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More Ways to Go on a Date with Life

More Ways to Go on a Date with Life

More Ways to Go on a Date with Life

    Yesterday I suggested that the rules that apply to successful dating could be applied more widely to life in general. After all, when we go on a date, we want our partner to see us at our best – and what could be better than being at your best all the time?

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    With that in mind, I listed 6 guidelines that apply as well to life as to dating, and today I’m back with 6 more. Since life, like dating, can take a lot of different forms, these are still only brushing the surface, and I encourage readers to leave their own tips for dating and for life in the comments. Who knows, we might all become better at both!

    1. A negative outcome can be better than a positive one.

    Everyone wants to be liked. On dates, this often leads us to settle for less than we really want to avoid the negative consequence of being poorly liked by our partner. This, in turn, can give rise to awful relationships – disrespectful, overly dramatic, even abusive ones. If the goal of dating in general is to find that special person you want to share your life with, though, you need to risk being not liked by your partner – why waste time with someone that isn’t what you’re looking for? Every date that ends without the promise of a call can be chalked up as a success – provided you didn’t bend your character around what you assume s/he would like best. In life, too, failures can often be seen as successes, provided you learn from them and carry those lessons forward, and provided they were come by honestly, through your commitment to your own goals.

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    2. Be yourself.

    It hurts me to see people pretend to be other than they are in order to impress a date. Pretending to have more money (or less), more education (or less), or different tastes than you have is such an awful strategy – first of all, who wants to build a relationship with someone who doesn’t accept you for you, and second of all, what’s going to happen when eventually the truth comes out (which it almost always does)? While there’s something to be said for the old maxim “Fake it until you make it”, as a general rule following your own dreams in your own way is the only real road to success and happiness. Doing things because others think you should (or because you think they think that) is bound to be unsatisfying, and incredibly difficult to maintain any kind of real motivation for.

    3. Practice seduction.

    Dating is all about revealing yourself over time with the intention of drawing a partner to you, eager to learn more. Likewise in life, people who are both interesting enough to merit attention (what Seth Godin means when he says “Be remarkable”) and open enough to allow their interestingness to shine draw others to them. But it’s all about the timing – reveal everything at once and you become nothing but a resource to be used and discarded; reveal too little too slowly and you become a bore.

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    4. The start foretells the finish.

    Although there are exceptions, for the most part the way you and your partner interact on a first date sets the tone for everything that follows. If you’re open, honest, and comfortable at the beginning, chances are you’ll remain so throughout your relationship; be too closed off, self-conscious, dishonest, or negative, and you’re setting yourself up for failure – even if you and your date really like each other. When we say “first impressions count”, we’re saying much the same thing, but it’s deeper than just impressions. I know that as an educator, the way I interact with my students on the first day of class will carry through the whole semester; if I am personable and interact with them a lot, I can expect a highly engaged classroom, whereas if I do all the talking and take an authoritative tone, I can expect to spend the next 15 weeks lecturing with a minimum of student questions or input. Taking pains to get things off on the right foot can go a long way towards avoiding complications later on.

    5. Be on time.

    Really. Woody Allen once said that 90% of life is just showing up, and at least half of that is doing it on time. Imagine a date where your partner is late – what does that tell you about his or her feelings about meeting you? Now, imagine he or she is late for the first 5 dates? The first 10? Now what do you think of their attitude? Being late suggests that you don’t value the other person’s time, that you don’t believe they have anything better to do than to wait for you. It can also suggest that you’re incompetent and disorganized – not exactly qualities people look for in a person they potentially want to build a life with. Or in any other area – what applies to dating applies just as easily to the workplace, family gatherings, and just about everything else. While being punctual often goes unnoticed, being tardy sends powerful messages that are often nearly impossible to recover from.

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    6. Just say no – until you’re ready to say yes.

    When it comes to sex, most of us are pretty aware of whether we’re ready or not with any given partner. Some of us are hot to trot after a good first date, others want to be married, and most of us fall somewhere in between. Regardless of your preferences in that regard, we all feel taken advantage of when a partner seems to demand we “give it up” before we’re ready. While most of us are fairly adept at keeping our pants on until we’re ready, in the rest of our lives we often stumble over “no” and commit ourselves to projects we either don’t want to do or don’t have time to do. This also leaves us feeling taken advantage of. Learn to say “no” when you need to – you’ll respect yourself for it in the morning.

    Let’s hear your tips in the comments below!

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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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