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Recognize Excellence to Make a Difference

Recognize Excellence to Make a Difference

Recognize Excellence to Make a Difference

    It was Monday, December 29 and I wasn’t happy.  I had spent part of the morning at home working on odds and ends and another part of the morning at the office working on a book review and a few other things.  I was in a funk because I’d forgotten to answer an email from a friend and mentor asking about having lunch today, I had a billion little things to do, and to top it off, I had to go to the local inspection station for a third emissions test to see if the $560 or so I had plowed into my 1995 Saturn had reduced my hydrocarbon emissions enough to please the City of Memphis (it didn’t; about $300-$400 later, it finally did).  Comfort food is a natural human weakness that is especially appealing when one isn’t happy.  I opted for Taco Bell.

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    I pulled into the drive-thru and fully expected my order to be handled with outright belligerence, as had been my experience at other fast food outlets recently.  I was surprised, nay, shocked, when the person who took my order was genuinely cheerful, clear, and helpful. I was further surprised to find that my food was hot, my order was 100% correct, and my takeout bag included a wet nap and a mint.  Not bad for less than $4.

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    I resolved then and there that I would find out how I could recognize the service I had received.   I wrote the first draft of this while waiting in line to have my car checked; since I bought a MacBook Air a few months ago, I can type from the “comfort” of my driver’s seat, and after returning home from a recent trip I visited the feedback website and let them know how happy I was with my experience.

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    This speaks to a larger issue that will be of interest to Lifehack readers: how do we get the most bang for our buck in our charitable endeavors? As a citizen, I want to help those who are less well-off than I am.  As an economist, however, I am all too aware of the law of unintended consequences and the frequency with which our charitable endeavors actually work to the detriment of those we wish to help.  Tyler Cowen has an excellent discussion of this in his 2007 book Discover Your Inner Economist: he notes that in parts of India, people actually pay to have limbs amputated in order to increase their begging take.  This is positively destructive, so the concerned citizen interested in maximizing bang for his or her charitable buck will want to look for ways to transfer resources without distorting incentives.

    One way to do this is by providing positive feedback where it is warranted.  Few people taking orders at fast food restaurants will be in the same position in a few years, and employers are always looking for ways to identify talent.  Giving credit where credit is due is one way to help people get a leg up in life.  In addition, markets work more efficiently the more valuable information is available.

    There are added benefits, too.  As a college professor, I try to teach my students the ability to offer constructive criticism.  I regularly ask students to send me an email at the end of the semester detailing what they liked the most and what they liked the least about my courses.  Providing feedback on customer service when it is requested (or when it is appropriate) is an easy way to practice giving constructive feedback while helping people who deserve it.

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    Last Updated on September 13, 2018

    10 Things You Can Do Now to Change Your Life Forever

    10 Things You Can Do Now to Change Your Life Forever

    The one constant thing in our life is change. We cannot avoid it and the more we resist change the tougher our life becomes.

    Trust me, I know this because I was very skilled at deflecting change in my life. We are surrounded by change and it is the one thing that has the most dramatic impact on our lives. Change has the ability to catch up with you at some point in your life. There is no avoiding it because it will find you, challenge you, and force you to reconsider how you live your life.

    Change can come into our lives as a result of a crisis, as a result of choice or by chance. In either situation we are all faced with having to make a choice – do we make the change or not? I believe it is always better to make changes in your life when you choose to rather than being forced to.

    We however cannot avoid the unexpected events (crisis) in our lives because it is these events that challenge our complacency in life. What we can control when we are experiencing these challenging events, is how we choose to respond to them. It is our power of choice that enables us to activate positive change in our lives.

    Acting on our power of choice provides us with more opportunity to change our lives for the better. The more opportunities we create to change our lives the more fulfilled and happier our lives become.

    Here are 10 things that you can do that will change your life for the good, forever:

    1. Find meaning in life

    Spend some time trying to sort out what is important in your life and why is it important.

    What is it that you want to achieve in your life? What are your dreams? What makes your happy?

    Your meaning in life gives you purpose and sets the direction of how you want to live your life. Without meaning you will spend the rest of your life wandering through life aimlessly with no direction, focus, or purpose.

    2. Create a dream board

    When we were children we would daydream all the time. We were skilled at dreaming and visualizing what we would be when we grew up. We believed that anything was possible.

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    As we grew into adults, we lost our ability to dream. Our dreams became hidden and once we started to feel like achieving our dreams was impossible.

    A dream board is a great way for us to start believing in your own dreams again. Seeing our dreams every day on a dream board brings our dreams to life. Our dreams become real and we start to have believe in the possibility of achieving these dreams.

    3. Set goals to achieve your dreams

    Once you know what is important in your life and what your dream life looks like for you, you need to take action and set your long-term, medium, and short-term goals. It is acting on these goals that enable you to achieve your dreams

    Remember your goals may change. Always be flexible with setting and achieving your goals as things in life change and your goals need to reflect these changes. It’s the small steps that you take that create the momentum for change to happen in your life.

    4. Let go of your regrets

    Regrets will only hold you back in life. Regrets are events of the past and if you spend all your time thinking about the past you will miss the present and the future.

    You cannot change what you did or did not do in the past, so let it go. The only thing you have control over now is how you choose to live your present and future life.

    I had a heap of regrets that were holding me back in my life. I came across the “Balloon Exercise” and got rid of my regrets for good.

    What is it? It’s simple — blow up as many balloons as you need. On each balloon write a regret and then let the balloon go. As the balloon drifts off into the sky say goodbye to that regret forever.

    A simple and powerful exercise that works and can change how you live your life.

    5. Try to do the really scary things

    This is all about you choosing to step out of your comfort zone.

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    Public speaking is one of the most frightening things anyone can do. I was petrified of public speaking, however, I knew that I wanted to be a motivational speaker. So I joined Toast Masters to overcome my fear of public speaking.

    My first speech was terrible, my knees were knocking, I broke out in a sweat and I couldn’t stop shaking. But I did it and the feeling of completing this speech, even though it was terrible was great.

    I chose to keep going and now I earn a living as a motivational speaker. I am still nervous when I get up to speak however it is an excited nervous and I love it.

    Make a list of scary things that you would kind of like to do but are too afraid to. Put a plan in place and then go do them. Never stop doing scary things because if you do your life will become one of complacency and comfort.

    6. Start living a well-balanced life

    Our health does not remain the same. Our physical, emotional, and spiritual state changes, as we get older. What we can control however is how we feed our minds and our bodies.

    Living a balanced and healthy life builds our resilience to the physical changes of our body. Exercise is the best way in which we can attain a positive and optimistic attitude toward life.

    Living a healthy, well-balanced life with lots of exercise is a lifestyle choice that without a doubt will give you a happier more satisfied and fulfilled life.

    7. Face your fears

    It’s easy to ignore our fears and hope that they will go away. Unfortunately, it does not work like that.

    If you want to change your life, learn to master your fears so they can’t control you any longer. Our fears are only thoughts in our minds that are not real but over time we have become to believe that they are true.

    It is our fears in life that stop us from living our life to the fullest. We know when our fears are controlling our lives because we feel discontent, dissatisfied and unfulfilled.

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    Once we face our fears we take back our power to choose how we want to live our lives and when we do this we change our lives forever.

    Learn how to face your fears with this guide:

    How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

    8. Accept yourself

    The only person who is going to create change in your life is you! And to create that change you have to like yourself.

    There will be times in your life where you will face rejection and there will be people who will not like you that much. Accepting who you are and loving yourself helps you to move forward in your life.

    Putting yourself down all the time and wishing you could be better will only lead you to a life of unhappiness and discontent.

    Find your courage, love yourself and step out and do something crazy. Don’t worry about what anyone thinks or whether it is the right thing to do. In your heart if it feels right, act on it and go create the life you love.

    9. Live in the moment

    Many of us tend to think that the grass is greener on the other side. Often, we get to the other side of the fence we find that this is not so.

    The motivation to change our lives comes from our desire to be happy. We are often so busy focusing on our pursuit of happiness that we miss the joy of actually living in the moment.

    Our desire to have happiness in our lives is a desire of a future state not of the present. We become so consumed with all our problems and discontent in the present we miss the precious beauty of the moment.

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    Sitting on the beach eating an ice-cream with your best friend or partner is a moment of happiness. Appreciating and showing gratitude on a daily basis is experiencing happiness in the moment. Helping those in need brings joy and happiness to us.

    This is what living our life in the moment is all about – don’t miss these moments because you are too busy focusing on your pursuit of happiness.

    10. Experience the joy of learning

    Each time you learn something new, you gain more knowledge and with more knowledge comes more confidence.

    Learning helps us to be more adaptable and flexible to new situations. Learning encourages us to be more creative and innovative in our thinking and we are therefor more comfortable with the unknown.

    Reading books is a great way for us to learn. To fully embrace the joy of learning, never stop reading nor searching for more knowledge.

    Learning gives our life meaning and this is what makes our life worthwhile.

    You have a choice to make as to how you want to change your life. Choosing to act on these 10 things will, without a doubt change your life forever.

    So what are you waiting for? Go do these 10 things now!

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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