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How to Change Your Life By Exploring

How to Change Your Life By Exploring

High up above the city, I stood in my boss’s office, looking out the vast window. To the left, the tallest volcano was far off but still loomed large over the city. On the right, the sprawling lake lay out before me, its far shore only a faint line of mountains in the distance.

The office door opened, and my boss walked in straight to his desk. He motioned for me to sit down, as he sat down at his computer, peering at his monitor through the lower half of his glasses.

I took my seat in a chair across his desk and took a deep breath, trying to make it as silent as possible. Telling your boss you want to quit isn’t easy, but hiding the anxiety is better than letting it show.

And so I began.

I told him there wasn’t enough work for me to do because I was being blocked off by certain people. I told him that, instead of sitting around idly, I could become a consultant for the company, providing value as soon as there’s actual work to be done.

He tried to convince me to stay, telling me that it was up to me to fix the internal communication problems and get myself in front of clients.

Kindly, I said: “My life’s work isn’t about fighting people for a pat on the back or an award. My life’s work is about reaching people, helping people. If I can’t do that here, I’ll go do that somewhere else.”

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He shifted in his chair and brought his feet up to rest on his desk, one beside the other. Sighing, he rested his head on his hand and agreed.

I didn’t know where I was going or what I would do, but I knew that I would figure it out by exploring my options.

As of this writing, it’s been nearly two years since I walked out of that corporate office forever. I still have not received a single phone call from them. Not a single project to work on. I jumped at the right time. Without a single project to work on, they would’ve ushered me down the plank soon after. Instead of waiting for them to open the door for me, I steered clear of their issues and opened my own doors.

I wasn’t sure where my own doors would lead me, but things don’t always have to make sense.

That’s the main lesson I’ve gotten from starting a blog on a whim, writing books, and starting my own company.

Every single time I do something out of sheer exploration (with no real end in mind), crazy things happen.

I was scared to speak at a TEDx event, and I wasn’t too sure what I’d speak about, but I took the stage and had a blast.

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My business’s first year was more or less wasted on the wrong kind of clients because I had no clue what services I wanted to offer, but I’ve learned so much now that I’m implementing in a better version of my business.

I’ll be nervous to press Publish on this article, but I’ll feel glad I shared my experiences afterward.

That’s not to say things always out turn out wonderfully. I’ve made huge mistakes (like working with disrespectful clients or letting the wrong people onto my business’s founding team), and I have yet to find the “silver lining” of these mistakes. But these roundabout mistakes have all contributed to where I am today.

If I hadn’t been open to exploring, I don’t know that I’d have picked up all of these different experiences, lessons, bruises and opportunities along the way.

1. Opening Up to Possibilities

The first months after I quit my job were so serene. I woke up and did what I wanted to do each day–I wrote. I’ll never forget how peaceful and zen I felt making my tea each morning, sitting down for two or three hours of uninterrupted writing.

I didn’t rush. I bathed in the possibilities to come.

As time went on, I didn’t always make the right choices, but they were my own explorations of the possibilities. Some of those choices turned out to be incredibly right.

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A few weeks ago, I received an email out of the blue from my master’s program in Spain. They wanted to know if I’d get on a plane and come speak to their incoming students? My answer: hell yes!

This is a great opportunity, to be sure, but what’s more important is how quickly I was able to say yes. Leading a flexible and open-minded lifestyle means I am able to switch things up and do amazing things, like going to Spain to speak.

For that, I’m so grateful.

2. Enhance Creativity

When we’re nose-down in tasks and beeping phones and incoming emails, it’s difficult to let our creativity reach its potential.

They say it’s healthy to take a new route home or to brush your teeth with your left hand just to get your brain out of its comfort zone. While I do agree that changing things up can help you do that, I also think its helpful to passionately explore new areas.

That means reading books that are outside of your industry just because they spark your curiosity. That means watching a silly movie just because you need a moment to refuel your batteries. That means calling up an old friend just because you miss who you were when you hung out with her.

Mind-wandering allows the brain to focus its attention on more distant tasks and issues in a unique way, allowing you to approach them in ways you’d never considered.

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When we’re trying to perform, perform, perform, we might just be scaring our ideas away.

3. Identifying the “Wall”

Sometimes, I go for a long run. When I do, there is always a moment between the second and third mile that will almost stop me in my tracks. I’m tired, out of breath, and my body wants to be anywhere but here. I call this “The Wall”.

“The Wall” is temporary–every single time.

Not everything in life is easy. Many of the examples I mentioned above (like working with difficult clients) weren’t easy to go through, but they all taught me one thing:

Hitting a tough moment is much easier when you can recognize it as such–because every tough moment passes.

The beautiful part is this: if you start exploring knowing it will be an adventure, you can identify a rough patch as you’re sitting in it and think, “This is that tough moment I knew would come eventually. It will pass.”

And the next moment is much more beautiful.

Allowing myself to explore opened up entire fields of possibility that I never knew existed. Are you interested in exploring more in your life about yourself, your loved ones, and the world? Share your stories in the comments.

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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.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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