Tag Archives: positive habits

Do You Know the People You Need to Be Successful?

One of the great things about friends, especially those you’ve known for a long time is how comfortable you are around them. You can act the way you want to without worrying about being rejected. Likewise you accept them for who they are. Of course, there are those things about them that drive you crazy. It’d all be okay except for one problem:

You Become Like the People You Associate with Most Often

Do You Know the People You Need to Be Successful?

Do you have friends who perpetually struggle financially? Or who can’t seem to maintain solid primary relationships? If you answered yes, you’re putting yourself at risk for the same issues.

Such friendships impact you two ways:

  1. They drain your energy and enthusiasm by constantly drawing you into never ending negative situations.
  2. They provide no guidance for how you can advance your life.

As you pursue your goals, you have to let such people go. Of course, deciding when and how will be hard, but if you don’t you won’t have room in your life for the new friendships that will support your growth.

It’s no different for you than for someone like Mark Zuckerberg. Where would Facebook’s founder be if he went to keggers with his old college buddies? Would his company be the world-changing force it is today? It’s no accident that people at the top of any field: business, academia, government, get to know each other. They need friendships that will make further advancement possible.

I don’t mean you should cynically use people and then dump them. But reality is not all friends are forever. And if you don’t know people today who are the living the life you want for yourself one, five, or ten years hence, you’re acting in the dark and hindering your growth.

Today, start connecting with people who share your values and are on a growth path similar to yours. Even better, find friends like this who are ahead of you in life. Over the next 12 to 24 months you’ll become like them.

How do your friends support or impede your growth? Please comment below.

How to Stop Working Too Much

Friends I haven’t seen in a long time usually ask what it’s like being in the Navy. Amid stories about Okinawa and an aircraft carrier, how my wife and daughter handle military life comes up. You know how tough families have it. At times my daughter didn’t see me for a week. I was out of the house before she woke up and didn't get home until after she went to bed. Of course, you don’t have to be in the military to be absorbed by work.

How to Stop Working Too Much?

Despite Surveys, Americans Work Too Much

A recent article in fastcompany.com carried the sub-headline, “A New National Study Finds Americans Work Reasonable Hours and Get Enough Sleep, Even if We Often Think Otherwise.” Based on the 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey, the article said, “The average full-time work week comes out at just a bit shy of 42 hours.”

Call me skeptical. But the data gathered is based on people’s recollections of how they spent the previous day. Do you remember the precise amount of time you spent sleeping, grooming, preparing meals and snacks, eating and drinking, driving to work, and working at your main job yesterday? Me either. The Internet and cell phones make us more productive. But they allow work to intrude into other activities. I suspect this didn't get factored in. The survey probably underreports work time by at least 10% to 20%.

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Set Boundaries to Help You Stop Working

Juggling navy duties, civilian work, and a 2-1/2 hour daily commute the past year, I’ve learned a few simple rules to reduce my working time:

  1. When told to take on another project or task, decline it. If that’s impractical, agree to “see that it gets handled” rather than “do it myself.”
  2. Delegate or rid yourself of all tasks except those only you can do. It may not be as hard as you think. Often coworkers would love to tackle something on your to-do list because it’s more interesting than their regular duties. Other tasks can sit uncompleted and no one will notice.
  3. Take care of loose ends before leaving work or on the drive home. Normal home cell phone mode should be off (or muted if you have to respond to emergencies), especially during meals.
  4. When you get home, leave your work in the car, mentally that is. No sense tempting fate by leaving your computer where it might get stolen.
  5. If you have to work at home, have a set place and time for doing so. You can complete your tasks more quickly without interruptions.

While the 40-hour workweek is much maligned, I think it makes a lot of sense. With only 168 hours in a week, at least 49 of which should be spent sleeping, working 40 hours takes up a third of your waking hours. Wouldn’t it be nice to confine them to 9 to 5? But there’s no use pining for what once was.

Hopefully, you’re not intent on having your tombstone read, “Worked Massive Numbers of Hours.” (If you are, please contact me immediately!) By learning to restrict your work you’ll find much more worthy words to place on it, and most likely have many more years before they have to be placed.

How many hours a week do you work? 

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below

How to Free Yourself on Independence Day

Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays. Memories of picnics on the bluffs of Santa Barbara followed by fireworks and evocations of history resonate deeply. Nowadays, I gather friends at my home where we read the Declaration of Independence and have a barbecue. But aside from celebrating the rebirth of representative government on the world stage, this 4th of July can have deep personal significance for you.

How to Free Yourself on Independence Day

All of us are oppressed by something. It may be:

  • Fear: Letting go of the past to embrace a better present and future is a scary prospect. Even if your past is less than wonderful, it’s familiar. Change leads to growth and new opportunities. Are you living the exact life you want?
  • Victimhood: You may be a victim, in which case you need help and time to heal. But too often victimhood is used as an excuse for inadequate self-discipline. Is it really Hagen Daz’s fault?
  • Overcommitting: There’s lots of reasons you say yes too often: Good intentions, maintaining a relationship, belief that you can do it all. Do you really want to keep living this way? Would the world end if you said no sometimes?
  • People Pleasing: Related to overcommitting, consistently placing other’s needs ahead of you own will eventually destroy your ability to help anyone. You’re a person too. Why aren’t you making self-care a priority?
  • Procrastinating: If you’re putting off doing tasks you should not be doing in the first place, GREAT! But, if essential tasks remain neglected day after day, you’re paying a terrible price. What prevents your being motivated?
  • Failure: Talk to anyone who has done anything and you’ll find they failed. And while they may not broadcast it, most highly successful people have failed a lot. Coming up short is a part of life. Why do you want to make it permanent by allowing it to halt further progress?

My list isn’t complete. Take some time this week to figure out what burdens you. Perhaps you have several. Choose the one most easily overcome. Then, on Independence Day, declare your freedom from it. Commit to negating its influence on your life. Paste a big note on you bathroom mirror saying:

I am free from [burden]. It no longer tyrannizes my life.

Every time you see your sign, read it out loud. Congratulations, 4th of July has just become your personal independence day too!

How will you celebrate Independence Day? Please comment below.

How to Decide When You’ll Embrace Change

I became an Uber fan last week. My wife used it to go to a banquet a few days before and loved it. The ease and economy of Uber is irresistible. The hardest part was downloading the app and getting it set up, which took about 15 minutes. Unlike the times I’ve taken taxis, the driver showed up on time (the app tracked her arrival), she was friendly, her car was clean, and she drove me to me destination quickly.

How to Decide When You'll Embrace Change

I learned that Uber is controversial here in Los Angeles. The city council has considered banning it and airports trip are prohibited. Regrettably, the ugly history of licensing continues. Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, in their massive tome Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, show how over the centuries licensing has been used to exclude certain groups of people, including the Irish, blacks, and women, from various trades and professions.

Of course not every butcher, baker, cartman, and physician supported such exclusivity. Some overcame their financial self-interest and refused to fall prey to prejudice by remaining true to their values. They benefitted from the virtues of democracy and felt other should too.

So what does the plight of Uber have to do with personal development?

Articles extolling the virtues of change abound.   Earlier this year I wrote about how you shouldn’t fear change. I’ve also written about how not all change is good and that it should enhance your life.

So when should you embrace change and when should you shun it?

This is not an easy question to answer. Some guidelines will help:

  1. If you have a destructive habit such as overeating, not exercising, or spending more money than you earn you need to change it. The sooner the better.
  2. If your behavior is damaging a relationship, change it. A poor communication style must be improved. If you aren’t regularly and positively expressing connection to your spouse or children now is the time to do so.
  3. If the way you do something is unproductive or inefficient you probably should change it. Do you regularly use electronic devices before going to sleep or have an inconsistent bedtime? You’re sapping your productivity. In contrast, using Uber will help you be more efficient. (If you want a free ride use my code, kevinb5383ue. Full disclosure: If you use it I’ll get a free ride too.)

Should you change your values? As the example about licensees in New York City shows, typically the harder and better decision is to hold onto your values. Especially if the impetus for change is coming from outside yourself or from an untrustworthy source.

However, there may be times when you need to consider adjusting your values. If your worldview impedes your growth you should examine alterations. But before you change your values, recognize by altering your foundation you subject yourself to the law of unintended consequences. You will have an adjustment period while you work through all the dimensions of this change.

For more than a century society has urged embracing change, essentially for its own sake. As an Intentionalist, you decide when to Uber up.

How do you decide whether to change? Please comment below.

How You Can Resolve Your Past

Remember the movie Back to the Future? Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) invents a time machine in the form of a DeLorean that takes Marty (Michael J. Fox) into the past, where he inadvertently changes the time continuum. The movie gets its title from Marty having to correct the changes in the past to get back to the future he wants. On an historical note, it was the most popular movie of 1985 and critically acclaimed. I highly recommend it!

No, I’m not turning this into a movie review blog, though admittedly watching old movies is easier and often more fun than pursuing personal development. Back to the Future provides a metaphor for overcoming challenges in your past that still hold you back today. Did you:

  1. Develop bad easting habits?
  2. Avoided exercising?
  3. Spend money unwisely?
  4. Never make time for play?
  5. Form a flawed self-image?
  6. Avoid creating solid friendships or business relationships?
  7. Not take getting an education seriously enough?
  8. Abandon G-d?
  9. Have a lousy relationship with one or both of your parents?
  10. Adopt values that are not in concert with how you want to live?

Or any of a number of issues that make your life other than what you want it to be?

Like Marty, you can change your future.

It only affects your future to the extent that you believe it has too. Whether it’s a bad habit, an emotional trauma, or a deficiency in some aspect of your life, you can go forward to conquer your past by committing to change.

In some cases you may be able to do so on your own. In other cases you may need professional help, a coach or therapist, to help guide you through the steps that will lead you to a future free of impediments from the past. But even in the latter case, you have control over your destiny by engaging that person to work with you.

Unlike Marty, you don’t have a time machine to take you back to the past were you can alter events. But you don’t need one. The future is the ultimate time machine, each day, hour, minute gives you the opportunity to correct the shortfalls of your past and realize the future you want.

What step do you need to take to free you from a past impediment? Please comment below.

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