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11 Things to avoid in 2011

11 Things to avoid in 2011

    While millions head to the gym for the next two weeks, there’s cause to consider some things to avoid in the coming year. Here are 11 things you might do well to avoid in the coming year and beyond!

    1. Withholding forgiveness

    If the person who wronged you really cares about you they’ll have beaten themselves up sufficiently before asking for your forgiveness. Don’t risk the health of your relationship by withholding forgiveness. That’s a vengeance that tastes good on the way down and breaks your heart on the way back up.

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    2. Using your job as an excuse

    Far too often the phrase, “I’m doing this for my family!” is given as an excuse for neglect. If you are actually indispensable your employer will, perhaps begrudgingly, give you the time you need to get your relationship with family and friends back on track. You’ll be glad you did and so will your employer!

    3. Eating for all the wrong reasons

    Don’t eat because you’re tired, bored, thirsty, or anxious this year! You might consider those four different things to avoid but they all lead to the reason you probably resolved to hit the gym more often this year. Consider the notion of eating with purpose and see where it takes you in 2011.

    4. Assuming that you always know the entire story

    You don’t. Ask more questions. Listen. Ask more questions. Give yourself an out and don’t back others into corners when you give your final answer.

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    5. Self-loathing

    Most aren’t aware of just how much they beat themselves up over things. Note this: You set an example for others as to how you should be treated and appreciated. Respect and take care of yourself and most will follow your example. This is one of those wildly simple yet agonizingly difficult things to accomplish. Try to get a solid start this year!

    6. Blaming anything on gender

    For example: I was in an argument recently (imagine that!) and my partner in the argument forcefully uttered the remark, “typical male!” in response to something I said that was admittedly unkind (imagine that!). This created a predicament in which my subsequent apology would be not just for my comment but also for my gender. I can’t change my gender (really, not an option) so I’d be apologizing for being myself. Crazy, right? She doesn’t do that because she’s a woman. She does it because she’s an imperfect human. He doesn’t do that because he’s a man. He does it because he’s an imperfect human. Things are simpler when we approach conflict with as few stereotypes as possible.

    Such an approach will change things. I promise you.

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    7. Needless exhaustion

    Try to be better about skipping the late-night TV or web browsing when you have work early in the morning. You’ll be more useful at work, more fun as a friend, and it’ll be easier to hit the gym or whatever your new year’s resolution was!

    8. Neglecting your mind

    You’ve talked about taking a class, joining a book club, working on more challenging projects, and taking time to read more or even start a blog. You’re officially done waiting. Congratulations!

    9. Putting off your dreams

    Look at your big dreams and identify what makes them so appealing. Is it the free time, the nice things, the great relationships, or being in the best shape of your life? Identify something you can do this year that will allow you to enjoy some of that dream without all the extras. Save up some cash and splurge on that amazing purchase or take some unpaid time off. Treasure the time you have and don’t wait until you’re loaded to start savoring the world around you.

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    10. Not asking for help

    You’d be stunned if you knew just how many people are ready and willing to help you if only you’d clearly define your need and directly ask for help. Don’t ask for help like the friend who begs people to help him move but has nothing put in boxes when they show up. Ask for help like the friend who has done everything in his power to achieve and needs only that final push from a buddy to reach success. We want to be a part of your success!

    11. Taking so many moments for granted

    Time is limited my friend. Seize the moment. Try to freeze it and own it, squeeze it and hold it. (Eminem) We’ve not been promised another year. Only this moment right before our eyes, between our hands, and in the breaths of those we love.

    Here’s to an amazing 2011, friends! Stay blessed!

    Image: Today is a good day

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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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