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The Hardest Part About Change is Taking Action

The Hardest Part About Change is Taking Action

I honestly don’t think that anyone out there really strives for mediocrity in every facet of their lives. There are some people that are content with their situation in life, but everyone has something they want to excel in; something they want to be proud of.  Unfortunately, most people don’t have the drive to do something about it. They waste away their time and talents day dreaming of what could be instead of living the life they want.

People are constantly taking the easy road in life: it’s less risky, it doesn’t involve a lot of effort and it’s comfortable. Change requires you to step out of your comfort zone and into the unknown. You have to change yourself, your surroundings even your habits.

Everyone has those moments in life where you look at where you are and the things you’ve done to get there; as a result, you’ll either be proud or disappointed. For those of you who have reached the point where you are wondering, “how did I get here?”, there is still hope.

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Change is difficult. If it were easy, we would all be famous billionaires living in mansions. The fact that it’s hard is what makes change and improvement so great. Improving your life will result in several positive outcomes such as, giving you a better sense of self, making you a better person, mother father, friend, etc. and you’ll find yourself being happier in general. You need to understand that changing yourself for the better won’t take away challenges in your life—it will just prepare you to be able to face them.

If you have tried to change in the past and failed, don’t quit. You can still change and start making a difference in your life. The following tips will get you set on the path to action. When you do these things, you are preparing yourself to do more than just dream about the life you want; you are getting yourself on the path to achieving it. Use these tips as guidelines to make the changes in your life that you want to see.

The first step toward changing is knowing what you want to change and why.

Take the time to sit down and write down your goals. Also write down why you want to change; make this as in-depth as you can because it will be a foundation for you. This is something you will be able to go back to when you are feeling like it’s too hard or you have forgotten why it’s important.

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Tell people your goals.

It can be embarrassing for some people to share with others what’s in their heart; but it’s necessary. In order to change, you have to be held accountable. Letting someone else know what you are trying to do will ensure that you have someone to answer to. Make sure this person is someone who will continue to encourage you and isn’t afraid to ask how things are moving along.

Replace bad habits with good ones.

Stopping something cold turkey is hard, so it’s best to replace the unwanted habit with something positive. If you have a major addiction, there are other steps you will have to take. If it’s just a bad habit, such as looking at Facebook too much, replace that with something like going for a walk around the block. If you are trying to stick within a budget, play a game with your family instead of going shopping.  Find something positive to do that will replace the negative things in your life.

Change is not easy, but it’s easier when you have someone to do it with.

Find a partner, coach, friend or family member who might be in the same situation as you. If you want to start working out, set up times when the two of you can go exercise together. If you want to get up earlier, call each other in the morning and encourage one another to get up and get moving. Whatever changes you want to make, find a way to include someone else in them. You will be each other’s support, can hold one another accountable for what you do or don’t do.

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Get rid of distractions.

There are things everywhere in our houses, our workplaces, and even our schools that can and will distract us from changing into the kind of people we want to be. Our phones, computers, iPads, etc. are all wonderful tools that we have at our disposal, but they can also hinder us. We spend so much time texting, emailing and checking various social media platforms. That is time that could be used doing something productive. Limit the amount of time you spend on the computer. Set an alarm and when it goes off, you’re done.

Turn off the TV.

I know so many people who have the TV on in the background while they are trying to get stuff done. I am guilty of this. In the past I would turn on a movie while I was trying to work or clean the house, but every time, I would find myself sitting on the couch watching instead of being up and moving. I decided to listen to audio books instead: that way I don’t have anything visual distracting me from the things I need to get done but I still have something entertaining or educational to listen to.

Only say positive things to yourself.

When you fail it’s easy to point out everything you did wrong, but that is so discouraging. Instead, say to yourself, “I can do hard things.”  You have the ability to change, you just have to believe in yourself. Don’t beat yourself down.

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Serve other people.

It’s funny how service works: you go out expecting to help someone else in need and you end up helping yourself. When you serve others, you feel better about yourself, you make a difference in someone’s life, and you give back to the community.

Recognize the good things you do, no matter how small.

Many people might skip this step because it feels arrogant and prideful. IT’S NOT! Changing yourself is about evaluating where you are in life, what you’re doing and why you’re doing those things. When you make a change, even if it’s something simple, acknowledge it, don’t brush it off like it doesn’t mean anything. It means everything!  It means that you’re actually doing it, you’re changing.

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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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