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How to Win Your Life’s Own “Olympic Gold”

How to Win Your Life’s Own “Olympic Gold”


    When Missy Franklin was two-years-old, she wandered 30 feet into the ocean after a fish. The water was 12 feet deep. “I don’t think she needed to be rescued,” her father recently said about the incident.

    Even as a tot, Missy had an innate fascination with the water. Fortunately, both she and her parents recognized this passion. Today, she is an Olympic Gold medalist swimmer. Her nickname?  “Missy the Missile”.

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    When you look at the bookends of Missy’s story, it seems obvious that she would achieve her Olympic goal. After all, if she always wanted to be a swimmer, she must have known that she would succeed, right?

    It’s just not that simple. Missy Franklin, like every other Olympian, has worked her tush off. Take Gabby Douglas, for example. Now a two-time Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics, Gabby felt so weighted down by the sacrifices she made for her sport that she almost quit gymnastics altogether.

    But did she quit? Absolutely not.

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    Behind every Olympian is a story of early mornings, bad days and hard-headed devotion. Mornings in the pool, at the gym, in the rink.  Because when you want to achieve your dream more than you want anything else, those crack-of-dawn mornings and hours of tears are all worth it.

    Most of us were not made to become Olympic athletes. If you can’t handle pain or stand the thought of flipping your body through the air, you’ll never be able to force yourself to become an Olympic gymnast. Unless you want to succeed at your sport more than you want anything else, it doesn’t matter how svelte or fit or young you are.

    But that’s fantastic news!

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    The thing is, while Olympic gold is a fantastic dream, it’s far from the only one.  And I’m a firm believer that every single person has a unique set of strengths and desires that paints their passion. Not sure what your’s is? Promise me that you’ll keep searching.

    Gold comes in many forms, from becoming a reporter for the New York Times to saving lives as a world-class surgeon. Once you define your unique dream, you’ll do anything necessary to see it through.

    If you want to have your “Olympic moment”, you’ll put up with painful hours sitting on a hard chair in front of your computer screen, waiting for inspiration to strike.

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    • You’ll put up with the jitters in your gut while receiving a critique on a project that you spent all night perfecting.
    • You’ll put up with the dirty dishes piling in the sink when you spend every spare minute working towards your dream.
    • You’ll put up with the strange looks from the other people at the dinner table when you say “no” to desert for the thousandth time.
    • You’ll put up with all of it, because your eye is on the prize – a shiny golden box of glory that makes you blind to anything standing in your way.

    Go get ’em, tiger.

    (Photo credit: Gold Medals via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2018

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

    The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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    The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

    Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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    Review Your Past Flow

    Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

    Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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    Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

    Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

    Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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    Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

    Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

    We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

    Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

      Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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