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Self Discipline: The Lazy Man’s Enemy

Self Discipline: The Lazy Man’s Enemy

The world is full of people who have a desire to change. They set goals then sit down and write a step by step process of how they are going to accomplish these goals. They get pumped up and say they are ready to start the next day. They go to sleep that night and in the morning… there’s no change. It is easy to get yourself pumped for change when you say you’ll start tomorrow.

You can talk all you want about change, but what makes things happen is your self-discipline. You have to have the willpower to make the changes on your own. Being self-disciplined makes you a better person. You are able to accomplish more, improve yourself, and have more experiences.

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Many people take the lazy road because it’s easier. They talk and talk about the kind of person they want to be. They even say what things they would do to change, but it never happens. Developing self-discipline is difficult. You can’t be lazy and have self-discipline, those two can’t go hand in hand. I have always valued self-discipline and I strive to push myself farther and farther; to extend my limits.

A few years ago I worked for an organization that helped people. It was at this time that I learned my greatest lesson about self-discipline. The president over my area was an amazing man and his wife was just as impressive. They have traveled the world together. He can speak over 12 languages, he is an entrepreneur and self-made millionaire. He ran 100-mile marathons through the mountains of China and hiked without guides through the jungles of Africa. Needless to say, he is one of the most amazing people I have ever met.

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I had the opportunity to meet one on one with him several times. On one occasion I asked him how he and his wife had come to do so many things and travel to so many places. He told me what it comes down to is being disciplined. You have to know when to say yes and when to say no. You have to know your limits and have the determination to push yourself through them.  I asked him how he became so disciplined. He told me that there are two things you need to do to accomplish this.

1. The first and most important step is to tell people you are self-disciplined.

Once you have a reputation to live up to, you push yourself harder than you would have before. Knowing that people expect something from you will help to keep you in check.

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If you want to become organized, tell me people how organized you are. If you want to be healthy, tell people about the healthy foods you eat and exercises you do. Once people have an image of who you are in their minds, you will find yourself working to keep that image alive. That is when you find yourself changing.

2. The second piece of advice he gave me was to start small.

If, for example, you feel that part of becoming self-disciplined is waking up earlier, don’t just set your alarm an hour before your regular time. You have to train yourself to go to sleep earlier. Instead of focusing on the morning, focus on what you do at night so you can get to bed sooner. That way, waking up earlier won’t be as difficult.

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By taking small steps, you can change gradually. This can be difficult sometimes because it’s hard to see the difference it’s making in your life. Grand gestures and extreme changes are easier to see and make it seem like you’re getting somewhere. The truth of the matter is that those grand gestures never last. They are short lived because you didn’t truly change the habit or fix the problem.

Not only should you start small, but most importantly, you need to recognize the little successes that are happening around you. Not everything will happen all at once. It comes one step at a time. Praise yourself for your accomplishments, no matter how trivial they may seem.

It sounds like a vicious cycle, but in order to develop self-discipline, you have to show discipline. As difficult as it may sound it is possible. Implement these steps into your life and you will find yourself changing and becoming a better person; the kind of person you want to be.

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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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