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The 7 No’s: “Know” your Priorities And Say “Yes!” to Life

The 7 No’s: “Know” your Priorities And Say “Yes!” to Life

Priorities vs. Time: A Constant Struggle

A few weeks ago, my friend John Arnold shared a story with me about his friend, who had time management and productivity problems. Frustrated by his number of upcoming commitments, he turned to John as if a light bulb had suddenly gone off in his mind and said, “I just need to learn how to say NO!”

John replied, “Friend, you are great at saying no. You are saying no to your family, no to your health, no to sleep, no to exercise, no to staying hydrated, no to having fun and no to living a life that is meaningful and purposeful to you.”

What a powerful insight. Do you really know your priorities? Or, are you saying “No!” to life?

  1. No! to your family?
  2. No! to your health?
  3. No! to sleep?
  4. No! to exercise?
  5. No! to staying hydrated?
  6. No! to having fun?
  7. No! to living the life you want?

The Time Management and Productivity Concept of LIMITED CAPACITY

Time is a zero sum game. Whatever you choose to allow into your life automatically prevents you from using that time for any other activity. You have to choose between one activity or another.

Your time is limited to 24 hours each day. In the world of time management and productivity, it’s called “The Concept of Limited Capacity”.

 

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The Glass Half Full

     

    A container can only hold the capacity it was created to hold.

    It doesn’t matter if you intend to put more into a glass, it doesn’t matter if the glass wasn’t filled to capacity yesterday and it won’t change anything if you try to use a different glass. The capacity of a container is the maximum amount it will hold.

    Your Calendar and LIMITED CAPACITY.

    • 168 hours per week
    • 24 hours per day
    • 8 to 10 hours per day to work

    Your calendar has a limited capacity, and once it is full of obligations and commitments then, just like the glass, it will reach maximum capacity. It is at that point that something inside your soul recognizes the incongruence between the life you envisioned for yourself and the life you are actually living.

    Life is experienced by the choices you make about how you spend your time. Right now, at this moment – you are experiencing life. Right now – life is passing you by.

    In many cases, you are experiencing the life you have agreed to experience – by choosing how you will spend the minutes of each day.

    The LIMITED CAPACITY of Time: Heart, Body, Mind, Soul

    Every morning you wake up with a new day, an empty glass so to speak. Many of us have work commitments, but when you look at your calendar, what do you see? Pull out your smart phone and review the activities and commitments you have scheduled for today:

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    •  8:00 am staff meeting
    • 10:30 am budget report due
    • 11:00 am call with vendor
    • 11:15 am lunch meeting with client
    • 2:00 pm teleconference with marketing team
    • 4:00 pm dentist appointment
    • 6:00 pm choir practice

    You arrive home at 8:15 pm and still need to clean the house, do the laundry, cook dinner, check your personal email, pay the bills, etc. This isn’t life. This is a list of obligations.

    If your calendar looks like the one above, you have chosen to react to life, rather than plan how you want to live it.

    LIMITED CAPACITY of Life: Heart, Body, Mind, Soul

    Plan in advance. For the next few weeks, rethink what you are really saying “No!” to.

    In order to say “Yes!” to life, there needs to be a framework of non-negotiables. These non-negotiables are your personal priorities. Without establishing priorities, men and women across the world experience stress, anxiety, frustration, irritability, fatigue and low self esteem because they don’t allot enough time for personal priorities.

    Here are four foundational priorities that many people are currently saying “No!’ to, simply because they are not consciously aware that their work and personal priorities are so far out of balance.

    Say “Yes!” to These 4 Priorities

    Block off time for your Heart

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    How much time would you like to spend with the people you love? Make your heart a priority.

    Block off time for your Body

    Block off time for your body. Exercise, nutrition, hydration and sleep are critical to experiencing the quality of life you want to have. Finding time to exercise can be challenging. Some people enjoy getting up at 5:30 am to go to the gym, but there are alternatives. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to stop and walk for fifteen minutes twice a day. Walk at night with your family, or take up a sport with your kids. And, really – how hard could it be to drink a minimum of 60 ounces of water a day and sleep seven to eight hours? Block off the number of hours you will choose to sleep.

    Block off time for your Mind

    Humans are curious creatures from birth, constantly challenging ourselves in various ways to find entertainment and novelty. The actual neural circuits in your brain either grow stronger through use and stimulation, or weaken and die if you are not regularly challenging your mind. Read books that contain stories of courage and bravery and you will become more courageous. Make an appointment to meet someone brilliant in your industry, spend a morning with them and you could gain years worth of wisdom.

    Finally, Block off time for your Soul

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    This really should have been first, yet it is often the first thing we ignore. When you are overwhelmed, your soul grows cold and numb. It is not that your soul is sad or happy. It is that you have unknowingly lost touch with your soul.

    You wake up one day and you wonder:

    • Why am I so tired?
    • Why am I stressed?
    • Why am I overworked?
    • Why don’t I feel like my life has meaning or purpose?

    These are soul questions. Humans are deeply rooted with the desire for their lives to matter. We want to make a difference in the world. We want to have an understanding of why we have been placed on this earth. Each of us has unique strengths and talents, yet we lose connection with our true soul. Somewhere along the way, we’ve reached the maximum capacity of time and willingly let other projects, tasks, committees, and even volunteer opportunities fill up our days with things we do – not the life we live.

    How can you fix this?

    Choose to Say “Yes!” to Your Priorities

    1. Yes! to time with your family
    2. Yes! to your friends
    3. Yes! to exercise
    4. Yes! to better nutrition and drinking more water
    5. Yes! to sleep
    6. Yes! to choosing one new thing a month to learn, grow and stimulate your mind.
    7. And, say Yes! to taking time to re-connect with your priorities and purpose. Rediscover what you believe is most important in your life. Think about what makes your life meaningful and what will make a difference in the lives of those around you.

    By choosing to say “Yes!” to your priorities, you choose to reconnect with your heart, body, mind and soul.  This will reconnect you with your life.

    P.S. One of my priorities was to reconnect with my soul. One week ago, I said “Yes!” to going skydiving. The 120 mph free fall was amazing! What will you say “Yes!” to today?

     

    Featured photo credit: Allyson Lewis via fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net

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    Allyson Lewis

    Allyson is a nationally acclaimed author, motivator, speaker, time management, productivity strategist, and executive coach.

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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