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12 x 12 challenge

This year, take a 12 x 12 Challenge.

Every year I write a post on how to make the most of the new year. Here are some of the new year posts I’ve written in the past:

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And this year it will be no different. My recommendation for 2019 is that you try a 12 x 12 Challenge. A 12 x 12 Challenge is simply 12 mini-resolutions, one for each of the 12 months of the year. The 12 mini-resolutions can lead to the completion of one large resolution by the end of the year, but not necessarily.

I’ve designed several 12 x 12 Challenges for you to choose from, and you’ll get a better idea of what I’m talking about when you look through the challenges I’ve prepared. Of course, you can also use these challenges as inspiration to create your own.

You’ll find the 12 x 12 Challenges below. (At the end of the post there’s a 12 x 12 Challenge Sheet you can download to create your own 12 x 12 Challenge for 2019).

12 x 12 Reading Challenge

A popular New Year’s resolutions is to read more. If this is one of your resolutions, you can achieve it by taking a 12 x 12 Reading Challenge.  This challenge consists of reading one book a month, for a total of 12 books in a year. That’s doable.

So, what should you read for your 12 x 12 Reading Challenge? You can choose to read 12 books in your area of expertise, or you can begin the journey of becoming an expert in a whole new area by reading the 12 most important books in that subject.

You can also choose to read some of the classics you didn’t get to in high school or college. In fact, you can make things even more interesting by sticking to one author. As an illustration, you can make 2019 the Year of Charles Dickens. That challenge could look as follows:

  • January – A Tale of Two Cities
  • February – The Pickwick Papers
  • March – Oliver Twist
  • April – Nicholas Nickleby
  • May – The Old Curiosity Shop
  • June – Great Expectations
  • July – David Copperfield
  • August – Bleak House
  • September – Hard Times
  • October – Little Dorrit
  • November – Barnaby Rudge
  • December – A Christmas Carol
12 x 12 Challenge

I haven’t decided whether I’m going to take this challenge yet, but I am reading “A Tale of Two Cities” right now. (For anyone wondering, the two cities are London and Paris).

Here’s another 12 x 12 Reading Challenge you can try if you would like to read the classics:

  • January – A British Classic
  • February A Short Classic (less than 150 pages)
  • March – A French Classic
  • April – A Classic Written By a Woman
  • May – An American Classic
  • June – A Russian Classic
  • July – A Classic You Previously Started But Didn’t Finish
  • August – Re-read Your Favorite Classic
  • September – A Classic That’s More Than 200 Years Old
  • October – A Horror Classic
  • November – A Play That’s Considered a Classic
  • December – A German Classic

12 x 12 Learning New Skills Challenge

This year, learn a new skill. Better yet, learn 12 of them. It can be done. The trick is to keep it simple and aim to be “good enough”. Here are some ideas for the skills you could choose to learn:

  • January – Time Management
  • February – Drawing
  • March – Cooking
  • April – Singing
  • May – Salsa Dancing
  • June – Knitting
  • July – Photography
  • August – Weightlifting
  • September – Basic Car Repairs
  • October – Meditation
  • November – Power Point
  • December – Public Speaking

Your challenge can consist of twelve skills that are not related to each other, like the challenge above. However, an even better idea is to choose 12 sub-skills that will allow you to carry out a more complex skill.

For example, if you want to start a blog in 2019–which I highly recommend–you could set up the following 12 x 12 Learning New Skills Challenge:

  • January – How to Use and Manage WordPress
  • February: How to Write for the Web (Content Creation)
  • March: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • April – Copywriting (craft compelling copy)
  • May – Grow and Convert Traffic
  • June – Online Marketing
  • July – Using Twitter effectively
  • August – Instagram Marketing
  • September – Using Pinterest to promote your brand
  • October – How to use Facebook
  • November – Branding
  • December – Using Visual Elements to Enhance Your Blog Posts
12 x 12 challenge

If you take on this challenge, by the end of the year you’ll have 12 new weapons in your arsenal of skills.

12 x 12 Microadventures Challenge

I think it’s safe to say we could all use more adventure in our lives. The good news is that adventures don’t have to be far away, expensive, dangerous, or complicated. Be more adventurous in 2019 by taking 12 microadventures.

A microadventure is any adventure that’s short, close to home, cheap, and simple. Therefore, it’s achievable.  The term was coined in the book Microadventures by British explorer Alastair Humphreys .

Here’s an example of a 12 x 12 Microadventures Challenge you can choose to take in 2019:

  • January – Eat a food you’ve never tried before.
  • February – Visit a nearby town–staying the weekend is optional.
  • March – Try a different way of getting to work – walking, cycling, taking the bus, or even skating.
  • April – Go geocaching – an outdoor recreational activity that involves hunting for hidden objects using GPS coordinates posted on a website.
  • May – Sleep under the moon (it can even be in your own backyard).
  • June – Swim in the wild – find a river or a lake, and jump in.
  • July – Go to a beach you’ve never been to before (bonus points if you try a new water sport).
  • August – Spend a day eating only what you catch or forage.
  • September – Climb a hill and have a picnic when you get to the top.
  • October – Get on the subway and go to the end of the line.
  • November – Attend a festival or fair.
  • December – Be a tourist in your own town – visit a place in your town you’ve never been to before, such as a historical site, museum, or gallery. You can even take a walking tour of your city.

Don’t the microadventures above sound like fun? I think so!

12 x 12 Passion Projects Challenge

A while back I wrote a blog post on 14 Reasons to Start a Passion Project.  Here’s how I define “passion project”:

“A passion project is an activity or enterprise that you decide to take on—usually in your spare time–in order to gain some benefit for yourself.”

This year, why not commit to 12 small passion projects? Here are some ideas:

  • Create 12 picture books in 12 months.
  • Write 12 short stories in 12 months.
  • Complete 12 Lego challenges — adults can play with Legos.
  • Paint 12 watercolors, one for each month of the year.
  • Design 12 websites to add to your portfolio.

This is another 12 x 12 Challenge I’m tempted to try this year.

12 x 12 Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Projects Challenge

Improve your home this year with 12 do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. Here are some ideas:

  • January – Turn a corner of a room into a small home office.
  • February – Give your kitchen cabinets a new finish.
  • March – Put up a bookshelf.
  • April – Turn a closet into a mudroom.
  • May – Turn a shabby cabinet into a bar cart (or a coffee cart).
  • June – Build swings in the backyard.
  • July – Build a chicken coop.
  • August – Transform an old file cabinet into garage storage.
  • September – Revamp your nightstands.
  • October – Upcycle an item from a thrift store.
  • November – Create a reading nook.
  • December – Create art for your living room wall.

12 x 12 Lifestyle Experiments Challenge

Become a better person in 2019 by conducting lifestyle experiments. Twelve of them, to be more precise. Through experimentation you’ll be stepping out of your comfort zone and you’ll discover practices you can adopt to become a better version of yourself.

Here’s an idea of what your 12 x 12 Lifestyle Experiments Challenge can look like:

  • January – Try daily brachial hanging (holding on to a horizontal bar and hanging relaxed with loose shoulders).
  • February – Wake up at 4:30 a.m. for a month.
  • March – Go vegan for a month.
  • April – Go without social media for a month.
  • May – Write 1000 words a day for 30 days.
  • June – Try the Paleo diet for a month – a dietary plan based on foods similar to what early humans ate.
  • July – Try a 30-day no spend challenge during which you don’t buy anything that isn’t necessary to live.
  • August – Do one simple exercise–like walking for twenty minutes–every day for a month.
  • September – Create something every day for a month.
  • October – Don’t watch any television for a month (this includes watching shows on your computer).
  • November – Don’t read or watch the news for 30 days.
  • December – Do yoga every day for a month.

Conclusion

Which of the 12 x 12 Challenges above peaked your interest? They all look good to me, and I’m going to have a hard time choosing one. But choose I must. Live your best life by taking a 12 x 12 Challenge.

You can download the 12 x 12 Challenge Sheet which you can use to design your 12 x 12 Challenge, below.

 

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stop caring what others think

Stop caring what others think and get on with the business of living your life.

Humans are social creatures. We want to be part of a group. We want to be loved and accepted. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

The problem begins when a person’s need to belong interferes with their quality of life and their ability and/or willingness to go after their goals and dreams. When this happens, the person needs to learn how to stop caring so much about what others think.

Here’s what happens when you stop caring what others think:

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  • You no longer constantly second-guess yourself.
  • You get your mojo back—instead of walking in step with everyone else, you break from the herd and head off in your own direction.
  • You’re willing to take more risks, learn new things, and seize more opportunities.
  • You feel more self-acceptance and self-worth.
  • You allow yourself to be who you are.

Doesn’t that sound great? Yes, it does. In this post you’ll find six ways to stop caring what others think.

1. Trust Yourself

One of the reasons why most people care so much about what others think is that they’re constantly looking for validation from others. A lot of people rely on the approval of others for just about everything, such as the following:

  • What they wear.
  • Who they hang out with.
  • What they say.
  • What they do.
  • Where they go.
  • The shows they watch on TV.
  • The risks they take.
  • How they spend their leisure time.
  • The opportunities they’re willing to consider.

If you rely on the opinion of others to feel good about yourself, then of course you’re going to give a lot of importance to what others think of you.

Therefore, if you want to stop caring what others think, you need to start relying on yourself for validation, instead of relying on the validation of others. That is, you need to trust yourself.

Here are some tips for trusting yourself:

  • Become more accepting of who you are. People who accept themselves are better at brushing off disapproval from others.
  • Increase your self-esteem. The higher your self-esteem is, the more you’ll be willing to rely on your own opinion and make your own decisions.
  • Love yourself more. I wrote a whole post on falling in love with yourself, because it’s such an important topic. When you truly love yourself you know that—no mater what—you’ll be there for yourself. And when you know that you’ve got your back, it makes it much easier to trust yourself.
  • Be your own biggest fan, instead of your biggest critic. Send the inner critic in your head packing and give your inner cheerleader a megaphone.

2. Remember You’re Going to Die

Reminding yourself that you’re going to die in order to stop yourself from worrying about what others think is a tip from stand-up comedian and actress Amy Schumer. I’m going to quote her verbatim on this:

“. . . [W]e’re all going to die. . . why is that comforting? Because if you’re worried about some dumb sh*t that doesn’t matter, like: ‘Can they see my belly? I don’t like how I look in that tagged photo ‘, remember you’re going to die one day, so who cares? I find a lot of comfort in that.”

I’ll add the following:

  • This is your one life. This is it! There are no do-overs. Instead of worrying about what others may be thinking or saying about you, give them something to talk about.
  • Do you want to be lying on your death bed filled with regrets because you were worrying about what others might be thinking of you instead of getting out there and trying new things?
  • Life’s too short to worry about what other people think.

3. Have Something More Important to Care About

I’ve written posts on this blog on leading a meaningful life, starting a passion project, and leaving a legacy. That is, I’ve recommended repeatedly that you aspire to make your life remarkable.

If you have trouble getting yourself to stop caring what others think, you should re-read these posts (or read them for the first time if you haven’t read them yet).

Why? Because if you’re busy working toward something that’s important and meaningful to you, you simply don’t have the time and/or the brain bandwidth to worry about what others think.

As an illustration, the other day I was sitting at a table at a club that I belong to reading a book for a blog post I was writing. A woman walked by my table and I glanced up at her. She gave me a disapproving look.

I started asking myself what that look could have meant, and what I was doing that could possibly have merited it, but then I thought:

“I want to have this blog post ready for tomorrow. I don’t have time to worry about what that woman’s problem is.”

I immediately stopped thinking about the woman and got back to work.

As a second illustration, a few weeks ago a man was smoking in an area that was clearly marked as non-smoking. I politely asked him to stop, but he wouldn’t. That’s when I called security.

The man looked pretty upset that I called security on him, and for a minute I second-guessed my actions. But then I told myself that I was protecting my health, and that I had every right to do so.

As you can see from these two examples, my work and my health are very important to me. They’re much more important to me than the opinion of others.

Ask yourself the following:

  • What’s more important to me, living a full and authentic life, or the opinion of others?
  • What’s more important to me, knowing that I’m trying to learn new things and improve myself, or the opinion of others?
  • What’s more important to me, doing what I think is right, or the opinion of others?

You get where I’m going with this. Stop caring what others think by having more important things to care about.

4. Choose Carefully Whose Opinion Matters to You

A while ago I wrote a post on how to live a well-curated life. Living a well-curated life means that you don’t just allow things to come into your life haphazardly. Instead, you choose carefully who and what merits admission into your life.

Follow this same principle of living a well-curated life when it comes to the opinion of others. Don’t worry about just anyone’s opinion. Instead, be very selective about whose opinion you care about.

Here are three questions that I recommend you ask yourself when deciding whose opinion will matter to you:

  • Is this someone I hold in high regard?
  • Do I feel this person has my best interests at heart?
  • Are they giving me their opinion in an area in which they’re knowledgeable?

If the answer to any of the questions above is “no”, then you shouldn’t care what that person thinks.

If the answer to all three of these questions is “yes”, then you should take that person’s opinion into consideration. Nonetheless, always keep in mind that–at the end of the day–, the opinion that matters most when it comes to you is your own. After all, no one knows you as well as you know yourself.

5. Exercise Your “I Don’t Care What Others Think” Muscles

If you’re one of those people who looks for approval from others for just about everything you do, start weaning yourself from your need for validation. Look at the following:

  • Instead of buying the beige or the black shirt because those are the colors you and your friends usually wear, buy the bright red one that you really want and wear it with confidence.
  • If you’ve been hesitating about putting your drawings—or anything else you’ve created– online because of what people might think, take the plunge. Start a blog and put your stuff out there.
  • Have the gumption to get out there and give rollerblading a try, or take that public speaking class, or try out for the play, or do anything else that you’ve been too scared to try because of what others might think. If you hear snickering and jeering, know that it’s people who are jealous that you’re out there trying something new, while they’re sitting on the sidelines watching you.

When you first start trying to ignore what others think, it will be hard. But you’ll get better at it, and your “I don’t care what others think” muscles will get stronger. Soon you’ll be living a happier and more fulfilling life because you stopped caring what others think.

6. Stop Caring What Others Think by Embracing Criticism

Stop thinking of criticism as something negative. Instead, take it as feedback and an opportunity for growth and improvement.

When companies put a new product out, they don’t expect everyone to come back with raving reviews. They know that consumers will uncover some glitches in the product and will report them, or that they’ll identify additional features that they want in the product. The company then takes this feedback and uses it to make the next version of the product better than the first.

Take the same approach. Put yourself out there. Then take any criticism that you get from others as feedback, sift out the useful criticism, and use it to make yourself even better.

Conclusion

I used to be incredibly self-conscious and hyperaware of how I was being perceived by others. As a result, I was always stressed and unwilling to try new things. Fortunately, I got over it. And my life is so much better as a result. To live your best life, stop caring what others think.

 

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how to ask for what you want

To get what you want, you have to ask for it.

Do you ask for what you want?  Most people don’t. They yearn, they hope, they hint, and they drop vague innuendos, but they don’t ask.

Yet a fundamental truth in life is that it is by asking that you receive. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.  This applies to everything in life. Look at the following:

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  • If you’re in sales, you have to ask for the sale.
  • If you go on a job interview, you have to ask for the job.
  • If you want a raise at work, you have to ask for it.
  • If you would like to get more acknowledgement from your loved ones for the things you do for them, you have to ask them for it.
  • If there’s something that you really want to get as a gift from your spouse for your birthday, you have to ask them for it.
  • If you need help, you have to ask for it.

Whatever it is that you want to achieve in life, it’s almost certain that someone else has something that you need in order to achieve it, and you’re going to have to ask them for it. However, most people don’t know how to ask for what they want.

This blog post will show you how to ask for what you want and increase your chances that you’ll get it.

Why We Don’t Ask for What We Want

Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, co-authors of the bestselling “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, wrote an entire book on the subject of asking for what you want.  It’s aptly called “The Aladdin Factor”.

Canfield and Hansen believe that most people fail to get what they want–despite reading lots of books on success and goal achievement–because they skip the crucial step of asking.

But, why don’t people ask for what they want? In “The Aladdin Factor”, Canfield and Hansen indicate that it’s because of the following 5 reasons:

1. Ignorance.  This encompasses several different things:

  • You don’t know what you want;
  • You don’t know what’s available; and/or
  • You don’t know how to ask.

2. Limiting and inaccurate beliefs. Many people believe that they don’t have to ask for what they want.

For example, you may think that if you work hard and get good results for your company, you’ll get a raise. Or you may think that if your significant other really loves you, they’ll be attuned to all your needs and will give you what you want.

These beliefs are wrong. It’s rare that a boss will offer a raise to an employee who doesn’t ask for it. And it doesn’t matter how much your significant other loves you, he or she is not a mind-reader. If there’s something that you want from them, ask them for it.

3. Fear.  Fear often stops us from asking for what we want. We’re afraid of rejection, of being ridiculed, and of looking stupid.

4. Low self-esteem.  One of the reasons that people don’t ask for what they want is because they feel that they don’t deserve it.

5. Pride.  There are some who feel that asking for help makes them look weak. They think that they should be able to figure everything out by themselves and find a way to get what they want on their own.

How to Ask for What You Want

In order to get what you want, ask for it by doing the following:

  • Ask Someone Who Can Give It to You
  • Ask With Confidence
  • Ask Clearly
  • Come Up With a Good Strategy for Asking
  • Ask Consistently

Each of these points is explained below.

Ask Someone Who Can Give It To You

You need to assess carefully who can give you what you need.  For example, if you’re thinking of asking family members for financial help with a start-up, don’t ask your sister who is newly married and has just started a family.

Even if she really wants to help you, unless she’s very wealthy, she’s just not in a position at the moment to give you financial help.  In addition, don’t ask your tightfisted uncle who has never lent anyone a cent in his life.

When you ask for something, make sure that you’re asking the right person.

Ask With Confidence

While it’s not a good idea to try to get what you want by making demands, when you ask for something you should appear confident.  You can project confidence with your body language, your tone of voice, by making eye-contact, and by choosing the right words.

John Chow–from the blog John Chow dot com–explains that he has two friends who wanted to go to a conference that was coming up.  Chow recommended that they write to the conference organizers asking for a press pass.  The friend with the bigger blog wrote the following:

“I was hoping I could receive a free press pass to the San Francisco Ad:tech conference. I am a web entrepreneur and blogger, and would be covering the event from my popular blog which has an RSS readership of over 1,400.

It will be my first conference ever attended, so I am a bit unsure as to how the process for press passes goes. Would I be correct to assume that it would be equivalent to the Full Conference Pass?”

The friend with the smaller blog wrote the following:

“Hello this is [insert name] from [insert blog] and I need a press pass to cover Ad:Tech. I was notified by ValueClick and Google about your show. They said we should check it out.

Our site covers [Insert topic here]. See you in San Francisco.”

Who do you think got the press pass? The second one, even though his blog has a smaller audience. Ask as if you expect to get it.  Confidence goes a long way.

Ask Clearly

Take the time to prepare so that you’re very clear on exactly what it is that you want.  Then express your want as plainly and as directly as possible. The clearer your request, the more likely it is that the other person will be able to meet it.

For example, don’t just tell your spouse that you need for them to help out more around the house.  Instead, tell them exactly what you need for them to do. Here’s an illustration:

“After dinner I need to get the kids ready for bed, so I would really appreciate it if you could clear the table and put the dishes in the machine.”

Come Up With a Good Strategy

Before asking, come up with a good strategy for getting what you want.  When you ask for something, you have to tell the other person what’s in it for them. As Zig Ziglar says, “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

For example, a lot of people email bloggers with a large subscriber base and ask them to link to their blog.  That’s a really bad strategy.  Why would a popular blogger link to your blog when there’s nothing in it for them?

A much better strategy is to find large blogs that accept guest posts and write a fabulous post for them (make sure to follow their guest posting guidelines).  That way, they get great content for their blog, and you get a supercharged link back to your blog.

As another example, if you’re going to ask for a raise at work, make sure that you can show your boss that you’re worth more to the company than what you’re currently being paid. Do the following:

  • Have clear examples of how you’re saving the company money;
  • Show your boss that you’re taking on responsibilities that go beyond your job description;
  • Have concrete evidence of the positive impact that you have on the corporation.

Telling your boss, “I need more money because I’ve had some unforeseen expenses”, is not going to get you a raise.

Keep the following in mind as you create your strategy for asking for what you want:

  • When and where should you approach the person you’re going to ask for what you want?
  • What’s in it for them?
  • What language should you use?
  • What steps can you take to make it more likely that you’ll get what you’re asking for?

Ask Consistently

My sister has two little boys.  One of them is three-years-old.  When the three-year-old wants something, he unabashedly asks for it.

  • If you tell him “no”, he wants to know why not.
  • If he can’t have it now, then he wants to know when he can have it.
  • If he asks for ice cream and is told that he can’t have any, then he asks for chocolate milk.
  • If he’s also refused the chocolate milk, then he moves on to orange juice.

As you can easily guess, he always walks away with something.

The same concept applies in sales.  Salespeople know that they’re probably going to be turned down several times before they make the sale.  Therefore, they listen to the customer’s concerns and then they try again by offering a different solution to the customer’s problem, or by addressing any fears they may have.

In addition, this concept applies to all areas of life. When you ask, be ready to encounter some resistance. Then, instead of backing away, deal with that resistance.

While you shouldn’t simply repeat your original request like a broken record if you’re rejected, instead of giving up, start looking for alternatives. “No” means “not now”, “not here”, “not yet”, or “you need to change your approach”. It could also mean that you’re asking the wrong person.

Modify your approach, find the right person to ask, or wait for the right moment. But keep asking.

How to Get Over the Fear of Asking for What You Want

As was stated earlier on in this post, one of the reasons that people don’t ask for what they want is because of fear.

Maybe you want to ask your boss for a raise, turn a work colleague into a friend, or ask a couple of friends to look over your business opportunity.  First, you have to be willing to be a little afraid. You don’t have to give in to the fear, but you have to be willing to feel it.

Then, instead of saying, “I’m afraid to do these things”, Canfield recommends that you come up with a statement that reflects how you’re scaring yourself.  Your statement could look like the following:

  • “I want to ask my boss for a raise, and I scare myself by imagining that he’ll say ‘No’ or that he’ll get mad at me for asking.”
  • “I want to ask my friends to look over my business opportunity, and I scare myself by imagining that they’ll think that I’m only after their money.”

Acknowledge that you are creating your fear, and you’ll start to triumph over it.

A second approach to getting over the fear of asking for what you want is one suggested by Marcia Martin–one of the original pioneers of the Human Potential Movement.  She says the following:

“What I point out to people is that it’s silly to be afraid that you’re not going to get what you want if you ask. Because you are already not getting what you want. They always laugh about that because they realize it’s so true. Without asking you already have failed, you already have nothing. What are you afraid of? You’re afraid of getting what you already have! It’s ridiculous! Who cares if you don’t get it when you ask for it, because, before you ask for it, you don’t have it anyway. So there’s really nothing to be afraid of.”

If you ask, you might get a “yes”. But if you don’t ask, you’ll always get a “no”. To get what you want, you have to have the guts to ask for it.

The Other Side of the Coin: Giving

As you start asking others for what you want, remember that the flip side of getting is giving.

  • If you’re going to ask someone for help, why not lend a hand to someone who approaches you asking for advice?
  • If you want to ask your spouse to acknowledge all of the work that you do around the house, why not acknowledge them for going out to work each day so that you can stay home with the kids?
  • If you’re going to ask others for what you need in order to accomplish your goals, why not share your resources with others so that they can achieve their goals?

Just as others have things you want, you have things others want. If someone asks for something reasonable that you can give them, and they follow the guidelines above, why not give it to them?

An Exercise to Help You Start Flexing Your “Asking Muscles”

Get started asking for what you want right away. Just download the exercise I created for you below.

 

Conclusion

I used to be scared of asking for things. But I’m not anymore. When I want something, I ask for it. Sometimes I get a “no”, but most of the time I’m given what I ask for. I attribute my high success rate to the fact that I follow the process I laid out above.

Here are three things I’m going to ask you for:

1. If you haven’t subscribed to my blog, do so now and you’ll be notified every time I publish an article with great tips on how to live your best life.

2. Get The One-Hour-A-Day Formula: How to Achieve Your Dreams in Just One-Hour-A-Day and move your most important goal forward in just one-hour-a-day.

3. If procrastination is the bane of your existence (as it used to be bane of mine), get Make It Happen! A Workbook For Overcoming Procrastination and Getting the Right Things Done and conquer procrastination once and for all.

Live your best life by learning how to ask for what you want.

 

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skills to learn this holiday season

Make your holiday season more festive and joyful by learning these five skills.

I love learning new things, and I know that most of my readers do as well. Therefore, in this post I’m going to recommend five skills you can learn in just a few hours to make this holiday season merrier and brighter.

For each skill that I recommend that you learn, I’m also going to link to a course that you can take to learn it. These courses are all on Udemy–one of the world’s largest online learning platforms.

As an added incentive to learn these skills now, Udemy is having a sale through Cyber Monday. If you act fast, you can have these courses for $9.99 each. That’s five new skills under your belt for under 50 bucks.

You’ll find the five courses which I recommend you take this holiday season below.

5 Skills to Learn For the Holidays

1. Learn to Sing

onehouradayformula banner longSinging is something we can all do—albeit, some better than others—and it’s an activity that will make you happier. When you sing, your body releases the feel-good hormone endorphin. In addition, it releases oxytocin, which helps relieve stress and anxiety.

The holidays are a great time to learn to sing since there are so many opportunities to try out your new-found skill: there’s a frenzy of gatherings during the month of December, and songs are ubiquitous in all of them.

I, for one, celebrate Christmas, and I love Christmas carols. I already enrolled in Singing Simplified #1: The Fast-Track to Singing Like a Pro. I’m looking forward to applying what I learn in this course at my next family gathering.

2. Learn How to Take Beautiful Photographs

There are so many opportunities to take beautiful photos during the holiday season. Here are just some examples:

  • Photograph a winter landscape covered in new-fallen snow.
  • Gather your family and friends together at a holiday event and take their picture.
  • Cook a beautiful, delicious holiday meal and photograph it before digging in.
  • Go look at the holiday store window displays and photograph the most creative ones.
  • Do a great job decorating your home for the holidays and take a picture (share it on social media).

Unfortunately, taking good photos is a lot more difficult than simply pulling out your camera; pointing at the object, person, or scene you want to photograph; and shooting.

But the good news is that there are plenty of great photography lessons out there which will teach you the basics of photography quickly, so you can start taking photos you can be proud of this December (and in the year to come).

Here’s the one I plan to take: Photography For Beginners Complete Guide: Master Photography.

3. Learn How to Meditate

The holidays can be a stressful time—with all the cooking, gift buying, and decorating involved—but it doesn’t have to be. This year set the intention of  having a peaceful holiday season.

As I write in my blog post on 10 Ways to Have a Peaceful Christmas, try starting each morning with five minutes of quiet. It’s even better if you use those five minutes to meditate. If you don’t know how to meditate, you can learn to do so now.

Here’s a course on Udemy that looks promising for those who want to learn how to meditate: Meditation Made Easy – The Step by Step Guide.

4. Learn How to Cook A Holiday Meal

If you don’t know how to cook, hopefully you’ve been invited to have your holiday meal with someone who does. But if this isn’t the case, try cooking your holiday meal yourself. How? By taking the course Thanksgiving Dinner in One Hour: Turkey, Sides, & Dessert.

I realize that Thanksgiving was on the Thursday that just went by, but the dishes that they teach you to make in this course would make a delicious Christmas meal as well. Here’s what you’ll learn to cook if you decide to take this course:

  • Turkey
  • Turkey Stuffing
  • Gravy
  • Whipped potatoes
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Green beans
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Pumpkin bread pudding

I’m thinking of calling my sister and asking her if she wants to try making this with me.

5. Learn How to Create An Alter Ego

This may sound like a strange choice but hear me out. Last year I gave myself the challenge of creating a Udemy course. The course I created is called How to Create a Powerful Alter Ego (and why you should).

Why would this be a good course to take for the holidays? Because you can use an alter ego to help you deal with the stresses and hassles of the holiday season. Here are some ideas:

  • Your alter ego can be more assertive than you are and help you to say “no” to all those holiday requests that you simply don’t have the time and energy for (or that you simply don’t want to do).
  • You can choose to create an alter ego that is more outgoing than you are. That way, you can have a better time at the office holiday party and maybe even do some networking.
  • If you’re not feeling particularly cheerful this holiday season, your alter ego can have a positive, cheerful, fun-loving, playful personality.

There are countless ways you can use alter egos to make this holiday season the best one yet.

Conclusion

Learning the skills above will make your holiday season more joyous, festive, and fun. Which courses do you plan to take? Live your best life by learning new skills.

Now, pardon me. I’m off to practice my breathing exercises so I can start belting out Christmas carols. 🙂

 

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gratitude questions

Count your daily blessings and they will multiply.

Every year at this time I publish a post about gratitude. I’ve shared with you gratitude exercises, gratitude quotes, and even prompts so that you can come up with a master list of 100 things you’re grateful for.

After all, the purpose of this blog is to help you to become the best version of yourself, which includes increasing your feelings of happiness and well-being. And one of the best ways to feel happier and better about yourself–and your life–is through the miraculous power of gratitude.

You’ve probably heard a thousand times that in order to enjoy the many benefits of gratitude, you should keep a gratitude journal. Then, every night, use your journal to jot down at least three things you’re grateful for on that day. Today’s post is going to help you with this.

Below you’ll find a list of 55 gratitude questions you can quickly scan through each night to help trigger your memory, so you can come up with three items to write down in your gratitude journal. Think of them as questions that will help you to count your daily blessings.

Here they are:

55 Gratitude Questions

onehouradayformula banner long1. What was the best part of the day?

2. When did I feel grateful today?

3. What made me smile today?

4. What made me laugh out loud today?

5. Who helped me today?

6. Who was kind to me today?

7. What insight did I gain today?

8. What did I learn today?

9. How am I better today than I was yesterday?

10. What did I read or listen to today that added value to my life?

11. How did technology make my life easier today?

12. What activity did I most enjoy today?

13. What was the most delicious thing I ate today?

14. What did I enjoy listening to today?

15. What made me think, “That smells good!” today?

16. What was pleasant to the touch today?

17. What beauty did I see today?

18. What was one small victory I had today?

19. What simple pleasure did I enjoy today?

20. What act of kindness did I witness today?

gratitude questions

21. What did I create today?

22. What skills did I use today?

23. What strengths did I apply today?

24. What weakness was I able to keep in check today?

25. How was I able to help others today?

26. How did I move an important goal forward today?

27. How was my body an ally today?

28. Who was I happy to meet with, chat with, or run into today?

29. What compliment did I receive today?

30. How did I feel appreciated today?

31. Who showed me affection today?

32. What positive emotions did I experience today?

33. What negative thoughts, beliefs, or emotions was I able to release today?

34. What opportunity presented itself today?

35. What obstacle did I overcome today?

36. What problem was I able to resolve today?

37. What negative was I able to turn into a positive today?

38. What’s the silver lining to something that went wrong today?

39. What made me feel hopeful today?

40. How did I show gumption today?


41. How was I awesome today?

42. What positive habits did I engage in today?

43. What negative habits was I able to avoid today?

44. When did I feel love today?

45. When was I at peace today?

46. What did I do today that was fun?

47. What was something playful I did today?

48. How did I show myself compassion today?

49. What positive things did I notice about my surroundings today?

50. What made me appreciate my city, state (province), or country today?

51. When did I feel a sense of abundance today?

52. How did I feel connected to others today?

53. What is one positive thing I can say about today’s weather?

54. What made me feel energized today?

55. What made me happy to be alive today?

Conclusion

I hope you found the questions above helpful, and that they encourage you to start keeping a gratitude journal (or give you some inspiration for the gratitude journal you’re already keeping). Live your best life by counting your daily blessings.

I put together a PDF which contains the 55 gratitude questions above. Print it out and tuck it into your gratitude journal for easy reference.

 

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10 commandments of success

By observing certain rules, or commandments, anyone can achieve success in life.

We all want to succeed. I’m sure the following is true for you, as it’s true for me:

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  • You yearn to fulfill your full potential.
  • You want tomorrow to be better than today.
  • You want to be the best version of yourself.
  • You want to have a fulfilling and meaningful life.
  • At the end of your life you want to be able to say, “I succeeded” (however you define success).

While there are no guarantees in life, there are guiding principles you can follow to greatly improve your odds of succeeding. I’ve identified what I consider to be the 10 rules which should be strictly followed in order to succeed. And, of course, I’m going to share with them with you.

Below you’ll find the 10 commandments for success in life.

1. Thou Shalt Know What You Want

A person who doesn’t know what they want is like a ship lost at sea, drifting aimlessly, being tossed back and forth by the waves, and being blown here and there by every wind. This shouldn’t be you.

Instead, you need to identify what it is you want, so that there’s a specific port you’re headed to. Knowing where you want to go gives your life a guiding or motivating purpose. It also allows you to marshal your resources efficiently and effectively so that you can arrive at your chosen destination.

The following was taken from The Business of Life (1916) by Frank Crane:

“Take a day off, a few hours at least, examine yourself, look carefully over all the objects which you think would make you happy if you gained them, and select the thing most worth while.

There must be some one goal which, more than all others, you desire to reach. Find out what it is, what the one thing is which is worth sacrificing all else for, and go after it.

Only so can you give unity, purpose, and continuity to your existence. The wretched are the aimless.”

The first of the 10 commandments of success is to know what you want.

2. Thou Shalt Be Proactive

Being proactive means that you take responsibility for yourself and your life. It means that you stop playing the role of victim, and feeling captive to the actions of others and life’s circumstances.

A proactive person is self-reliant. They hold a strong belief that they have the ability to create the outcomes that they want in life. Once a proactive person knows what they want, they start looking for ways to make it happen.

3. Thou Shalt Create a Plan

Once you know where you’re going, and you’ve taken responsibility for getting there, you need to create an action plan. That is, you have to plot out your route.

Look at the following:

  • Having a life plan allows you to plan what you will do each year.
  • Planning your year will allow you to plan each of the twelve months of the year.
  • When you plan your month, you’ll be able to plan each week.
  • Planning each week will allow you to plan your days.
  • Having a plan for the day will allow you to plan the use of your hours.

Having a plan is vital for success.

4. Thou Shalt Be Action-Oriented

It’s not enough to have a plan. You have to work your plan. That is, you have to act. Every day take some step, however small, in the direction of your dreams. Do the following:

  • Stop waiting for everything to be “just right”. Accept that the planets will never align, and that the best time to get started is now.
  • Beware of analysis paralysis. Doing research is good, but getting stuck in the research stage is bad.
  • Choose an action you can take which you believe will allow you to achieve the things you want, and go for it.
  • Once you’ve acted, analyze the results you got, modify your approach accordingly, and then try again.

Keep moving in the direction you want to go, one step at a time. And remember: even if you take two steps forward and one step back, you’re still moving in the right direction. Act!

5. Thou Shalt Control Your Thoughts

Keep your thoughts in check. What you’re thinking will determine how you feel. How you feel, in turn, will create your attitude. Then, your attitude will determine your outcome.

In addition, keep your thoughts focused on what you want, and on how you’re going to get it. The moment you notice that your attention has wavered from the things you want, use your willpower to bring it back.

Continuously do the following:

  • Become aware of what you’re thinking.
  • Ask yourself if what you’re thinking is helping you to feel how you want to feel, and to get to where you want to go.
  • If not, choose a better thought.

If you have trouble controlling your thoughts, you can get started with a 7-day mental detox.

10 commandments of success

6. Thou Shalt Care for Your Health

In order to succeed you need to have a healthy mind in a healthy body. After all, your health impacts every other aspect of your life. The 6th commandment of success is to make sure that you take good care of yourself emotionally, physically, and mentally.

7. Thou Shalt Budget Your Time and Money

Your time and your money are two of your most precious resources. Therefore, you should never spend them hap-hazardly. Instead, do the following:

  • Budget your money so that you’ll be able to pay for what you need, and for the things you want most.
  • Budget your time so that you can achieve the things which are most important to you.

Having a time and a money budget will help you to get what you want in life. That is, it will help you to succeed.

8. Thou Shalt Be a Life-Long Learner

Whatever it is that you want to achieve, there are certain skills or knowledge that you’ll need to achieve it. That’s where life-long learning comes in.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the necessary skills and knowledge right now. What matters is that you start taking action to learn those skills and to acquire that knowledge.

9. Thou Shalt Adopt Good Habits

A foundation of good habits will allow you to put on automatic pilot the actions that you need to take to be healthy, use your time and money wisely, and acquire the skills and knowledge that you’ll need to be able to get what you want in life.

Some examples of positive habits that will help you to succeed include the following:

  • Exercise.
  • Meditate.
  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Plan your day the night before.
  • Do the most important things first each day.
  • Each Sunday, review your week.
  • Wake up early.
  • Set aside time each day to learn new things.
  • Take breaks.

Good habits are important for success because most of what we do is a habit.

10. Thou Shalt Follow Through

In order to succeed you need to have the grit and the gumption to keep going until you get to your chosen destination, regardless of how many obstacles and detours you come across along the way.

Look at the following:

  • If you fall, get back up.
  • If you make a mistake, learn from it, modify your approach, and try again.
  • If you feel discouraged, and your enthusiasm and motivation are waning, look for ways to refuel.
  • If you’re tired, rest. Then, get back up and continue on your journey.
  • If you need to go slower, slow down. But don’t stop.

If you want to succeed, you have to be able to follow through.

Conclusion

The guidelines above are the ones that I follow in my quest to live my best life. That is, to succeed. Do you agree that these are the guidelines for success? If so, how do you plan to apply them in your own life?

Live your best life by following the 10 commandments for success in life explained above.

 

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time log

Make better use of your time by keeping a time log.

Here’s a question you’ve probably asked yourself many times: “Where did the time go?” If this sounds like you, I’ve got a tool you can use to start keeping track of your time, so you can always answer this question. It’s the good old time log.

A time log can be used for all of the following:

onehouradayformula banner long
  • Determine how you’re spending your time.
  • Identify time wasters.
  • Become better at estimating how long a task will take you to complete.
  • Identify how you’re procrastinating.
  • Make better use of your leisure time so you can start setting aside an hour a day to achieve your dreams.
  • Come up with strategies to make better use of your time.
  • Measure the results of your efforts to become more productive.

Below you’ll discover how to keep a time log.

How to Keep a Time Log

Here’s the 8-step process you’re going to follow in order to start keeping a time log:

Time Tracking Period

1. Choose a Tracking Period. Decide for how long you’re going to keep a time log. The general consensus is that–in order to get an accurate picture of how you’re spending your time–you should track your time for 30 days.

That being said, you’ll probably get input you can use to start improving the use of your time from Day One.

Time Tracking Tool

2. Choose a Time Tracking Tool. You can choose to keep track of your time in analog–using paper and pen–, or digitally. If you choose to go analog, you can do any of the following:

  • Create a form on a sheet of paper for the purposes of tracking time (I’ve created one which you can download at the end of this post).
  • Use index cards.
  • Use a notebook, such as a bullet journal.

If you choose to go the digital route, here are three tools you can use:

  • Clockify. Clockify is a free time tracking software. When you start a new activity, type the the name of the activity and start the timer. When you’re done with the activity, stop the timer. The entry will get added to your time sheet.
  • SlimTimer. SlimTimer is another free web application for tracking your time.
  • Excel. If you already know how to use Excel, you can simply create an Excel spreadsheet and use it to track your time.

Time Tracking Methodology

3. Keep your time log with you at all times and record activities in real time. Don’t wait until the end of the day to try and reconstruct from memory what you were doing each hour of the day.

4. Record the time at which you start an activity, and the time at which you stop. Then jot down the total duration of the activity (how much time you spent on it). Notice that just by writing down what you’re doing this raises your awareness of how you’re spending your time.

5. The more details you write down, the more effective your time log will be. For example, don’t just write down “working”. Be more specific by writing down things such as the following:

  • Answering emails from customers;
  • Working on Project X;
  • Meeting with my boss;
  • Preparing for Monday’s presentation;
  • Helping a colleague learn to use the new software; and so on.

6. Create Categories and Sub-Categories. Get a good overview of how you’re spending your time by creating categories and sub-categories. Categories can include things such as the following:

  • Health and Wellness
  • Work
  • Family
  • Social (Friends and Community)
  • Home Maintenance
  • Transportation

Then, break down each category into as many sub-categories as you need. For example, the Health and Wellness category can be broken down into the following sub-categories:

  • Exercise
  • Spiritual Nourishment
  • Morning Ritual
  • Night Ritual
  • Reading
  • Napping

In this way you can see the percentage of time that goes into each of your life categories and subcategories. This can help you determine which categories are taking up too much of your time, and which are being neglected.

Come up with the categories and subcateogies you’ll be using, and a symbol for each (e.g.: “W” for work, “M” for marketing, and so on).

7. Write down how you feel as you perform each task –happy, in the flow, resentful, stressed, guilty, bored, anxious, overwhelmed, high energy, low energy, distracted, and so on.

This step is optional, but as long as you’re tracking how much time you’re spending on different tasks, you might as well track how working on each task makes you feel.

8. Also, have a “Notes” section to keep track of things like the following:

  • This took longer than expected because. . . (I wasn’t focusing; people kept interrupting me; I couldn’t find the tools I needed; and so on).
  • This took less time than expected because. . .
  • This wasn’t on my to-do list but I devoted time to it because. . .
  • I could have made better use of my time by. . .

You can also include in your “notes” section whether the activity was a high, medium, or low impact activity.

Sample Time Log

Your time log should look something like the following:

time log

Analyze Your Time Log

Once you’ve kept a time log for the amount of time you identified in step one of the process above, analyze the results. Ask yourself the following:

  • Am I spending my time on the right things?
  • Am I spending most of my time on low, medium, or high impact activities?
  • What’s working well?
  • What activities do I want to stop doing? Are there any tasks I can eliminate? Can I delegate or pay someone else to do the tasks I don’t enjoy doing or low impact tasks that need to get done?
  • How am I wasting time?
  • Where is there room for improvement?

Use your answers to these questions to come up with a strategy for making better use of your time.

Next Steps

Once you’ve analyzed how you’re using your time and you’ve come up with a strategy for making better use of it, implement your strategy. Then, track your time again to see if your strategy is working.

Ask yourself questions like the following:

  • Are you making better use of your time?
  • Are you happy with the amount of time that you’re spending in each of the time categories you came up with?
  • Do you have a good work-life balance?
  • Do you need to make more improvements?

Keep doing this–tracking your time, coming up with a strategy for improvement, implementing the strategy, and analyzing your results–until you’re happy with the way you’re spending your time.

Conclusion

If you track your time, the next time you’re wondering where all your time went, you can simply take a look at your time log and know the answer. Live your best life by keeping a time log.

And now, as promised, here’s a time log you can download:

 

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morning motivation

Start your day right with 10 minutes of morning motivation.

Getting your mornings right will go a long way toward making you a happier, more productive, and more successful person. A great morning routine usually consists of a few stretches, some journaling, a good breakfast, and five minutes of meditation.

However, I recommend that you add something else to your mornings: motivation that will spill over into the rest of your day. That’s where the videos I’m going to share with you in this post come in.

onehouradayformula banner longMost people have little time to spare in the morning, but you can listen to these videos while you do other things, such as the following:

  • While you get dressed;
  • As you apply make-up;
  • While you prepare your breakfast; or
  • During your commute.

I watched a lot of morning motivation videos on YouTube and selected the very best ones to share with you (yes, I spoil you). Here’s a 10 minute morning motivation video for each day of the week:

Monday Morning Motivation

The video for your Monday morning motivation is by Earl Nightingale, a popular American radio host and motivational speaker from the 20th century. The video is almost 14 minutes long, but if you listen to it at 1.25x the normal speed you can comfortably get through it in 10 minutes.

The theme of this video is having the right attitude. In it, Nightingale explains that your attitude is the one thing that is most responsible for the results you get in life. In addition, your attitude is 100% under your control.

Here are a couple of quotes from the video:

“We shape our own lives. and the shapes of them will be determined by our own attitudes.” – Earl Nightingale

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter their life by altering their attitudes of mind.” – William James

Start your day with a positive attitude by watching this video:

Tuesday Morning Motivation

In Tuesday’s morning motivaton video, famous people–such as Oprah and Penelope Cruz–offer words of encouragement. Here’s some of the inspirational advice you’ll find in this video:

  • Fill yourself up: always keep your cup full.
  • If someone has treated you badly, move on. Don’t allow them to continue dragging you down.
  • You can overcome the difficult times you’ve been through.
  • Save yourself. No one’s coming to save you.

Here are ten minutes of inspirational advice for you:

Wednesday Morning Motivation

Wednesday’s morning motivation video is a reminder that you have to be happy first, and then good things will follow. Here’s some of the wisdom you’ll discover in this inspirational video:

  • Change the stories that you tell yourself about what has happened to you,  who you are, and how much you can accomplish.
  • Focus on what you have, instead of focusing on what you don’t have. Be grateful!
  • If you don’t see yourself as valuable, no one else will.
  • You will attract into your life what you are, not what you want.

This is a beautiful video:

Thursday Morning Motivation

For Thrusday’s morning motivation, I’ve chosen a video by Tony Robbins. He explains that he primes himself every morning in order to feel good throughout the day. By listening to this video, you’ll be priming yourself to have a great day.

Here it is:

Friday Morning Motivation

The morning motivation video for Friday will encourage you to retrain your mind. Here are some gems from Friday’s video:

  • Your mind is designed to stop you from doing anything that might hurt you. It wants to keep you safe at all costs. But in order to be a great entrepreneur, athelete, artist, parent, or anything else, you have to step outside of your comfort zone and risk getting hurt.
  • It’s your job to push yourself.
  • The people who succeed aren’t necessarily the smartest. It’s the ones who procrastinate less, make fewer excuses, and take action toward their dreams every day.

Here’s the video:

Saturday Morning Motivation

The Saturday morning motivation video is a little New Agey, but it’s very inspiring. Here are some of the things you’ll be hearing in this video:

  • Don’t waste time arguing for your limitations.
  • You are a magnet that draws what you are toward you. If you’re negative, you will draw negative things toward you. And if you’re positive, you will draw positive things toward you.
  • Change your thoughts and your beliefs, and you can change your life.

Here you go:

Sunday Morning Motivation

In Sunday’s morning motivation video, the emphasis is on the importance of the words “I am”, and what follows those two words. Look at the following:

  • If you make a mistake, do you tell yourself: “I’m a failure”, or “I’m a work in progress”?
  • Stop using the power of “I am” against you.
  • Here’s the good news: you get to decide what follows the “I am”.

Watch the video:

Conclusion

I know what I’ll be listening to in the mornings as I get dressed. How about you? Live your best life by increasing your morning motivation. Spend 10 minutes each morning watching and/or listening to these videos.

 

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100 day decluttering challenge

Use the last 100 days of the year to declutter.

There’s something about a looming deadline that really pushes you to get things done, wouldn’t you agree? The deadline I’m referring to here is the end of the year. Yes, folks: there are 100 days left of 2018.

Longtime readers know that I like to come up with a post encouraging people–including myself–to use the last 100 days of the year productively. Well, this year, I’m going to encourage all of us to declutter, with a 100 day decluttering challenge.

onehouradayformula banner longAfter all, decluttering is one of those small things that can produce great results. By decluttering you’ll do all of the following:

  • Bring order and harmony to your surroundings.
  • Save time looking for things, cleaning and organizing items, and simply looking around in bafflement wondering how on earth you accumulated so much stuff.
  • Discard all the things that are keeping you stuck in the past.
  • Make room for new and better things to enter your life.

The 100 day decluttering challenge consists of the following: I’ve broken down the items that you usually find in a home into 100 different categories. Each day from now–September 23rd–to December 31st, you’ll be decluttering a different category.

Are you ready for the challenge? On your mark, get set, go! (There’s a free download at the end of the post you can print out.)

Declutter Your Home Office

  • September 23 – Pens, Pencils, and Pencil Sharpeners
  • September 24 – Highlighters, Markers, and Colored Pencils
  • September 25 – Scissors, Tape Rolls (Clear, Masking Tape, etc.), and Tape Dispensers
  • September 26 – Glue Sticks, Rubber Bands, Krazy Glue, and Gorilla Glue
  • September 27 – Staplers, Staples, Hole Punchers, and Fasteners (Base and Prongs)
  • September 28 – Sticky Notes, Sticky Flags and Tabs, Sticky Notes Pop-Up Dispensers
  • September 29 – Mailing Envelopes, Catalog Envelopes, Coin and Small Parts Envelopes
  • September 30 – Labels, Stamps, and Rubber Stamps
  • October 1 – Printer Paper and Ink Cartridges
  • October 2 – Manila File Folders, Hanging Folders, Folder Tabs, and Accordion Files
  • October 3 – Binders and Dividers
  • October 4 – Calendars and Planners
  • October 5 – Bulletin Board/White Board and Supplies (Tacks, Markers, Erasers)
  • October 6 – Notepads and Notebooks
  • October 7 – Stationery, Greeting Cards, and Thank You Notes
  • October 8 – Bullet Journal Supplies
  • October 9 – Organizers – Pen Cups, Letter Tray, Drawer Organizers, and So On
  • October 10 – Small Equipment – Scanner, Label Maker, USB Drives, External Hard Drive
100 day decluttering challenge

Declutter Books and Magazines

  • October 11 – Magazines, Catalogs, and Newspapers
  • October 12 – Cookbooks, Food Books, Wine Books
  • October 13 – Reference and Textbooks
  • October 14 – Kids’ Books
  • October 15 – Novels
  • October 16 – Nonfiction Books
  • October 17 – Comic Books
  • October 18 – Phone Books
  • October 19 – Coffee Table Books (Books You Use as Décor)

Declutter Clothing

  • October 20 – Adult T-Shirts and Tank Tops
  • October 21 – Adult Long-Sleeved Shirts, Dress Shirts, and Blouses
  • October 22 – Adult Sweaters, Jackets, and Coats
  • October 23 – Adult Shorts, Sweat Pants, Yoga Pants, and Other Workout Clothes
  • October 24 – Adult Jeans, Dress Pants, and Skirts
  • October 25 – Adult Dresses and Formal Wear
  • October 26 – Adult Socks, Underwear, and Any Other Underclothing
  • October 27 – Adult Robes, Pajamas, and Slippers
  • October 28 – Adult Belts, Hats, Purses, Ties, Gloves, Scarves, and Other Accessories
  • October 29 – Adult Shoes and Boots
  • October 30 – Adult Jewelry
  • October 31 – Adult Sports Equipment (Tennis Rackets, Softball Gear, Roller Blades, etc.)
  • November 1 – Adult Miscellaneous (Swimsuits, Halloween Costumes, and So On)
  • November 2 – Luggage, Duffel Bags, Backpacks, and Sports Bags
  • November 3 – Kid T-Shirts and Tank Tops
  • November 4 – Kid Long-Sleeved Shirts, Dress Shirts, and Blouses
  • November 5 – Kid Sweaters, Jackets, and Coats
  • November 6 – Kid Shorts, Sweat Pants, and Other Sports Clothes
  • November 7 – Kid Jeans, Dress Pants, and Skirts
  • November 8 – Kid Dresses and Formal Wear
  • November 9 – Kid Socks, Underwear, and Any Other Underclothing
  • November 10 – Kid Robes, Slippers, and Pajamas
  • November 11 – Kid Belts, Hats, Purses, Gloves, Scarves, and Other Accessories
  • November 12 – Kid Shoes and Boots
  • November 13 – Kid Jewelry
  • November 14 – Kids Sports Equipment (Tennis Rackets, Softball Gear, Roller Blades, etc.)
  • November 15 – Kid Miscellaneous (Swimwear, Halloween Costumes, Uniforms, and So On)
100 day decluttering challenge

Declutter the Bathroom

  • November 16 – Medicine and First Aid Supplies (Band-Aids, Dressings, and Antiseptic)
  • November 17 – Toiletries – Skincare and Shaving Products
  • November 18 – Soaps (including hand soap), Body Washes, and Body Creams
  • November 19 – Feminine Hygiene Products
  • November 20 – Oral Hygiene Products (Toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, and so on)
  • November 21 – Hair Products: Brushes, Combs, Styling Tools, Hair Clips, Rollers, etc.
  • November 22 – Make-Up and Brushes
  • November 23 – Towels and Wash Towels
  • November 24 – Perfume and Colognes
  • November 25 – Toilet Paper, Cotton Swabs, Cotton Balls, and So On
  • November 26 – Tweezers, Clippers, and Other Manicure Supplies
  • November 27 – Bathroom Organizers – Shower Caddy, Trays, Wire Baskets, and So On
  • November 28 – Miscellaneous (loofah, body brush, bubble bath, shower cap, and so on)
There's 100 days left of 2018! Use them wisely. I'm taking a 100 day decluttering challenge. You can, too.Click To Tweet

Declutter the Kitchen

  • November 29 – Cookware: Pots, Pans, Skillets, Dutch Oven, Pressure Cooker, and So On
  • November 30 – Knives (Chef’s, Paring, Boning, Carving, Etc.) and Cutting Boards
  • December 1 – Bakeware: Pans, Cookie Sheets, Pie Plate, Muffin Tins, and So On
  • December 2 – Baking Equipment: Rolling Pin, Wire Rack, Mixing Bowls, Cookie Cutters, Whisk, and So On
  • December 3 – Cooking Equipment: Measuring cups, Measuring Spoons, Graters, Peelers, Wooden Spoons, Colanders, Kitchen Shears, Spatulas, Tongs, Etc.
  • December 4 – Small Appliances: Toaster, Blender, Food Processor, Slow Cooker, Waffle Maker, Can Opener, Kitchen Scale, Electric Hand Mixer, and So On
  • December 5 – Cutlery, Silverware, and Flatware
  • December 6 – Drinking Glasses, Wine Glasses, Cups, Mugs, and Other Drinkware
  • December 7 – Serving Dishes, Plates (Dessert, Salad, Service Plate) and Bowls
  • December 8 – Storage Containers: Canisters, Mason Jars, Tupperware, and So On
  • December 9 – Miscellaneous – Water Pitcher, Aprons, Oven Mitts, Potholders, Teakettle, and so on.
100 day decluttering challenge

Declutter Paper

  • December 10 – Clippings Saved to Read Later
  • December 11 – Materials from Courses or Seminars You’ve Taken
  • December 12 – Warranties and Manuals
  • December 13 – Insurance Policies
  • December 14 – Credit Card Statements
  • December 15 – Business Cards
  • December 16 – Letters and Greeting Cards
  • December 17 – Receipts
  • December 18 – Tax-Related Documents
  • December 19 – Medical Records
  • December 20 – Kids’ Art Work and School Papers
  • December 21 – Miscellaneous Papers

Declutter Electronics

  • December 22 – Music Players, CDs, and DVDs
  • December 23 – Computers and Accessories
  • December 24 – Phones and Accessories
  • December 25 – Tablets and Accessories
  • December 26 – Cameras and Accessories
  • December 27 – Video Game Consoles, Video Games, and Accessories
  • December 28 – Miscellaneous – Adapters, Headphones, Cords, Power Strips

Declutter the Linen Closet

  • December 29 – Sheets, Pillow Cases, Quilts, Duvets, and Blankets
  • December 30 – Table Linens and Napkins
  • December 31 – Miscellaneous – Other Things You Store In Your Linen Closet

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passion project

Enrich your life with a passion project.

A passion project is an activity or enterprise that you decide to take on—usually in your spare time–in order to gain some benefit for yourself.  That is, it’s a challenge that you willingly embrace because you hope to gain something from it.

The list of benefits that you can gain from starting a passion project is long, and in this blog post I’m going to share 14 of them with you. To give you a heads up, these benefits include things such as having more fun, increasing your zest for life, and making a contribution to the world. Here we go.

14 Reasons to Start a Passion Project

We’re all busy, so if we’re going to add something else to our to do list, it really needs to be worth it. Am I right? (I can see all of you nodding your heads in agreement.) Well, here are 14 reasons why starting a passion project is most definitely worthy of your time, energy, and other resources:

1. To Increase Your Happiness

onehouradayformula banner longShawn Achor, PhD,  is a positive psychologist and author of The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life. He explains in his book that one way to increase your happiness is to increase your sense of control over your life.

Nonetheless, you may be currently going through a period of your life in which you feel you have little control over your daily activities. You can regain a feeling of control by starting a passion project.

After all, a passion project is something that you decide to do.  It’s not a school assignment, or something your parents or a boss told you to do. It’s something that you’re doing just because you want to. You’re 100% in charge.

Look at the following:

  • You decide what the project will be.
  • It’s up to you to set a goal (or goals) for your passion project.
  • You decide how big or how small the scope of your project will be.
  • The standards are set by you.
  • All deadlines are up to you.
  • You create the plan you’re going to execute in order to complete your passion project.
  • It’s up to you to determine whether you want to work on your passion project alone, or if you’re going to ask other people to join you.
  • You decide when your passion project is done.
  • It’s up to you to determine what success looks like for your passion project.

You’re in control of your passion project. And when you feel that you’re in control, you’re happier.

2. To Have Fun

Niklas Göke writes in his article on starting a passion project, one day at a time, that passion projects start with a simple statement:

“That sounds like fun.”

Even if you hope to make money from your passion project at some point, at first the financial possibilities of a passion project should be secondary. The first consideration should always be having fun.

Here at Daring to Live Fully I write often about the importance of having more fun. Now I have something else to add to my ongoing list of ways to have more fun: starting a passion project.

3. To Add Creativity to Your Life

A passion project could simply be about indulging your need to create. I love this quote by Kurt Vonnegut:

“Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

passion project

Give yourself permission to do something creative as your passion project. Draw, play an instrument, dance. . . it doesn’t matter if you do it badly. Just allow yourself to create.

4. To Add Entries to Your Portfolio

What if you want a job in tech–or a similar area– but you’re self-taught and haven’t landed any paying gigs yet? It’s very difficult to get a job if you don’t have a degree and previous work experience to show prospective employers. Nonetheless, all is not lost.

You can create a passion project that will allow you to add an entry to your portfolio. As an illustration, you can design a mock-up of a web site for your ideal client. Then, show prospective clients the mock-up (be upfront about the fact that it’s a mock-up and not something that you got paid for).

You can even create a whole branding package.

Likewise, if you’re an aspiring photographer you create a passion project that involves taking photos of all the lighthouses, abandoned buildings, or ice cream parlors in your town. Then, add the photographs to your portfolio.

You can do something similar for any creative medium. Build your portfolio through passion projects.

5. To Make Your Life More Meaningful

A while ago I wrote a blog post on the importance of having not just a happy life, but also a meaningful life. Right now you may feel that your life isn’t as meaningful as you would like for it to be. Your job pays the bills, but you’re not really doing anything that makes you feel as if you’re making a valuable contribution to the world.

If so, you can make your life more meaningful by starting a passion project. How do you want to make a difference in the world? Here are some ideas:

  • Start a weekend workshop to help girls become more confident.
  • Put up a free library for your community.
  • Start a blog in which you teach others how to do something you’re good at.

And, who knows: your passion project may even become your legacy.

6. To Add Passion to Your Life

Here are some synonyms of the word “passion”: enthusiasm, motivation, and inspiration. Having a passion project can add all of these to your life. It will also do all of the following for you:

  • Foster your well-being by doing something that lights you up.
  • Give you a reason to jump out of bed each morning.
  • It will make you feel good about yourself.
  • It will nourish your spirit.

In addition, this passion, enthusiasm, motivation, and inspiration will spill over to other areas of your life. Having a passion project will add zest to your life.

A passion project can add fun, meaning, and zest to your life.Click To Tweet

7. To Apply Your Strengths and/or Talents.

Ideally, your primary occupation should allow you to apply your strengths and/or talents. However, this isn’t always the case. If you feel that you’re not currently getting the opportunity to showcase your strengths, you can do so through a passion project.

Pick something that you’re exceptionally good at—such as public speaking, visual thinking, or social intelligence—and come up with a passion project that will allow you to use those strengths.

8. To Create Your Own Opportunities

Instead of sitting there passively waiting for opportunity to knock on your door, get out there and create your own opportunity through a passion project. Look at the following:

  • If you want to get into the cooking business—become a personal chef, own a restaurant, teach others to cook, and so on—start a pop-up restaurant in your home that serves dinner on Sundays.
  • Suppose you want to be a mystery writer–write a mystery novel and publish it as a Kindle book on Amazon.
  • Do you want to be a singer? Upload a video to YouTube of you singing every week for a year.

Ask yourself: how can I create my own opportunity? Then, turn that into a passion project.

9. To Learn New Skills

It’s difficult to learn a new skill in a vacuum. It’s much easier to learn a skill if you give yourself a project to work on. As an illustration, suppose you want to learn to draw. Ask yourself what project you could give yourself to make learning this skill more practical.

Here’s an example:

  • If you want to learn to draw, create your own coloring book. Coloring books are all the rage these days — they help you unwind, de-stress, reconnect with your inner child, bladdy-bladdy-blah. Instead of buying a coloring book, ask yourself what you want to color. Then draw it, and color it! I’m doing this, by the way.

10. Set Out On A New Career Path

Perhaps you’ve been telling yourself that you’re ready to try a different career path. But you’re not sure which path to pick. That’s where the passion project comes in.

Make a list of all the careers you’ve been wondering about. Then, for each of them, create a project that will allow you to sample what it would like to be in that career.

11. Become More Interesting (and More Awesome)

As I explain in my post on how to be more interesting, interesting people have interesting things going on in their lives. If there’s nothing interesting going on in your life at the moment—we’ve all been there—make your life more interesting with a passion project.

Look at the following conversation:

  • Friend: “So, what’s going on in your life?”
  • You: “Not much. Same old, same old.”

Let’s face it, from the conversation above, you sound boring.

Now look at this conversation:

  • Friend: “Hey, what’s new?”
  • You: “I’m making scented soaps at night and selling them at the farmer’s market on Saturdays.”

Now you sound interesting (and awesome).

12. To Make Money

You don’t have to set a goal of making money from your passion project, but you most definitely can. In fact, you can choose to go from passion project, to side gig, to full-time.

If your passion project is going to make you money, you need to think like a business person:

  • Create a business plan.
  • Decide who your target market will be.
  • How will you brand yourself?
  • How will you find customers?
  • What’s your marketing plan?
  • What will you charge?
  • Do you need financing?

Imagine making money by doing something you’re passionate about. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? A passion project can get you there.

13. As a 30-Day Challenge

I love giving myself 30-day challenges. You don’t have to devote a lot of time to them and, in just 30 days, you have something concrete to show for your efforts. A passion project can be a simple 30-day challenge.

As an illustration, Kasey Mahoney is a designer who wanted to help his nephew learn the alphabet. He challenged himself to draw a letter a day until the project was complete. It allowed him to combine his love of illustration and design, and help his nephew learn.

14. As a 365 Project

Your passion project can also take on the shape of a 365 Project. A 365 project is usually started at the beginning of a new year (but it doesn’t have to). It consists of achieving a goal by taking a small step toward the achievement of said goal every day for a year.

As an illustration, Brian E. Denton decided that he was going to blog about a chapter of Tolstoy’s masterpiece, War and Peace, every day for a year (the book has roughly 365 chapters). Then he took the end result and turned it into an eBook.

Now he can say that he’s written an eBook about his favorite book of all time. I’m not sure if he called it a passion project, but it certainly looks like a passion project to me.

Quick Overview of How to Start a Passion Project

Here’s a quick overview of the steps you need to take in order to start a passion project:

1. Decide On The Benefits – Which of the 14 benefits above do you want to derive from your passion project? List them.

2. Brainstorm Passion Project Ideas. Set a timer for 15 minutes and brainstorm all the possible passion project ideas you can come up with which would allow you to get the benefits you listed in Step 1 above.

3. Commit to One Passion Project. Take a look at all of the ideas that you came up with during your brainstorming session and commit to one.

4. Set a Goal. Notice the word “project” in the term “passion project”. A project has a goal that you want to achieve. Start by setting a small goal. Then, when you achieve it, you can set another, bigger goal.

5. Make Time for Your Passion Project. If you selected the right passion project, and you set a goal that excites you, coming up with the time to work on your passion project should be a lot more doable than you probably think that it is right now.

The best strategy I’ve found for making the time to work on my passion projects is to set aside one-hour-a-day. I recommend you do the same.

6. Create Accountability. One of the best ways to create accountability for your passion project is to start a blog which you use to document your journey. Then, share your blog posts on social media.

Having a community cheering you on to complete your passion project is a great way to make yourself accountable.

7. Just Start. There will never be a perfect time to begin your passion project, and there are no steps you can take to make sure that you will not make mistakes as you go along. So just start.

You’ll probably want to begin by doing research. That’s a good idea. However, make sure that you don’t get stuck at the research stage. Begin implementing what you learn during the research stage as fast as you can.

Conclusion

I hope I’ve convinced you to consider the idea of starting a passion project. Starting one has the potential to change your life. Live your best life by starting a passion project.

 

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