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4 Ways of Keeping Time Thieves at Bay

4 Ways of Keeping Time Thieves at Bay

Consider these three scenarios:

  • You’ve had a busy day at work and you decide to take a breather. After a one minute of sitting down with a cup of coffee, your boss calls your name and says, “Hey, do you have a minute?”
  • You are ready to spend a moment with your favorite book when all of a sudden you get distracted by a phone: someone is trying to sell you a magazine subscription.
  • You are about to make finishing touches to a project at work, but you get interrupted by the constant noise in the cubicle.

These scenarios are very common and very annoying.

You are tired of distraction and of the fact that others are defining your rhythm and productivity. With constant distractions and requests, you are not getting enough time for recovery or for getting things done.

Your time usage is dictated by others. It’s no wonder that you want to change the situation and get your stolen time back!

Are you too accessible and helpful?

The main reason why people let others dictate their productivity and steal their time is being too helpful.

For instance, when someone comes to you and makes a request, you want to be help. Also, you don’t want to let down their expectations by saying “no” to them.

Another thing that “helps” time thieves to steal your time is being too accessible. You want to be reachable and open towards others as much as possible. This gives you the reputation of being a nice and trustworthy person.

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However, both of these traits have their downsides too.

In a work environment, you get bombarded with requests whenever possible, thus interrupting your productive time.

At home, you might have a problem with focusing on your own personal projects or finding time to relax in a middle of a hectic work week.

Obviously, there is one crucial thing that is missing in this picture. Do you know what it is?

The negative effects of missing boundaries

Yes, you got it right. The missing thing is boundaries.

Boundaries can be set as physical or non-physical ones and they define the rules you operate by and the way that others should operate as well.

If you haven’t defined boundaries, you are potentially jeopardizing your productivity and it makes easier for others to steal your time.

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First, boundaries define how to handle the situation when something unexpected comes up. For instance, this could be the case when your boss comes to you and gives you an extra assignment.

Second, boundaries help you to protect your time. However, when the boundaries are missing, then people think it’s OK to interrupt you with their requests. They expect that you are accessible whenever they wish.

Third, the lack of using the word “no.” Now, it’s not always easy to say “no,” but it can be done firmly, while still leaving the other person with a good impression of you.

Fourth, an important part of the boundaries is communication. This can be divided into either verbal or written communication and depending on its clearness, that’s how strong or weak your boundaries are.

With proper communication, you are able to block requests that would otherwise make your already busy schedule busier.

Finally, understand that the word “no” is essential too when it comes to defending your personal boundaries. Instead, saying the word “yes” is an open request for time thieves to grab the piece of your time.

Although the word “no” is part of the communication point #4, I wanted to mention it separately, as I think it’s the cornerstone setting your boundaries on a daily basis

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Sorry thieves, the police is here!

To catch the time thieves and give you back the stolen time, follow this plan:

First and foremost, it’s important to set your expectations straight – whether it’s at work or at your home. When people know that you are working on something important, it helps them to respect your time too.

For instance, when someone comes to you at the cubicle, let the person know that you are working on something important and cannot be disturbed. Also, let people know about your phone and e-mail answering policies.

At home, communication is the key as well. For instance, I’m building my  online business on the side (on top of my day job), so I’ll let my family know when I work and when I shouldn’t be interrupted.

When everyone is on the line, no false expectations are set and everyone knows the rules to follow.

It’s a good idea to “isolate” yourself too. By isolation, I’m not talking about disappearing for hours without telling anyone where you are. Instead, I’m talking about controlled isolation, which doesn’t make everyone else concerned.

At work, this isolation could be done by booking a meeting room and working there, at home this could be done by going to work outside (nature, coffee shop, and library) and communicating to your spouse that you’ll be away for a certain amount of time.

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There is one thing to note: You should take a phone with you, so that your spouse can contact you in case of a family emergency. Naturally, you want to be with your family if something notable happens.

Finally, reduce your commitments that aren’t necessary. The more commitments you have, the more probable it is that you will have to give up your time for something you don’t like.

For instance, I belonged to a local computer club in my town and I was asked to be a board member for the club. At first I said yes, but eventually I gave up on the position even though others wanted me to stay.

Eventually I stopped participating in the club’s activities, because I wanted to focus on other things in my life instead. This eliminated some of my commitments and my personal schedules became simpler.

Let’s define your anti-theft alarm system

Follow these four steps to defend yourself from time thieves:

  1. Set your communication policies.If you are at work and feel that you get interrupted a lot, set the auto-responder message telling others when you process your e-mails. This way others are not expecting you to get back to them as soon as possible.It’s also a good idea to mute your phone when you work and also let others know about this too (and also, when you do answer the phone).
  2. Isolate yourself.Book a meeting room at the office if you want to get work done. If possible, you can also work remotely from home if it’s quiet and peaceful there (for instance when kids are at school).At home, if you feel interrupted constantly, try to find a spot in the nature, a coffee shop or a library to do the work. Let your spouse know where you are, how long you are going to be away and at which number he/she can call you in the case of emergency.
  3. Communicate clearly.Make sure other people truly understand your rules and that they don’t assume anything.Also, have a mutual understanding with your boss when it comes to work assignments. Let him/her know that sudden assignments are weakening your working productivity.The same clear communication works with your family too. You can even create a document showing  your working schedule and put it in your refrigerator door, so that it’s easily available and other family members can see it.
  4. Learn to say no. Finally, learn to say no. Although it can be challenging, it’s doable. What matters the most is how you do it.

Conclusion

Time thieves are everywhere and in most of the cases they are not even aware that they are taking your time away.

That’s why it’s important to define boundaries and let everyone know about them. This way, you can focus on your work or for recharging your batteries.

Over to you: Have you defined boundaries towards time thieves?

(Photo credit: hand holding stopwatch via Shutterstock)

More by this author

Timo Kiander

Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

What Is FOMO (And How to Get Over It) Do You Do This Common Mistake When You Start Working on Your Tasks? 9 Valuable Lessons Learned After Writing My First Book How to Create a To-Do List that Makes You Smile Agreeing on Deadlines With Yourself Just Doesn’t Work: Here’s What Does

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Last Updated on June 25, 2019

100 Motivational Quotes That Will Guide You To Massive Success

100 Motivational Quotes That Will Guide You To Massive Success

Below are the 100 most motivational quotes ever. Read them and get motivated for success, and share this post to help your friends get success too!

1. All our dream can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. – Walt Disney

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    2. Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude. – Zig Ziglar

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      3. The Man Who Has Confidence In Himself Gains The Confidence Of Others. – Hasidic Proverb

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        4. What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.– Napoleon Hill

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          5. For me, life is continuously being hungry. The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer. – Arnold Schwarzenegger

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            6. What you seek is seeking you. – Rumi

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              7. It is never too late to be what you might have been. —George Eliot

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                8. Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once. —Drew Houston

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                  9. The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus. – Bruce Lee

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                    10. I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have. – Thomas Jefferson

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                      11. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Lao Tzu

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                        12.The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me. – Ayn Rand

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                          13. Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. – Mahatma Gandhi

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                            14. The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it. –  Jordan Belfort

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                              15. When you can’t change the direction of the wind, just adjust your sails. – H. Jackson Brown Jr

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                                16. Security Is Mostly A Superstition. Life Is Either A Daring Adventure Or Nothing. – Helen Keller

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                                  17. Identify your problems but give your power and energy to solutions. – Tony Robbins

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                                    18. We become what we think about most of the time, and that’s the strangest secret. – Earl Nightingale

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                                      19. Double down on whats working. Cut the rest. – Tai Lopez

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                                        20. The best revenge is massive success. – Frank Sinatra

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                                          21. Tough times never last, but tough people do. – Dr. Robert Schuller

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                                            22. Stop chasing the money and start chasing the passion. Tony Hsieh

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                                              23. I’ve been blessed to find people who are smarter than I am, and they help me to execute the vision I have. – Russell Simmons

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                                                24. The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes. – Benjamin Disraeli

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                                                  25. Patience, persistence, and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success. – Napoleon Hill

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                                                    26. If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much. – Jim Rohn

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                                                      27. People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do. – Rob Siltanen

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                                                        28. Poor people have big TVs. Rich people have a big library. – Jim Rohn

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                                                          29. A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship. – John D. Rockefeller

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                                                            30. The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. – Walt Disney

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                                                              31. The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks. – Mark Zuckerburg

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                                                                32. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do that the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain

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                                                                  33. Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it.”– Jack Canfield

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                                                                    34. If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything. – Malcolm X

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                                                                      35. Nobody ever wrote down a plan to be broke, fat, lazy. or stupid. Those things are what happen when you don’t have a plan. – Larry Winget

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                                                                        36. Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning. – Robert Kiyosaki

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                                                                          37. If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results. – Tony Robbins

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                                                                            38. Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly. – John F. Kennedy

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                                                                              39. Reading is to the mind, as exercise is to the body. – Brian Tracy

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                                                                                40. The best reason to start an organization is to make meaning; to create a product or service to make the world a better place. – Guy Kawasaki

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                                                                                  41.You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them. —Michael Jordan

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                                                                                    42. Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great. – John D. Rockefeller

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                                                                                      43. Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping-stones to success. – Dale Carnegie

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                                                                                        44. The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself. – Mark Caine

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                                                                                          45. Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago. —Warren Buffett

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                                                                                            46. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real, it is possible, it’s yours. – Ayr Rand

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                                                                                              47. If you are willing to do more than you are paid to do, eventually you will be paid to do more than you do. – Anonymous

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                                                                                                48. Make each day your masterpiece.  – John Wooden

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                                                                                                  49. You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down and it has made all the difference in my life. – Steve Jobs

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                                                                                                    50. Knowing Is Not Enough; We Must Apply. Wishing Is Not Enough; We Must Do. – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

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                                                                                                      51. If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete. – Jack Welch

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                                                                                                        52. People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. Similarly, when someone is failing, the tendency is to get on a downward spiral that can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy. – Tony Robbins

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                                                                                                          53. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. – Wayne Gretzky

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                                                                                                            54. You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. – Margaret Thatcher

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                                                                                                              55. If you want to make a permanent change, stop focusing on the size of your problems and start focusing on the size of you! – T. Harv Eker

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                                                                                                                56. Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment. – Stephen Covey

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                                                                                                                  57. Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone. – Pablo Picasso

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                                                                                                                    58 – Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment. – Oprah Winfrey

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                                                                                                                      59. I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine. – Neil Armstrong

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                                                                                                                        60. A goal is a dream with a deadline. – Napoleon Hill

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                                                                                                                          61.You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. – John C. Maxwell

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                                                                                                                            62. The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. – Oprah Winfrey

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                                                                                                                              63. The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. – Mark Twain

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                                                                                                                                64. Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else. – Les Brown

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                                                                                                                                  65. Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work. – Stephen King

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                                                                                                                                    66. A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success. – Joyce Brothers

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                                                                                                                                      67. If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. – John Quincy Adams

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                                                                                                                                        68. If you’re not stubborn, you’ll give up on experiments too soon. And if you’re not flexible, you’ll pound your head against the wall and you won’t see a different solution to a problem you’re trying to solve. – Jeff Bezos

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                                                                                                                                          69. Imagine Your Life Is Perfect In Every Respect; What Would It Look Like? – Brian Tracy

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                                                                                                                                            70. First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win. –  Mahatma Gandhi

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                                                                                                                                              71. Do one thing every day that scares you. – Eleanor Roosevelt

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                                                                                                                                                72. Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential. – John Maxwell

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                                                                                                                                                  73. It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop. – Confucius

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                                                                                                                                                    74. If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs. – Dhirubhai Ambani

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                                                                                                                                                      75. A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him. – David Brinkley

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                                                                                                                                                        76. Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness. – Ayr Rand

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                                                                                                                                                          77. When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us. – Alexander Graham Bell

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                                                                                                                                                            78. Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. – Albert Einstein

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                                                                                                                                                              79. The number one reason people fail in life is because they listen to their friends, family, and neighbors. – Napoleon Hill

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                                                                                                                                                                80. Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people. – Eleanor Roosevelt

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                                                                                                                                                                  81. The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

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                                                                                                                                                                    82. If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary. – Jim Rohn

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                                                                                                                                                                      83. Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill

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                                                                                                                                                                        84. The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. – Henry David Thoreau

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                                                                                                                                                                          85. Take one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, and live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success that is the way great spiritual giants are produced. – Swami Vivekananda

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                                                                                                                                                                            86. Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. – Henry Ford

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                                                                                                                                                                              87. It always seems impossible until it’s done. – Nelson Mandela

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                                                                                                                                                                                88. Be so good they can’t ignore you. – Steve Martin

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                                                                                                                                                                                  89. If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward. – Martin Luther King Jr.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    90. In the end, we only regret the chance we didn’t take – Lewis Carroll

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                                                                                                                                                                                      91. Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world… if you do so, you are insulting yourself – Bill Gates

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                                                                                                                                                                                        92. Small daily improvements are the key to staggering long term results – Unknown

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                                                                                                                                                                                          93. Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up. – Thomas Edison

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                                                                                                                                                                                            94. Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going – Jim Rohn

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                                                                                                                                                                                              95. The best way to predict the future is to create it – Peter Drucker

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                                                                                                                                                                                                96. It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up. – Vince Lombardi

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  97. The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    98. Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today. – Will Rogers

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      99.You learn more from failure than from success. Don’t let it stop you. Failure builds character. – Unknown

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        100. Optimism is the one quality more associated with success and happiness than any other. – Brian Tracy

                                                                                                                                                                                                        lastone!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          You made it to the end! Are you feeling motivated? Awesome, now share this post with your friends to help them achieve success too.

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