreams.

4. What jobs do you dread the most?

Claustrophobic in cubicles? An office job would be like ingesting slow poison. Faint at the sight of blood? Not even Doctors without Borders will change your reaction. You have to face the fact that you have fears and some things you should avoid.

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What kind of employment fills you with dread? A 9-to-5 job in a department store without windows? Anything dealing with numbers or the public? By getting to know what you dread most, you can become better armed at heading it off and motivate yourself to avoid those types of jobs altogether.

5. How low are you willing to go?

Seek out that which causes your soul to sing. But, you must understand that all dreams come at a cost and that may mean making sacrifices in order to see them come true.

Ask yourself what is the lowest standard of living you are willing to face to make those dreams reality. Would you be able to live long-term in a tent, battle heat and bugs and eat tinned beans just to make that Caribbean island dream come true? Would you sleep in youth hostel dorms with strangers in order to become a travel writer? A mud hut with no running water in Zambia for the Peace Corps?

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What is the lowest level of living that you would deem acceptable to make your dreams become a reality?

Don’t wait for that retirement party to shake you awake. Give yourself permission to to live your dreams today. Be proactive now. Uncover your true desires, learn what to avoid, and know your passions. Live blissfully by following your dreams.

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Sally White

writer, artist & blogger

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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