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6 Ways to Nurture Your Inner Sage

6 Ways to Nurture Your Inner Sage

“Knowledge is knowing the tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in your fruit salad.” – Miles Kington.

Wisdom has a close relationship with sight-related words: foresight, insight, hindsight, reflection, enlightenment, visionary, etc. The wise person is able to see beyond the small issues and find a larger perspective; that is why they are so fascinating and useful. Telling your problems to a wise person will result in a solution that you might have not been able to think of, because you are too concerned with your own problems (which, in the scheme of things, are small).

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Really, isn’t wisdom why we are all here? If wisdom is looking beyond individual things and seeing larger trends, then people on this website can see that their life is made up of all the little habits and traits that make them so individual. Crafting a better life is all about focusing on those small things and hacking them to create a larger effect further on in time.

Here are six uses of this skill of looking beyond the near and the obvious. They all have this one thing in common, but have wide and far reaching effects.

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See Beyond the Cloud of Emotions

Beginning with Aristotle and Plato, philosophers have argued that emotions interact with reason when we make decisions. Aristotle believed that emotions exist on difference scales, and having an extreme on either side of the scale is a failing. For example, the virtue of courage is the perfect middle ground between the extreme emotions of foolhardiness and cowardice. The way to make this balance, in Aristotle’s view, is by the use of reason. Or, to use a cartoon example, the Green Lantern has to use power rings of different colours (emotions) occasionally to overcome his enemies. Only when these emotions are channelled through the power of his green ring (representing willpower) can Hal Jordan save the day.

Seek Long-Term Goals instead of Short-Term Pleasures

The infamous marshmallow test suggests that being able to delay gratification is a cornerstone trait of successful people. But, more than that, it is linked to better physical health, psychological health and social standing. The connection is obvious: it is far easier to sit down and watch TV or eat, rather than going for a walk, having a heart-to-heart with a loved one, or making new friends. It is easy to forget what you want in the long-term when you don’t have clear goals—that is why having them is such an indicator of success.

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Dispel the Illusion of Certainty

Life is certain? Are you sure about that? Every living creature tends towards homeostasis: it attempts to stabilise its environment for security, stability and simplicity. The tendency of chance is to create insecurity, instability and complexity, but it is only through chance that living things can evolve. Evolution isn’t just limited to biology—it happens with culture and innovation as well. The wrong chance adaptions can cause an organism to die out (unsuccessful mutation) and this can be true of other evolution. The chance development of fire mutated and changed the race that discovered it; the chance development of nuclear power and rockets did the same, but they may be our end.
With chance, there are no limits to change because there are no restrictions of logic, purpose or morality. Understanding the nature of the dice can shatter comfortable realities, but it can also stop people from living an illusion.

See the Consequences of Your Actions

Just like throwing a rock into a lake, your actions create ripples. When you fail to understand the consequences of your actions, there are two resulting problems: if the consequence was negative, you will fail to learn from your mistake and keep on repeating the problem behaviour; if the consequence was positive, you will be unable to repeat the behaviour that gave you your desired results. Either way, you lose out. When you assess different courses of action, understanding the potential consequences is what allows you to repeatedly make the best decision. Remember the carpenter’s proverb; “measure twice, cut once”.

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Understand the Holistic Nature of Knowledge and Community

Learning in one area can improve learning in others. This isn’t touched upon much in schools, although some people capitalise upon it and produce great work in their exams. The classic example is that learning a musical instrument can make you better at mathematics. Our brains aren’t good at dividing what we know into subject areas—people just try to force them to do so.
The same can be said of communities: we live in societies that are dependent upon others, and part of accepting that is offering the acceptance we would give to a neighbour across the street to the people of a neighbouring country. Cosmopolitanism is the ideology that all humans belong to a single community based on shared respect and morality. It is the reason that Egyptian Muslims and Christians can protect each other as they pray, or that Superman can renounce his American citizenship to show that he is a protector of humanity and not just a single country.

See Things as They Are

Many of us have our vision obscured by the information presented to us. Media capitalises on sensational and gruesome stories, with little attention paid to the mundane, which makes it easy for us to become disenchanted with the world. When we see current events, there is wisdom in looking into the context and the history behind those events, as well as looking forward to the possible future outcomes. In the history and context lie stories and motivations that are ignored just to give a story a certain spin or to make an argument appear stronger.

The truly wise man understands how far the scope of knowledge extends and how little they know in comparison. Because of this, a wise man would never try to list comprehensively all the ways to become wise, so these are a just a chosen few. Feel free to add to them, in your own time.

Featured photo credit:  Piercing owl Eyes via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

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Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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