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8 Life Lessons You Should Learn Today

8 Life Lessons You Should Learn Today

    You grasp many life lessons only after making a mistake and realizing, “Oh crap. I wish I’d done something very different.” For some lessons, that’s not that big of a deal. In other areas, you’d be a lot better off if you could get started working to counteract the problem before it happens.

    Here are eight of these life lessons you should consider addressing now, while you don’t need to:

    1. Cut your living expenses – dramatically.

    If you’re in the US, there are so many material goods so readily available it’s easy to get caught up in accumulating as much stuff as you can. As long as your income is rising, that can be manageable in the short-term. Sooner or later though, there’s a very real possibility you’re income won’t be rising for at least some period of time.You then have to make quick (potentially painful) decisions about what in your lifestyle gets cut to avoid accumulating debt.

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    Far better (although maybe not easier) to pare back elements of your lifestyle well before you need to do so. Not only does it curb potentially over-ambitious expectations for you (and your family) about what is “necessary” to be happy and fulfilled, every dollar of expense you eliminate is a dollar to be saved or invested for the proverbial “rainy day.”

    2. Ask for help from your professional and personal networks.

    It’s one thing to build a network and accumulate hundreds of contacts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere online, plus those which exist in real life. But having a name and skeletal contact information in an online list isn’t really an active network. A functioning network comes from knowing you can reach out to people for help and they’ll actually recognize you and respond. It also means first doing your part to benefit those within your network.

    So before you find yourself out of a job or in some type of jam where you need help RIGHT AWAY, get active with individuals in your network sharing ideas, offering help, and asking for their assistance in areas which aren’t critical. Getting a comfortable and regular dialogue going with specific people will make it much easier to make the “big ask” when you’re in a real pinch.

    3. Seek out a career change.

    The last few years have obviously seen a tremendous amount of uproar and change in the career prospects of millions. Jobs which seemed secure (in part because particular employers and industries appeared secure) have turned out not to be. With so many uprooted at once in tremendously challenging economic times, finding that next job has taken much longer. That’s why it has been important (and will likely remain so) to anticipate what your first steps will be if you’re suddenly out of work.

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    When you don’t really need to, create a plan B (and maybe even a plan C) and work multiple options so if a potential career derailment strikes you, you’re able to transition as seamlessly as possible to your next best alternative. Sure this means more work and effort, but better to be prepared ahead of time than thrown into a life crunch with no realistic preparation to exploit.

    4. Hone your selling skills.

    Many people not in sales jobs have the mistaken belief they aren’t salespeople. In reality, if you work, live, or interact with others in any way (that should include everybody reading this) then you are certainly trying to convince people to adopt your point of view. That means you’re a salesperson.

    The implication is you’ll benefit from doing some reading and practicing selling skills right now. Doing so will help you improve at understanding others’ points of view, identifying what needs and benefits are important to them, and being able to anticipate and respond to objections they pose. Plus, if you ever find yourself needing to more actively sell (i.e., you want or have to start your own business), you’ll be so much further along in achieving sales success.

    5. Get smarter.

    Do you hear that popping sound? That’s your knowledge about whatever it is you do evaporating as new technology, new practices, new marketplace realities, or any of a thousand other things render your knowledge ineffective or downright incorrect. What do you do? Make an active and very concerted effort to continue learning during and after you are in school. Social media both makes ongoing learning easier (through ready access to experts and information you’d never have been able to reach before) and harder (since many “experts” have no clue what they’re talking about).

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    As a result, use every means you can to not only stay current on what you’re doing right now, but also try to anticipate what you may be doing in the future to get a head start on learning in newer areas. Pay particular attention to techniques on how to learn more effectively and faster, which apply across multiple fields of study. Far better to have a familiar command of a new discipline than learning from scratch in an accelerated time frame.

    6. Exercise.

    I always hated exercising, so I never did any in my 20s and most of my 30s. My resistance was bolstered by the fact my weight was manageable, although my waist size slowly increased by 6 inches in the years after getting married. When my wife finally got me to work out and then signed me up with a trainer, the initial physical assessment showed I was out of shape and had about 25 pounds to lose.

    Slowly but surely over the course of a couple of years, I lost all the weight and dramatically reduced my body fat percentage. Only problem? There are areas (such as “love handles”) that show no signs of going away no matter how well I eat and work out. If I’d been exercising all the way through, I’d have been in a lot better shape, controlled some of those problem areas, and had much less of a hurdle once I started exercising way too late.

    7. Pray.

    Don’t you hate when you only hear from someone when they need something? Me too. And we’re not the only ones either. When things are going well, take a little time to work on your spirituality, irrespective of what or wherever you choose to do it. Getting in touch with something bigger than you even if it only lies within yourself always helps put things in the proper perspective. And understanding the consolation spirituality provides when everything’s going your way allows you to understand the kind of spiritual second wind that can be yours when nothing’s going as you planned.

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    8. Be humble.

    When things are booming, you’re not typically thinking about what life might be like when your situation isn’t going as well. That can lead to overlooking others who are important contributors to your success, especially if they tend to stay in the background and embrace a servant leadership approach to how they conduct themselves. The irony is that at those times when things are going super for you, you’re best served by noticing the “little people” and adopting some of their orientation to humble service. Doing this will reduce the number of people who will be rubbed the wrong way by you reveling in your success. It will also ensure you’ll have many more friends should your fortunes turn because you’ll be supported by others who care about you and not what you’re accomplishing.

    Summary

    My advice? Select at least a few of these areas to begin addressing right now. Which ones to select? That’s up to you based on what’s going to be most important to you when things aren’t going like you hoped!

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    Last Updated on January 24, 2021

    How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

    How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

    Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

    For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

    But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

    It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

    And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

    The Importance of Saying No

    When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

    In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

    Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

    Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

    Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

    “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

    When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

    How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

    It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

    From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

    We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

    And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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    At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

    The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

    How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

    Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

    But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

    3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

    1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

    Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

    If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

    2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

    When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

    Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

    3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

    When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

    6 Ways to Start Saying No

    Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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    1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

    One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

    Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

    2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

    Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

    Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

    3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

    Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

    Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

    You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

    4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

    Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

    Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

    5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

    When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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    How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

      Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

      Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

      6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

      If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

      Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

      Final Thoughts

      Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

      Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

      Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

      More Tips on How to Say No

      Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
      [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
      [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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