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How to Create a Non-Optional Mindset

How to Create a Non-Optional Mindset

    Towel throwers and ball droppers

    People often ask me why it is that they seem to have so much trouble sticking with their commitment to changing certain behaviours and habits; doing what they need to do to create the results they want for their life. Even though they desperately want to change something about their existence, it seems that invariably there comes a time when they simply stop whatever it was that they started. They drop the ball. Throw in the towel. Put the cue in the rack.

    Start-stop-aholics

    Why we do that is a very relevant question for most people because the vast majority of us have a history of starting and stopping certain behaviours. Time and time again. Things that we should do consistently, but for some reason, we don’t. In reality, most of us know what we need to do. And for a while, we do it. Then we stop. Again. And then we start. And stop again. I’ve said repeatedly in my workshops, we’re champs at almost doing stuff. Masters of incompletion. We have enough reasons to do it, we have the time to do it (despite what we tell others) and we certainly have the potential to create amazing results, but for some reason we seem to be start-stop-aholics.

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    A few (seemingly irrelevant) questions:

    Q. Why do you take a shower each and every day? (please tell me you shower every day!)

    A. Because programmed into your ‘how-to-live-your-life’ hard-drive is a command that says you must wash every day. For you, it’s not an optional behaviour, it’s part of your normal running pattern. As a result, you have no motivational problems and no discipline issues when it comes to your personal hygiene (I hope). It’s just a thing you do on auto-pilot. The thought of not washing doesn’t occur to you because cleanliness is one of your non-negotiable habits.

    Q. Why do parents change those stinky nappies (diapers) with no hesitation and no motivational problems? Surely that’s gotta be one of the least enjoyable and desirable tasks?

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    A. Because there is nothing in their child-raising ‘program’ (the one running in their head) that tells them that wiping their kid’s butt is optional. It’s simply something which needs to be done. They don’t give themselves the option of not doing it. Again, another non-negotiable in their daily routine.

    Q. Why does the mother run into the burning building with no hesitation to save her child?

    A. Because in her mind there is no other option. No-brainer.

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    Q. Why do so many of us who want to get in shape (whatever that means for us individually) fail to do so, even though we know exactly what to do, and why we should do it?

    A. Because we haven’t made the relevant body-changing habits non-negotiables in our life. On some level we still consider optimal eating and consistent exercise to be optional. Of course we do, otherwise we’d never have the start-stop problem.

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      Too many of us are out of shape (physically, emotionally, financially, professionally) because we haven’t made certain behaviours and habits non-negotiables in our life. You know the ones I mean. Somewhere in that lump on top of your shoulders you still consider some things to be optional, that’s why you continue to go around in circles in certain areas of your life.

      You may not even be aware of your ‘optional mindset’ but if you have a history of almost getting things done, then I’m talking to you. Do you like ending up in the same place all the time? Didn’t think so. Until you and I make those occasional behaviours, non-negotiable habits we won’t see forever results and we won’t see genuine change.

      You know what to do.

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      How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

      How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

      Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

      But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

      Sight – Visual Stimulation

      The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

      1. Maximize your exposure to light.

      Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

      Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

      2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

      Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

      Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

      Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

      3. Take note of your environment.

      Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

      By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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      Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

      What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

      4. Engage in conversation.

      Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

      Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

      Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

      Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

      5. Listen to upbeat music.

      Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

      Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

      Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

      If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

      6. Work your nose.

      Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

      If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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      Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

      Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

      If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

      7. Have a good breakfast.

      Start off with the most important meal of the day.

      Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

      Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

      Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

      20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

      8. Drink lots of water.

      Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

      So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

      How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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      Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

      3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

      9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

      Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

      Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

      Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

      25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

      Touch – Tactile Stimulation

      Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

      10. Splash cold water on your face.

      Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

      This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

      5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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      11. Use acupressure.

      Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

      Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

      12. Get moving.

      Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

      And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

      You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

      Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

      Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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