“He that is good at making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”
― Benjamin Franklin
I used to be my own worst enemy and making excuses was part of my everyday routine. It wasn’t until I learned to take full responsibility for my life that my outlook, and results, started to change. When I finally realized that what I was experiencing in my life was a product of my choices I became emotionally empowered to make changes – but a change had to first start internally before I could experience any external results.
I believe that the habit of “making excuses” was, at least in part, motivated from a disempowering story that I had in my head about how life was supposed to be, and what I was capable of doing. The stories that we believe have the power to define us – they become our reality. If we create an empowering story about life, and what we will do with it, it will become our reality. However, if we cannot change our story, and if a negative narrative consumes us, it will drag us down and create a reality that we don’t want.
Our negative stories don’t inspire us, they don’t help us to reach our potential or break through our fears. They keep us safe, but it isn’t a good safe. It is a safe that is unsettling because we aren’t living what we could otherwise live if we’d take risks.Advertising
This article will list 10 “common excuses” that we tell ourselves that drag us down – 10 “narratives” or “stories” that we need to change if we are going to live the life that we are truly proud of.
1. I have no qualifications, so I can’t earn a decent income.
If you believe this it’s likely that you’ve been conditioned to think that your schooling controls your income. This just isn’t the case. Look around – you will find many examples of people who built great businesses without much school. Sure there are the famous examples (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson), but there are many more much closer to home. Take 10 entrepreneurs out for lunch, you’ll likely find that several of them either don’t have education, or have built a business in an area outside of their schooling. You can get the knowledge you need to succeed.
2. I’m too old to start.
Really? Do you really believe that, or is that just an excuse you’re telling yourself so that you don’t have to face the risk of failure. There is no such thing as too old. Ever heard of a guy named Harlan Sanders? Most people know him as the “Colonel”. He didn’t start KFC until 66. Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man, he was 43 when he began drawing his characters and his partner Jack Kirby was 44 when he created The Fantastic Four. Andrea Bocelli didn’t do opera until the age of 34. Phyllis Diller became a comedian at the age of 37. You are not too old. If you want it bad enough you’ll find a way to start.
3. I’m worried that everyone will laugh at me.
Being liked by everyone is both impossible and overrated. If you want everyone to like you then just do nothing. That way you’ll never possibly offend anyone. It is better to risk failure than to never try. Many (most) great people have failed, and every entrepreneur will fail at some point. It is part of the feedback mechanism. It is the way you learn to change your actions. You only ultimately fail if you quit.Advertising
4. I’m too busy.
So is everyone else. I know it is tough. I know that it can be tiring, working long hours at your job and trying to get that book written, or that business started, but the reality is that there is someone else, who has gone before you, that was under the exact same circumstances (perhaps even more difficult circumstances) as you and they don’t make this excuse. They find a way to get it done, even a little at a time.
5. I’m waiting for the right time.
The right time was probably several years ago. The second best time is right now. There is nothing else. A couple years from now will be no different. There will always be resistance and things that get in your way. So you make a decision right now to live, to make a change, to build whatever it is that is in your heart. Right now is the best time there ever was.
We never live; we are always in the expectation of living
6. It’s too difficult.
Everything worth having is difficult – but there is a way to conquer any mountain, it is to take one step at a time. One foot in front of the other, over and over, until the mountain is conquered. Chunk it. Break your big, scary, difficult goals down into small bite sized chunks and complete a chunk every single day until the goal is complete. That is the only way to do difficult things.
7. They made it because they’re different.
That is a story that you are telling yourself to guard against the unsettling reality that you’re probably not doing all that is in your power to succeed. If you really want something bad enough you’ll find a way to do it. You won’t settle on an excuse that you know deep down just isn’t true. Our world is full of rags to riches stories – people who had nothing to begin with, but who wouldn’t allow excuses to define their reality. Howard Schultz (Starbucks) lived in low income housing. Oprah Winfrey was born into a poor family in Mississippi. Ralph Lauren was once a clerk at a Brooks Brothers store. No matter what your circumstances are you can change them.
8. I’ve already put a lot of time in a different path
Is it the path that you want to be on? If not, then who cares? First of all, it is a sunk cost, so it shouldn’t factor into your future decision making. I know this one from first hand experience, I went to school for nearly a decade and spend over a hundred thousand dollars to become a lawyer. But I didn’t want to be a lawyer, so I couldn’t let my “time on a different path” define the future I wanted to created. If you don’t want to be on the path you are on then change it.
9. I don’t know where to start.
None of us know where to start when we begin. So what do you do? You find someone who knows (someone who has experience in your field), you figure out what they did, and then you take the same action. At least to start, and over time you develop your own unique voice. If you can’t find anyone who will give you the time of day, go to the Internet, a couple search engine queries and you’ll be able to find an article about someone who did something similar to what you want to do. Read their story, and take similar action. Once you’ve done 5 things, then find another 5, then another 5, then keep taking action until you get what you want.Advertising
10. It’s all about who you know, and I don’t know anyone.
This is a common excuse that isn’t serving you, and it isn’t true. Leonardo Del Vecchio, the owner of the world’s largest sunglass manufacturer, with brands like Oakley and Ray Ban, was born into an orphanage. Do you think he relied on his “family connections” to get going? Legendary financial trader George Soros survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary and arrived in London as a penniless college student. Larry Ellison, one of the richest men in the world was raised by a single mother in Brooklyn. It wasn’t his connections that helped him. Jerry Yang, the founder of Yahoo, was an immigrant from Taiwan who didn’t even know english when he came to the US.
Start today. Eliminate those excuses that you are carrying in your head. They aren’t serving you. They aren’t empowering you. They aren’t helping you live the life you want. They don’t need to define you.
Last Updated on October 17, 2018
7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory
How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?
If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.
Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)
So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.
We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.
Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.
Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.
Fortunately, meditation can help you out.
Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.
If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.
And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.
2. Get plenty of sleep
If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.
If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.
How much sleep should you be getting?
Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.
Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.
Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?
Yes, there are.
Try these three things:
- Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
- Don’t eat too late
- Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible
Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.
However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…
3. Challenge your brain
When was the last time you challenged your brain?
I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.
To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.
Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.
There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:
- Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
- Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
- Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)
If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!
Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.
4. Take more breaks
When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!
At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.
However, I was wrong.
Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.
Let me explain.
Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.
Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.
It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.
It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.
What’s the answer?
Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)
If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.
5. Learn a new skill
I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:
“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci
From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.
Let me give you an example of this:
Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.
Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.
The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.
Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.
Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.
6. Start working out
If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:
Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.
Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!
“But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.
Not a problem.
A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines. So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.
Interested in getting started?
Here are five different ways that will help you work out:
- Join a gym
- Join a sports team
- Buy a bike
- Take up hiking
- Dance to your favorite music
7. Eat healthier foods
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”
This applies to your brain too.
The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.
Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.
Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.
Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:
- Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
- Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
- Nuts – improves memory
- Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus
- Fish oil – fish oil supplements can increase your brain power
Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!
I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.
You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.
But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.
Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com