Tag Archives: changing

Learn How to Love the Tasks You Hate

Life works the way you ate as a kid. The chicken was probably good but Brussel sprouts, are you kidding me? Yet you put up with them to get to dessert. Whatever you are doing: working, exercising, running a business, being married or in a relationship, earning a degree, you still want to rush through the meal to get to the ice cream. But your parents were right. The sugar high of the dessert cannot sustain you without the foundational elements of the meal: the soup, salad, and main course.

Learn How to Love the Tasks You Hate

I was struck by this idea while trying to expand the list of non-dessert foods my five-year-old daughter will eat. Currently, they can be listed on two hands and one foot. And she will only eat cucumbers if they are slathered in salad dressing. As I sat there frustrated she asked me what foods I hated when I was a boy. She had me nailed dead to rights.

There are three types of tasks you need to do to be successful: those you already know you like, those you already know you hate, and those you have not done because you are afraid to try. It is no problem getting motivated to do the tasks you like to do. But the other two categories are a challenge.

For tasks you dislike, you have five choices:

  1. Do not do them and be content with the level of success you have already attained.
  2. Force yourself to do them, which means you probably will not muster up much enthusiasm to do them well.
  3. Farm them out. But you'll still need to know how to do them well enough that your can train and monitor the person handling them.
  4. Make them a part of some other task you like to do. For example, when I first started cold calling one of the things I did was listen carefully to try and detect an accent and then see if I could accurately identify where the person came from and learn about other places.
  5. Do them so often you learn to love them.

For tasks you are afraid to try, identify the source of your fear. Perhaps the activity stirs up memories of a particularly difficult event in the past. Remember, your taste buds matured as you got older and you now like a broader range of foods.  So too your ability to handle unfamiliar tasks is much greater than you think. Maybe the one you are afraid to try will become a favorite. And if not, you can always use option three or four above and slather it with something you love.

There is one difference between life and eating as a kid is unlike a meal.  Without learning to do all the tasks necessary for success, thoughts of wealth, fame, or whatever else you seek may make you salivate, but you will not achieve them. Without the foundational elements that nourish and sustain you, dessert will elude you.

Question – How do you motivate yourself to do the tasks you dislike or are afraid to try? Please respond below.

What to Do When Demands of Others Overwhelm You

The holidays are upon us, a time for focusing on others. As the demands increase do you feel resentful, often followed by a sense of guilt? Perhaps it is time to examine selflessness versus selfishness.

What to Do When Demands of Others Overwhelm You

Selflessness Leads to Selfishness

When I was deployed last year one of the most frequent reasons sailors came to see me was they were burnt out.

Maintaining and flying jets and helicopters took at least twelve hours a day. Then they had other military duties like keeping up with new information in their area of expertise and drilling at their damage control station in case the ship was attacked. Demands from friends and family back home often took several hours a day in emails and Facebooking. Throw in laundry and meals and the time usually added up to at over 20 hours, leaving just a few hours for sleep and personal hygiene. Is it any wonder they were at their rope’s end?

I asked them this question: What are you doing to take care of yourself? Almost always I got a blank stare in response.

While it is laudable that they wanted to help relieve their loved ones’ burdens, how effective could they be when they were exhausted and under pressure for the inevitable subpar work performance resulting from too little rest and exercise? For some reason, they could not see the middle ground between being selfish and selfless.

How to Take Care of Yourself

The reality is you cannot serve other people over the long term if you do not take care of yourself. How do you find balance? The Three Pillars of Fitness ™ can be your guide.

Spiritual Fitness:

  1. Do you have a relationship with a higher power? I am not pushing my faith on you, but much of my strength comes from regularly connecting with G-d.
  2. Are you clear about your values? If so, this should help you prioritize whom and how much you can help. Hopefully, you do not value impoverishing yourself to help others.
  3. What is your mission and purpose in life? Is it sustainable?

Mental Fitness:

  1. What is the quality of your relationships with friends and family? Are they mutually supportive rather than continually one-sided?
  2. In what intellectual pursuits and hobbies are you involved? If the answer is none, how do you rejuvenate yourself?
  3. How do you serve your community? Here is an opportunity to be selfless.

Physical Fitness:

  1. Are you getting enough sleep and exercise and are you eating properly?
  2. Are your finances under control? If not, why are you giving money to someone else?
  3. How do you indulge your senses? Here is another source of rejuvenation.

Self-Care Must Precede Helping Others

If you are committed to helping a friend but by doing so you are endangering your professional standing are you really helping anyone? It is not selfish to say no to a friend in order to sustain good job performance. Neither is it uncaring to insist a friend find an additional source of help so that you can get enough sleep and attend to other personal needs.

Note that service to others is only part of overall fitness. When it consumes you, your life is out of balance and eventually you will lose your ability to be helpful.

Question – How do you strike a balance between being selfless and selfish? Please respond below.

 

How to Multitask Effectively

Have you been very focused on getting something done when someone calls you or walks into your office with a new task? Do you find yourself feeling pulled in too many directions at once? Have you ever had the feeling that if just one more person adds to your to-do list you will explode? Well, you are multitasking. It stinks, doesn’t it?

How to Multitask Effectively

Like all of us, I struggle with trying to get more done. I have two choices: work longer hours or accomplish more in the time I spend working. If I use the first option someone else, usually my family loses out. For me, that is unacceptable. So I have to complete more tasks in the same amount of time. Here is the rub: I do not want to sacrifice quality.

Multitasking as it is usually understood is a myth. Trying to get two things that require close attention done at the same time is counter-productive. As magnificent as the mind is, it still takes time to shift back and forth between two problems. The primary rule of multitasking: Avoid it if possible. Focus on completing the task at hand then move on.

If you routinely do things that are repetitive or mundane, what Dave Crenshaw calls background tasks, now you have the opportunity to double up.  Here are the steps:

  1. When you plan your day, identify background tasks such as exercising, housework, or walking your dog.
  2. Pair the background task with another one that takes concentration. For example, while doing my stretching and strength exercises I listen to podcasts. I come up with writing topics when I run.
  3. Avoid planning background tasks when you need to be interacting with other people.

What do you do on those days when you lose control of your schedule? I recommend each time you have to change tasks, stop for 15 to 30 seconds, close your eyes, recall a quiet place you love, then continue with your day. Think of it as double-clutching your brain. It will allow you to shift gears more smoothly.

Question – What techniques do you have for more effectively getting things done? Please respond below.

3 Steps to Greater Balance in Your Day

Remember playing on a teeter-totter when you were a kid? If you were bigger than your playmate you had to move forward in order to gain balance. Later in science class, you learned that a larger weight a shorter distance from the fulcrum equates to a lighter weight a longer distance from it. Do you realize that life works the same way?

3 Steps to Greater Balance in Your Day

Recently I was listening to a Michael Hyatt podcast on balancing work and life. He suggested that rather than balance, priority management is the issue because we cannot put equal effort into all things. He misses the point. All activities do not require equal amounts of concentration and effort.

To keep your life in balance you need to maintain a proper mix of tasks. Create a blend so some can be accomplished with relatively short bursts of focused energy (large weight – short distance) while others take longer but do not require such intense focus (light weight – long distance).

For example, when I write a blog post I give myself 70 minutes for writing and editing. I immerse myself, shutting out all possible distractions. But when I work out, I intersperse my exercises with other tasks like checking email that do not require my undivided attention. Running is a time to let my mind wander and generate ideas.

The same concept applies to your life. Short term goals require greater intensity, medium term goals less so, and long-term goals can initially be pursued at a relaxed pace. Here are the steps for balancing your day:

  1. Write down what you need to accomplish in the coming week or month. I keep a running list and revise it each Sunday.
  2. Categorize the week’s tasks as heavy, medium, and light weight, keeping in mind that the deadline by which it has to be done may impact its weight.
  3. Plan your day the night before or first thing in the morning, making sure to schedule a mix of tasks.

Will you achieve perfect balance? Probably not. Some days will be loaded with heavyweight tasks that have to be muscled through. But the greater equilibrium you can bring to your life the closer you will get to that unattainable Zen’ness.

Question – What techniques do you use to bring more balance to your life? Please respond below.

Four Steps to Breaking a Bad Habit

Playing fetch with a dog is tremendous fun. After a few times throwing and retrieving the ball you can fool the dog by faking throwing the ball and most dogs will still run after it. So strong is the power of habit. Funny that when we want to give up a bad habit we think our behavior will be different. Yet even if we remove the offending thing, we will still go chasing after it or a substitute.Four Steps to Breaking a Bad Habit

When living intentionally, to get rid of a bad habit you have to design a replacement behavior to fill the hole you are creating in your life. Otherwise, the old behavior, or another one that may not be quite as bad, becomes like the pits the coyote dug when trying to trap the roadrunner. Notice how he always fell in them himself?

When I decided to give up overeating I knew I had to find an alternative to watching television in the evenings since that was when I was most prone to consume junk. I had read somewhere that avid readers finished at least 50 books a year so I made that my goal. Over the last eight years, I substituted reading over 500 books for eating too much. It is true. I love to eat.

Here are the steps to rid yourself of a bad habit:

  1. Decide on a positive replacement behavior. Work on bad habits one at a time. Give a lot of thought to what you will do instead of the negative behavior. Do you really want to be a gum chewer instead of a smoker?
  2. Commit in writing. When it is in your mind it is a dream, not a goal.
  3. Set 30 days for your first trial. It takes at least a month to get rid of a bad habit. But that is just the first hurdle. Scott Young in his Pick the Brain blog post says that 90 and 365 days are also significant milestones.
  4. Ask for reinforcement from family members, friends, and colleagues. Zig Ziglar notes that when giving something up you should tell as many people as possible since they will be happy to hold you accountable when you backslide.

There are many other techniques you can use to bolster your effort to free yourself from a negative behavior but these four steps form the foundation for an intentional plan to direct your life where you want it to go.

Question – What have you used as a replacement for a bad habit?

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