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How to Be Honest with Yourself and Get More Done

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How to Be Honest with Yourself and Get More Done

“You can dramatically change your life but only if you have the desire to change, the decision to take action, the discipline to practice the new behaviors you have chosen, and the determination to persist until you get the results you want.” – Brian Tracy

  • “I just need to focus.”
  • “I just need to buckle down.”
  • “I just need to have more willpower.”
  • “I already know what to do, I just need to do it.”

I’ve probably said all of these things to myself at one point or another and I’m betting you have as well. Most of us already know what to do — eat the right foods, exercise consistently, get proper rest and recovery, and do more of what we love and less of what we don’t. Yet it’s so difficult to put it all together.

How can we avoid feeling lost, stressed out, and overwhelmed, and get more focused, more results, and more stuff done whether that be with regards to our health, career, or in our relationships?

The choices you make are yours and yours alone

The minute junk hits the fan, you make a mistake, or times get tough…accept complete responsibility. Refuse to make excuses and commit to not placing the blame on anyone else or the circumstances. Wherever you are now in your life is because of the choices you made. To get yourself over any hurdle you first need to acknowledge that it is there. Otherwise you’ll just keep running into it over and over.

There’s a wonderful poem by Portia Nelson entitled “There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk” that is very fitting…

Chapter One

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in… it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault… I get out immediately.

Chapter Four

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

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Chapter Five

I walk down another street.

If you are making the same mistake over and over acknowledge it. Ask yourself why do I keep walking down this sidewalk? Then choose a new route. Any route will do. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s not the same one that keep leading you to fall down a hole. When you’re on this new path you’ll now know what to look for. If you see a hole you’ll walk around it and find another path the next day.

If you’re struggling with your nutrition find your hole. Are you always falling of the wagon at night when you get home from work? You’re exhausted and just want to relax? Instead of taking time to prepare a healthy meal are you opting for something processed and quick?

What’s another street you can take? Can you get up a few minutes early every day to make sure you have something prepared for when you get home?

Take a look at your street. Where are the holes? What can you do?

What do I need to do everyday to achieve what I want to achieve

We often don’t fail due to a lack of effort — it’s often consistent effort that we struggle with. Most of the things we want to accomplish take effort spread throughout an extended period of time.

And the honesty…

Most of that effort needs to be extended for a lifetime. Now thinking of things over the course of a lifetime can cause anyone to hyperventilate, but the cool thing is it gets easier and easier. And that effort will become automatic.

Getting up a little earlier to get in a workout will become a habit. Cooking in bulk on a Sunday afternoon so you have meals for the week will feel natural. Using that hour every night you use to reserve for watching your favorite show is now spent on starting your own business.

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But the key is to start with one.

Just pick one area of your life that you want to improve. Trying to do too much at one time will require so much effort that you’ll either burn yourself out or make it difficult to commit 100% to each area.

What is the single thing that needs the you want to improve. Start there, commit 100%, and once it’s a habit move on to the next.

My way or the highway leads to you on an empty road all by yourself.

Learn to adapt

There is one thing for certain in this world and that’s change. I can guarantee you one thing and I will never be wrong. Today is most certainly different from yesterday and tomorrow will be different from today.

Even though some days you might feel like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day”, subtle changes are happening every day. Just look back at your life. How different are you from when you were 10, 20, 30, and so on? I bet your job has changed a few times, I’m certain your body, some of your habits, your friends, where you live. Change is one thing I am certain is never going away.

Failure to adapt, try new things, experiment with new methods, techniques, people, and choices will cause you to be left behind.

What worked today might not work tomorrow. Can you eat like you did when you were a kid? Are you as active?

Your responsibilities and passions I am sure have changed as well. It is up to you to adapt to your new environment, your new role, or your new body and to figure out what it is you need to do in order to get where you want to be.

How do your nutrition habits need to adapt? Your exercise habits? Your lifestyle?

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Plan. Then plan again. Oh yeah, and plan some more.

“Failure to plan is planning to fail.”

I know we’ve all heard that before…but it’s true. Hey, I like winging it as much as the next guy but if something is not going the way you want or expect take a look at your plan… or maybe failure to have one.

It may seem like you waste time planning but in the long run that planning will save you time as you avoid having to start from scratch if junk hits the fan. A plan is like a map. If you planned out your route and hit a snag or make a wrong turn it gives you a chance to see where you messed up and avoid it in the future.

It also works when things go right. If you get to your destination you will have a route to follow and use again and again and possibly now have some guidance for when you embark on a new trip.

So whatever it is you want to do take time to create a plan. Don’t worry about it being wrong, as long as you’re willing to adapt you’ll make the necessary changes as you go.

Be see-through

As in crystal clear. It’s hard to get anywhere if you don’t know where you want to go. Where are you now, where do you want to be, what do you want to do? Don’t concern yourself so much with the “How” but more so the “Why.”

What ever your goal, whatever you want to do define why you are doing it and why it is important to you. If building muscle, losing weight, or finding more work that you love is something you want to pursue define your why.

Here’s an example of how to do that.

“I want to lose fat.”

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  • Why do I want to lose fat? Because I want to fit into a smaller size of jeans.
  • But why do I want to fit into a smaller size of jeans? Because when I’m wearing smaller jeans, I think I’ll look better.
  • But why do I want to look better? Because when I look good, I feel good about myself.
  • But why do I want to feel good about myself? Because when I feel good about myself, I’m more assertive and confident.
  • But why do I want to be more assertive and confident. Because when I’m more assertive and confident, I’m in control and better able to get what I want out of life.

Now your turn. Pick one thing that you want to work towards. Just one thing. Make the statement. I WANT TO _______________. Then keep asking yourself, “but why” until you get to the heart of the matter.

I’m almost certain that almost all problems could be solved by doing this…

By always treating others the way we would want to be treated.

Personal, physical, mental, and social problems could almost certainly be solved if we always treated people the way we wanted to be treated. If our coffee order is messed up there is no real reason to berate the barista. It’s not fixing the order any. The only thing it is doing is raising your blood pressure and stressing out the poor girl behind the counter.

When someone cuts us off on the freeway tailgating them, giving them the finger, and honking at them serves no real purpose. It doesn’t change the situation and doesn’t help to resolve any problems.

If you don’t want to feel stressed out, unhealthy, tired, or upset there is a pretty good chance other people don’t want to as well.

What’s holding you back

What is keeping you from getting the body you want, doing work you love, pursuing adventure and passions? Identify and remove. If a jar of peanut butter is getting devoured every night it might be sabotaging your fitness goals. Identify and remove.

Are finances keeping you from taking that trip you have been dying to go on. Identify where you are wasting money and remove.

What now?

Is there anything you know now that if your life started over today you would not get involved in? Well life starts over today. What can you change?

(Photo credit: Honest Abe via Shutterstock)

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    More by this author

    Justin Miller

    Healthy Lifestyle Architect, a Fitness and Nutrition Coach

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    Last Updated on September 9, 2021

    10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021

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    10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021

    Productivity planners and journals are tools of a trade. There’s an art to productivity. Just like art is very personal to the artist, productivity is very personal to the person. What works for you may not work for me. This is an important distinction if you really want get more done in less time.

    Too many of us dabble in productivity hacks only to move on to the next tool or trend when it didn’t workout for us, missing the lesson of what worked and didn’t work about that tool or trend.

    We put the tool on a pedestal and miss the art. It’s worshipping the paint brush rather than the process and act of painting. We miss the art of our own productivity when the tool overshadows the treasure.

    As an artist, you have many brushes to choose from. You’re looking for a brush that feels best in your hand. You want a brush that doesn’t distract you from your art but partners with you to create the many things you see in your mind to create. Finding a brush like this may take some experimenting, but when you understand that the role of the brush is to bring life to your vision, it’s easier to find the right brush.

    Planners are the same way. You want a productivity journal that supports you in the creation of your vision, not one that bogs you down or steals your energy.

    Let’s dive into the 10 best productivity planners and journals to help you get more done in less time.

    1. The One Thing Planner

    The NY Times best selling book, The One Thing, just released their new planner. If you loved this book, you’ll love this planner.

    As the founder of the world’s largest real estate company Keller Williams Realty, Gary Keller, has mastered the art of focus. The One Thing planner has its roots in industry changing productivity. If you’re out to put a dent in the universe, this may be the planner for you.

    Get the planner here!

    2. The Full Life Planner

    The Full Life Planner is Lifehacks’ ultimate planning system to get results across all your core life aspects including work, health and relationships. This smart planner is 15 years of Lifehack’s best practices and proven success formulas by top performers.

    With the Full Life Planner, you can align your actions to long term milestones every day, week, and month consistently. This will help you to get more done and achieve your goals.

    Get the planner here!

    3. The Freedom Journal

    Creator of one of the most prolific podcasts ever, Entrepreneur on Fire, John Lee Dumas released his productivity journal in 2016. This hard-cover journal focuses on accomplishing SMART goals in 100 days.

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    From their site:

    “The Freedom Journal is an accountability partner that won’t let you fail. John Lee Dumas has interviewed over 2000 successful Entrepreneurs and has created a unique step-by-step process that will guide you in SETTING and ACCOMPLISHING your #1 goal in 100 days.”

    Get the planner here!

    4. Full Focus Planner

    Michael Hyatt, author of Platform and host of the podcast “This is Your Life”, also has his own planner called the Full Focus Planner.

    From the site:

    “Built for a 90-day achievement cycle, the Full Focus Planner® gives you a quarter of a year’s content so you aren’t overwhelmed by planning (and tracking) 12 months at a time.”

    This productivity planner includes a place for annual goals, a monthly calendar, quarterly planning, the ideal week, daily pages, a place for rituals, weekly preview and quarterly previews. It also comes with a Quickstart lessons to help you master the use of the planner.

    Get the planner here!

    5. Passion Planner

    They call themselves the #pashfam and think of their planner as a “paper life coach”. Their formats include dated, academic and undated in hardbound journals with assorted colors. With over 600,000 users they have a track record for effective planners.

    From the site:

    “An appointment calendar, goal setting guide, journal, sketchbook, gratitude log & personal and work to-do lists all in one notebook.”

    They have a get-one give-one program. For every Passion Planner that is bought they will donate one to a student or someone in need.

    They also provide free PDF downloads of their planners. This is a great way to test drive if their planner is right for you.

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    Get the planner here!

    6. Desire Map Planners

    If you’re looking for a more spiritually oriented planner, Danielle LaPorte, author of The Desire Map, created the Desire Map Planners. With Daily planners, Weekly planners and Undated planners you can find the right fit for you.

    Behind this planner is the Desire Map Planner Program including 3 workbooks that not only support you in using the planners but guide you in your thought process about your life and intentions you’re using the planner to help you fulfill.

    Get the planner here!

    7. Franklin Covey Planners

    The grandfather of all planners, Franklin Covey, has the most options when it comes to layouts, binders, and accessories. With over 30 years in the productivity planner business, they not only provide a ton of planner layouts, they also have been teaching productivity and planning from the beginning.

    From the site:

    “Achieve what matters most with innovative, high quality planners and binders tailored to your personal style. Our paper planning system guides you to identify values, create successful habits, and track and achieve your goals.”

    Get the planner here!

    8. Productivity Planner

    From the makers of the best selling journal backed by Tim Ferriss, “The Five Minute Journal”, comes the Productivity Planner.

    Combining the Ivy Lee method which made Charles Schwab millions with the Pomodoro Technique to stay focused in the moment, the Productivity Planner is both intelligent and effective.

    It allows for six months of planning, 5-day daily pages, weekly planning and weekly review, a prioritized task list, Pomodoro time tracking, and extra space for notes.

    From the site:

    “Do you often find yourself busy, while more important tasks get procrastinated on? The Productivity Planner helps you prioritize and accomplish the vital few tasks that make your day satisfying. Quality over quantity. Combined with the Pomodoro Technique to help you avoid distractions, the Productivity Planner assists you to get better work done in less time.”

    Get the planner here!

    9. Self Journal

    Endorsed by Daymond John of Shark Tank, the Self Journal takes a 13 week approach and combines Monthly, Weekly and Daily planning to help you stay focused on the things that really matter.

    Self Journal includes additional tools to help you produce with their Weekly Action Pad, Project Action Pad, the Sidekick pocket journal to capture your ideas on the go and their SmartMarks bookmarks that act as a notepad while you’re reading.

    Get the planner here!

    10. Google Calendar

    You may already use Google Calendar for appointments, but with a couple tweaks you can use it as a productivity planner.

    Productivity assumes we have time to do the work we intend to do. So blocking time on your Google Calendar and designating it as “busy” will prevent others from filling up those spaces on your calendar. Actually using those blocks of time as you intended is up to you.

    If you use a booking tool like Schedule Once or Calendly, you can integrate it with your Google Calendar. For maximum productivity and rhythm, I recommend creating a consistent “available” block of time each day for these kinds of appointments.

    Google Calendar is free, web based and to the point. If you’re a bottom line person and easily hold your priorities in your head, this may be a good solution for you.

    Get the planner here!

    Bonus Advice: Integrate the 4 Building Blocks of Productivity

    Just as important to productivity planners as the tool are the principles that we create inside of. There are 4 building blocks of productivity, that when embraced, accelerate your energy and results.

    The four building blocks of productivity are desire, strategy, focus and rhythm. When you get these right, having a productivity planner or journal provides the structure to keep you on track.

    Block #1: Desire

    Somehow in the pursuit of all our goals, we accumulate ideas and To-Do’s we’re not actually passionate about and don’t really want to pursue. They sneak their way in and steal our focus from the things that really matter.

    Underneath powerful productivity is desire. Not many little desires, but the overarching mother of desires. The desire you feel in your gut, the desire that comes from your soul, not your logic, is what you need to tap into if you want to level up your productivity.

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    A productivity planner is just a distraction if you’re not clear on what it’s all for. With desire, however, your productivity planner provides the guide rails to accomplish your intentions.

    Block #2: Strategy

    Once you’re clear on your overarching desire, you need to organize your steps to get there. Let’s call this “strategy”. Strategy is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. You must first turn over all the pieces to see patterns, colors, connections and find borders.

    In business and life, we often start trying to put our “puzzle” together without turning over all the pieces. We put many items on our To-Do lists and clog our planners with things that aren’t important to the bigger picture of our puzzle.

    Strategy is about taking the time to brain dump all the things in your head related to your goal and then looking for patterns and priorities. As you turn over these puzzle pieces, you’ll begin to see the more important tasks that take care of the less important tasks or make the less important tasks irrelevant.

    In the best selling book, The One Thing, the focusing question they teach is:

    “What’s the One thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else is easier or unnecessary?”

    This is the heart of strategy and organizing what hits your planner and what doesn’t.

    Block #3: Focus

    With your priorities identified, now you can focus on the One Thing that makes everything else easier or unnecessary. This is where your productivity planners and journals help you hold the line.

    Because you’ve already turned over the puzzle pieces, you aren’t distracted by new shiny objects. If new ideas come along, and they will, you will better see how and where they fit in the big picture of your desire and strategy, allowing you to go back and focus on your One Thing.

    Block #4: Rhythm

    The final building block of productivity is rhythm. There is a rhythm in life and work that works best for you. When you find this rhythm, time stands still, productivity is easy and your experience of work is joyful.

    Some call this flow. As you hone your self-awareness about your ideal rhythm you will find yourself riding flow more often and owning your productivity.

    Without these four building blocks of productivity, you’re like a painter with a paintbrush and no idea how to use it to create what’s in your heart to create. But harness these four building blocks and find yourself getting more done in less time.

    The Bottom Line

    Your life is your art. Everyday you have a chance to create something amazing. By understanding and using the four building blocks of productivity, you will set yourself up for success no matter which planner, or “paintbrush”, you choose to use.

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    As you experiment with different planners you will narrow which one is best for you and accelerate your path to putting a dent in the universe.

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    Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

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