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When Unexpected Delays Happen, Take Advantage of Them

When Unexpected Delays Happen, Take Advantage of Them
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“All great achievements require time.”
-Maya Angelou

You have a picture in your mind of launching and selling your handcrafted meditation cushions. You can visualize your on-line shop and imagine people buying your beautiful works of art. You’ve been working your butt off to make it happen. Long days, late nights, and gallons of coffee. You visualize your goal. It’s there just over the horizon!

Most of the pieces are now in place and it should be smooth sailing!

Then, unexpectedly, everything slows down. There’s a temporary machine malfunction at the factory that produces the cloth for the cushions. You’re frantically trying to find a material replacement but, it is a no-go.

It feels like you’re butting your head against a wall. All you have for your effort is a headache.

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Yup, been there done that!

When you start a project, you set a timeline — and now that timeline has a huge speed bump in it. All effort appears to be futile. In fact, your frustration, anger, and anxiety are making things worse.

Now what?

Turn the delay to your advantage.

“The obstacle is the path”
-Zen proverb.

The above quote might remind you of other obstacles you’ve faced along the way. If you look closely, you’ll see that each one served a purpose. (Isn’t 20/20 hindsight great?)

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These apparent obstacles helped you to grow, learn, and experience different facets of life. They were neither good nor bad, but just a part of your life’s road.

In any venture you take, be it business, relationship, or pleasure, you’ll find obstacles at some point. Since they’re bound to show up,  why not take advantage of them when they do?

Below are some ways you can do that…

Focus on the meaning of being an entrepreneur.

You can take advantage of the delay by reflecting on what it means to be an entrepreneur. Merriam-Webster on line defines an entrepreneur as a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.

You’ve chosen to do what you want in life. So enjoy it! See the delay for what it is…a bump in the road and an opportunity to learn something new.

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Let go of expectations.

Try to get beyond the need to hold on to how things “should be” and accept a temporary “this is what it is.” Returning to the present moment stops you from going in to the “what if” mindset. Once the need for the “should” goes, along with it goes the anxiety and pressure you feel. This clears the way for something else to appear.

Time for a break.

This may sound silly, but you may be experiencing a case of self-sabotage! Perhaps you’ve been working long hours with little sleep and your body, mind, and spirit have had enough. There is a chance you’ve inadvertently made an error that has slowed things down. Take advantage of it, and take a break to refresh. Come back with a clear mind.

Celebrate your progress.

When you’re in the midst of creating a new project, it’s easy to ignore how much you’ve accomplished. So when progress is delayed, take time to look at what you’ve done. Celebrate your accomplishments up to this point — the big ones and the little ones too. It’s okay to pat yourself on the back and feel good about what you’re doing.



Look for fresh ideas.

Often when things go wrong and you’re backed into a corner, you’re forced to discover an innovative solution. Go ahead, free up some time to find a quiet place, clear your mind and see what shows up. Take the time, it’ll be worth it.

Keep productive.

Realizing that the situation is out of your control can be very freeing. While waiting for things to move forward again, you have the time to do those things that you have been putting off: answering non-urgent emails, calling your mom, meeting with friends, or finishing that tedious task you let slip. You might even find that your productivity gets a boost.

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In all areas of life you can expect the unexpected. That doesn’t mean you sit down and bemoan your lot. No! You stop for a moment, take a look around to see what you can do and then get on with that which can be done.

Each obstacle on the path to achieving greatness can be used to learn, excel and polish your craft.

The choice is yours, stay stuck or fly! I choose to fly! How about you?

Featured photo credit: HappyMotoring/MichaelLeland via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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