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7 Great Ways To Challenge Yourself Now

7 Great Ways To Challenge Yourself Now

There’s this famous quote that can spark an interest to challenge yourself within you:

“If something that you’re doing doesn’t challenge you, then it doesn’t change you.” Unknown

Of course, since every one of us has room for improvement, this can also mean if you don’t change yourself, then you can’t be responsible for changing your situation in life. You can never see any improvement in your life if you stick to your comfort zone. We all need a healthy dose of normal stress in our lives, after all. We can only see what we’re really capable of if we make the effort to go over our pre-conceived limits. Don’t limit the challenges you encounter in life – challenge the limits that your “lizard brain” crafted instead:

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1. Learn a new language.

Hangul, Nihonggo, French, Filipino, Mandarin, Spanish: these are just some of the languages you can discover as you strive to challenge yourself. Learning a new language isn’t just another way to pad your resume; if you really get into it, you can even use this skill to tutor on the side and earn extra cash.

With all the fun apps and quirky software all over the Internet, you don’t need to attend an online class anymore. Try Duolingo, for starters.

2. Figure out what you’re scared of – and do it for one week consistently.

If you’re in sales, and you’re scared of talking to people personally or over the phone, then you have a problem. You can’t just relate with your clients online, can you? Now, instead of crippling in fear and automatically thinking you’ll fail, spend at least five minutes a day to pick up the phone and make a call to a prospect. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, you may embarrass yourself. And yes, someone may hang up on you. But don’t stop on the first try just yet! You’ll get the hang of it eventually. After a while, you can look at fear in the eyes and say, “Go on, I’m not scared!”

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3. Take a class for a hobby you’ve been wanting to pursue.

Make sure this hobby is not linked to your career; you have to relax and de-stress while performing this. Some examples might be cooking, sewing, painting and graphic designing online.

Aside from helping you challenge yourself now, taking a class for your hobby can also give you extra income if you learn how to monetize it. (You get plus points if you take the class with a loved one. This way, you combine bonding, boosting your income and challenging yourself.)

4. Attend one career-related seminar a month.

Don’t settle for your current job position. Aim high in your career. Of course, with that aim, include in your action, too. Book conferences that are relevant to the industry of your profession. There, absorb the lesson. Ask sensible questions. And don’t forget to connect with the attendees and the keynote speakers. Sometimes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” may be a reality.

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5. Make a realistic budget and find out how you can cut back on something so you can invest more.

Challenge yourself to step out of your current budget and develop a better budget for yourself. Money management is not about what you make – it’s what you do with what you make.

– So, produce a budget on paper, or in an Microsoft Excel file.

– Identify the item you’ve been spending so much money on.

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– Cut back on that item so you have more money to put in your emergency fund or in your investment fund.

6. Dedicate at least nine minutes a day for physical exercise.

You don’t need to go to the gym, you know. A simple 9-minute run around your neighborhood or an intense dance routine done in your living-room can do wonders for yourself. Aside from the obvious reason that exercise can help you maintain your regular weight or shed those unnecessary pounds, it can also aid in making you feel better about yourself by releasing endorphins.

7. Travel and allow yourself to be interested in new people.

We’re not talking about the expensive kind of travelling here. Something cost-effective like going to your local museum or visiting the resort in the next city can all count as travelling! Here, don’t just limit yourself to your fellow travelers – try to connect with the service staff, like the lifeguard, or the receptionist, or the tour guide. You never know what kind of people they’re going to be. Get out of your house or go online right now to book your class. Start now and learn to challenge yourself from time to time. We all need a little push once in a while.

Featured photo credit: chess03.JPG/ardelfin via cdn.morguefile.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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