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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 March 21, 2019

    11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

    11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

    Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

    You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

    But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

    To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

    It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

    “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

    The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

    In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

    Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

    1. Start Small

    The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

    Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

    Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

    Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

    Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

    Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

    It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

    Do less today to do more in a year.

    2. Stay Small

    There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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    But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

    If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

    When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

    I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

    Why?

    Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

    The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

    Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

    3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

    No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

    There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

    What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

    Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

    This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

    This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

    4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

    When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

    There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

    Peter Drucker said,

    “What you track is what you do.”

    So track it to do it — it really helps.

    But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

    5. Measure Once, Do Twice

    Peter Drucker also said,

    “What you measure is what you improve.”

    So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

    For reading, it’s 20 pages.
    For writing, it’s 500 words.
    For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
    For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

    Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

    6. All Days Make a Difference

    Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

    Will two? They won’t.

    Will three? They won’t.

    Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

    What happened? Which one made you fit?

    The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

    No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

    7. They Are Never Fully Automated

    Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

    But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

    What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

    It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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    The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

    It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

    It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

    8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

    Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

    Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

    When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

    The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

    Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

    9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

    The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

    Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

    You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

    But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

    So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

    If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

    This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

    The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

    Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

    10. Punish Yourself

    Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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    I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

    It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

    You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

    No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

    The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

    But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

    11. Reward Yourself

    When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

    Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

    The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

    After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

    If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

    Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

    If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

    In the End, It Matters

    What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

    When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

    And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

    “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

    Keep going.

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    More Resources to Help You Build Habits

    Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
    [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
    [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
    [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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