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Becoming Your Best Self

Becoming Your Best Self

    If I asked you were it possible for you to get into the best shape of your life, we could agree that it is.  If I asked you were it possible for you to become smarter than you’ve ever been, I think we could agree that you could work hard, study, learn, and practice more than you ever had.  But strangely, the idea of becoming the “perfect version” of ourselves seems so unobtainable.  It seems impossible.

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    But it isn’t.  It just requires you to work harder and more diligently than you ever have before.  Is it worth it?  Just ask yourself this.  Would you like to be the smartest, best looking, fittest, funniest, best dressed, most compassionate, loving person you’ve ever been?  Would you like to be your own definition of the perfect person?

    If, like me, you answered yes, then  you’ve taken the first step to becoming your best self.  The journey is long, the obstacles hard.  The plan, though, is simple.  Define, plan, execute, redefine, plan again, execute again, etc.  Let’s go over the plan in a little more detail.

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    Plan – think about your perfect self.  What does he or she look like?  How does he speak?  How does he think?  How does he eat?  How does he interact with others?  What do people think of him?  What is he capable of, that you aren’t? Define your perfect self in adjectives that are measurable and obtainable.  Things like “he is lean and strong, with a low body fat percentage and a good amount of visible muscle,” or “she speaks well, avoids idle conversation, and is listened to and respected by all of those that she communicates with.”

    Take those descriptions and plan out how long it would take for you to achieve each and every one of them.  For instance “if I am at 17% body fat, and I can lose 1 lb per week, it will take me 20 weeks to get to my goal body fat percentage,” or “I speak often without thinking about what I’m saying.  This lends to people not caring about my thoughts or respecting my opinions.  I need to spend the next 3 months focusing on my idle talk.”
    Then implement a “snowball method” towards becoming your perfect self.  Start with the shortest timed goals.  “I will floss every day” will only take about a week or two to perfect, whereas “I will be able to run a marathon” might take much longer.  As soon as you’ve made a description habit, move to the next one (while continuing the first, of course).  With each habit you introduce into your newly constructed lifestyle, you will be 1 step closer to your perfect self.  You will also gain momentum with each goal, which will motivate you towards the next goal.  By the time you reach the goals that could take months or even years to implement, you’ll be so full of new skills and motivation that you’ll tackle them with no problem.

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    Remember that each of your goals should have purpose.  You may found as I have that a couple of months (or years) down the line that a certain goal of yours no longer suits your best interest.  Maybe there is no good purpose for being 10% body fat, but instead you find it important to have functional strength and cardiovascular stamina.  In this case you would align your plan to fit your new goals.  Instead of focusing on body fat percentage, you would plan workouts that focused on increasing strength and stamina.

    With the victory of each goal implemented into your lifestyle you’ll be one step closer to becoming your vision of your perfect self.  Each victory will mark a decision you made and plan that you carried out, work that you did to make yourself better.  You’ll feel better about yourself with each victory, and with the learning of each new skill or the discipline of each new focus, you’ll find it that much easier to move to the next goal.

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    It’s a long journey to the top of the mountain, but it’s completely obtainable, and totally worth the effort.  Start climbing today, and you’ll be well on your way before you even start feeling the pain.  Good luck, and I’ll see you at the top!

    Image: ibm4381

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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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