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20 Ways to Strive for Excellence in Life

20 Ways to Strive for Excellence in Life

Most of us are trying hard to juggle it all in life: career, work, family, self-care and then some. We believe that in order to be our best selves, we should “get the most out of it”, and be on the ball in all fields of our lives. Although this article deals with excellence, you might be surprised that I am not urging you to be at the top of the game in every single aspect of life. Instead, I would like to invite you to excel in those fields where you really can make a difference, so that when you move on, you shall have left behind a better world for those who follow.

This is an invitation to find your voice and leave a mark in the world; an invitation to surpass the average and aim for higher levels of excellence; an invitation to tap into your talents more deeply than before and turn yourself into a radiating powerhouse. It is time to live your purpose in life and share your unique, beautiful gifts with all other beings.

In essence, excellence is the very opposite of perfectionism. Perfectionism is losing your true self in the demands of society, and trying to emulate a person who is not you and whom you can never become. Excellence, on the other hand, is becoming the center of your own universe, and from that grounded, centered position, shining your light into the world by using your unique talents.

Living a life of excellence takes effort, but at the same time is rewarding and gives you energy so that you can keep up your work. Here are 20 ideas that you can implement to strive for excellence:

1. Identify your values

To make the right choices in your life, you need to know what truly matters to you. Keep a list of your core values, and write your observations on how you and others live according to these values as well. Revisit your list often to focus your energy on what you value most in life.

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2. Stand up for a cause

Sometimes we’ll hear something in the news that seems to pull a string deep inside of us—we feel that the cause at hand is truly worth to fight for. Express your opinion, and become active. Whether it is protecting animal rights, fighting street harassment, or ending the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, find what truly makes you tick and throw your weight into the battle.

3. Truly listen

Connect to others by listening to their story. Hold your advice and similar experiences, and go deeper into the experience the other person is telling you, sensing his/her emotions and reactions. In this way, you will learn more about other people; about their needs and values.

4. Feel your emotions

Stop muffling your emotions underneath a big blanket and putting your fake-happy-neutral face all the time. Learn from children, who are sad, happy, excited and tired over the course of less than an hour. Feel what truly goes on within yourself, and simply accept it.

5. Be a cycle

Ebbing and flowing, turning in cycles and circles—that is the rhythm of both our planet and our lives. Society, however, seems to think that life is a ladder that we need to climb, step by step. Instead of trying to go up, up, up all the time, learn to live with the cycles of the moon and the seasons, and feel the waxing and waning energies in yourself.

6. Meditate

Meditation is the single most powerful personal development tool out there, so practice it daily. Cling to your meditation practice when times get busy and the going gets tough: those are the moments when you need it the most.

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7. Journal

Let your thoughts out on a sheet of paper or your screen, and use your journal as a place to reflect on your day, your progress in life and all observations from the day that might need to leave your mind so that you can relax.

8. Define your limiting beliefs

What is holding you back? What cultural conditioning is keeping you from stepping out from the crowd? Do you think you can’t do it because you’re too old, because you haven’t gone to college or because you are a woman? Define your limiting beliefs, and then release them into the wide open.

9. Practice gratitude

Learn to be grateful for all positive experiences that come across your path on a given day. Keep a list of 10 things that you are grateful for, every day. When dark days are upon you, be grateful for your health, for life, for your pet… anything that can give you a little spark.

10. Smile

Light up your face and the heart of another person with a smile. Sadly enough, smiles nowadays can be misinterpreted as an attempt to seduce someone, an expression of naivety, or even dumbness. Put smiling back where it deserves to be: an expression of joy and positive feelings and a way to connect with other humans.

11. Show compassion

Stop judging others when they make mistakes or hurt you. Instead, try to put yourself in their shoes, and think: “There I go, being rude/inattentive/etc.”. By thinking along these lines, you understand how all human beings are similar; how we all have are flaws and bad moments that can be forgiven.

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12. Learn from your dreams

First, learn how to remember your dreams. Then, start to analyze the symbols that occur in your dreams and explore your subconsciousness. I don’t believe in the lists of dream symbols that you can find online—I think that every person’s subconsciousness makes different connections between our experiences, and thus brings forth these symbols from a different background in each individual.

13. Teach

Use your unique gift to teach others. Spend time with people who try to learn your language, share a craft that you master, organize a workshop about a new software package at work or volunteer at a local school—the options for teaching are as abundant as the diversity of talents among us all.

14. Face your demons

What happened in your past that left a rotten piece in your heart? When you feel like the time is ready, fasten your seat belt and face your demons. Only when you can address the darker parts of yourself can heal your past and move more freely into your future.

15. Take up a difficult task

Step forward when a difficult task is handed out. Lean into the opportunity, choose the spotlight, be realistic, and discuss with your boss/mentor/guide what you are about to take on. Ask others for advice and help, and don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake.

16. Celebrate your body

Your body is beautiful, regardless of your size, shape, and medical condition. Celebrate your body by giving it wholesome foods, time to exercise (just like caring for your dog means letting him out for a walk), and additional care, such as massages and sauna visits.

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17. Honor your intellect

Find the boundaries of your understanding, and explore from there. Take up an online course, join a conversation group, solve difficult puzzles—anything that gets your mental machinery going and feels like a challenge is a good way to honor your brain.

18. Forgive

Forget past transgressions and forgive yourself, your loved ones, and everyone else. A very powerful way of letting go of grudges and negative feelings is to practice a meditation on forgiveness and loving-kindness.

19. Focus on being, not on having

Consumerism is the blood of our economy, but with scarcer resources, the time has come to define ourselves based on who we are instead of what we have.

20. Ask yourself every day: “Did I give the very best of myself to the world?”

Stand in front of the mirror and ask yourself: “Did I give the very best of myself to the world today?” If the answer is “yes”, explore what motivated you and how you feel at the end of the day. If the answer is “no”, don’t beat yourself up, but reflect on what happened today that took you out of your balance.

How do you strive for excellence in life?

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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