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Editing Your Life

Editing Your Life

I’ve been working with a lot of editing lately: removing dead space and clicks and “ums” from audio podcasts, clipping off the unimportant or blurry in video footage, trimming useless or hard-to-understand words out of posts and articles. It strikes me that editing is an important part of maintaining a productive and effective life.

  • Edit Your Commitments– We tend to take on lots of recurring tasks in our lives, and then we stay slave to them, simply because we said yes at some point. Maybe you’re coaching a softball team years after your kids have moved on. You have some sense of obligation, but you’re not really in love with the duty. Find a way to say no with grace. Trim back all the things you’ve committed to, as gracefully as you can (so as not to hurt other people’s feelings), until you’ve found more time for the things that matter most.
  • Edit Your Consumption– How many magazines and newspapers come to the house. Do you read them all, cover to cover? Compare that to how much time you have to do the things you say matter to you. Can you see where a few of those magazines could stop being renewed? How about TV shows? Can you limit your alotted time to 1 hour a day max? How about 3 hours a week?
  • Edit Your Hobbies– I have MANY friends who fall prey to this one. They are creative, and they express it in as many ways possible. Do you play guitar, scrapbook, draw, make movies, write fiction, bake, and build robots? Is there a chance that the phrase “the enemy of great is good” is at play in your life? Meaning: if you cut a few of those hobbies out (even for a four month trial), would you find even more time to focus and improve the few you leave in place?
  • Edit Your Expenses– A large cup of coffee at a nice coffee shop might be $3.00 US. But that’s not a lot to spend on your first great cup of joe in the morning, right? 3×5=15.00 a week; 15×50= $750 a year. That’s a new Mac Mini and a free iPod in exchange for those three dollars a day. Are there places where saving a bit more will help you fund your dreams?
  • Edit Your Holidays– We put lots of energy into what goes on around the holidays. We feel obligated to send cards, obligated to buy gifts for everyone, obligated to observe the rituals of our culture in the most traditional of ways. But what would happen, truly, if you politely chose to do otherwise? What if you sent cards early to the relatives with whom you normally exchange gifts and said, “We love you, and appreciate seeing you around the holidays. Your gifts are always generous. We have all that we need or want. Instead of a gift, would you have us to dinner one night? That would make us happier than anything that comes wrapped with a bow.” Be graceful, as people have emotions wrapped tightly in gift giving, but see whether you can edit SOME of this back.
  • Edit Your Ambitions– Sure, Buckaroo Banzai was a nuclear scientist, brain surgeon, test pilot, and leader of the band the Hong Kong Cavaliers, but are you ready to take on all the various ambitions you’ve set out for yourself? Review your sense of where you want to go in life. Does it make senes? Why do you want to be a vice president? Why do you want to start your own company? Make sure you’re still in alignment with your goals, and question deeply whether they match the life you’re leading.

Obviously, the point isn’t to edit out things you love. If I’ve hit on your favorite thing in the world up there in the list, leave that one in place. The point is to really stare deeply into the life you’re leading right now, take stock, and determine just how much of what you’re doing is excess that could be edited to make room for the material that matters most. I encourage you to try the exercise, and if you’ve any ideas on what else to edit, share with the readers. Lifehack.org is about you, so your comments make these posts better. What can you edit?

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— Chris Brogan takes time out from editing to produce podcasts and video casts at Grasshopper Factory. Something needs editing at [chrisbrogan.com], but he’s not willing to admit it, yet.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut only to get back into another one.

How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

  • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
  • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
  • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
  • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnancy in life, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help.

Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

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1. Realize You’re Not Alone

Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths.

Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

2. Find What Inspires You

Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation.

What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem.

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If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

3. Give Yourself a Break

When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave.

Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future.

These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

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4. Shake up Your Routines

Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’re 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

5. Start with a Small Step

Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward.

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Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years.

On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

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Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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