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8 Ways to Improve Yourself with Writing

8 Ways to Improve Yourself with Writing

We often think of writing as a means to communicate with others. Let’s take a look at writing as a means of focusing our attention on the one person who matters most to us—ourselves.

Know Thyself

Self improvement is a laudable goal, but it must begin with an honest self-assessment. If you have never done such a thing, try beginning now, with a list of everything you can do, use, operate, etc. Start with being able to write, either with pen to paper or type on a keyboard, and include everything, no matter how trivial (use a phone, drive a car, grow plants, etc). You will amaze yourself with the number of skills and abilities you have amassed through the years.

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Take Control

Next, you must learn that there is only one thing in life over which you have complete control: your thinking/attitude. What you think and how you feel about it are inseparable. That means how you perceive yourself is inextricably linked to how you feel about yourself. No matter what others may say about you (or think in their hearts), only you know your true thoughts and feelings. Never let the negative influence of other people rule your own thoughts and feelings.

Make a Road-map

With this in mind, you might consider writing down your goals and plans for the future. Having a clear mental picture of where you want to end up not only provides you with a target to aim for, it also protects you from becoming a SNIOP (Susceptible to the Negative Influence of Other People).

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Unless you are already familiar with the process of crafting your future in words, you might find it helpful to use a set of goal setting and planning tools that have proven useful to others, like those available here, for free. The worksheets and manuals will help you through each stage of your plan, including what you don’t want in your life. Weeding out time wasters, stress and other problems can help you reach your goals faster, and with less effort.

Write Your Way, the Right Way

An unusual and surprisingly effective method of self improvement is called Grapho-Therapy. The creator of this method claims that changing your handwriting can change your life for the better. Since the way you write given letters can reveal character traits and behavioral habits, by changing the way you write “negative” letter shapes, you can change the underlying behavior. It’s not free, but I include it as a tool for you to examine.

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Accounting for Change for the Better

Next, make a budget. That means not only writing down each and every source of income and expenditure you have, it means tracking exactly how much money you have on you at any given time. Many people have been amazed at how they fritter away money by just assuming they have enough on them for this or that little thing they want to buy. Those “little things” can add up to a major sum that could be put to better use. Get into the practice of accounting for the pennies, and the dollars will begin to take care of themselves.

Let Go of the Past

There may be things in your past that still bother you today. Whether it’s a bad encounter with another person or something you did that was less than you could have done, it still haunts you. Try writing a letter of forgiveness, in which you describe, in detail, how you perceive what happened. Then, most importantly, forgive whatever hurt or injury was done to you by others and forgive yourself for not being perfect. You don’t have to send the letter—keep it for yourself and your peace of mind.

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Forge Lasting Connections

Finally, no self improvement efforts will be complete unless you include others in your life. That means starting or continuing a dialogue with those you are close to and those you wish to cultivate as colleagues, mentors, etc. Even if it’s only an occasional email, keep in touch with those you value, and tell them you value them. They, in turn, may surprise you with just the right word, at just the right time, that improves your life in ways you cannot now imagine.

The Ultimate Self-Improvement Tool

Writing can be the best way for you to do the one thing many of us never do: change. Self improvement is as much art as it is science. By documenting all the changes you wish to make, you give yourself a fighting chance to make good on your good intentions.

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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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