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quick self-confidence

An extra dose of self-confidence can go a long way.

Building self-confidence takes time. You can’t change your belief system; increase your feelings of self-efficacy; become fully aware of your true value; and gain new skills and knowledge overnight.

Everyone who feels that they need more self-confidence should create a self-development plan for increasing their self-confidence over time.

However, there are times in life when you need a jolt of confidence, and you need it right away. Here are some examples:

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  • You have to give an important presentation at work.
  • You have a job interview.
  • You’re going to attend a meeting at which you’re expected to contribute ideas and suggestions.
  • You’re going out on a date with someone you really like.
  • You’re making a sales pitch to a prospective client.
  • You’re going to the bank to ask for a business loan.
  • You’re going to compete in a sporting event.
  • You’re going to have lunch with your boss to negotiate a raise.

Of course, for all these examples the more you prepare and practice ahead of time, the better off you’ll be. Nonetheless, right before an important event there are things you can do to create a self-confidence boost that will help you reach your peak confidence level and perform at your best.

Below you’ll find seven science-backed ways to get a quick self-confidence boost, which just might make the difference between getting what you want or falling short of the mark.

7 Ways to Get a Quick Self-Confidence Boost

When you need to impress, give yourself an edge with these quick self-confidence boosters.

1. Strike a Power Pose.

For a quick self-confidence boost, strike a power pose.  In my post, Seven Ways Your Body Language Can Positively Influence Your Life, I refer to Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy.

In a TED Talk she gave in 2012 which has been watched over 40 million times, Cuddy explains that studies show that power poses increase confidence and make you feel more powerful. Here’s what to do:

  • Stand up straight;
  • Push your shoulders back;
  • Widen your stance;
  • Hold your head high; and
  • Raise your arms up in a “V” shape.

Instead of raising your arms you can also stand akimbo–with your hands on your hips and your elbows turned outward–like Wonder Woman does.

Take a moment to hold the power pose for one or two minutes before an important event in order to increase your self-confidence and make a powerful impression when you walk in through the door.

In addition, if the event requires standing, make sure that you stand tall. If the event requires sitting, make sure that you sit up straight.

2. Listen to Heavy Bass.

When you want to feel empowered, listen to empowering music. A study led by Adam Galinsky and Dennis Y. Hsu from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University shows that bass-heavy music can make you feel more confident.

Study participants were divided into two groups. Researchers played music with high-levels of bass for half the participants, while the other half listened to low-bass music. While they listened to the music, both groups were administered a series of tests involving filling in the blanks and rolling dice.

Researchers found that the group that listened to the high-bass music was more likely to fill in the blanks with power-related words. They also preferred to take charge of the dice rolling instead of letting someone else do it. Even after the music stopped, the high-bass music participants continued to act in a more powerful and authoritative way than the other students.

These were the most powerful songs from the study:

  1. “We Will Rock You” by Queen
  2. “Get Ready for This” by 2 Unlimited
  3. “In Da Club” by 50 Cent

Have your high-bass music ready for when you need some quick self-confidence.

3. Dress for Success.

You’ve probably heard the adage, “dress for success”. It turns out that there are studies that suggest that what you wear can have a direct effect on how secure and powerful you feel.

Researchers from the Kellogg School of Management–which was mentioned above–found that clothes can have symbolic meaning for people, which impacts how you feel. Here are two examples:

  • When research subjects wore a scientist’s or medical doctor’s white coat, they made half as many mistakes on a test requiring care and attentiveness than those who wore street clothes.
  • If you associate suits and ties with power and confidence, it’s going to have a huge impact on how powerful and confident you feel when you wear those articles of clothing.

Ask yourself the following: “What clothes do I associate with power and confidence?” When you want a quick self-confidence boost, make sure to wear those clothes.

4. Spritz on Some Perfume or Cologne.

According to science, wearing fragrance can make you more confident. Here’s what two studies found:

  • A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Sciences found that men who used cologne exhibited an increase in both self-confidence and self-perceived attractiveness.
  • In another study, 90% of all women tested as part of a fragrance study reported feeling more confident when they wore fragrance than when they did not.

The bottom line here is the following: find a fragrance you love the smell of, and wear it whenever you want to bring your A-game. It will be your very own quick self-confidence boosting fragrance.

5. Think Powerful Thoughts.

When you need some confidence in a jiffy, think of a time when you acted in a powerful way.

According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, channeling a moment when you were genuinely captivating can make you feel–and, therefore, act–more confidently. For those times when you need to do your best, power-prime yourself with thoughts of previous successes.

Looking at your resume may also do the trick. When you need to feel good about yourself at a moment’s notice, University of Chicago psychology professor Sian Beilock recommends that you remind yourself of how talented you are by looking at your credentials and accomplishments.

6. Charm  It!

Basketball superstar Michael Jordan wore his North Carolina shorts underneath his Chicago Bulls shorts in every game. They were his lucky shorts. It turns out that those shorts may have helped him with his winning game.

Research has found that lucky charms actually work. In a 2010 study, researchers from the University of Cologne found that the “activation of a superstition” can result in performance-enhancing effects. Here’s what they did:

  • They told half the golfers on a putting green that they were playing with a lucky ball.
  • They told the other half that their ball was normal.

Those with the lucky ball sank 6.4 putts out of 10, nearly two more putts on average than the others.

Thinking that you’re using or carrying an object that is “lucky” will positively affect your performance. What’s your lucky charm? A special necklace? A pebble you found when you were six years-old? The watch your grandfather gave you when you graduated from high school?

Whatever it is, make sure you carry it with you when you need some extra confidence.

7. Follow a Ritual.

Rituals–even simple ones–can be extremely effective in boosting performance and reducing anxiety. Recent research from Harvard professors Michael Norton and Francesca Gino shows that rituals have the power to make you more confident. Here’s Gino:

“What we find is that if you engage in a ritual prior to a potentially high-anxiety task, like singing in public or solving difficult math problems, you end up being calmer by the time you approach the task and more confident in what you’re about to do. As a result of that, you actually perform better.”

Following a “power ritual” when you need a quick confidence boost can increase your ability to perform well in a stressful situation. It can be something short and sweet, like drinking a cup of coffee while you read some positive affirmations to yourself, and then taking a few calming breaths.

Conclusion

We could all use some extra confidence now and then. Fortunately, science has found ways to give ourselves a quick confidence boost right before an important event. Live your best life by being ready to increase your self-confidence on-the-spot with the tips and tricks explained above.

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self-awareness

Self-awareness is the first step to self improvement.

Self-awareness is knowing what makes you tick. It’s understanding your own needs and desires, knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are, and being able to accurately assess your emotions. People who are self-aware know who they are at their core.

The way in which researchers determine whether babies and animals are self-aware is by putting a red dot on their forehead while they’re asleep or under anesthesia. They then place the animal or baby next to a mirror.  The researchers then wait to see what happens when the subject that they’re studying wakes up and looks in the mirror.

If they touch the dot on their forehead—instead of touching the dot on the face in the mirror—then it’s determined that they’re self-aware. This is because the action of touching the dot on their face suggests that they understand that they’re looking at an image of themselves.

Clearly, you would instantly recognize yourself if you were to look in a mirror. But how well do you really know the person who’s reflected back to you? For instance, could you answer all the following:

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  • How does this person think?
  • What does this person find meaningful?
  • What is this person passionate about?
  • What are their interests? What do they love to do?
  • What are their beliefs (both empowering beliefs and limiting beliefs)?
  • What are their values?
  • What were they put on this earth to do?
  • What emotions do they feel most of the time?
  • What are they feeling right now?
  • Why do they behave the way they do?
  • Who are they underneath the socially constructed self that they’ve created in order to fit it?
  • What impression do they create on others?

Chances are, you can’t answer most of these questions. After all, most people can’t. If you would like to become more self-aware, a great way to do this is by completing self-awareness exercises.

Below you’ll find 12 self-awareness exercises to help you to get to know yourself better.

1. Apply Feedback Analysis.

The Jesuits are a religious order of men within the Catholic Church. I wrote about the founder of this order– St. Ignatius of Loyola–in my post, What A 16th Century Priest Can Teach You About Self-Improvement.

Whenever a Jesuit makes an important decision, he writes down how he reached his decision, and what he expects will happen. Then, nine months later, he compares the actual results to what he had anticipated. This method allows the Jesuit to do the following:

  • Notice what worked and what didn’t.
  • Evaluate his decision making process.
  • Notice any flaws in his cause-and-effect analysis and in how he’s reaching his conclusions.
  • Apply the feedback and make better decisions in the future.
  • The feedback analysis can also highlight  competencies that the Jesuit need to develop further.

Warren Buffet also applies feedback analysis. According to the Harvard Business Review, when Warren Buffet makes an investment decision he carefully articulates the reasons why he’s making the investment. His journal entries serve as a historical record that helps him assess the accuracy of his investment decisions.

You can start applying feedback analysis in your own life in order to become more aware of how you’re making decisions, and how you can improve your decision making process. Start codifying your rational and motivations whenever you make an important decision, and then–about nine months later–reflect and assess the outcomes.

Increase your self-awareness by applying feedback analysis in your life.

2. Take Psychometric Tests.

Psychometric tests can help measure a person’s skills, numerical or verbal aptitude, or their personality type. Although the results of these tests shouldn’t be taken as gospel, they are a good way to start learning more about yourself and increase your self-awareness.

Here are three (free) psychometric tests you can get started with:

  • The Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment – a science-based assessment that provides an accurate depiction, or pattern, of your core drives, and therefore insight into your needs and behaviors.
  • The 16 Personalities Test – like the classic Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), your answers determine where you fall on four spectrums: extroverted/introverted, sensing/intuitive, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving.
  • The Entrepreneurial Aptitude Test – this test helps you determine if you have what it takes to start a business.

3. Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses.

One of the most important things you need to know about yourself is what your strengths are, and what your weaknesses are. This will allow you to focus on the first, and manage around the second.

Take a moment right now and write down the answer to the following question: “What are your strengths?” If you have trouble answering this question, you can find out by taking a strengths test. One option is the VIA Character Strengths Survey (free), or the StrengthsFinder test (not free).

In terms of your weaknesses, here are three tips for identifying the areas that need shoring up:

  • Ask yourself which tasks you keep avoiding.
  • Think back to your failures. Is there a common pattern to those failures? What weakness are those failures pointing to?
  • Think back to every evaluation you’ve received, whether at school or work. Is there something that people keep telling you that you need to work on?

4. Ask People You Trust for Feedback.

When I was a kid in school, a popular prank was to tape a note to another student’s back. The trick was to do it subtlety so that the other kid didn’t notice that something was being taped to their back. The note usually said something like, “I’m stupid” or “Kick me”.

The joke was that the kid didn’t know that they had a note stuck to their back, but everyone else did. Our personalities are a little bit like this. We all have a blind spot: things about ourselves that we can’t see, but others can.

In addition, you can never be sure of how you’re coming across to others until you ask them. Therefore, if you want to become more self-aware, ask a few people you trust for feedback on your personality. Ask for both positive and negative feedback, as well as for any advise they may have on how you can improve.

5. Listen to Your Self-Talk.

Think of your thoughts as a river that you’re swimming in. Every once in a while, climb out of the river and sit on the river bank. Then, observe the river. Listen to it.

Write down what you hear the river saying. Try to copy what you hear word for word. If you do this two or three times a day for a few days, you’ll be creating a record of what your self-talk really sounds like. Then, read through your notes and you’ll become more aware of what you say to yourself all day long.

6. Keep Morning Pages.

If you want to become more self-aware, add Morning Pages to your morning routine. Morning Pages is an exercise introduced by Julia Cameron in her book, “The Artist’s Way” .

It involves three pages of long-hand stream-of-consciousness writing which is done first thing in the morning. For fifteen to twenty minutes, you simply write about whatever is on your mind.

As an added bonus, the psychological benefits of externalising thoughts via journalling are well-established. By keeping Morning Pages you’ll get to know yourself better, and give your immune system a boost.

7. Label Your Emotions.

Part of being self-aware is understanding your emotions. How do you feel right now? How many emotions have you felt in the last 24 hours? What is the most prevalent emotion in your life at the moment?

A lot of people have a very limited vocabulary when it comes to expressing what emotions they’re feeling, and this limits their ability to be fully aware of, and to fully comprehend, what they’re feeling.

If you get better at labeling your emotions, not only will you lead an emotionally richer life, but you’ll also be able to respond more appropriately to what’s happening around you.

One way to get better at labeling your emotions is by becoming familiar with the Plutchik Wheel of Emotions.

self-awareness

8. Have a Life Vision and Mission.

Are you just surviving, or are you living on purpose and working to create the kind of life that you want? People without self-awareness usually fall into the first group, while self-aware people fall into the second. A great way to start living your life on purpose is to create a vision and a mission statement.

A vision statement answers questions like the following:

  • What will your legacy be?
  • What will your life look like 20, 15, 10, and 5 years from now?
  • What’s your North Star? What are you working to achieve over the long term?

A mission statement answers the following questions:

  • What do I do?
  • Who do I do it for?
  • How do I do it?

Increase your self-awareness by creating a life vision and a mission statement.

9. Create a Personal Manifesto.

In my post, How to Write a Personal Manifesto, I define “personal manifesto” as follows:

“A personal manifesto is a declaration of your core values and beliefs, what you stand for, and how you intend to live your life.”

Become aware of–or identify– your core values and beliefs, and then describe how you intend to live in a way that honors those values and those beliefs. That’s your personal manifesto.

10. Fill Out Self-Exploration Questionnaires.

One way to become more self-aware is to ask yourself questions about yourself. You can get started with the Proust Questionnaire which will help you to uncover your life outlook and give you some insights into your inner workings. In addition, here are four more questionnaires you can try:

11. Question Your Automatic Thoughts.

Oftentimes, our automatic thoughts are negative and irrational. People who lack self-awareness will often accept these thoughts as true, which distorts their perception of reality.

A self-aware person, on the other hand, is aware of the cognitive distortions that they have a tendency to fall prey to. This allows them to dispute irrational thoughts and replace them with better thoughts which more accurately reflect reality.

As an illustration, here are three cognitive distortions to watch out for:

  • All-Or-Nothing Thinking: Seeing things in black-and-white. If your performance falls short of perfection, you see yourself as a total failure.
  • Mental Filter: You pick out a single negative defeat and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of reality becomes distorted.
  • Disqualifying the Positive: You dismiss positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other.

Here’s a list of 20 cognitive distortions you can refer to in order to become aware of your irrational thoughts.

12. Create a Bucket List.

What on earth does a bucket list have to do with self-awareness? Simple! Creating a bucket list can help you to identify what you want to be, do, experience, and have in life. And knowing all that will make you more self-aware.

Bonus: Take your bucket list and turn it into long-term, mid-term, and short-term goals.

Conclusion

People who are self-aware really know themselves. They know who they are, what they want, and why they act as they do. This allows them to intentionally create the life that is best suited for them. Live your best life by increasing your self-awareness.

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alter ego

An alter ego is a second-self created by the individual–usually to live out a better version of the self.

In comic books, Bruce Wayne runs his business during the day, and Peter Parker works as a photographer for the Daily Bugle. However, they each have a crime-fighting alter-ego who makes an appearance when needed. Wayne has Batman and Parker has Spider-man.

Pop artists are also known for their alter-egos. After all, apart from their talent, they’re just regular people. But when they’re on stage they need to appear to be larger than life. Many times, they do this by creating elaborate personas for themselves. Here are two examples:

  • British singer and songwriter David Bowie had several alter egos, but the most famous was Ziggy Stardust—a humanoid alien. Ziggy allowed Bowie to distance himself from the boy from Beckenham and become fearless.
  • A few years back, American singer and songwriter Beyoncé Knowles created an alter ego which she named Sasha Fierce. She described Sasha as being fun, sensual, glamorous, and aggressive. Beyoncé let Sasha out when she was on stage. This alter ego protected Beyoncé’s self-identify as someone who was reserved and very ladylike.

onehouradayformula banner longThere are many more examples of people—both real and imaginary—who have famous alter egos. But if you’re not a pop star, and you’ve never been bitten by a radioactive spider, why would you want an alter ego? The answer is that having an alter ego can help you in many ways.

Here are some of the benefits of having an alter ego:

  • It can help you to step out of your comfort zone.
  • Having an alter ego can be very empowering.
  • You can channel your genius through your alter ego.
  • An alter ego can give you some distance from yourself.
  • Having an alter ego can make life more fun.

First we’ll take a look at these benefits one by one, and then you’ll discover how to create your alter ego.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

I encourage people to step out of their comfort zone on this blog all the time. Nonetheless, I know that it can be scary to leave the safety of what you know and step out into the unknown. After all, every time that you’re about to try something new, the little voice in your head—also known as your ego—begins with its whining:

  • What are you doing? Stop! Why would you take any risks?
  • What if you look stupid?
  • What will people think?
  • What if people laugh at you?
  • Who do you think you are? You’re not brave/smart/strong enough to do that!

That’s when an alter ego can come to the rescue. Your alter ego can be a way for you to step out of your comfort zone. It can come to the rescue when you’re facing a new challenge which fills you with doubt or fear. Look at the following:

  • The ego says: “That’s too scary. I better not do that.” The alter-ego says: “That sounds exciting! When can I get started?”
  • The ego says: “But what will they say?”. The alter-ego says: “Don’t those people have anything better to do than gossip about others? Let them think what they want. Their opinions aren’t going to get in the way of my living my best life.”
  • The ego says: “What if I fail?” The alter-ego says: “If I fail, at least I’ll know I gave it a shot.”

By switching from your ego to your alter-ego, you’ll be switching characters. You’ll have a window of opportunity during which you can be brave and let go of your hang-ups. Use that window of opportunity to push against your comfort zone and try something new.

Your Alter-Ego Can Empower You

Your alter-ego isn’t somebody else—it’s you. But it’s a part of you that you don’t normally allow yourself access to.

Maybe as a kid you were told that girls shouldn’t be so aggressive. Or maybe you were told that boys who took too many risks always got into trouble. Therefore, you buried those aspects of yourself so deep, you forgot they were there. But they are still there.

Look at the following quote by life coach and author Iyanla Vanzant:  “There is a force within you that is ruthless, fearless, and powerful. And you have every right to tap into that force and use it to your own advantage.”

A well thought out alter ego can help you bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. It can allow you to step out of the box that you’ve created for yourself and do something that’s totally out of character for you.

Your alter ego can help you get out of your own way. It can show you who you could be.

Channel Your Genius

In “Becoming A Writer”, Dorothea Brande—an American author, lecturer and magazine editor–writes the following:

“But there is no scandal and no danger in recognizing that you have more than one side to your character. The journals and letters of men of genius are full of admissions of their sense of being dual or multiple in their nature: there is always the workaday man who walks, and the genius who flies. The idea of the alter ego, the other self, or higher self, recurs wherever genius becomes conscious of its own processes, and we have testimony for it in age after age.”

As I explain in “The One-Hour-A-Day Formula”, during the day you can be an average, ordinary person: you go to a job that pays the bills, clean up around the house, and cook dinner. However, for one hour a day—in the morning before anyone else has woken up, or at night after they’ve all gone to bed—you perform your Sacred Dance.

  • You play a musical instrument.
  • You work on your novel.
  • You learn to code so that you can build that app you can’t stop thinking about.
  • You dance.
  • You paint.
  • You do whatever it is that you were put on this earth to do.

During that hour, you allow your alter ego to take over, and you channel your genius.

Create Distance from Yourself

Jane McGonigal, PhD, explains in her book SuperBetter: The Power of Living Gamefully that alter egos can help give us distance from ourselves. This can help us deal better with the past, the present, and the future.

In terms of the past, McGonigal explains that if you’re dealing with painful memories or traumatic experiences, you’ll experience less stress and anxiety if you tell yourself that they happened to somebody else. That is, tell yourself that they happened to your alter-ego.

This will allow you to work through the issues that arise because of the traumatic event without being overwhelmed by negative emotions.

When it comes to the present, McGonigal informs us that distancing helps willpower. As an illustration, suppose that you’re trying to cut back on pastries. Then you see a bakery while you’re running errands, and you’re tempted to go in and get yourself a donut. Do the following:

  • Don’t ask, “Do I want a donut?”
  • Instead, ask: “Does my alter ego want a donut?”

This works because when you think of yourself in the first person you’re more likely to get caught up in your momentary feelings and cravings.

But when you think of your alter ego you’re more likely to make good decisions on their behalf. The self-distance that you create when you think in terms of what your alter ego should do allows you to focus on the bigger picture and on your long-term goals.

Lastly, when it comes to the future, you’ll be more willing to take on challenges if you think of your alter ego taking on the challenge, instead of yourself. After all, it won’t be you having to face obstacles and risking failure. It will be your alter ego.

Make Life More Fun

Steve Kamb is the owner of the blog Nerd Fitness and author of Level Up Your Life: How to Unlock Adventure and Happiness by Becoming the Hero of Your Own Story. He explains that he loves video games and was inspired by them to gamify his life. That is, to take game elements and apply them to non-game contexts, such as exercise.

In video games, players have avatars, and avatars are basically alter egos. Therefore, as part of his gamification strategy, Kamb created a superhero alter ego.

As an example of how he would use his alter ego to make life more fun, Kamb would “turn into” his alter ego when it was time to go to the gym. Then, it wasn’t Steve going to the gym to exercise and cross one more chore off his to-do list.

Instead, it was his alter ego creating a superhero body so that he would have the strength and stamina necessary to complete missions and go on epic quests. Here’s Steve:

“By day, I’m Steve Kamb, a full-time blogger and all-around goofball who smiles way too much and spends too much time at his computer.  Every afternoon though, I transform into the rebel version of myself: a Vibram-wearing, ripped t-shirt-uniformed machine of a rebel that will exercise anywhere and everywhere in a city.  I wear a permanent scowl on my face. . .”

A good reason to create an alter ego is to make life more fun.

How to Create Your Alter Ego

There are six steps you can follow in order to create an alter ego. These steps are the following:

1. Determine Why You Want an Alter Ego.

What do you hope to achieve by creating an alter ego? Do you want to be more outgoing, confident, or unique? Do you want to create a persona that will get you more blog readers or YouTube subscribers? Do you need someone to stand up for you? Give your alter ego a task, purpose, or mission.

2. Figure Out Your Alter Ego’s Personality.

What kind of person does your alter ego need to be in order to achieve the goal for which it was created? How do they think? What’s their mindset? What are their thinking models? Your alter ego’s personality could even be a reflection of your ideal self—the personality that you would like to have.

3. Create a Distinct Image.

Maybe you’re a jeans and t-shirt kind of person, but your alter ego is high fashion all the way. Or maybe your alter ego only wears black, or favors hooded sweatshirts.

Does your alter ego have any mannerisms? How do they walk? What does their voice sound like? How does she wear her hair? Does he wear hats? The more details you can provide for your alter ego, the easier it will be for you to inhabit their character.

4. Pick a Name.

Try to come up with a name that is significant for you and has meaning. You can base it on the name of someone you admire, or the name of your favorite superhero. In addition, you can simply add an adjective to your name (like “the Great”), or use your own name spelled backwards.

5. Adopt a Mantra or a Call to Action.

A call to action can help you invoke your alter ego when they’re needed. In the 1970’s there was a TV show called “The Secrets of Isis”. In the series, the Egyptian goddess Isis is the alter ego of Andrea Thomas, a seemingly normal schoolteacher.

When facing a crisis, Andrea would transform into Isis by exposing an amulet –which she found during an archaeological dig– to the sun, and saying “Oh mighty Isis”. You can call on your alter ego with a similar phrase.

6. Act Like They Would Act.

You’re not just creating an alter ego to escape into a Walter Mitty fantasy world. Instead, you’re creating an alter ego to help you act in a way that will allow you to achieve your goals. Once you’ve created your alter ego, you need to ask yourself how they would act when it comes to achieving the goal that you created them for. Then, proceed to act in that way.

Conclusion

Can you see all the possibilities that will become available to you if you create an alter ego? Live your best life by creating an alter ego.

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self-efficacy

Self-Efficacy is your belief that you’ll be able to accomplish a specific task.

Albert Bandura is widely regarded as one of the most influential psychologists of all time. One of the things he’s best known for is his theory of self-efficacy. Bandura defines self-efficacy as follows:

“[T]he belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations.”

That definition is a bit convoluted, but it can be summed up as the following quote by Henry Ford:

Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, youre right.”

Your self-efficacy will determine all of the following:

  • How motivated you are to take on a task.
  • The amount of effort that you’re willing to put into the achievement of a task.
  • For how long you’ll persist in the face of adversity.
  • Whether you’ll ultimately succeed at achieving the task.

After all, if you don’t believe you can do something, how likely are you to try? Not likely at all. And if you do try, how much effort will you be willing to exert? How likely are you to keep trying when you come across an obstacle or suffer a setback? You know the answers to these last two questions:

  • You won’t put much effort into it.
  • You’ll give up at the first sign of trouble.

onehouradayformula banner longThe opposite is also true. If you believe that you can do something you’ll be eager to get started, you’ll put in a lot of effort, and it’s highly likely that you’ll persist until you succeed.

Keep in mind that self-efficacy is task and situation-specific. As an illustration, you may have high levels of self-efficacy when it comes to solving math problems; medium levels of self-efficacy when it comes to giving presentations at work; and low levels of self-efficacy when it comes to doing anything athletic.

So, what can you do if you’ve set goals for yourself in an area of your life in which you have low self-efficacy? The answer is simple: you need to work on increasing your self-efficacy. You’ll discover how, below.

How to Increase Your Self-Efficacy

Bandura sets forth that you develop your self-efficacy beliefs based on how you interpret input that you receive from four sources:

  1. Mastery
  2. Modeling
  3. Persuasion
  4. Physiological Factors

This means that if you want to increase your self-efficacy in any area, you need to find a way to work with these four sources. These sources are discussed in the sections that follow.

1st Source of Self-Efficacy – Mastery

The first source of self-efficacy is mastery. If you’ve done well performing a certain type of task in the past, you’re likely to have a strong belief that you can accomplish that type of task again in the future.

In order to increase this source of self-efficacy, do the following:

  • Remember your past successes. Ideally, you’ll have past successes with goals that are similar to the goal that you’re currently working on. However, just remembering how you achieved something that you at first thought was difficult can be helpful.
  • Set goals that have an element of challenge in them but that are also realistic and attainable.
  • If you’ve failed at a certain type of task in the past, when it comes time to working on that sort of task again, set smaller goals for yourself and work your way up slowly, making sure to recognize even small successes.
  • As you work on your goal keep reminding yourself that having some stumbles and setbacks along the way is normal.

2nd Source of Self-Efficacy – Modeling

The second source of self-efficacy is the vicarious experience of observing others perform the task that you want to succeed at. You’re influenced by what you observe others doing.

The caveat here is that—to believe that “if they can do it, I can do it” –you need to perceive that the people whom you see succeeding in achieving the goal that you’re after are similar to you.

Ideally, you’ll be able to find role models—people who have succeeded with the goal that you’re currently pursuing—within your circle of friends or acquaintances. However, you don’t have to know someone—or even be near them—to model them. You can model people by watching them on YouTube, or by reading about their accomplishments on the internet.

The idea is to find someone who will make you think the following: “This person is a lot like me, and they were able to do it. Hey, I bet I can do it too!”

3rd Source of Self-Efficacy – Social Persuasion

Social persuasion is the third source of self-efficacy. What others tell you about your ability to achieve a certain task matters. Look for people who will encourage you to go after your dreams and who will cheer you on as you strive to achieve your goals.

At the same time, stay away from those who try to rain on your parade. People who try to convince you that you don’t have what it takes to achieve your goals will have a negative impact on your self-efficacy.

If you don’t currently have a supportive network, then try daily affirmations and journaling to remind yourself that you can succeed.

4th Source of Self-Efficacy – Physiological Factors

The emotional state that you’re in when it’s time to act on your goals will affect your self-efficacy. But what’s also important is what you tell yourself about you’re feeling.

As an illustration, everyone gets a little nervous when they’re about to try something new. You can interpret this nervousness in the following two ways:

  • You can interpret it as a sign of excitement at the prospect of stepping outside of your comfort zone. This excitement will encourage to keep moving forward.
  • However, if you interpret the nervousness as anxiety and fear, it’s likely that you’ll conclude that it’s best not to proceed.

Positive moods increase feelings of self-efficacy, while negative moods reduce it. Strive to put yourself in moods that will boost your self-efficacy by managing stress, and by talking yourself through any discomfort you may feel as you strive to achieve your goals.

An Illustration of Self-Efficacy

A high school coach wanted his track team to improve their running times. However, they were having a lot of trouble achieving this goal and they had grown discouraged. They started to believe that no matter how hard they tried, they wouldn’t be able to run faster than they already were.

Then, one day, the coach had an idea. During the night, he moved the finish line by a few yards.

The next day the students were surprised to discover that their running times had gotten worse (because-unbeknownst to them– the distance they were running was now longer). The coach told them: “Come on, guys! You’ve been doing better than this for weeks. What’s going on?”

Each of the team members thought to himself: “Of course I can do better this. I must be having a slow day. I’ll do better tomorrow.”

At the next practice they all pushed themselves really hard. In fact, they tried so hard that they managed to improve their time slightly from the previous day. However, they still weren’t achieving their “best time”. The coach encouraged them to try harder.

In the locker room, all of the team members were telling each other: “We can do better than that. We’ve done it before!”

After a few more practices—in which everyone was giving it their all— they improved their time even more. The coach then confessed to the students what he had done. At first, they were a little upset, but he explained that he had been trying to increase their self-efficacy and they understood that he wanted to help them.

The coach wanted his team to run even faster, so he showed the team a video of the track team from another high school nearby. The other track team was achieving the running time that the coach wanted his team’s members to achieve.

“Look at them,” the coach said. “They’re not bigger than you are, and they don’t have any advantages that you don’t have. If they can do it, so can you!”

A short time later one of the guys on the team managed to achieve the running time that the coach wanted. This inspired the others to try even harder.

The team started taking a few minutes before their runs to take deep breaths and visualize their success. By the end of that month everyone on the team was achieving the running time set by the coach.

They had succeeded in achieving the goal of improving their running times. And how did they succeed in doing this? By increasing their self-efficacy. Look at the following:

  • First, they thought that running faster was within their reach because they had done it before (they didn’t realize they were now running a longer distance because the coach had moved the finish line).
  • Second, they all encouraged each other to try harder and the coach kept telling them that they could do it.
  • Third, they saw a video of students from another high school who were just like them achieving better running times.
  • Fourth, they started putting themselves in a positive state of mind before their runs.

Increased self-efficacy goes a long way!

Conclusion

We’ve all read the children’s book “The Little Engine That Could”, in which a little engine succeeds in pulling a long train over a mountain by constantly repeating: “I think I can, I think I can”. Believe that you can achieve your goals. Live your best life by increasing your self-efficacy.

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personal kanban

Use Personal Kanban to visualize your work and double your productivity.

“Kanban” is a Japanese word which means “signboard”. It’s a method that was created by Taiichi Ohno at Toyota to improve workflow. Although it’s mainly been used for software creation and project management, it can also be used by individuals, both at home and at work.

When Kanban is used for individual work management it’s known as Personal Kanban. Here are some possible applications of Personal Kanban:

  • Writing a Novel
  • Managing Household Chores
  • Planning a Wedding
  • Creating an Online Course
  • Managing Your Small Business

Some of the benefits of using Personal Kanban include the following:

onehouradayformula banner long

  • It’s highly visual—you can see at a glance what needs to get done, what you’re working on, what your priorities are, and what you’ve accomplished.
  • It helps you avoid taking on too much at once.
  • It can be adapted to your own needs—you can begin using it and then make tweaks depending on the results that you’re getting.
  • At any moment you know exactly what task you need to be working on.

To get started with Personal Kanban all you need to do is the following:

  • Set up your Kanban Board.
  • Write down your tasks on sticky notes—one note for each task.
  • Move your sticky notes along the board as you work on and complete each task.

Personal Kanban is explained, in detail, below.

Personal Kanban In a Nutshell

The Kanban Board, or the Kanban, is where the magic happens. The simplest Kanban is a whiteboard with three columns on it. These columns are labelled as follows:

  • To Do
  • Doing
  • Done

It looks like this:

Once your whiteboard is ready, take a stack of Post-It notes and write down all of the tasks that you have pending — one task per Post-It note. On each Post-It you can include additional information such as a description of the task, when it’s due, and a few important details about the task.

Then, put the Post-Its up on the Kanban in the “To Do” column. In Kanban lingo, you populate your “To Do” column.

Organize your Post-Its so that the highest priority tasks are at the top, and the lower priority tasks are at the bottom. One option is to use different colors for each level of priority.

  • You can use red Post-It Notes for high priority tasks.
  • You can use orange Post-It Notes for medium priority tasks.
  • You can use yellow Post-It Notes for low priority tasks.

Decide which of the tasks in the “To Do” column you’re going to start working on (obviously, you should start working on the high priority tasks first). “Pull” those tasks into the “Doing” column.

Keep in mind that it’s vitally important that you establish a limit on how many tasks you can have in the “Doing” column at any one time. This is a key aspect of Kanban. The limit recommended by the authors of Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life is three.

When you’ve completed a task in the “Doing” column, pull it into the “Done” column. You can then take another task from the “To Do” column and pull it into the “Doing” column.

Notice that you can’t move backward on the Kanban board. That is, you can’t push a task back to a previous column. All you can do is pull tasks to the next column. After all, you don’t want to leave things half-done.  What you want to do is to get started on a task, and then see it through all the way to completion.


Some Modifications

As was stated at the very top of this blog post, Personal Kanban can be tailored to your specific needs. Some of the modifications you can make include the following:

  • Kanbans that are not whiteboards.
  • The number of columns that you use.
  • Additional specifications.

I explain of each of these modifications below.

Kanbans Other Than a Whiteboard

Although a lot of people use a whiteboard to create their Kanban, there are several other options. These include the following:

  • Use blue painter’s tape to create the outline of the board on a wall and then use Post-It notes for the tasks.
  • Create a virtual Kanban using websites like Trello or Kanban Flow
  • Create your Kanban in a sketchbook or notebook.

I recommend that you place your Kanban board up on the wall, whether you use painter’s tape or a whiteboard, so that you can look at your workflow simply by glancing up at the wall.

personal kanban

Additional Columns for Your Kanban Board

Although the most basic Personal Kanban board uses the three columns that have already been mentioned, you can add more columns to suit your own needs. For example, my Kanban has five columns. They are as follows:

  • Options – I conduct an “idea dump” and include all of the tasks that I have hanging around in my head in this column. I then have the option to decide which ones to work on.
  • To Do This Week– I pull the tasks from the “Options” column that I’m going to work on during the current week.
  • Doing – I pull two or three tasks from the “To Do This Week” column into the “Doing” column and get to work on them.
  • Blocked – If one of the tasks that I’m working on gets blocked for any reason—I’m waiting for a phone call, there’s something that I need to buy, and so on—I pull the task into this column.
  • Done – Once I’ve completed an item I pull it into this column.

Additional Specifications

You can also include additional requirements for your Kanban process. As an illustration, my goal is to get through everything I place in the “To Do This Week” column of the Kanban by the end of the week. In addition, I decide on a “deliverable” for each task.

Here are some examples:

  • Have a new post published on Daring to Live Fully.
  • Have created X number of videos for my course.
  • Have read and mind-mapped one book on learning how to learn.

At the end of each week I can look at the concrete deliverables that I’ve completed that week.

Conclusion

You can continuously modify your Kanban until you get the results that you want. It’s a powerful and effective tool which will allow you to double your productivity. Live your best life by getting more done with Personal Kanban.

 

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six sources of influence model

Make behavioral change 10x easier with the Six Sources of Influence Model.

It can be difficult to change your habits and behavior. This is particularly true when the behavior that you’re trying to change is long-standing. Fortunately, there are models you can use to make this easier.

One of these is the Six Sources of Influence Model. Research has found that those who used this model were 10 times more likely to produce profound behavior change.

You’ll find an explanation of the model, and how to apply it, below.

The Six Sources of Influence Model

The Six Source of Influence model consists of two columns and three rows. One column is for motivation, and the other column is for ability. The rows, in turn, represent the following:

  • The Individual — you.
  • Society — the people around you.
  • The Environment — your surroundings (nonhuman factors such as compensation systems, space, and technology).

More specifically, each of the squares of the model stands for the following:

onehouradayformula banner longThe Individual

  • 1. Personal Motivation—whether you want to do it. You increase your motivation by making things fun and enjoyable, and by making sure that the goal you’ve chosen is aligned with your values.
  • 2. Personal Ability—whether you can do it. New behaviors can be far more intellectually, physically, or emotionally challenging than they appear on the surface. Do you have the skills and the knowledge necessary to do what needs to be done? If not, can you acquire these skills and knowledge?

Society

  • 3. Social Motivation—positive or negative influence by others. Are other people encouraging the right behavior and discouraging the wrong behavior? Peer pressure is powerful, even when you’re an adult.
  • 4. Social Ability—whether other people provide help to do it. Do others provide the necessary help, information, and resources? Is there someone who can make it easier for you to acquire the new habit or behavior? Can you hire a trainer, an instructor, or a coach?

The Environment

  • 5. Structural Motivation—whether the environment encourages you to do it. Is there a reward system in place? Is there some sort of negative consequence if you don’t follow through?
  • 6. Structural Ability—whether the environment supports you doing it. Are there enough cues for you to stay on course? Does the environment enable the right behaviors or discourage the wrong behaviors?

Here’s what the model looks like:

ix Sources of Infuences Model

In the next section I’ll show you an application of the model.

Application of the Six Sources of Influence Model

Al Switzler, co-founder of Vitalsmarts, LLC, gave a TED Talk in which he explains why it’s so easy to lose weight at a weight-loss retreat or resort, but then it’s difficult to keep the weight off once you’re back at home.

The reason is that, at the retreat, the six sources of influence are working to help you. However, once you’re back at home, most of the sources of influence work against you.

At the Retreat

Here’s how a weight-loss retreat uses the six sources of influence to help ensure your success in losing weight:

  1. Personal Motivation. The fact that you’re at a weight-loss retreat is evidence of how motivated you are to lose weight.
  2. Personal Ability. During your time at the retreat you get pamphlets explaining how the food that you’ll be eating will help you to lose weight, you go to cooking classes, and you get to attend lectures by world-renown weight-loss experts giving you tips and pointers on how to prepare healthy meals.
  3.  Social Motivation. Everyone else at the retreat is also trying to lose weight, so you all encourage each other. All of the participants support each other to stay on track.
  4. Social Ability. The staff at the retreat is very knowledgeable, and they’re available at any time to help you with whatever you need. They give you feedback and they motivate you to follow the program.
  5. Structural Motivation. The retreat probably has some sort of a reward system set up to encourage the participants to eat the right foods, attend exercise classes, go for walks on the retreat grounds, forego sweets, and so on.
  6. Structural Ability. Everything at the retreat is set up to help you along your weight-loss journey. A healthy breakfast is delivered to your room each morning, the calm surroundings are conducive to focusing on wellness, there’s always a hiking expedition or an exercise class you can join, and so on.

You can clearly see why it’s almost a certainty that you’ll succeed in losing weight at the retreat.

At Home

However, here’s what usually happens to the six sources of influence once you go home:

  1. Personal Motivation. You’re still motivated to continue losing weight and to keep the weight off, so at least this source of influence is still working in your favor.
  2. Personal Ability. You may struggle to replicate the meals that you ate at the retreat. The meals probably won’t taste anywhere as good as they did when the professionals were preparing them at the retreat. In addition, some of the ingredients may be difficult to find. This source of influence is now working against you.
  3. Social Motivation. Your friends are probably going to be calling you up constantly to join them for the all-you-can-eat buffet at the club, go for drinks, or celebrate someone’s birthday with cake and ice cream. Therefore, peer pressure will be working against you.
  4. Social Ability. If you don’t have anyone around you with weight loss expertise–such as a coach or a knowledgeable friend–then this source of influence won’t be working in your favor.
  5. Structural Motivation. There’s no incentive or reward system set up to energize, excite, and motivate you to continue with your weight-loss efforts.
  6. Structural Ability. Controlling your space will become much more difficult. It’s very likely that your family members will bring all sorts of junk food into the house. Therefore, every time you open the refrigerator you’ll have to struggle with the urge to eat a brownie or have some leftover pizza.

Can you see why it’s highly likely that you’ll gain all the weight back once you’re at home? There are more influences for gaining the weight back than there are for keeping it off. That is, unless you find a way to get the six sources of influence to work for you at home.

In the next section you’ll discover how I plan to use the Six Sources of Influence Model to help me achieve my goal of losing ten pounds.

My Application of the Model

I’ve decided that during the month of May I’m going to lose 10 pounds. The way in which I’m going to do this is by changing my eating habits (I already exercise for one-hour-a-day).

Here’s how I’m going to use the Six Sources of Influence Model to help me:

  1. Personal Motivation: May is my birthday month, and I’m committed to getting the next year of my life off to a great start. In addition, I’ll be choosing meals that are delicious, so I’ll look forward to meal time. Also, the meals will be easy-to-make, so that it doesn’t take too much of my time to prepare them.
  2. Personal Ability: Although I’m not much of a cook, I ordered and received two recipe books: 100 Days of Real Food and Green Smoothies for Life. During the month of April I’ll be trying out the recipes in these books and choosing the ones that I like best. Fortunately, I already have the willpower and organizational skills that I need to succeed with this goal.
  3. Social Motivation: My sister is also trying to change her eating habits, so we’re going to be each other’s support system.
  4. Social Ability: If I find that I’m having trouble with my goal, I’m going to hire a nutritionist to help me.
  5. Structural Motivation: I’m going to create a reward system for myself and give myself a gold star for every healthy meal or snack I eat, and lose a star for every time I eat something I’m not supposed to. Once I’ve earned 100 stars I’m going to get myself a great new pair of jeans as a reward.
  6. Structural Ability: I’m going to make it easier for myself to achieve my goal by keeping my kitchen stocked with all of the ingredients that I need to make healthy, delicious meals for myself. In addition, I’m always going to have healthy snacks on hand, such as grapes, almonds, and popcorn. Finally, I’m not going to allow myself to bring any junk food into the house.

Other Applications of the Model

The Six Sources of Influence Model isn’t just for changing your own habits and behaviors.

  • You can also use it to influence the behavior of others, such as your kids, your spouse, and other people who surround you. Here’s an example of getting kids to save by using the model.
  • Organizations often use this model in order to change their employees’ behavior. Here are some insights on how leaders can get better results from their employees with the model.
  • Even social problems, such as child prostitution in Kenya, can be solved with the Six Source of Influence Model. You can see that application of the model in this TED Talk.

Conclusion

When I first came across this model, it was an Aha! moment for me. Now, whenever I’m trying to adopt a new habit or change a behavior, I take out a piece of paper, draw the model on it, and begin planning how I can use the model to help ensure my success.

Live your best life by using the Six Sources of Influence Model to change your habits and behavior.

 

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mental detox

Unclutter and detox your mind with a 7-day mental diet.

At the start of the New Year or as each season rolls around, many people follow a cleansing diet, or a detox, in order to get their bodies in tip-top shape. These diets normally limit processed, high-fat, and sugary foods, and replace them with more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes.

However, few people think of following a mental detox. In essence, your thoughts are brain food. A mental detox consists of limiting thoughts that trigger negative emotions, and substituting them with thoughts that lead to feelings of peace and joy.

I came across the idea of a mental detox in a pamphlet I found online titled “The Seven Day Mental Diet”, which was written by a spiritual leader of the 20th century named Emmet Fox. Here’s Fox:

“The way our bodies work is based upon the food we put into them. The mind is no different. . . Everything in your life today is conditioned by your habitual thinking. The way you have thought in the past has led you to where you are right now.”

The diet consists of the following: for 7 consecutive days, you’re going to carefully select your thoughts. During those seven days you will not hold on to any negative thoughts. If you’re willing to take this challenge you’ll discover what to do, below.

The Three Rules of the 7-Day Mental Detox

In order to follow the 7-day mental detox you have to follow three rules. Here they are:

First Rule. For seven consecutive days you will not dwell on any unresourceful thoughts or emotions. These include the following:

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  • Thoughts that make you feel angry or frustrated.
  • Thoughts that make you feel jealous of others.
  • Thoughts that make you feel stressed or anxious.
  • Thoughts that make you feel inferior or insecure.
  • Thoughts that make you feel sorrow or despair.
  • Negative thoughts about yourself, someone else, or the circumstances you find yourself in.
  • Thoughts that fill you with regrets about the past or fear about the future.

Here’s how Emmet Fox defines negative thinking:

“Negative thinking is when you are dwelling on failure, disappointment, or trouble; any thought of criticism, or jealousy, or spite or condemnation of others or yourself, or any thought of sickness or accident. In short, any kind of limitation or pessimistic thinking. Any thought that concerns you are anyone else that is not positive or constructive.”

Notice that the rule isn’t that you can’t have any negative thoughts, but that you’re not to dwell on them. As Emmet Fox points out, you can’t control the first thought that enters your mind. However, you can control the second one, and the ones after that.

Second Rule. When you catch yourself having negative thoughts during the 7-day period, and you will, immediately snap yourself out of it and shift your focus to something else. You can do any of the following:

  • Tell yourself, “Stop!”, to interrupt the cycle.
  • Accept that you’re having negative thoughts, and then allow them to drift through your awareness like clouds drifting through the sky. Simply allow the negative thoughts to float by without placing your attention on them.
  • Distract yourself by doing something else. You can read, exercise, get to work on a mentally challenging task, call an upbeat friend, turn on some music and sing along, and so on.
  • Change your perspective. Ask yourself: “Is this really true?” and  “Is there another way to see or interpret this?”
  • Shift into problem-solving mode.  If your negative thoughts are warning you that there’s something wrong, or that there’s a problem that needs to be addressed, shift your focus to looking for a solution to the problem.
  • Keep in mind that, due to the negativity bias, your brain is always on the alert for anything that could go wrong. For  every negative thing your brain calls your attention to, come up with a list of five things that are going right.

Third Rule. If you catch yourself indulging in or dwelling on unresourceful thoughts, don’t beat yourself up. Just switch your focus to more empowering thoughts immediately. However, if you find yourself ruminating on the negative thought for more than a minute, you have to start over. Wait until the next morning and start the 7-day mental detox again from Day One.

Here’s Fox:

 “As you embark on any diet, you know that your mind plays tricks on you. You crave the old food you use to partake of. This diet is no different, you will find your mind wanting to go toward the negative, wanting to say something or gossip about someone or something. Sometimes it will be exhausting to fight the urges you have to just say one thing, much like just having one taste of that delicious cake when you are on a food diet. So if you make a false start, or fall off the wagon, you must stop and start again the next day.”


Four Tips for This Challenge

Here are four tips that will help you succeed with the 7-day mental detox challenge:

1. Set Your Intention. Begin each morning by setting the intention to manage your negative thoughts throughout the day. You can set this intention by saying the following to yourself:

  • Just for today I will carefully monitor what I’m thinking.
  • Just for today I will only think thoughts that are beneficial to me.
  • Just for today I will challenge any negative thoughts I may have and replace them with more empowering thoughts.
  • Just for today if I find myself dwelling on a problem I will immediately switch my focus to looking for a solution.

2. Meditate. Meditation will allow you to separate your attention from your thoughts. Once you’re observing your thoughts, you can ask yourself questions such as the following:

  • Who is choosing these thoughts?
  • Are these thoughts true?
  • Are these thoughts serving me well?
  • Are these the thoughts I’d choose to be thinking?
  • What thoughts would fill my mind with peace and joy?

3. Use Affirmations. Say the following to yourself:

  • I can consciously choose what I think.
  • My thoughts don’t control me; I’m in control of my thoughts.
  • I can change what I’m thinking at any time.
  • I can always choose different thoughts.
  • I choose thoughts that serve me well.
  • I’m training my brain to go in a different direction when negative thoughts pop into my head.
  • I may not be able to control the first thought that enters my mind, but I can control the second.
  • I’m slowly rewiring my brain in a positive way by choosing better thoughts.

mental detox

4. Fill Your Mind With Positivity. Another great way to set yourself up for success with the 7-day mental detox is by spending one to five minutes each morning reading or watching something inspirational or motivational. This can include things like the following:

  • Reading inspirational quotes.
  • Watching a motivational YouTube video.
  • Listening to an uplifting podcast.
  • If you’re religious, reading from the Bible or other holy book.
  • Listening to an audio program by someone you admire, such as Earl Nightingale, Jim Rohn, or Wayne Dyer.

Conclusion

Are you up for the challenge of following a 7-day mental detox? If so, choose a date and get started! Live your best life by detoxing your mind.

Read Next: Ten Ways to Declutter Your Mind and Free Up Mental Space

 

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perfect day

What does your perfect day look like?

Your life is made up of years, your years are made up of months, your months are made up of weeks, and your weeks are made up of days. If you get your days right, everything else falls into place. And how do you get your days right? By planning your perfect day.

onehouradayformula banner longThe process, or exercise, you’ll be reading about in this post will allow you to proactively create or design the day you want to have, instead of just reacting to the things, people, and events around you. Planning your perfect day will do all of the following for you:

  • Make you more productive.
  • Allow you to work steadily on your career and personal goals.
  • Enable you to make better use of your time.
  • Allow you to make sure that you stay focused on your priorities.
  • Help ensure that you’re living on purpose and maximizing your days.
  • Act as a mechanism for achieving a good life-work balance.
  • Improve your mood and well-being.
  • Help you to design your perfect life.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? You’ll discover how to plan your perfect day below.

Ten Initial Questions

Before you plan your perfect day, ask yourself these ten questions:

  1. What’s the one thing that I must accomplish today for this to be a successful day? What’s my primary goal for the day? What am I committed to making happen today?
  2. What three things do I want to get done in addition to my must-do item?
  3. What will I do for my health today?
  4. How will I grow today?
  5. How will I stimulate my mind today?
  6. How will I increase my wealth today?
  7. How will I have fun/play/laugh today?
  8. Who will I spend time with today?
  9. What am I looking forward to today?
  10. How do I want to feel today, and what do I need to do to make sure that it happens?

Then, with the answers to these ten questions in mind, head on over to the next section and plan your perfect day.

Questions for Planning Your Perfect Day

Take out a pen and a piece of paper and answer the following:

In order to have a perfect day. . .

  • At what time do you wake up?
  • What’s the first thing you do after waking up?
  • What morning routine (morning success ritual) do you follow in order to feel more centered, focused, happy and powerful? Do you do some stretching or get some exercise? Do you meditate, journal, or do some yoga? Do you spend some unhurried time with your spouse and/or children?
  • What do you have for breakfast, and where do you have your breakfast? Do you have breakfast alone or with someone else?
  • What tasks do you work on during the morning hours? Where do you work on these tasks? (Keep in mind that you probably want to get started with your must-do task for the day in the morning.)
  • Do you have a mid-morning snack? If so, what is it?
  • Is there anything else you do before lunch?
  • What do you have for lunch, and where do you have your lunch? Do you eat alone? Do you eat with friends, colleagues, or potential clients? Do you go home and have lunch with your family?
  • What do you do immediately after lunch? Do you follow a short after-lunch routine to make sure your day is on track and that you’re making the best use of your time, energy, and other resources?
  • What tasks do you work on in the afternoon? Where do you work on these tasks?
  • Do you have an afternoon snack? If so, what is it?
  • What else do you do in the afternoon?
  • At what time do you end your workday?
  • How do you end your workday? Do you organize your desk, tie up loose ends, and disconnect?
  • How do you spend your evenings?
  • What do you have for dinner, and where do you have your dinner? Who do you have dinner with?
  • What do you do after dinner? Who do you spend that time with?
  • What bedtime routine do you follow to wrap up your day on a positive note, set yourself up for success the next day, and get ready for a restful night’s sleep?
  • At what time do you go to sleep?
  • What’s the last thing you think about before you drift off to sleep?

Keep in mind that even if you plan your day it’s highly unlikely that everything will go exactly as planned. However, your odds of having a good day will be much higher with a perfect day plan than if you just let things happen and allow other people to run your day.

Review Your Results

After a week of planning your perfect day, go over how things are going. Review how successful you’re being in sticking to your perfect day plan by asking yourself questions like the ones you’ll find below:

  • Are your days going as planned?
  • If not, why not? Who or what keeps getting in the way?
  • What do you need to do so that you can better adhere to your perfect day plan?

Once you’ve answered these questions make any necessary adjustments to help you improve your ability to stick to your perfect day plan.

Conclusion

How you spend your days will determine what your life will be like.  Live your best life by planning your perfect day. Then, make sure that you get to work on following your plan.

 

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goal achievement

Follow these ten steps for guaranteed goal achievement.

At the beginning of the year I encouraged my readers to set the resolution of reading Leo Tolstoy’s magnum opus, “War and Peace”. It’s one of the goals that I set for myself this year, and I’m doing very well with it. I sat down to analyze the process that I’m using to work on this goal, and I came up with a ten-step process which can be applied to any goal.

I explain the ten-step process below in case anyone out there needs some help keeping up with their goals and resolutions. I’m also going to use this analysis to modify my approach for a couple of other goals that aren’t coming along so well.

So, without further ado, below you’ll find ten steps for guaranteed goal achievement.

1. Choose a Goal That Motivates You.

onehouradayformula banner longOne of the key elements of successful goal achievement is motivation. When you set a goal, make sure that it’s important to you, and that it has value. That is, the goal must have clearly defined benefits. In addition, the goal should be relevant to your life’s bigger picture. When you set a goal make sure that you’re highly motivated to achieve that goal by doing the following:

  • Ask yourself if you feel pushed to set the goal based on the expectations of others, or if it’s something that you feel pulled to do based on your own needs, wants, and aspirations. Obviously, you want to make sure that your goal falls into the second group.
  • Ask yourself the following: “From 1 to 10, how badly do I want this goal?”
  • If you had to explain to a friend why you’re working on this particular goal, what would you say?
  • Write down all of the benefits that you expect to receive if you achieve your goal.

Lastly, ask yourself how your goal fits into your life’s bigger picture. As an illustration, reading “War and Peace” fits into my medium-range goal of reading the most important books of Russian literature. That, in turn, fits into my long-term goal of reading the 365 most important books ever written.

Once you’re sure that you’re very motivated to pursue the goal that you’ve set for yourself, move on to the second step of the process.

2. Make It Specific.

I’m sure you’ve heard the following a million times: vague goals produce vague results. If you want positive, unambiguous results, your goals have to be specific. Below you’ll see how the goal of “Read ‘War and Peace'” goes from being extremely vague, to being incredibly precise and specific:

  • I want to improve myself.
  • I want to read more.
  • I’m going to read the classics.
  • I’m going to read the classics on my list of “365 Classics to Read Before I Die”.
  • I’m going to read the Russian Classics on my list of “365 Classics to Read Before I Die”.
  • I’m going to read Leo Tolstoy’s two greatest works: “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina”.
  • I’m going to read “War and Peace”.
  • I’m going to read the Maude translation of “War and Peace”.
  • I’m going to read the Maude translation of “War and Peace” found here.
  • I’m going to read the copy of “War and Peace” I’m holding in my hand (after I had purchased and received the copy that I wanted from Amazon).

Look at your goal and ask yourself where it would fit in the above continuum in terms of specificity. Keep asking yourself, “How can I make this more specific?” until you can practically hold the goal in your hand.

3. Set a Deadline.

Deadlines are one of life’s great motivators. They’re vital for getting things done. My deadline for reading “War and Peace” is December 31st 2017. Whatever goal you’re working on, make sure it has a deadline.

If you need some additional inspiration, focus on the first four words of deadline: “dead”. Pretend that if you don’t achieve your goal by the deadline, you’ll be shot dead.

4. Set Up Milestones.

A milestone is a transition from one phase to another. When a goal is far-off in the distance, milestones act as signposts that allow you to track your progress and make sure that you’re on the right path. They also give you goals with shorter time-frames to shoot for, a reason to celebrate each time you achieve a milestone, and the motivation to keep going.

The version of “War and Peace” that I’m reading is divided into four books. Therefore, I’m using each book as a milestone. I already read Book One. Since I read Book One within the time period that I had allotted for reading it, I know that I’m on track toward the achievement of my goal.

5. Reward Yourself.

Rewards are a great incentive for getting yourself to work on your goals. Ideally, the process of achieving your goal will be the reward in of itself. In my case, I love to read. However, I also incorporate additional “fun” elements into my reading time.

Most days I’ll read at a club that I belong to — I sit next to the pool, put my feet on the grass, and have a capuccino and a papaya shake as I read.  Enjoying the process that will allow me to achieve my goal makes it much more likely that I’ll keep going until I cross the finish line at the end of the year.

In addition, I’m going to give myself a book-related reward each time I reach a milestone. When I finished reading Book One I got myself a tin of book darts which I’m using as book marks. Future rewards will include a book lover’s mug, a cushion with a literary quote on it, and a t-shirt that says:

“Yes, I’ve read War and Peace”.

6. Break the Goal Down Into Small, Achievable Steps.

One of the main reasons that people procrastinate on their goals is that they’re not sure how to proceed. In order to work toward the achievement of a goal, you have to know exactly what to do. That is, you have to break the goal down into small, achievable steps.

In the case of my goal of reading “War and Peace”, I broke it down as follows: Read one chapter of “War and Peace”—each of which is approximately 4 pages long—every day.

Any goal can be broken down into small steps. If you’re not sure how to proceed, do some research and develop a plan. Look at the following:

  • If your goal is to write a novel, write a page every day.
  • If your goal is to run a 5K, find a plan like Couch to 5k and follow along.
  • If your goal is to learn French, purchase a program with a good reputation–such as Assimil–and complete one lesson each day.
  • If your goal is to learn to code, choose a language to learn–such as C, Ruby, or Python–, find a great online course that teaches that language, and complete a lesson a day.

Once you’ve broken down your goal, set a performance goal. In other words, write it as a task. Here’s my daily performance goal or task: “Read today’s chapter of ‘War and Peace'”.

7. Schedule It.

Once you know exactly what you’re going to do each day, you have to decide when you’re going to do it. In other words, you have to schedule it. I read my chapter of “War and Peace” every day after lunch. As soon as I’m done with lunch I wash my hands, grab the book, and start reading.

Make sure that during your scheduled time you work on your goal without any distractions. When I’m going to read I sit away from my laptop, and I turn off my cell phone. That way I’m not tempted to check my email, go on Twitter, answer calls, and so on. My reading time is 100% for reading.

8. Measure Your Progress.

There are studies that show that making progress toward your goals improves well-being and increases levels of happiness. By measuring your progress as you work toward the achievement of your goals you’ll be making sure that you stay on track and you’ll be increasing your self-satisfaction.

I created and printed out a calendar that shows all of the days of the year on one page. Every day I write down on the calendar the number of the chapter of “War and Peace” that I read that day. That way I can easily see at a glance how I’m progressing on my goal.

9. If You Fall Off the Wagon, Get Back On.

It’s almost a certainty that while you’re pursuing your goal you’ll fall off the wagon (at least once). In my case, I was almost mugged in mid-January. I managed to fight off the mugger and run away, but I lost my copy of “War and Peace” in the struggle.

Since I live in Panama, I had to order another copy of the book from Amazon, and it took a couple of weeks for the new book to arrive. Therefore, I fell a couple of weeks behind on my reading. When the new book arrived I started reading two or three chapters a day until I caught up. On March 8th I finally caught up, and then I went back to reading one chapter a day.

If you do fall behind on your progress toward the achievement of your goal, get back to work as soon as you can. Then, do whatever you can to catch up. Make sure that you don’t let setbacks derail you from your objective of achieving your goal.

10. Find a Way to Hold Yourself Accountable.

Accountability is making a public commitment, and then accepting responsibility for doing what is necessary in order to achieve that obligation.

As I indicated at the top of this blog post, during the first week of January of this year I announced on this blog that I was going to read “War and Peace” this year. In addition, I am now honestly reporting that I am up-to date on that commitment.

A great strategy for keeping yourself accountable is to work on your goal with others.  I’m following along with Brian E. Denton who is writing a brief reflection of each chapter of “War and Peace” every day of this year on Medium.

Most days I leave a comment on Brian’s posts, and a lot of the time Brian responds to my comments. I also read comments left by others who are also working on this goal. This makes me feel like I’m part of a community that’s reading “War and Peace”, which helps me with my accountability.

On the subject of accountability, I wrote on this blog that Iwould finish an eBook on how to learn faster by December 31st of 2016. I did write the eBook, but I’m now applying the process that I developed in said eBook to learn new skills so that I can offer proof that it does, indeed, work.

Conclusion

Today it’s March 12th and I’m happy to say that I’m on track with my goal of reading “War and Peace” this year. If you need some help achieving your goals, use the ten step process explained above. Live your best life by getting really good at goal achievement.

 

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things money can’t buy

Money can buy lots of things, but there are some things money can’t buy.

Benjamin Franklin once said the following: “Money has never made man happy, nor will it; there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants.” Studies show that he was right, to a certain extent.

To be happy we need to have enough money to cover our basic needs. Worrying about having enough money to put food on the table, or being able to pay medical bills in case a family member falls ill, is highly stressful, and can negatively affect happiness levels.

In addition, a rising salary can impact our wellbeing, up to a certain amount (about $75,000). After that amount, having more money has less and less of an impact on happiness.

But the bottom line is that money can’t but it all. In fact, there are many things which are vital to our happiness and well-being that simply can’t be bought. Below you’ll find 25 things money can’t buy.

25 Things Money Can’t Buy

onehouradayformula banner long1. Money can buy medicine, but it can’t buy health.

2. Money can buy a bigger house, but it can’t buy a home.

3. Money can buy acquaintances who will be happy to partake of your largess, but not friends who will stick by you through thick and thin.

4. Money can buy adulation but not respect.

5. Money can buy companionship (and sex), but not love.

6. Money can buy a position, but not the satisfaction of knowing that your hard work payed off, and that you’ve earned every promotion you’ve gotten.

7. Money can buy books, but it can’t buy knowledge, wisdom, and experience.

8. Money can buy a life of leisure, but it can’t buy purpose, passion, or meaning.

9. Money can buy the latest gadgets and the coolest toys for your children, but it can’t buy well-adjusted kids.

10. Money can buy someone’s services, but it can’t buy their loyalty.

11. Money can buy thrills and distractions, but it can’t buy serenity and inner peace.

12. Money can buy the trappings of high society, but it can’t buy character, integrity, morals, or class.

13. Money can buy flattery, but not self-esteem.

14. Money can buy the appearance of a happy life, but it can’t buy true happiness.

15. Money can buy material goods, but it can’t buy appreciation for the simple things.

16. Money can buy extravagant vacations to exotic places, but it can’t buy a close-knit family.

17. Money can buy designer clothes and make-up, but it can’t buy inner beauty.

18. Money can buy gifts for your significant other, but it can’t buy the intimacy that comes from getting to know someone really well, and being with someone who truly listens to you and understands you.

19. Money can buy jewelry, but it can’t buy self-love.

20. Money can buy solutions to problems, but money can’t buy the confidence that comes from mastering a new skill, or overcoming a challenge.

21. Money can buy tickets to expensive charity events, but it can’t buy the feeling that you get when you go out of your way to lend someone a helping hand, or make someone’s day a little brighter.

22. Money can buy expensive watches, but it can’t buy time.

23. Money can buy fancy $100-per-place-setting china, as well as etiquette lessons so you know which fork to use when, but it can’t buy manners, civility, and decency.

24. Money can buy experiences, but it can’t buy the mindfulness that is necessary so that you can be present, and enjoy whatever it is that you’re doing in the moment.

25. Money can buy big television sets and fast cars, but it can’t buy the well-being that comes from being able to manage and control your emotions.

Conclusion

George Lorimer once said the following:

“It is good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good too, to check up once in a while and make sure you haven’t lost the things money can’t buy.”

Live your best life by making sure that in your efforts to make more money, you’re not losing sight of those precious things that money can’t buy.

 

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