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Life Lessons from a 105-Year-Old

Life Lessons from a 105-Year-Old

I recently decided that I need to spend a little extra time with the women in my life, so I started visiting my 105-year-old great-grandmother at her home. This woman is extraordinarily special, and is capable of so much at her age. She continues to teach me new lessons, even unintentionally at times. She was brought up and has raised all of her kids in a rural farming area in Eastern Ontario, Canada. There are two lessons that she has taught me thus far that I feel will benefit you just as much as they continue to benefit me. These are life lessons from a 105-year-old.

1. Treat your neighbor the way you’d like to be treated

We have all heard the sayings “treat others with respect” and “treat others how you would like to be treated.” Both of these phrases come across as the same, but describe two completely different actions. My grandmother explained the importance of keeping a strong bond between you and your neighbors. It wasn’t a matter of giving respect and getting back; you earned it, and in return you received it.

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There are various ways in which relationships with our neighbors have changed over the years. I will give you a couple of examples of how we have grown more distant.

Meet and greet new neighbors

Rarely do I find myself approached by residents of an area I just moved into. In the past, as the “new family on the street” you would oftentimes find fellow neighbors casually bringing gifts to welcome you. Acts of kindness like these were a lot more frequent and random. My grandmother emphasized the fact that if she ever made too many baked goods, the extras usually went to the neighbors. Though some neighborhoods still show tokens of gratitude and acceptance, they have faded out for the most part along with common courtesy.

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Neighborly advice

When I am seeking instruction on how to complete a task, I usually use Google. Before the time of internet, our ancestors had to rely on the skills and assistance of others. If you were unable to build or fix something, you would oftentimes have to seek assistance from your neighbor. Payment wasn’t the main focus, either. Time and time again, neighbors exchanged favors rather then money. You treated each other how you wanted to be treated because you never knew when you would find yourself seeking help. Word spread quickly because everyone was so tight-knit, so you never wanted to burn your bridges with anyone for fear of a bad name.

2. Don’t go to bed angry

Another one of my life lessons from a 105-year-old is “Don’t go to bed angry.” One of the main reasons is the fact that we are ignoring what is bothering us, and therefore not fixing the problem. When we ignore situations that bother us and attempt to “sleep it off,” we are setting ourselves up for the same results when we are re-exposed.

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Example: When a wife does something that bothers her husband, the husband does not want to approach the situation due to fear of confrontation. This results in him bottling up his anger. The fact that he is not voicing his opinion on the matter not only leaves the wife thinking she has done nothing wrong, but also sets the situation up to be the same or worse next time it arises. By not approaching the actions we dislike, we are not finding a resolution and can soon expect the same feelings to re arise.

This fact was actually scientifically proven to be true. A group of neuroscience students from UMass Amherst found that when we go to bed immediately, or ignore a problem, it remains “protected.” This means that when you are exposed again, your response will likely be just as negative as the last time.

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Example: Someone witness to a gruesome accident that stays awake after the incident is less likely to have negative responses to crime scene images. You can read on the actual article here.

As you can see, there are various lessons that can be learned from someone who has experience. I continue to seek advice from my great-grandmother because I have learned that nothing teaches us more than personal experiences do. I will provide you with more life lessons from a 105-year-old as my visits progress.

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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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