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5 Steps to Pushing Boundaries and Growing

5 Steps to Pushing Boundaries and Growing

You know that I like getting my ideas from non-traditional sources. I was speaking with an incredibly talented video producer and actor yesterday about her show, Galacticast. It’s a sci-fi comedy series available as a podcast, and catching fire on the internet among folks who love catching the references. We talked about quality.

The thing about Casey and Rudy are that they are producing for a medium that currently accepts the absolute worst content as well as professionally-crafted stuff. Go to the Apple iTunes Store and look at their podcast options, and you’ll see Jack Black’s Nacho Libre mingling with “My Cat is Cute” or similar. The barrier to entry is some inexpensive, simple technology, and even the frailest of ideas. (See YouTube for lots of that). And yet, the folks who do Galacticast are putting their hearts and guts into it. Why?

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Casey says it’s because she feels it’s always important to develop your boundaries of quality. Pushing yourself a little bit further each time is a method for building value back to what you’re doing. This clearly can apply to how you choose to hack life.

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  • Know Your Current State– The only way to seek personal improvement is to take an honest and fair assessment of your talents. Feel free to poll others, if you are worried you won’t be honest. But get a sense of how you stack up in the qualities you think might matter to what you’re hoping to accomplish. (This, in itself, is a bonus hack. Looking at what skills you need will help you understand what you can develop next).
  • Describe the Ending– Dr. Stephen R. Covey says to think about what you’re hoping to achieve. To improve your quality, you have to know what end goal you have in mind. Casey McKinnon from Galacticast clearly wants to push the boundaries of new media entertainment by doing what she calls “Sci Fi / Lo Fi.” It’s a great way to rise above the scores of amateurs just throwing stuff at the screen.
  • Make Reasonable Stepping Stones– If you’re still a file clerk and your plan is to be CEO, don’t make your next move, “Apply for CEO role.” I’m thinking it won’t work. But you might put down, “get some books on leadership,” and “attend local business socials.” And don’t forget: people around you that know you tend to view you as who you HAVE BEEN to them all along. Don’t let that dissuade you. In fact, spend time around strangers, and you’ll see what your potential new roles feel like when reflected by these new people.
  • Check In, Re-Assess, Be Open– Often times, if the journey you set yourself upon is truly going to make a difference in your life, you might find yourself heading in a direction you hadn’t intended. Be open to going with it. But don’t just jump down new roads willy-nilly. Check in with your plans and stepping stones. Ask yourself whether these new thoughts or ideas are a surrender, a retreat, or a re-imagined possibility. If it’s option 3, consider branching off the path and seeing what that does for you. Warning: too many branches and you’re likely avoiding something instead of trying new things.
  • Reward Yourself, but Keep Going– When we’re successful at smaller things, there’s a great sense of accomplishment and pride. Rest on that step in the journey instead of seeing your goals met, and you’re setting yourself up to quit the full plan. It’s just too easy to be pleased with yourself, and quit there. Surrender the dime for the dollar, friends. You’ll be much happier in the end.

Developing yourself is a scalable asset. It brings more to your business, your personal life, and all avenues you choose to pursue. By living consciously, and by holding yourself to standards that you choose to improve, you find within you the potential to develop and grow beyond your current situation. It need not be an endless loop, and finding satisfaction and happiness with who you are and where you are in life is another matter altogether. They’re not exclusive. My point is merely that all life requires growth. Trees don’t stop. You shouldn’t either.

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–Chris Brogan writes about self-improvement and creativity at [chrisbrogan.com], when he’s not watching Galacticast and forgetting to be productive.

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Last Updated on October 15, 2018

How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

Do you sometimes feel that you add items to your to-do list faster than you tick them off? Do you spend most of your day worrying about your lack of time?

The truth is, no matter how much we love our job, or how productive we believe we are under stress, there comes a moment when the pressure rises above boiling point. The sheer number of urgent tasks multiplies in a geometric progression. New possibilities no longer sound inspiring, they sound overwhelming and equal more work.

If that’s where you are right now – keep reading! If not, it doesn’t mean you should wait until you get there to learn how to cope with a demanding work schedule and how to calm yourself down quickly when you feel overwhelmed.

Here are 7 quick and easy tips on how to calm down when you are overwhelmed:

1. Let go of a few activities

Yes, it’s that easy! Take a look at your to-do list and ask yourself, “If I don’t do it today, will it matter a month from now?”

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Not every urgent task is important. Just like not every important, high pay-off task is urgent. The best way to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed and to manage your time is to know the difference between the two and learn to simplify your life by getting your to-do list down to three big tasks.

2. Take deep breaths to calm down

This advice sounds so simple it’s often overlooked. But it works better (and faster) than any other relaxation technique out there.

There is a direct connection between our emotional state and breathing. An anxious, frustrated or overwhelmed person breathes as if they have just finished running a marathon. A calm person breathes differently. Their breathing is deep, slow and steady. So when you have a panic attack, the best way to bring your heart rate down and to regain your cool is to change your breathing.

Try this now:

Take a slow, long deep breath in, filling your lungs with air and expanding your diaphragm. Hold your breath for four counts and then slowly release the air through your mouth. Repeat four times and notice frustration and the feeling of being overwhelmed dissolve with each long exhale of these calming breaths.

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3. Make “Just one thing” your mantra

When we feel overwhelmed by the amount of tasks on our to-do list, it’s easy to enter the ‘deer in the headlights’ state. You see deadlines approaching directly towards you, and you know that something has to be done about them, but you just don’t know where to start.

The best way to get your mind out of an ‘inactivity trance’ is to create momentum. This is what makes the “Just one thing” mantra so powerful. It helps to change our expectation that everything has to be completed right now, “or else.”

Next time you feel overwhelmed make grabbing a cup of coffee your “Just one thing.” You can do it, right? Then come back, pick one of the smallest tasks on your to-do list and tell yourself you’ll do just that one task. This is your next “Just one thing” that you will concentrate on until it’s complete. After that you can move on to the next task and so on.

It’s not “One thing at a time.” Saying this implies that there is a huge line of other tasks waiting to get done and that’s not the message you want to keep repeating to yourself. Learn how to focus here and stop getting overwhelmed.

4. Reduce the multi-tasking and multi-thinking

It’s been proven that multi-tasking is very inefficient, to the point of dumbing us down (more than smoking marijuana does). The same is true for multi-thinking, when your mind frantically jumps from one thought to another, trying to focus on and analyze several things all at once.

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Fortunately, there is help. A few minutes of meditation or brainwave music is all it takes to start feeling more relaxed, more creative and less overwhelmed.

5. Get moving

Any exercise you engage in – be it walking or dancing to your favorite beat – helps to release endorphins, the ‘feel-good’ hormones, through your body and to clear your mind.

Staying active also increases your productivity, enhances your ability to combat stress and anxiety. It also helps you to release the tension, boosting your mood and changing the thoughts that induce the sense of being overwhelmed.

The best part is you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get the mind-soothing benefits of exercise. Even as little as 15 minutes of dancing or jogging can go a long way towards making you feel better and staying calmer.

6. Change your surroundings

We all need and deserve to take vacations from work woes and family responsibilities. Unfortunately, spending two weeks lazing on a beach, toes in the sand and a Mojito in hand, is not always an option. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t take short ‘vacations’ from work stress and the technology buzz.

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Go outside for a few minutes and enjoy the sunshine. Stop at a park instead of driving straight home from work. Sometimes changing your surroundings and ‘spicing up your routine’ is all it takes to change your perspective on things and find creative solutions to seemingly complex and overwhelming problems.

7. Get some pet therapy

Studies have shown what most of us already guessed – our pets can be a great help during stressful moments. Simple actions such as petting or playing with your dog or cat can lower high blood pressure, boost your immune system and boost your mood.

Besides, pets can make the best conversation partners to share your frustrations with. They listen, they love you unconditionally and they never talk back or say, “I told you so.”

Final thoughts

Don’t wait for stress to hit you to start practicing these quick ways to calm down when you are overwhelmed. The best way to enjoy a worry-free life is not to push yourself to the limit of being overwhelmed and frustrated.

Featured photo credit: Dardan via unsplash.com

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