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If You Want to Live, Create Goals and Dreams!

If You Want to Live, Create Goals and Dreams!

I once read a book by a very wise man. In his book he said that a man without any goal or any purpose in life is a dead man.

The moment I read those words, I knew they were true.

Goals and purposes are what drive us through the time stream into the future. They give our lives meaning even when our goals seem insignificant to others.

When I first read those words, many years ago,  I was very sick. I started to cry because I realized that my illness had robbed me of every goal I had ever had for this life. I couldn’t do any of them and there was no hope in sight.

I read the sentence again and stared at the page while the full impact of what I was reading sunk in. I realized right then, that if I did not create a goal for myself, any goal, I was not going to make it. Up to that point, I had been literally dying and this book was telling me exactly why, and exactly how to turn it around.

At that point, I decided on a goal and set about trying to realize it.

Up to the point where I had gotten sick, I had been a musician and mom as well as working in Corporate America. One by one these jobs went by the wayside due to my illness and I realized that I had not picked up my violin or sung for a very long time.

The goal I set for myself then, was to become a music instructor. All I needed to achieve that goal was one student. Then I could call myself a teacher.

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As fate would have it, once I made the decision to become a music instructor, I found an ad looking for a music teacher right there in my hometown.

I went to the school, interviewed and landed the gig.

And then, the funniest thing happened.

I started to get better.

It did not happen overnight; in fact it took several years to totally kick this illness, but it started the day I heard the words, “Please come for your first student on Thursday”.

I believe that many people who are depressed, or are doing poorly in life, have trouble with goals.

Sometimes they have goals forced on them, and that is as bad or worse than not having any.

Sometimes they cannot decide what goal they want to go after and are paralyzed by indecision.

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Sometimes they have someone in their lives who invalidates their goals.

Sometimes they feel that they lack the self discipline to achieve their goals, and other times it just seems too hard.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

There are definite steps you should take to create and realize a goal.

1. Lay out your ideal future life.

Take a little time and write it all out. I find that having it written down makes it easier to see. Make sure you include EVERYTHING you want in even the most insignificant areas of your life.

For example you may want to work from home or have a job that is mobile, allowing you to travel and work from various distant places. If this is the case, you will need a profession that allows for that.

Once you write down everything you want in life, the goal(s) will come into focus.

Do not invalidate whatever goal you come up with at this stage. Just start going after it.

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2. Decide what training you need to receive in order to achieve your goal.

If you are looking for a new profession that will support you and your dependents, you will need training. Find out what training is required and figure out how to get it.

In today’s world, there is so much information on the Internet, that you can train yourself fully in many professions without ever leaving your couch.

College educations are no longer prerequisites to having a great job, and self-starting individuals are doing amazing things. The opportunities today are almost endless if you really focus and work hard.

3. Give yourself a long-term target.

If your goal is to become an internet marketing expert, and you are starting from scratch, your long-term target can be landing a certain number of regular clients.

Now, long term is only relative. Even long-term targets don’t have to take a long time.

4. Give yourself daily targets that ultimately result in achieving your long-term goal.

And get them done. Then make new ones. Don’t worry if, while doing these, your goal morphs into something else. It’s all good!

5. Don’t worry about making the wrong goal or ending up in the wrong business.

Any decision you make, ever, can be changed and a new decision made. Resisting changing your mind is ridiculous. Every day we change our minds when faced with new information or just because we decide to do something else. There is no shame in that fact. In fact, a sane and dynamic individual changes his or her mind a lot.

Granted if we have people relying on us to bring in a paycheck, we can’t simply pack it in and start in again at the bottom, but we can change our plans and start working toward something fulfilling while also fulfilling our duties to those we have obligations to.

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6. Realize that the pursuit of the goal is every bit as important as its achievement.

For every endeavor we undertake, we learn. We come away with new skills and these skills have a funny way of coming together in the future in ways we never imagine.

These learning experiences and the skills we take away from them also make our lives extremely rich and interesting.

Some of the most interesting and successful people I know have had several different careers in their lives. They seem to have an uncanny knack for making things work. They always have many irons in the fire and too many projects because they are so dang interested in life.

What many people don’t realize is that life is a living thing and by that, I mean it breathes, it changes, it is anything but static. Too many people try desperately to keep things the same. This is not healthy, and it never works.

If we think that any goal we have has to be one that sees us through our entire lifetime, we are limiting ourselves greatly. We have to allow for how we change and grow, and sometimes we grow out of goals that were once very important to us.

Don’t think that you have wasted anything if you change your mind, even if you change it about something very important.

Goals are one of the most important things in life. Without them we decay and die. If you know of someone struggling with goals, help them create some. If you need help, write to me.

Good luck!

 

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Chris Ellis

Successful Author, Life Coach and Musician

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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