Fine tune your resolutions

“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.”

Earl Nightingale,

This time of the year is great time to reflect on the past and to look forward for the coming year – to understand the decisions you’ve made in the past have brought you to where you are now and to determine what kind of improvements you want to make in your life for the future. This means making resolutions to change those habits or circumstances that you’ve been unhappy with or to complete the unfulfilled resolutions that you set for this year or in the past or to set some new goals for the coming days.

Do you need to make some resolutions in the first place?

Many of us don’t believe in setting new year resolutions and want to work on our long-term goals throughout the year. In spite of that, there is no harm in setting some resolutions that will not only improve your potential in achieving your long-term goals, but also help you improve your overall productivity. Sometimes we think there is no use in making new year resolutions as we often fail to stick with them. But rather than becoming discouraged and giving up, setting small and achievable milestones can always be helpful and beneficial in achieving your bigger goals.

It is always important to set some goals and make some resolutions that are most meaningful to you, something you really want to change, and something you’re willing to work for and are passionate about. Here are some reasons why you should always set some for yourself.

• Resolutions strengthen your willpower.

• They help you to coordinate your efforts and increase your optimism. For example, when you start a diet, you adopt new rules for eating healthy. By following set rules, you become more positive about your abilities.

• They improve your resolve to overcome your temptations and help you in achieving your goals.

• They strengthen your belief in yourself as you attain certain of your resolutions.

Why do your resolutions fail ?

Most often, we make resolutions relating to certain aspects of our lives we want to improve upon like for instance, to change unhealthy lifestyle, or quitting a bad habit, or to find happiness, or to improve career prospects and so on so forth. Even though we all desire to make changes, many of us fail to keep with those resolutions for long-term. We all start off with lot of enthusiasm, but as the momentum dies down, We fail to stop the resistance from sabotaging our resolve to change.

There are many reasons as to why you fail to keep those resolutions, it may may be due to setting some unrealistic ones or may be they might have failed because, you didn’t really want to make them happen. Sometimes you come up against circumstances that make it especially tempting to break the resolutions. You start making exceptions or giving into your temptations and you end up breaking your resolutions. Resolutions fail when we start to allow too many exceptions.

The majority of us make resolutions related to something we think we should do, but unless we are willing to stick to them and willing to put the time and effort into making them happen – it won’t happen. It will be almost impossible to make your resolutions a reality if you don’t fine tune them or have a clear plan in place to achieve them.

What if you fine tuned your resolutions?

Sometimes you might set new resolutions and follow them and eventually achieve your goals and sometimes your resolutions may not get you all the way to your end goals. When resolutions don’t materialise, it adds to the sense of ‘can’t’ and lowers your self esteem. You might begin to think that you are stuck with old undesirable habits no matter how hard you try. To improve your self esteem and to make your resolutions achievable, you need to fine tune and redefine them.

Your desire to start fresh or step over the old habits and into the new ones requires your commitment to make a positive change. However if you set unrealistic ones or if you want to achieve too much too soon, they will be difficult to achieve. So comes the need for reframing or fine tuning your resolutions. Before you do this, evaluate your resolutions based on following and make your resolutions as specific as possible.

• Are you being your best self in striving for these goals?

• Is the goal you set for yourself is realistic ?

• Will this increase your level of stress?

• Are you working on what’s important or are you distracted?

• Is it too much too soon?

• Is your resolution achievable?

  • Do you have enough resources like time and money necessary to achieve your resolution?

Evaluating your resolutions helps you determine whether you are moving towards your goals. When you develop awareness of how your goals are making you feel, you can begin a new approach, by redefining and fine tuning them. Instead of being negative or getting discouraged or overwhelmed by them, take time to evaluate in an honest way and plan on action in incorporating them in your daily schedule. Here are some strategies to fine tune your resolutions.

Focus one at a time

Setting too many resolutions can lead to exhaustion in trying to keep up with them and you tend to lose focus. To do ‘all the things’, you will find yourself doing none of it. It is better to focus on few good habits, instead of trying to start many and never getting the hang of when the end of the year comes around. List all the possible goals and choose one or more that mean the most to you. Focus on one and add new ones only after achieving the first.

Prioritise

You will never have time for your resolutions if you wait until you are free. Make time for them. What you do have, however are activities that you need to complete by the end of the year, or within the chosen time frame. In order to manage those activities and ensure that they get completed within the desired time frame, you need to prioritise. Focus on those that are needed and say ‘no’ to things that are not in line with your bigger life goals.

Keep your resolutions realistic

Make your resolutions sustainable and achievable by making small changes rather than unsustainable drastic changes. Make subtle changes which increase your chances of success. Fine tune your goals to be clear and measurable. Create SMART goals -specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based. Treat yourself with enough compassion by not putting too much pressure on yourself or stressing yourself up to achieve them.

Develop patience

Overcoming your temptations and resistance during incorporating certain changes into your schedule takes time and needs your patience. Your resolution to change a bad habit or setting a new habit takes time. Just because it takes time, you need not fall of the wagon and give up on yourself or your resolutions year after year. Have enough patience to give yourself time to get better at the changes you wanted to make.

Be consistent

Consistency is important when it comes to keeping up with your resolutions. When you do something every day, and consistently, it becomes a part of your routine. Consistent actions will propel you towards your goal. Even choosing a small task will motivate you to do more. Prevent too many exceptions and allowing yourself to come up with excuses. Keep up with your resolutions everyday until they become a habit.

Reevaluate your progress

If your goals are the same as they have always been, something clearly isn’t working. You may need to make changes or adjustments to fulfil certain goals you have set for yourself. Look for any underlying issues that could be the reason. Adjust your processes and reevaluate your actions. You can achieve much more by finding the efficient way to reach your goal.

Make yourself accountable

Realise that at the end of the day, you are the only one dealing with the consequences of your actions. Keep yourself accountable. If your resolutions don’t reflect your beliefs or values, then you’ll have difficulty in achieving them. Self-discipline and ask yourself why it’s important to you. While making resolutions, consider not to make too many exceptions and hold yourself accountable.

Finally, be clear about what your resolutions are, why you are making them, and what the result will be when you are successful. This way, you can create an action plan, stay motivated and achieve your goals and fine tune them.

Conclusion

Take a moment to reflect upon what kind of resolutions you want to make for the coming year. Apply the above strategies to evaluate your resolutions and fine tune them to make them realistic and achievable. Once you make your resolutions, commit to whatever you have planned, do them and be consistent in your efforts. Don’t force it if its really not working out in the long run. Give yourself an option to exit if its not working out or if it is no longer in line with your vision, but otherwise hold yourself to your resolutions and achieve your goals.

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.“

Abraham Lincoln,

Improve your resilience quotient

What helps you persevere is your resilience and commitment.” -Roy. T. Bennett

We all undergo changes when we are exposed to stress or experience difficult and uncertain situations. Stress we experience affects us psychologically as well as physically. We all feel grief, sadness and range of other emotions after adversity or loss. They make us wonder which path to take, what decision to make, and at times they can be crippling if we are not resilient enough. Your thinking influences the way you show up and evaluate these situations. To work through the emotions and effects of stress in stressful events that you encounter, you need to keep yourself emotionally and mentally strong in such circumstances.

Resilience is the capacity to adapt yourself successfully in the face of uncertain and difficult situations. It is the ability to move through challenges and to adapt in order to create positive outcomes by responding effectively to stressful situations. Being resilient doesn’t mean going through life without experiencing stress and pain, but it is the ability to harness your internal capacity to manage these life events as you process through them. By learning to be emotionally resilient, you can keep from negative emotions such as fear, or anxiety, or anger, or frustration that arise in such situations. Contrary to people’s belief, resilience is not an ability that you are born with. It can be learnt and built at any stage in your life. You can build resilience through better thinking and self-management skills.

What lowers your Resilience?

All of us experience times when we feel emotionally overwhelmed in certain situations and during such times, some of us allow our feelings to control our actions or we let negative emotions cloud our vision. This often makes us regret the things we say or do and wish we had been more resilient or had been able to keep our actions or words in check. Whereas some people deal with seemingly difficult situations more easily than others. Here are certain things that lower your resilience quotient.

• Inability to manage your thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

• Excessive self-blame, regret and guilt.

• Non-willingness to face your fears.

• Giving into instant gratification instead of thinking long-term.

• Blaming your problems on external circumstances

• Focusing on things that are beyond your control.

• Inability to acknowledge your choices and taking responsibility.

• Inability to own your mistakes and to learn from them.

• Clinging to hatred, anger and resentment.

• Unwillingness to step out of your comfort zone.

To make yourself mentally strong in the face of obstacles, a lot depends on your confidence in your abilities to handle challenges and the way you evaluate these situations and events in your life.

So, how do you improve your Resilience quotient?

You can learn to habitually assess things from a different perspective by staying focused on your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. We all feel anxious when we are going through big life changes. To avoid negative emotions during such changes, you must prioritise self-care and celebrate your successes, no matter how small they are. Thoughts of self-doubt and self-criticism lower your resilience. On the contrary, every thought of self-appreciation can create more positive mental experiences. You can see yourself resilient and purposeful rather than as victim. There is little these stressors can do to you if you maintain good emotional and mental state by being aware of your emotional and psychological limitations.

Building resilience is an important part of growth and change. There are several ways to cultivate resilience. Here are some to raise your resilience quotient.

Flexibility

“ The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived.” – Robert Jordan

In stressful situations, ego, fixed beliefs and expectations are some of the things that make us resist the change. It is often wiser to practice acceptance and acknowledge that such situations are demanding a course change. The only way forward is to go with the flow and adjust your attitude. Be flexible in your thinking and look for alternative solutions to the challenges you are faced with. A shift in your perspective can help you see the situation from a new point of view.

Being okay with discomfort

When we are going through uncertain events or situations, most of us feel insecure and unsure of ourselves. Difficulties take us out of our comfort zones making us uncomfortable. By facing your fears and by allowing discomfort amid uncertain circumstances, you can grow and become more emotionally resilient. Accepting despite the discomfort you feel, you can function relatively under pressure, cope better, and can bounce back from hard times. Learning to think and act from outside your comfort zones raises your resilience quotient and you can shrug off the harmful impacts of stress.

Self-compassion

In difficult moments, it’s essential to practice self-compassion. Maintain your self-confidence rather being controlled by your self-critical voice which triggers discontentment and prompts you to be defensive and avoidant. Instead, by being self-compassionate, you can come up with coping strategies and begin to view your mistakes with understanding and patience. You are more likely to take responsibility for your part and focus on being compassionate towards the fears held by your inner critic. You can come up with constructive counters to your most destructive self-criticism and deeply held fears.

Optimism

Develop a generally positive outlook when you experience challenges in your life. With a realistic and optimistic attitude, things turn out a little better than you might have presumed. Going through difficulties with a positive perspective, rather than giving into negativity of your past or people in your life makes you more open-minded, positive and resilient. Learn to view negative emotions that distress you in a positive light. By recognising uncertainty as an opportunity for growth, you can easily move through the obstacles. Acknowledge your strengths and maintain a positive view of yourself.

Challenge mindset

Many of us fear failure and avoid making certain choices in order to overcome challenges. As a result, we prevent ourselves from becoming more resilient. Treating failure like challenge helps you build challenge mindset. Reflecting on past challenges that you have overcome and other things you have been successful at, you can help raise your resilience quotient. By ruminating about what could go wrong builds your fear for failure. On the other hand, if you shift your mindset to view situations that you could fail at as a challenge, then you are more likely to think you are capable of handling difficult situations. You can learn to avoid overestimating the probability of negative outcomes and learn to view challenging situations not as a threat but as challenging and something to learn from.

Being futuristic

The ability to think about future where you will no longer be feeling so bad about whatever you are struggling with helps you get through difficult experiences. It can reduce the intensity of negative emotions you are probably experiencing. When you are midst of a stressful situation, ask yourself as to how will you feel about the particular event in a year from now. Broaden your vision from future perspective and estimate how they might unfold into the future. This way you can build your resilience in the present moment.

Breaking your negative thought patterns

We come to believe that thinking about our hardships over and over again will help us solve them. When bad things happen, many of us get caught up in our negative thought patterns, instead of taking actions we need to move forward. When we believe the worst will come true, we set ourselves up for unnecessary stress and poor resilience. Break your negative thought patterns by focusing on something else or try to do something else that uses both your mind and body. Meditation or exercise are few methods to break your negative patterns.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness and practising deep and slow breathing can help you take charge of your negative emotions and improve your response to emotional situations. When you observe negative thoughts, focusing on your breath allows you to become distracted from The automaticity of the feelings-thought-action cycle and bringing your attention back to your present moment. Being mindful positively affects thought patterns underlying anxiety, stress, depression and irritability. By accepting and letting go of these emotions, you will allow negativity to fade away often sooner than when you actually fight against them.

Finally,

cultivate meaning and believe in your self to be resilient. Meaning and purposefulness gives you motivational framework to lean into and provides a positive perspective to remain open to life’s many experiences.

Conclusion

It is always important to remember that difficult situations make you more stronger and resilient. It’s what your mind makes of a situation and not the situation itself. So don’t waste energy wishing things were different or trying to change others people when going through stressful or difficult situations. Instead stay focused on managing yourself by keeping in mind the above strategies and make most of those situations by turning down your overly negative responses.

“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.” – Gever Fulley

Embrace “productive discomfort”

“You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

-Roy T. Bennett

We are always drawn to easier way of doing things. Many of us feel safe in our comfort zones. Convenience and comfort has become our default choice and many times it becomes a driver of our decisions. But the problem with convenience is that it makes us intolerant of things that are not within our comfort zone. It is very hard for us to do things that could be good for us like leaving a bad habit or learning a new skill. We fail to do so and tend to avoid taking action as it might involve a certain level of discomfort and unfamiliarity. We constantly try to avoid facing such situations that cause us discomfort which otherwise could fulfil some of our personal and professional endeavours. Most of the times, we relinquish many of our cherished goals because they fall outside of our comfort zone.

We make new goals, new dreams and develop new passions from time to time. We make new resolutions to change ourselves in order to meet those desired goals. But this desire to change also makes us reluctant to leave things that are familiar. For most of us, leaving our comfort zone is difficult because of the fear of the unknown which coaxes us right back into the known and old familiar ways. We might feel frustrated and annoyed about the fact that we have to leave our comfort zone. We often feel stuck to adapt ourselves to unfamiliarity and avoid anything that is not comfortable. To overcome this pattern of avoidance, it is important to learn to step outside our comfort zones and get accustomed to discomfort.

What is comfort zone?

The comfort zone is a behavioural space where your activities and behaviours fit a routine and a pattern that involves less risk and stress. It provides familiarity, security and to some extent some level of certainty. Within our comfort zone, we become comfortable with what is familiar and get used to a steady level of performance. This soon makes us complacent as we easily fall into comfortable habits and begin to avoid those which are not.

We avoid changing most of our habits and behaviours by rationalising our thinking and saying ‘this is not the right time.’ or ‘It’s not important for me to do it.’ We tend to structure our lives to avoid moments and tasks that cause us discomfort. But those are the things that are probably important for our personal and professional growth and to maximise our potential. We hold ourselves back by thinking it is better to stay the way we are in order to avoid the discomfort, stress and anxiety.

Why is it important to come out of your comfort zone?

We are comfortable in engaging ourselves in a familiar pattern, but sometimes they may not be serving your current goals. They may prevent you from making necessary changes and hold you back from reaching your full potential. You may not be open to new challenges, to learn, grow and try new things. You begin to underestimate your ability to make any kind of change by judging yourself and end up convincing yourself that you will never be able to make necessary changes. Such thoughts can influence your actions and keep you from doing things that you might otherwise would like to pursue and can cost you your own success.

But with little awareness, understanding and by making few adjustments, you can break away from your routine and can push yourself to make those necessary changes in order to pursue your goals and aspirations. By learning to stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone, you can open a lot of new possibilities and discover things about yourself that you could not have otherwise discovered. You might learn things that you are capable of and could achieve things that you could not have anticipated. You cannot be successful in achieving your dreams if you only stick to a comfortable habit pattern and routine. Sometimes you need to take risk of attempting something which is outside of your comfort zone as well.

Outside of your comfort zone

“ Life always begins with one step outside of your comfort zone.” – Shannon L. Alder.

Within our comfort zone, there is little stress and anxiety. We can anticipate things to certain extent and know what’s coming next and can plan accordingly. Whereas outside of your comfort zone, you are open to risks, challenges, and open yourself up to the possibility of more stress and anxiety. But sometimes, a little bit of healthy stress and discomfort is not all that bad and is required to provide motivation for us to achieve desired goals.

“Being slightly uncomfortable, whether or not by choice, can push yourself to achieve goals you never thought you could.”

But it is important to not to push yourself too far and enter the zone of bad stress. This if happens can interfere with your ability to work well, to learn and to plan effectively. Here are some benefits of getting accustomed to “productive discomfort.”

• It improves your performance by opening up to challenges and taking risks.

• Makes you more creative by trying new things.

• Lowers your fear of failure and creates openness to new experiences.

• Improves your curiosity, imagination, and drive to explore.

• You can deal with new and unexpected changes easily.

• Improves your productivity and you will be willing to push your boundaries by adjusting to what was difficult.

We know what we need to do to improve our lives. We say we want to change for the better. But we often are held back by our belief that sameness equals safety and change equals discomfort. The key is to be aware of whether your comfort zones are preventing you from creating change and to be willing to leave what is familiar to make the change you desire. Here are some ways to get accustomed to ‘Productive discomfort’.

Try new things

We have a tendency to only seek out information we already agree with and avoid doing new things. Seeking new experiences, learning new skills and opening yourself to new ideas inspire you to challenge your confirmation bias. You can see old problems in new light and take risks. By challenging yourself to things you normally wouldn’t do, you can experience some of the uncertainty and get used to tackle changes easily. Try changing your daily work routine or try some new activities and be open to new experience.

Decide to take the leap

One of the important factor to break out of your comfort zone is to find your source of conviction about why a task is important to you or why making that change is essential. When you face situations that are not in your comfort zone, even if you feel the discomfort, believe in your convictions. This way, you can fight through the discomfort to take that leap towards the desired change. You may come to realise that what you feared most is not all that true and in a way, slight discomfort becomes normal to you.

Take risks

Every time you open yourself to challenges and risks, regardless of their outcome, they provide you with learning experience and provide you an opportunity to utilise your store of untapped knowledge and capabilities. Even if you make mistakes and don’t get it right, there are always these experiences you have to tap into in future. Taking risks is important for your personal growth. challenges and risks expand the size of your comfort zone and you can cultivate openness to experience.

Do things differently

To stretch beyond your comfort zone, you need to make changes either large or small in the way you do things on a daily basis. For instance, sometimes slowing down is all it takes to make you uncomfortable especially if you are used to speed or quick thinking. If you are one of that conflict avoidant, you must embrace conflict. If you are an introvert, you have to do things which you have been avoiding like meeting new people or having different conversation. By doing things differently, you can expand your comfort zone and open yourself up to new possibilities.

Finally, Start with making small changes.

It is always overwhelming to step into discomfort and into the unknown. But instead of thinking of big picture, it will be easier to break down what you want to accomplish by making small changes. Getting used to ‘productive discomfort’ is to embrace new experience and to reach the state of optimal anxiety in a manageable way.

In conclusion,

Comfort zones exist in every area in our lives. To practice ‘productive discomfort’, be aware of which comfort zone may not be serving your current purpose or which comfort zones are preventing you from making the desired change in your habits or behaviour. If you feel that you are stuck in your routine, challenge your underlying belief and make small changes to your routine to slowly move out of your comfort zone.

Compete with yourself

“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others” – Ayn Rand

Competition has always been taught to us from very young age in order to become something, to achieve and to survive. We are taught the virtue of competition in every aspect of life in order to succeed and to win. When competing against another, we tend to draw on to our untapped reserves and this brings the best in us because of the inherent instinct to better the other. This very basic nature of competitiveness has always been an integral part of us from the early centuries as we had to compete for resources like food and shelter. Those who are able to compete and strongest would win the best. Competition is inevitable and being competitive is important when it comes to academics, sports and work. Those who make an effort and draw on their own strengths and possibilities turn out as winners. There are benefits to having a competitive nature like you learn the importance of setting goals, following rules, to cope with stress, to take risks,and to be committed. But is it that only competing against other can bring the best in you? Or can you do better even by yourself? Or Is it always important to define yourself in terms of being better than others?

True competition is about competing with and not against

Competition brings out both the best and the worst in us. And though it is a natural instinct, nurturing it is equally responsible. There is always a danger of ignoring moral values in favour of winning or succeeding. While competing, we learn the virtue of selfishness, being all-out egotistical, and demonstrate superiority on others. We tend to believe that true competition is about breaking others and we constantly compare ourselves to others which leads to insecurities and fears. This further leads to unfair practices like where the aim no longer remains to better yourself or to succeed, but to pull down or belittle another.

But true competitive spirit is about growing, bettering and prospering together while competing with, rather than against another. If you learn to work along with, you will be able to build better strengths and qualities to succeed. Focusing on working together to solve problems, and helping each other to get the job done can result in mutually beneficial outcomes rather than focusing on a short-term, one-sided win.

Compare to your former self and not to others

When you are competing with others, the achievements made by others makes us crave the same achievement when we believe it’s within our reach. There will be always people who are better than you. Accept and use them as inspiration for pursuing your own instead of comparing yourself to others. In other words, comparing yourself with someone else is an inaccurate way of measuring your success. How well you do depends on improved version of yourself. If you question the logic of your comparisons, most of them rather turn out to be irrelevant in their reasoning.

Instead of comparing yourself externally, redirect your comparison within. Question yourself as to how you can continue to become a new and improved version of yourself. It does not matter how you perform relative to your opponents, so long as you perform better than your former self.

Know that your only competition is you

Our natural instinct is to compete with others and not to compete with ourselves. However, if we choose to, we can also compete with ourselves which leads to our self growth. We get so caught up in the competition with others professionally and personally that it is easy to forget that to improve ourselves and reaching our potential is more important than competing against others. It is important to remember that your competitor is not other—your competitor is yourself.

why you should compete with yourself

Always running after the competition will make you less enthusiastic. When you compete with yourself, whether it’s in your learning or work, you can focus on the process of getting better each time. This small shift in your perspective allows you to progress faster and to focus on process.

True competition is not always about beating or outdoing others, but about growing and improving. You should condition to compete constructively by measuring your success not against others but against yourself.

Here are some benefits in competing with yourself than against others.

Can measure your success

If you take a look around, you come across people who made some amazing achievements in their life. Someone is always going to be better than you at something. When you learn to be competitive with yourself, you can have a better measure of your success rather than stressing out on someone else’s. You know success will come to you at the right time when you put in the right effort.

Can improve your capability

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses gives you an opportunity to assess whether or not your goals are right for you. Once you know the things you are not so good at, you can decide upon improving your weak areas in order to achieve your goals. Looking into your own shortcomings rather than outwardly at other people paves a way to improve your capabilities.

Can increase possibilities

When you are competing with others, you are only competing in arenas that others have set up for you. But if you continue to do so, you will end up limiting your possibilities. Only when you use yourself as a true measure of your success do you open yourself up to the infinite things and possibilities. These things might ultimately lead ṭo your passion and happiness.

Can be free of people’s judgment

When you compete with yourself, you are letting go of people’s measure of success. and defining your own measure of success. You are free of what they think of you and their expectations. You chose to follow whatever it is that makes you happy. This makes you answerable to yourself in doing everything you could possibly do to achieve your goals and not because of other people’s judgment.

Can intrinsically motivate yourself

While competing against others, you feel that you achieved something only because it gives you a sense of being better than what everyone else is doing. But that is not the true measure of your success and that feeling is fleeting. But when you compete with yourself, you will be intrinsically motivated to accomplish things that are true to your abilities. You can strive to improve yourself and to challenge yourself in new ways.

To conclude, although competitiveness is innate, do not hold yourself to the standards of other people, wishing you could be better than them. May be this is motivating you, but an even greater skill is to be better than yourself. How about pushing yourself to do better each day. Goal setting is a great way to compete against yourself. You select the end result that you want and that you choose. Then, it is up to you, to work to achieve those goals. Thus, you can push yourself towards your goals, rather than creating unnecessary competition against others. Develop a desire to achieve and always strive to push yourself to become better.

“The principle is competing against yourself. It’s about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before.” – Steve Young

Embrace your inner leadership abilities

“True leadership of self and others starts with the mind and it is best thought of as a behaviour, not as a role.”

Everyday you come across your inner leader while making choices, decisions or in getting work done or in guiding others in your workplace or chasing your goals. It becomes very important to lead others in a positive way wherever you are or at whatever place you find yourself in life, be it personally or professionally. The true leader in us is always facing work reality day in and day out where we are constantly distracted by external forces, people and tasks, information overload, and are often interrupted by matters that are not in your control which needs your immediate attention. The pressure is always on as you are always drifting and trying to catchup living on autopilot without a clear sense of purpose and direction.

Whether you are aware of it or not, on some level you are continually leading and managing yourself and others. If you come under the day to day limitations and distractions no matter how expert your capabilities, skill and competence may seem, you fail to connect and inspire the people you lead in an organisation or in your personal life and would fail to value and flourish. You cannot manage or lead others if you have never learnt to manage, lead and discipline yourself. The first way to encourage the assets of others is to develop these within yourself first. In order to do this, you should be able to:

• Take yourself beyond your routine ways of thinking and behaving and lead yourself to higher levels of focus.

• Cultivate optimism, persistence, openness, high emotional quotient, and better interpersonal skills.

• Grow your inner focus which attunes you to your intuitions, guiding values and better decisions.

• Show self-restraint to inhibit your impulses and develop will-power and self-discipline.

• Have long-term goals to be able to focus on without getting distracted from all the clutter and distractions around.

• Shed your old habits, beliefs and older ways of working by asking whether the presumptions you are holding onto are true or not.

• Leave your comfort zone once you realise there is no growth and should be prepared to do or learn newer ways by adapting to change.

• Create an inspiring shared vision and the drive to achieve goals.

• Pursue a plan for improvement of self and others.

Performing right and required actions is the foundation for everything you want to achieve in life in general. You should not be predefined by what you are now, rather you should be able to recreate yourself by what you do. Your inner leadership skills further depend on achieving results in your own life or for your work place or for your people who believe in your goals. From this perspective, the ability to manage yourself and things you pay attention becomes important. By developing your awareness of self and others and applying it to manage your inner world and your relationships with others can improve your decision-making abilities and control your choice-making capabilities.

Success on the outside really does begin from within’. Here are certain qualities to develop to embrace your inner leader.

Self-awareness

In order to lead and inspire others successfully, you must be in tune with your inner leader by understanding your strengths and weaknesses. You must devote yourself to you own self growth to find meaning and live each day with purpose and intention. The more you come to know who and what you really are as a person, the more value you will be able to create. Identify what is most important and what makes you meaningfully different and authentic. Self-awareness will enrich your judgment and makes you aware of the consequences of each of your choices or decisions. This will help you to develop new strengths and have a positive impact on others.

Integrity

Your values determine whether or not you are in control of your inner leader. Align your actions to what you believe and say. Having high integrity helps you in doing right by making right choices. Sharing your values help others understand what motivates you and strive to learn and understand the values of the people you work with. This reduces the chances of future conflict and strengthens your interpersonal relationships.

Every time you avoid doing right, you fuel the habit of doing wrong. Always take a high road and make a tough and right choice based on your values rather than the easy road. Decisions aligned with your values help you to become more effective in leading yourself and others.

Right Purpose

“One cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in other. Life is one indivisible Whole – M. K. Gandhi.”

When you pursue right purpose, it leads you to do things that are meaningful to you and whatever is relevant to that purpose gets priority thereby eliminating distractions. Get people around you excited about a meaningful cause that contributes to the lives of others. Make decisions that support your purpose and focus on liberating their full potential through the work they do. Align and prioritise your actions to achieve results that matter most to you and to people you work with. Your commitment to right purpose and adherence to it will improve your leadership ability.

Self-discipline

If your goal is to lead and create the most value for your organisation or for yourself, then you must be able to perform to the best of your abilities. This can be achieved by cultivating self-discipline. More often, it’s not that achieving your goals is physically impossible, it is the lack of self-discipline to stick to them that keeps you from reaching your full potential. Self-discipline improves your will-power to overcome obstacles and moves you onwards towards your goal. Every act of discipline strengthens your confidence and helps you control your impulses while staying focused on what needs to get done. The strong desire for your purpose can act as a self-motivator to discipline yourself and to channel your energies in appropriate ways.

Right Focus

“Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.” – Peter F. Drucker

The ability to manage your attention and having right focus is the key to bring out the leader in you. Increase in ‘on task’ time could have a significant improvement in leading yourself effectively to get more focused attention. Focusing your attention on right things and directing attention toward where it needs to go is a primal task of leadership. The ability to shift attention to the right place at right time can refine efficiencies and improve yours and everybody’s performance. By maintaining right focus on goals that matter to you , you can seize opportunities and can improve yourself to be innovative and productive.

Empathy

As important it is to know yourself, to bring out the leader in you, you need to like people and should have a passion to interact, listen and understand them. Develop a deeper understanding of people around. Be empathetic and sensitive to their needs. Understand what drives them and demonstrate genuine concern for their welfare. Guide them through challenges and always be on the lookout for solutions to help them get through their personal challenges. Paying attention to others needs and listening to advice and expertise helps you make right decisions that transform fear to hope by questioning your assumptions. Learn to listen and communicate with care.

“When you start to develop your powers of empathy and imagination, the whole world opens up to you.”- Susan Sarandon

Passion

Have genuine passion and enthusiasm for the work you do. Be excited about what you do and find the best in others and surround yourself with positive people. Pursuing a vision that makes you feel worthy and meaningful and helping others ṭo liberate the fullness of their talents makes you more passionate. Being passionate opens up new possibilities, this in turn, would lead to new choices and new changes and action. Your passion becomes an anchor to keep you from drifting during turbulent times. Being passionate helps you to see good in every circumstance and creates positive attitudes to the opportunities.

“Good leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” – Jack Welch

Persuasion

Develop the ability to communicate persuasively. It’s easy to get others to do what you want them to do if you’ll see things from their perspective. Avoid thoughtless actions and look for ways to passionately stimulate and energise people and deliver right messages that motivate and reassure. Praise them for every effort they put forth. When something isn’t going right, point out the one thing at the moment that they could do better and help them find the way without making them feel small. Motivate and steer them in right direction and help them be successful too.

Flexibility

There is no singular path towards solving a problem. Rather than rigidly adhering to traditional and outdated ways of doing things, remain flexible in your thinking and in management of others by adapting to change. Adopt new habits and cultivate new attitudes to embrace change. If your old ways are not proving to be of value, it is important to have the flexibility to re-examine and change the course as needed. Sharpen your skills, develop your talents to help you turn your weaknesses into strengths.

Determination

Be determined not to give up easily when things don’t go your way. Never run yourself down. View failure as opportunity and seek to better yourself and your circumstances. Esteem yourself not with egotism but with humble, realistic self-confidence. If you possess genuine confidence and live with an unshakable sense of who you are, you can be determined to achieve your goals. Make your decisions with clarity and act despite risk and doubt.

To Summarise,

• Be inspired by great purpose.

• Remain flexible and maintain openness to change.

• Accept responsibility.

• Be resilient in the face of obstacles.

• Create a sense of direction in your life having the foresight to anticipate problems or needs before they arise.

• Increase your mindfulness by constant questioning and listening.

• Have impeccable integrity.

• Listen to advice and expertise

• Be collaborative and make decisions by consensus.

• Motivate, influence and help people in developing new strengths or refining their abilities.

• Be receptive to insights, perspectives from other people and their perception.

How to stop fearing failure

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston S. Churchill

We all set goals for ourselves as markers against which we measure our level of success and achieving them can be very inspiring, but there is always a fear of failure lurking around. Most of us do not know how to deal with it as we are not taught to deal with failure in school or in life. Many times, this fear of unknown, the danger of failure makes you give up on your goals either because you are scared of failing at them or because you fear other people’s judgments.

Sometimes, the dreams you had been working so hard to accomplish might take longer time than you expected. There might seem to be certain nuances or obstacles on the way in achieving them which you didn’t expect or sometimes things just don’t go the way you would like them to. It would be nice if accomplishing them was easy, but usually is not. There will always be times when you just want to give up and think that your great idea is just not going to make it if you fear failure.

Why we fear failure?

‘what if i fail?’ This sentence is a great stumbling block that does not let you try many things and take new approaches to accomplish what you want to leading to self-doubt. We fear failure mostly for two reasons. First, we see status and social acceptance as important to survival, so the thought of damaging our reputation is seen as huge danger when it comes to facing a risky situation. Second being we have learnt to accept failure as an unpleasant experience that causes feelings of shame and hurt.

Some people are in general more persistent and passionate about their long term goals. But the less gritty ones are not resilient in the face of adversity or difficulties. They give into their fears allowing them to dominate in convincing that ‘It cannot be done!’ Because of this, they are unable to stay the course when progress is not obvious and cannot bounce back after a minor disappointment.

Often, we get so caught up in facade of achieving our goals that we fail to identity obstacles that might stand in the way and do not to make plans to avoid or overcome them. However sometimes even the best laid plans can fail for any number of reasons. When things don’t go as planned, fear manifests into despair and becomes a major obstacle to progress. Because of this, you don’t put in the total effort that is required. It can be done, but you do not do it. Even though you have the ability but because you put in less than required, you cannot further overcome the failure.

With fear of failure,

• You subconsciously undermine your efforts and to avoid a larger possibility of a larger failure, you will convince yourself it’s better not to try.

• You impede your ability to address the actual problem fearing rejection.

• Self doubt makes you give up because you don’t want to feel incompetent or appear foolish.

• Fear of failure imprisons your experience in a cage that’s meant to keep the dangers out, but ends up locking you in.

• You never commit to your goals fully and avoid situations in which you don’t have control.

• You fail to capitalise on opportunities.

• You condition yourself not to set any goals as you self deprecate, devalue your worth convincing that you cannot achieve even though when they are within your reach.

How to stop fearing failure?

When you deny your goals or even give up on them fearing failure, you are rejecting who you are on the inside by fooling your subconscious. Failure is not something exclusive to you. As long as you have the will power to persevere the difficulties or failure and pick up from here, you can put up with situations that seem to be going against. You can continue to live with intent, purpose and direction.

If you use fear to understand the mechanism of failure by reflecting on your mistakes, you can stay motivated and adjust your course by learning from your failures. Maintaining high expected values for your goals over extended periods of time despite failures, setbacks and other kinds of adversity increases your endurance and tolerance.

Here are few strategies to work around your fear of failure and to persevere through obstacles.

Think Success

“Thinking is the hardest thing that is and that is why so few involve themselves in it.” and that is why the failures.

There is no disgrace in honest failure and fearing to fail. But in most cases, lack of planning and thinking that makes all the difference. Substitute failure thinking with success thinking. When you face a difficult situation, think ‘I’ll win’ not ‘I’ll probably lose’. When you compete with someone else think ‘I am equal to the best’. When opportunity opens, think in terms of ‘can’ and never ‘can’t’. Thinking success conditions your mind to create plans to succeed and overcome failure.

Learn from past failures

It might feel like failure only has negative. There are many who succeeded despite their failures. Each of them may have different reason for their failure; find out how successful people have succeeded despite their failures. Try to reflect on your past failures so as to figure out where the problem was—be it the method you applied or if your goals were unrealistic—don’t take the failure personally. Learn from past experiences and be honest about your weaknesses to move ahead. If you don’t learn from your past failure, you’re throwing away value. Use your experience to build something even better. Treat failure as simply a necessary part of your progress and rise from the past setbacks and disappointments.

Create your own version of success

Others opinion about you and they judging you should not hold you back from surpassing failure. The opinion of others has no power unless you yield it. Stop letting others dictate what you should and shouldn’t do. Believe in your unique goal and dwell on possibilities. Your beliefs have to be more powerful than any anxiety, fear or negativity you come across. There is no one prescribed way to achieve success and overcome failure. Be inspired to keep finding new ways to explore and build your own version of success.

Accept your fears

Failure can seriously dent your self-esteem and confidence. This is because we are made to believe that we are too good to fail from young age. Though it is good to build our self-esteem, but when faced with failure, we are more likely to take the escape route and allow fear, worry and self-doubt to dominate us. With failure also comes feeling of disappointment and rejection. It is important to recognise that fear that’s stopping you is just a feeling. Let yourself feel and let it pass without letting it to have an overpowering hold on you. This allows you to put everything in perspective and you can make the best possible decision to move forward.

Persevere through difficulties

It is very essential to persist through times of failures. Are you willing to go that extra mile? Are you willing to move out of your comfort zone? Are you willing to do what others won’t do ? When you are seeking your goal, don’t become impatient with the time taken or any difficulty you face. Instead consider it as a detour and devise a new way to reach your goal. Grow tolerant to put up with situations that seem to be against.

“Failure is only a temporary change in direction. Develop an inward zeal not to give up and persist in your efforts to transform it into success.”

Expect future obstacles and difficulties

Spend time on analysing what could be the possible obstacle to the goal you are pursuing, be your dream project or new career venture. Write down the worst possible outcome of facing the failure and then come up with an action plan to overcome it just in case. Think of future obstacles but don’t let it rule your decision to pursue your goal. Thinking of worst-case scenario gives you a balanced view and puts you in a positive frame of mind. You will be better equipped to tackle obstacles or solve difficult problems as they arise and you can get back with more vigour.

Grow the Action habit

Don’t wait until conditions are perfect. Action cures fear of failure. Waiting for perfect time by doing nothing about a situation will only strengthen fear and destroys confidence. Ideas of how you are going to overcome failure alone won’t bring success. They have value only when you act upon them. Thinking in terms of tomorrow, next week, later and words like this are synonymous with never. Be as ‘I am starting right now’ kind of person.

Redefine failure

We have all been conditioned to perceive success in a certain way, which then makes us believe that shifting those boundaries is failure. A way to stop fearing failure is to stop seeing it by the standards you may have been brought up with. Ignoring your small achievements will only lower your confidence in your future endeavours. Encourage yourself by celebrating every small effort you make. It may be in small doses, but it is the best way to get ahead. Don’t let the negative thoughts and anxiety hold you back. Manage them and prepare to tackle your next challenge.

Finally, don’t give up on your goal. The greater the effort you put into achieving a goal, the greater will be your fear of failure in achieving it. You face failure the moment you stop striving for. Don’t let the fear of bad decision or misstep hold you back and hamper your chances to improve. Instead cultivate a can do attitude and maintain high expected valuations for your goals despite failures.

To get out of your fixation on fear of failure,

• Focus on things that are within your control.

• Always believe that “there is a way”.

• Seek out your faults and correct them.

• Start fresh to see new solutions or new approaches.

• Learn from your past failures to make yourself strong,

• When facing difficult situation, take a step back and reconsider your perspective. Look at a problem from all angles. Break it down into small steps that are more achievable than big leaps.

• Stop judging yourself. Use failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.

• Admit your fears, identify challenges and structure your expectations to create a road to your success.

“The obstacles that are in your way aren’t meant to stop you. They’re designed to point the way to a new route, new possibilities, and new doorways.” Anonymous