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Want to Be at Your Best Today? Try This.

Want to Be at Your Best Today? Try This.

We snap on a friend or coworker out of frustration. We scan social media or the news for hours when we have a laundry list of work to do. We find ourselves continually being negative when at our core we’re a positive person. In its’ simplest form, we’re being a version of ourselves that we don’t want to be.

The good news for us is that there’s ways to minimize putting ourselves in these positions. Our success begins and ends with the control we have over our mind, and the approach we take to life. The above scenarios are nothing more than losing control over our mindset, and letting lower versions of ourselves win. These 7 tricks are things you can do every day to help beat the burden of the lower self, and be at your best today.

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Every morning when you wake up think of 3 things that you’re thankful for, and 3 things you’re looking forward to that day.

Take it a step further and write them in a notebook to help turn it into a habit. Thinking of 3 things you’re thankful for sets a mental tone of gratitude for the day, and helps you appreciate the people and things in your life. Thinking of 3 things you’re looking forward to that day helps you embrace your day instead of dread it.

Take a cold shower.

There are several reasons to take cold showers. I swear by them. One of the best reasons to take one in the morning is it wakes you up mentally for the day. There is nothing worse than sleep walking through the first half of your morning, only to come to an hour before lunch. Morning hours are vital for creativity and productivity. Make the most of them.

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Use your commute time as an opportunity to learn.

Instead of listening to the same pop radio or morning talk show, listen to a podcast or book on tape that teaches you something. From personal development, to business, to learning a new skill like a language, the options are endless. Even if your commute is only 30 minutes each way, that’s 5 hours of creating a better version of you every single week. Work from home or have a short commute? Not a problem. Set aside that same 30 minutes in the morning and at night for your “commute time” to learn.

Filter the negative news by limiting or removing media.

Our brains are information highways receiving millions and millions of bits of information every single day. If the majority of that information is negative, how do you think that affects our outward mentality for the day? 5 people stabbed in a bar fight last night. 25 dead from a landslide. Millions of dollars lost in local ponzi scheme. The negativity in media is endless. It’s your choice whether or not to listen to it. Worried you won’t be up on the important news? Anything of importance always bubbles to the top of the water cooler throughout the day. If it’s important, you’ll know about it.

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Find someone throughout your day to give a positive nudge to.

A coworker is frustrated after a meeting. Your spouse is exhausted from a long day. A friend is bummed from a recent break up. If you look close enough, there is always someone you can give a positive nudge to. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. Listening to your coworkers frustrations and letting them know you understand where they’re coming from. Pouring your spouse a glass of wine and rubbing their back. Picking your friend up for a spontaneous beer to get their mind off things. They are nudges that may be small in effort to you, but can turn someone else’s entire day or week around.

Practice empathy throughout your day.

Everyone is fighting their own battle, and we never know what those battles are. When the girl at work forgets to refill the copier paper, or the guy at Chipotle steps in front of you in line, remember that you don’t know their story. She didn’t fill the copier because her mind is aloof from problems at home. He cut you in line because he didn’t see you in his mental frenzy thinking about where his next mortgage payment is going to come from.

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Take “you time” every night to unwind.

Going from hectic day, to sleep, and back to hectic day isn’t sustainable. Eventually you hit a wall, and it’s not a good wall to hit. Set aside 30 minutes every night to take you time. Read a book. Sit and ponder. Write down your to-do list for the next day so you don’t have a thousand things running through your head while trying to fall asleep. Taking you time leads to better sleep which leads to a better next day.

Taking back control of our minds and using that to create a better version of ourselves is not difficult. But it does take awareness and practice. If you put these things in place, eventually they become habits. You’ll find that snapping out of frustration, wasting time when we’re busy, and being negative throughout the day are no longer the norm, but the exception. They become few and far between, and we can focus on more important things like being at our best today.

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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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