How to manage your expectations

“The quality of our expectations determines the quality of our action.
– A. Godin

We always hold onto conscious and unconscious expectations when it comes to our friends, coworkers, superiors or subordinates, or from other personal or professional relationships . These expectations we all tend to hold onto, about ourselves, others and about the situations we find ourselves in directly influence us. As these expectations become targets or plans for the future. They not only influence what you are going to attempt and your confidence but also your attitude, decisions, behaviours, perspectives and your interactions with others. So, when we hold onto realistic expectations, they direct us in positive ways and towards our goals. However, many of us have a habit of often holding onto unrealistic, negative or sometimes to failed expectations that not only distort our perception of reality but they also lead us away from the goals and objectives we want to achieve.

In general, expectations are required for us to function. It is a good thing to set standards and expect for them to be met in our personal or professional endeavours. But problems arise when we fail to give the right balance to expectation, such as expecting more or less from others or ourselves, than we ought to. It is then that we set ourselves up for disappointment. There is a difference between having realistic standards for behaviour or performance and expectations. Because sometimes our expectations might be based upon strongly held assumptions.

Downside of having unrealistic expectations:

Some of our expectations are may be unrealistic or unreasonable because of the unjustified assumptions and conclusions we make. Such expectations make you think that things will go your way and create unnecessary stress and disappointment when things don’t work out. Sometimes they drive deception because of your past perceptions. For example, your worries are often built upon a set of unrealistic expectations and beliefs that end up influencing your behaviour negatively. Also living up to others unreasonable expectations creates stress and frustration. Expecting others to do what is in your interest also leads to resentment when the outcome is less likely than what you imagined it would be. Also when you try to live up to others’ expectations, the gap that arises between what people expect from you and who you are leads to frustration of yours and others as well.

Low expectations vs high expectations

Setting our expectations high or low generally has objective consequences. Many think one way to avoid disappointment and unhappiness is to have low expectations. This gives rise to a notion that you should lower your expectations to increase your well-being. But this may not hold true factually. Research shows that people with higher expectations are generally happier, whether they succeed or fail. Their findings were based on the result of three cognitive processes.

First, what matters for your well-being is how you interpret the events you encounter. For instance, a student with low expectations who got an A might attribute to his luck and not to his effort. But another who expected an A but got C might put in more effort next time and even turn hopeful that he would eventually get an A. But a student with higher expectations who succeeds, he attributes it to his personal potential. Second, adjusting people’s expectations upward led to bettering their performance. For instance, most of the times it is enough to encourage students with the word ‘clever’ to make them score higher. And the third, having high expectations about the future made them happier in present.

So, the key to increase our productivity and well-being is not to lower our expectations but is the ability to identify and release unrealistic or unreasonable expectations or assumptions of ours and others. It has more to do with the ability to interpret negative outcomes in a positive way. setting high expectations for yourself and working hard towards achieve them proves to be more productive. Setting high expectations not only improves your productivity but also makes you more inclined towards learning from your mistakes. On the contrary, if someone is basing his/her performance on low expectations or on unhelpful or unrealistic expectations, then he/she will be more likely to fail, less productive and will be less inclined to learn from their errors.

We cannot get rid of our own and others’ expectations as they play an important role in our everyday interactions and in achieving our objectives. Be it an individual or as an organisation’s expectations, they play a crucial part in our planning and productivity. This is because many times optimism bias tends to influence our future success. To achieve your goals, you should be able to effectively manage your own expectations and of others. Handling failed, unrealistic and negative expectations in positive ways can help you achieve your goals and objectives. Here are some ways to manage your own expectations and others’ expectations of you.

Managing your own expectations

unrealistic expectations. At times, we hold onto unreasonable expectations about ourselves both personal and professional situations we find ourselves in. This is mostly because of inaccurate information we have or due to our unjustified conclusions or preconceived notions. Such expectations may distort our perception of reality and lead us down the wrong path. Asking right kind of questions can make you aware of the conclusions we are drawing at any moment and helps you to handle your expectations. It is important to challenge such expectations by asking yourself what your expectations are, are you basing them on assumptions or facts and whether or not it is reasonable to hold onto such expectations in the first place. Check as to what set of expectations would be more helpful for you in that situation. Challenge your unreasonable expectations to set realistic and helpful expectations in a specific situation.

Negative expectations. Sometimes certain negative expectations manifest from self-doubt and pessimism creating failure scenarios. Recognising the possible consequences of such expectations can help you handle them positively. In order to handle your doubts, challenge your limiting beliefs. What do you expect will happen? How do you know for sure that things will turn out this way? What if the way you are thinking about is flawed? Look for more empowering ways to think and handle such negative expectations. The more you challenge your doubts and limiting beliefs, the more confident you will be to develop more realistic and positive expectations that align with your goals.

Failed expectations At times, you might have set a goal that you believed that you would achieve but didn’t quite turned out that way. In such situations, instead of giving into limiting emotions like fear of failure and disappointment, or thinking that you are inadequate or incapable, look for what you can learn from them. The result is not what you expected but it doesn’t change what you are capable of. Treat it as a failed attempt that you must learn and grow from. In order to deal with failed expectations, check whether your expectations are flexible or are you expecting very specific results based on preset conditions. When your expectations are not flexible, there won’t be enough margin left to allow you to make changes when conditions change. Check how your expectations turn out if conditions change and how you need to adapt to these changing conditions.

It is good to set goals and achieve them. But it is important to note that expectations aren’t the same as targets and you should ignore brain’s need to expect the same thing over and over. Identify where your expectations are coming from and look for any confirmation bias. Do not let your past experiences dictate your expectations. Instead of seeking evidence to confirm your perspective of how things are same, make an effort to look for what is different in a situation the second time you come across it.

Managing other’s expectations

Sometimes, we make certain decisions based on how others expect us to perform. Others can help us raise or lower our productivity levels. However, when we fail to live up to others’ expectations or when their expectations don’t align with our goals, we experience disappointment and it gives rise to frustration and resentment. Here are ways to manage others’ expectations.

Communicate with others to clarify. Expectations if not clearly defined or expressed can lead to failure and frustration. Communicate with the person setting the expectations for you. A person who is setting unreasonable expectations might be unaware that he or she is putting unfair pressure on you. When in doubt ask whether it is your friends, coworkers or children as to what it is that they want or need in that particular situation. Talk to the person and be clear about what’s expected, how it might be accomplished and make them aware of your boundaries are. For instance, what your limitations are, your flexibility, or your availability and so on. Let others know about your preferences and your plans so that they don’t expect anything that is unreasonable or unrealistic. Communicate with everyone involved in a frequent basis to avoid any assumptions they have of you.

Anticipate worst-case scenarios We are aware of the expectations others have of us, but in an effort to impress them, we forget to take into account setbacks, obstacles or other interferences that come in our way. Do not assume that things will go as you expect. For bigger tasks or projects, anticipating every possible outcome and being prepared for worst-case scenarios will help you in making your expectations more realistic.

Be aware of biases and perspectives of others. Expectations from your relationships, both personal and professional might lead to unhappiness if they are based on preconceptions and other biases. Having a clear understanding of others expectations gives you an opportunity to improve or correct your decisions and choices. Make sure you understand the context and avoid falling into the trap of their biases and preconceptions. Do not assume that others have the same understanding of a situation as you do. Gain awareness of others’ assumptions, biases and perspectives if there are any. This gives you a proper perspective of what they are expecting of you.

Finally, Manage your expectations of others

Sometimes, our expectations of others can also be unreasonable. Such expectations also put pressure on people to meet those expectations. Challenging and pushing them to raise their personal standards can be very empowering. But the key is to avoid putting unreasonable and unnecessary expectations onto others. When you place unreasonable expectations on others, you place yourself at a high risk of getting disappointed. Such disappointments can lead to an increased anger toward the person causing the disappointment. Be mindful of what is it that you are truly expecting from others. Think of what’s unreasonable to expect of other person given their ability and their current circumstances. Ask yourself whether would you expect the same of yourself if you are in that particular situation. This will help you to make your expectations of others more reasonable and realistic.

To conclude,

So, what expectations are you holding onto? Are your current expectations helpful and realistic? Are your expectations too low or too high? Are you being reasonable in your expectations of others? Do you communicate clearly to others what you expect and about your limitations? Are your expectations flexible? Do you focus on communicating who you are or Are your conversations full of expectations of who you should be? Do you strive to fulfil others’ expectations at the expense of your needs? Ask yourself the above questions to be more aware and mindful of your expectations.

Our success and failure can be largely defined through how we manage our expectations of ourselves and of others. At the same time, managing your expectations of others is also important to navigate yourself through your work situations and in your personal relationships. Instead of getting bogged down by various expectations, use the above strategies to change your expectations to ones that are more in line with your goals and to manage them effectively.

How assertive are you?

“Too many of us fail to fulfill our needs because we say no rather than yes, yes when we should say no.” – William Glasser

To handle uncomfortable or hostile or difficult moments or situations in your personal or professional life, you should have a strong sense of yourself and should find balance in your passive and aggressive behaviours in order to stand up for yourself. You need to be more assertive in expressing yourself in a positive way in such situations and should be able to communicate your thoughts and feelings firmly and directly in order not to be on the receiving end of meanness or bullying or teasing. Research has shown that those who are victimised by bullies exhibit a certain kind of vulnerability as they lack the ability to stand up for themselves and are unable to assert themselves or defend themselves even when picked on. How well you can handle such situations is often determined by your levels of assertiveness. Some people are naturally assertive, but if you are not one of them, it is an important skill to be practiced and developed.

Assertiveness is a must learned skill when it comes to handling stressful and conflicting situations in our personal and professional relationships and to overcome traits like passivity, sensitivity to criticism, insecurity, anxiety and low self-esteem. Some of us struggle to be assertive in some situations, but can find the right words in other. Some are not assertive for fear of upsetting or displeasing others and of not being liked. Even though you may avoid immediate unpleasantness by not being assertive, in the long run, you end up jeopardising your relationships. And if you are too passive, always putting others’ needs before yours, you give others the license to disregard your wants and needs. Sometimes this leads to saying ‘yes’ to certain things at the expense of your own interests and priorities thereby leading to an internal conflict, stress, resentment, seething anger or feelings of victimisation. And also leading to your needs always ending up on the back burner leaving you perpetually dissatisfied.

So, What is being assertive or self-assertion all about?

Being assertive is standing up for your rights while still respecting others, defending your own boundaries while not crossing other people’s lines, expressing your own opinions, needs, wants and feelings without hurting others, or disagreeing without being disagreeable. It means you are not afraid of speaking your mind. It requires being forthright about your wants and needs, while still considering the rights, needs and wants of others. You thus draw power from this to get your point across firmly, fairly and with empathy.

Being able to stand up for yourself in a way that is both respectful to yourself and others shows that you have boundaries and you are prepared to put your own needs first. When you are effectively assertive, you are neither aggressive nor passive — instead you are honest, direct, and skilled at articulating your views. Assertiveness is being proactive. It’s negating any possibility of the person we communicate with getting mad at us or disliking what we said or did.

Being Assertive over Passive or Aggressive

Assertiveness is often confused with aggression as there is a very fine line between the two. For this reason, it is important to know the difference in both the behaviours. Assertiveness means standing up for yourself in a nonaggressive way and it does not mean dominance over others or controlling. If you are aggressive, and in case you had a difference of opinion with an other person, you may resort to anger, rudeness or name calling. Also you might try to force your point of view, even at the expense of another’s. Whereas assertive behaviour is standing up and expressing yourself by being respectful and without putting down anyone else.

Being aggressive is also disregarding the needs, feelings and opinions of others. Aggressive behaviour damages your personal and professional relationships and undercuts trust and mutual respect. Others may come to resent you, leading them to avoid or oppose you. On the other hand, if you are passive, you become uncomfortable expressing yourself honestly. You feel you don’t have the right to be heard. You back down easily or would go with whatever others decide to avoid conflict. Also if you are passive-aggressive, you may say ‘yes’ when you want to say ‘no’ and you may complain and pass comments behind their backs rather than confronting them directly. You may show anger and feelings through your actions or negative attitude. Overtime passive-aggressive behaviour makes it difficult for you to meet your goals and needs.

Why is it important to be Assertive?

Being assertive is to find the right balance between passive and aggressive. To be assertive is to have a strong sense of yourself, your values and to openly express your opinions, feelings, needs and desires and to act in accordance with your goals and objectives. Knowing and claiming your own rights while at the same time respecting others can help you build better relationships in your professional endeavours. You can get things done by treating people with fairness and respect. It can help you to interact and negotiate so that yours and others’ views are given fair treatment and can find common ground to arrive at the best solution possible.

With increasing competition, being assertive at the workplace becomes really important to openly share your ideas thoughts and opinions at work. Assertiveness helps you exhibit positive and open style of communication that is neither submissive nor aggressive. It also improves confidence and is an indirect and a powerful tool to increase your productivity and efficiency. Being assertive is important to handle different situations like to respond or cope with putdowns, to make requests, or to say ‘no’ effectively, give and receive criticism appropriately, handling and expressing anger, speaking up to a rude person, or to deal with stressful or unpleasant situations in your personal or professional life. It helps you plan and carry through difficult encounters and to manage conflicting situations more effectively.

How to become more Assertive?

Not everything you want will be handed to you. Sometimes, you have to go out and get it. And if you want to succeed in your goals, you will have to be assertive. The right amount of assertiveness can help you get ahead. Assertiveness can be learned and the key is to understand the context and to set realistic goals to make small changes. Here are some strategies to help you become more assertive.

Assess your level of Assertiveness. You can assess your own behaviour or can do so through feedback from others. Check your willingness to express yourself and what you want. Try to assess your interactions as to what is being said and how you feel about it, how do you want to respond to what is being said? Or what do you want from that particular situation. This way, you will be able to decide whether you need to be assertive and most importantly how to be assertive so that there is a positive result. If you find that in your assessment that you are holding back in certain situations where you shouldn’t, write down the reasons as to what you aren’t saying and the reason as to why you aren’t saying. This way, you can make yourself assertive next time you enter a similar situation. Assessment keeps you focused on improving your abilities to be assertive in difficult conversations.

Practice assertive communication techniques. Sometimes it is often quite hard to know how to put your feelings across clearly and confidently to someone. The scripting technique can help in such situations as it allows you to prepare what you want to say in advance. You can tell the other person exactly about the event and how you see the situation or problem. You can describe your feelings about the situation and express your emotions clearly. You can tell exactly what you need from him or her so that he or she doesn’t have to guess. Describing the positive impact that your request will have for him or her if your needs are met.

Using ‘I’ statements lets others know what you are thinking or feeling without being accusatory, like for instance, “I disagree” rather than “you’re wrong”. While requesting , you can say, “I want you to help with this” rather than “ you need to do this”. Keep them simple and specific to get your points across firmly. Try using verbs that are more definite and specific. For instance, use verbs like ‘will’ instead of ‘could’ or ‘should’ or ‘want’ instead of ‘need’ or ‘choose to’ instead of ‘have to’. Keep your communications direct to get your message across by using the assertive communication technique.

Express yourself positively. It is important to express your thoughts and opinions even when dealing with difficult or unpleasant situations. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and to confront people who challenge you. If others get angry or resentful towards you, avoid reacting to them. But try to control your emotions and stay calm and respectful at all times. Accept both positive and negative feedback positively and if you don’t agree with criticism that you receive then you should be able to say so without getting angry or defensive. Express negative emotions in a healthy manner. Don’t take out your frustration or aggression on others in order to be assertive. Understand that you cannot be assertive all the time with all people in all situations. The key is to achieve the right balance of when to be assertive and when not to. This will help you to respond and not react to situations.

Practice saying ‘no’. Many confuse saying ‘no’ with negativity. Knowing your own boundaries or limits and how much work you are able to take will help you to manage your tasks effectively. You cannot possibly please everyone. Saying ‘no’ assertively when necessary can save your time and work load. Saying ‘yes’ to a commitment or task you don’t really want to do can get you into a state of stress and negativity. If you have a hard time turning down requests, try saying “No, I can’t do that now.” Don’t hesitate and be direct or brief in your explanation if required. It is important to be consistent in respecting your boundaries and to learn to say ‘no’ clearly and unambiguously.

Resist the temptation to react immediately and in extremes. Difficult conversations often trigger a huge amount of stress which is why you may avoid such interactions in the first place. When pushed to our limits, most of us get either compliant (submissive) or defiant(opposing or resisting). Reacting either way does not help you in being a good team player or to lead effectively. Recognise your style either compliant or defiant and then consciously try to take the middle ground. Ask questions rather than reacting. It gives you specific points to argue rather than just catastrophizing about how others might react if you object. And in contrary, If your views don’t chime with the dominant view point, you need not change yours on important issues according to who you are talking to. Sometimes saying nothing also is one of the most assertive position you can adopt.

To conclude,

Do you voice your opinion or remain silent in important discussions and conversations? Are you able to assert yourself or defend when you get picked on? Do you often say ‘yes’ to additional work even when you have work to do? Is your unassertiveness is because of the fear that the other person will criticise you or put you down? Do you stand your ground or do you feel victimised when it comes to your values or important issues in your personal or professional relationships? Is your communication style aggressive or assertive? Do you often disregard the needs, feelings, and opinions of others or do you respect them? Asking yourself above questions will help you to know where you are particularly sensitive and where you need to be assertive thus you will be better placed to avoid being too passive or aggressive.

If you’ve spent years silencing yourself, becoming more assertive takes time and practice. You don’t need to be assertive in every context of the day or you need not change your authenticity to become assertive. Assess your own degree of assertiveness, understand the context, set realistic goals to make small changes in your behaviour or communication with the help of the above strategies to become more assertive in your work or social or personal relationships. Express yourself openly and authentically without being passive or aggressive.

“Assertiveness is not what you do, it’s who you are!” ― Shakti Gawain

Why you need to achieve Flow state

“Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity to act.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

When it comes to doing quality work and achieving your goals, you need to work on your tasks with full concentration and free from distraction. But most people have unproductive work habits caused by unhappiness, dissatisfaction and displeasure. They do not enjoy performing the activities related to their work. Because of this they fail to optimise their performance and produce quality work. Whenever we get involved in doing a task that is interesting or enjoyable, we do it with total concentration and we lose track of time and everything around us be it the noise or people or other distractions seems to fade away. Many of us would have experienced such state at one point or another in our life like while playing a game or pursuing our hobbies or while learning a subject of our interest or while writing, dancing and so on. Such state where we feel intense, exhilarating and satisfying is called Flow state.

By achieving flow state, you can overcome the problems of dissatisfaction, unhappiness and other unproductive habits. Flow can lead to improved performance and can be the key to achieve happiness at work.

Flow state is not only limited to your work but it also optimises your performance in activities like sports, art, and learning. When you are in Flow, you can exhibit your creative skills and abilities quite easily and such state leads to your productive best irrespective of which work you are involved in.

What is ‘Flow’ state?

Flow is about enjoying what you do and is known as the state of optimal performance and engagement. Flow is often referred to as being “ in the zone” and it is directly proportional to being productive. Flow experience is mostly active and is complete immersion in an enjoyable activity. Activity can be playing a sport or pursuing a hobby or pursuing your goals. Sometimes both positive and negative behaviours can lead to state of flow. But the negative behaviour at some point will take you out of flow because of the risk involved when compared to that of a positive behaviour.

According to Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, “Flow is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”

According to him, we find more occasions of flow when we work rather than when we are at leisure or relaxed. This is because at work, we have clear set of goals that require appropriate response and it provides immediate feedback in terms of measurable goals completed. And also job/task tends to improve concentration and prevent distractions.

When do you experience the state of Flow?

Almost any activity can produce flow experience. You can find flow in your daily activities or while working. In fact we find more occasions of flow when we are dealing with challenging tasks than the easier ones. You also experience Flow when you push yourself to accomplish a difficult task, or while contemplating on difficult questions or recalling enjoyable experiences, or activities that keep you engaged in writing or learning about the topics you find most enjoyable. You get into a state of Flow when

• Your time spent on the task seems effortless.

• You have a sense of control over your actions.

• Your action and awareness merges during which you lose self consciousness.

• You experience timelessness.

• You receive direct and immediate feedback.

• Your goals are clearly defined.

• You are able to focus all your effort and attention in the task.

• The task is challenging, but it is doable.

• You are internally driven with a purpose and direction.

While flow experience has above components, but it is not necessary that all these need to take place together.

Almost everyone can learn to achieve flow. But those with passion, persistence and enthusiasm tend to experience more flow. On the contrary, those who are highly critical of themselves or anxious or self-conscious and self-centred experience less of flow state. Engaging in high-skill, high-challenge activities that contain clear goals and feedback structure and mastering challenging activities would allow one to experience more flow.

Why being in flow is important?

Being in flow is a sense of effortless action and if you can achieve flow state in your tasks, it allows you to focus on your goals that are clear and compatible. Research shows there is an association between Flow and peak performance where the benefits included enhanced well-being and self-concept. It triggers positive mindset, grit and creativity. Being in flow state enables you to focus your attention completely in the task at hand leaving no room for contradictions thereby leading to better choices, decisions and more positive outcomes. Flow can help you achieve happiness, satisfaction and productivity.

“The greatest athletes are the ones who ‘make it look easy’…The athletes and others in peak performance states are not ‘wanting’ to perform well but are engaged in the flow of doing.” – M. Hutchinson

People who experience flow are more productive as they tend to ignore distractions with more control over their thoughts. They pay close attention to details which often help them identify opportunities to act, set goals, gain feedback and go after bigger challenges. Flow activities in learning provide enthusiasm, provide intrinsic rewards and help you gain new skills.

How to achieve the Flow state?

Achieving a state of flow can be great way to make your routine chores or tasks more engaging and enjoyable. People who mastered certain skills often experience flow state and they make whatever they are doing look easy as they are totally engaged in it. You can achieve such a state by making the components of flow available in your work or other activities you pursue. Here are some ways to achieve the Flow state in your work.

Make your tasks more challenging

A boring task can be turned into more challenging by finding better ways to do it or to do it more efficiently or to find ways to accomplish more on the task by paying more attention to it. Approaching a challenging task without any prejudice and with more determination, you can make it more meaningful and can achieve a state of flow. One way to stay in flow is to consistently increase the challenge of your tasks, but not make them too hard. The task should be neither too demanding nor too simple for your abilities. It has to equal your skill level to tackle the difficulty or challenging part of the task.

Develop your skills

You can achieve state of flow by engaging in challenging tasks or work that are doable. Achieving flow state is enjoying what you do. so by developing your skills, you can match up to the challenging tasks which otherwise seem much harder than they actually are. When you are devoting all of your energy to learn new skills that are required to achieve a larger goal, this puts your thoughts, feelings and action in harmony achieving a state of flow.

“If challenges are too low, one gets back to flow by increasing them. If they are too great, one can return to flow state by learning new skills.” – csikszentmihalyi

Set clear goals

Flow is about achieving your goals to your satisfaction. Goals add motivation and structure to what you are doing. Whether you are in learning or working or in creative field, learning to set effective goals helps you to gain focus you need and working towards achieving them. Gain clarity about your circumstances and the behaviours you are indulging in. Setting goals and aspirations provide you with a sense of direction that will help you to get in the state of flow. A clearly defined passionate life purpose can help you bring back to flow state.

Establish your priorities

Your core values will determine how you you prioritise your life. If your priorities have meaning and aligned with your life’s purpose, then this will help you find the motivation you need to get into flow state. By prioritising, you can match your skills with whatever tasks at hand or your purpose. And also figure out the required skills you need to achieve your goals and can extend yourself beyond your current ability level. Slight stretching of your ability is a good way to a experience flow state. Reevaluate your core values and priorities by checking if there are any specific habits and fears that might be holding you back from entering the flow state.

Expand your possibilities

A personal evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses let’s you identify the skills you need to build or work upon. Sometimes you may not find your flow because you have closed yourself off to new experiences. Find your flow by opening yourself to new possibilities or by gathering new insights and by exposing yourself to new ideas and opportunities. Surround yourself with people who motivate and inspire you and those who tend to challenge you. This way you can step out of your comfort zone to open up to new possibilities.

Find your motivation

Being in flow state is by doing a intrinsically rewarding task. If you are Extrinsically motivated, motivation lasts as long as you receive a reward and can avoid a negative outcome. Such motivation is short-lived and doesn’t make you intrinsically driven which is important to find your flow. You can attain flow through voluntary engagement in a task that you find enjoyable. Without intrinsic motivation, you will fall back to indulging in unhelpful and limiting habits that obstruct your flow. By being intrinsically driven, that is doing a task for the sake of doing and not because of external factors, you will always find your flow.

Strike a balance

We experience many emotional states when trying to perform a task depending on the difficulty of the task and our skill level. If the work or the task isn’t challenging, we experience boredom and if our skill levels don’t match any challenging task, we could experience anxiety and worry. Similarly when we are not motivated enough and under too much or too little pressure, our performance often declines and becomes unproductive. According to inverted U model created by Psychologists Roger Yerkes & John Dodson, there is a perfect medium of pressure where people perform at their best. According to them, when we are overloaded with work or under high pressure, our negative emotions like stress and anxiety increases. Instead by balancing your skills with the difficulty of the task or work you are pursuing, you can enter a state of Flow.

Finally,

Guide your focus

If you control how you interpret the events that become part of your conscious experience, you are more likely to experience happiness and therefore more flow. Attention is an important tool that can be used to control your flow experience. When your focus is not guided like when you are idle or distracted, your mind tends to lean towards the negative paying more attention to negative experiences and information than to the positive. Guiding your freed-up focus for goal-striving or towards your intentions, and focusing your attention on one task at a time improves your flow experience.

You can only put your conscious attention on one thing at a time. If that’s all that has your attention, you’re in flow.”

Conclusion

To sum up. If you are willing to create conditions that would allow you to experience flow at work by having clear goals, establishing your priorities, receiving feedback, emphasising on focused attention, you can use your skills to their fullest capacity to create things that matter. Follow the above mentioned suggestions to achieve a state of flow in your everyday life be it personal or professional. Having a purpose and right direction, you can make better decisions about to what to pay attention to in any given moment , which, in turn, allows you to engage more fully in your activities, making them more engaging and enjoyable thereby making Flow a more likely outcome.

Overcome your habit of procrastination

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
-Abraham Lincoln

We all procrastinate and put off doing important tasks by postponing our work to do tomorrow or later and this tomorrow never comes and before we know it, time goes by without any progress made on the set goals. “Procrastination is the thief of time” and affects your productivity. The habit of putting off important tasks can rob you of your hours of achievement and success. By delaying your important tasks because they take time or difficult to do, you in fact delay your dreams or goals. When you neglect your work, or delay a task given to you, chances are that you will continue to delay it unless you make some changes in your thinking or habits.

Procrastination is a chronic cycle. Slacking, hiding from work, doing unimportant tasks, putting off and then the loop repeats. You cannot find a solution to your procrastinating habit unless you realize that you are procrastinating. The solution lies in being aware of the reasons behind your procrastinating habit.

What happens when you Procrastinate?

We all have tendency to procrastinate because our minds naturally like to be in a relaxed state. Sometimes we have trouble focusing and we put off a difficult task for as long as possible. But when you finally get around to doing the task, you have tough time finding ways to push past your lack of momentum to get the task done.

Some people feel that doing things at the last minute creates urgency, which pushes them to act. They feel that this will help them to be more efficient without realizing that this wastes their precious time that could be otherwise used productively. It creates unneeded anxiety as deciding to put off the task for later only makes you think about it from time to time causing unnecessary worry. The continuous avoidance forms a distorted image of how intimidating the task is in your mind, compare to what it really is creating an exaggerated amount of fear of the task you are supposed to do.

By leaving little time for your important tasks, the final output will be always short of what you are really capable of as you’ve insufficient time to deliver quality results. When you delay or defer your important tasks to the later time, it snowballs into a huge impact on your productivity and well-being. Everything you do in a day, from the little decisions you make to the amount of time you allot to act on your goals, plays a big role in what you achieve. Delaying something by a day or a week may seem inconsequential as you experience short-term relief from not having to deal with immediately, but makes a big difference in the long run.

What is Procrastination?

The word Procrastination comes from the Latin word procrastinatus, which means “to put off till tomorrow, defer, delay.” It is a natural human tendency to avoid important tasks because either they are unpleasant, stressful, or difficult. We tend to replace them with less important tasks that are either easy, less stressful or because you find them interesting. It is a common belief that people with poor time management skills often procrastinate, but this may not be the only reason. Research shows that people who are poor in their emotional or stress management skills often resort to procrastination. This is mainly due to their inability to cope with their moods, or negative emotions like fear or self-doubt which makes them negative, uncertain, or unmotivated towards their tasks.

What causes Procrastination?

Procrastination is a kind of avoidance and at times and it can become a frustrating habit to keep delaying important tasks without knowing how to stop. When working towards overcoming your procrastinating habit, it is important to address on the primary root causes of the behavior rather than the habit itself. By truly understanding what causes you to procrastinate, you can uncover the real reasons behind it. We tend to procrastinate for multiple reasons and they differ from person to person. Here are Some common root causes.

  • Lack of discipline or laziness or giving into your habitual urges to do something easier or more comfortable.
  • Unwillingness to do hard tasks. Our minds focus on the hard parts of tasks that we are procrastinating on. We tend to label them as difficult, scary, time-consuming, and so on without being fully aware of the tasks.
  • Procrastination is most of the times is about fear. Fear of failure, fear of uncertainty, fear of rejection, or fear of doing something in a less perfect manner or fear of being incapable. Once you are aware of your fears, you can see that they are misconceived beliefs and can immediately address them.
  • Lack of motivation can fuel your procrastination habit. If your are not motivated, either intrinsically or extrinsically, you lack the desire to act on your task. Having an ideal vision that inspires you from within can motivate you intrinsically and you could create sources of extrinsic motivation to get overcome your procrastination habit.
  • Not able to prioritizing your tasks. When there are too many things to be completed, in a conflict of what is more important and which task should be tackled first makes you procrastinate on important tasks. It is hard to know which tasks are important if you are not organised. By prioritizing, you can focus on what you need to and make time for thereby you can avoid getting caught up in less important tasks.
  • Fear of missing out on something or need to be up-to-date on everything causes distractions and creates habitual urges to go to something easier and more comfortable spiraling you into procrastination.
  • People who experience anxiety or lack of confidence in their ability to complete a task procrastinate in order to avoid failure in short-term. Procrastination is used as a coping strategy when stressed or overwhelmed or when we become anxious.

When you become aware of the root causes to your habit of procratination, you can work towards ocercoming it.

How to overcome Procrastination

You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.

— Benjamin Franklin

Long-term procrastination is often associated with stress, difficulty with completing your daily tasks, reduced mental health, and lower levels of well-being. Putting off your important responsibilities leads to self-defeating behavior and underperformance affecting you personally and professionally. Overcoming your procrastinating habit is necessary for your productivity, emotional-wellbeing and time-management. Here are some strategies to overcome your procrastination.

Know your triggers.

Some of the common triggers for putting things off are confusion, boredom, frustrating, difficulty, unstructured, not intrinsically motivating, lacks meaning or purpose.  When these triggers are set off, trying to resist the urges to procratinate may help you deal with them.

When you are getting started on a task and feel an urge to do something else, then try to curb your distraction by thinking differently.  Finding an interesting way of doing a boring task can help you start a task you have been procrastinating.

Disabling digital distractions ahead of time gives you no choice but to work on what is important.

Reminding yourself of the purpose and meaning of the task can help you stay motivated. If there is mood issue or health concern that is contributing to procrastination, address the underlying condition to reduce your tendency to procrastinate. By identifying the triggers, you can replace self-defeating thoughts with more productive thoughts to overcome your habit of procrastination.

Structure your to-do lists

The other strategy to deal with procrastination is to structure your to-do lists. We often procrastinate when there are too many things to be completed, and we cannot prioritize. Writing your top “to-do’s” for the day can bring structure to your tasks and can keep you stay on track with your tasks.

Many people try to fill their lists with too many things and go haywire trying to complete all the tasks together and in the bargain, they will end up doing less important ones and end up procrastinating on the important tasks. Keeping your lists manageable, measurbale and meaningful can help you complete your tasks without putting them off for later.

Follow “one-three-five-rule” when putting together your daily list of things to accomplish. This means set nine daily tasks for yourself which should have one big goal to tackle, three medium tasks and five small tasks. This way you can keep your tasks manageble and you can prioritize your tasks to the things that matter most and also keeps you from feeling cluttered with an endless list of things to-do. One of the other ways to structure your lists is by keeping a “won’t-do” list. Write a checklist of things you plan to do and those you won’t do, but plan to do in the future. As you finish your “to-do” tasks, you can move onto “won’t-do” tasks.

Follow “Two-minute-rule”

To avoid procrastination on routine tasks that still have to be done, use the two-minute rule. Following this rule, you can avoid tons of unimportant things and you can focus on your priorities. If a task takes just 2 minutes of your time, do it right away. Don’t add it to your to-do list and don’t postpone it for later.  There are tons of trivial tasks that take less than 2 minutes that you need to do every day. If it takes more than 2 minutes, start it and continue doing it to for at least 2 minutes. This way you will set a momentum for your bigger tasks.

Overcome yes but thinking

When you procrastinate, check to see if your thoughts include yes but thinking. ‘yes’ signals that you accept that task is important, and ‘but’ signals that you intend to put it off for some reason or the other. For instance, thoughts like yes, ‘but now is not the time to work on this’ or ‘but I am under stress’ or ‘but I am not keen’ or “but i am not ready.’

Yes but thinking may give you a short-term relief, but you end up getting caught in this thought trap. When you procrastinate, check to see if your thoughts include yes but thoughts and write down what buts you tell yourself to procrastinate working towards your goals.  Maybe you are momentarily anxious about doing that task. Ask yourself “What is the very worst thing that could happen if I did it today?” Vividly picture how free you will feel once the task is completed. Free from anxiety.

When doing things which you are not so keen on doing, combine things you want to do with the things you should do with “temptation building”, that is, finding tasks you dread and pairing them with something you like. Combining two different but complementary activities increases the probability of doing things that you are not keen and thereby helping you to get used to a positive habit.

Accept Imperfections

Most of us procrastinate in wanting to do our tasks perfectly. Perfection needs time and we often delay our tasks in search of that required time to perfect them. Perfecting things can be so intimidating that you dont even want to get started, even if you do you might lack your momentum to carry on with the task later. We often procrastinate to avoid having to deal with difficult tasks and having to make tough decisions.

Instead of always aiming for perfection, you can start working on your difficult tasks by just getting started. You may not come up with a perfect idea immediately, but it is easier to keep going with a task after you have overcome the initial jump of starting it in the first place.

Getting started on something forces you to work and you will find less triggers than you originally anticipated. By just starting on a task that has been put off, you can continue to process it and this makes you more likely to work later on and eventually you will be able to come up with better ways of perfecting the task.

Finally, Embrace your procrastinating nature

Come to accept that no matter how much you want to avoid it, there will always be times when you defer your tasks for later. We are natural procrastinators and no matter how much you want to avoid it, it is just our nature that whenever there is something that need to be done, our instincts are to start later or to put it off until tomorrow. you cannot overcome your habit of procrastination unless you know that you are procrastinating. Become self aware and accept it and find ways to overcome it.

Is there something you are procrastinating on in your life? your goals? work? health? Find small ways to to start on a task that’s been put off. This can reduce your chances of procrastinating on it in future. Develop an ability to organize your daily tasks and approach them in a desciplined way to achieve your time-bound goals. Have a strong desire that can act as a self-motivator to help you overcome procrastination.

To-Do:

Next time, when you find yourself procrastinating, Take five minutes to identify what is triggering you to put off your important task.  Take coreective measures to curb your urge to delay the task for later. Action eliminates anxiety. If getting started is difficult, set a designated time slot to do the task. Don’t worry perfecting the task, what counts is effort and not the result.  Set meaningful, measurable and manageable goals and follow the above strategies to overcome procrastination in order to achieve them. Do important tasks now before they become urgent.

“The really happy people are those who have broken the chains of procrastination, those who find satisfaction in doing the job at hand. They’re full of eagerness, zest, productivity. You can be, too.” 

– Norman Vincent Peale

 

Related links

https://sscascades.org/2019/01/15/are-you-distracted-by-busyness/

https://sscascades.org/2018/12/02/embrace-productive-discomfort/

 

 

 

How to build new empowering become

“As we develop new beliefs about who we are, our behaviour will change to support the new identity.” – Tony Robbins

Our beliefs shape our identity by influencing our behaviour.  For instance if  you don’t believe that you can achieve your goals, you don’t even try to act in the direction of achieving them or might even give up on them really quickly. We always do things in the direction of our faith and belief.  If you believe that you can be of what you want to be, you can work towards changing yourself either by imroving your skills, or  developing new habits, or work on other aspects of your life in order to be that person. On the other hand, if you believe that nothing will ever change or there is nothing you can do to change it, you continue to do same old things and this will become your self limiting prophecy.  So, your belief system has lot of impact on your success or lack of success. For instance if you believe that you’re capable, competent, and deserving, you’re more likely to look for opportunities that could help you get there.

Doing what you believe to be true can bring out some of your inner leadership abilities and can take you nearer to your greatest achievements. For instance, a person who initiates change believes he/she knows where that change will lead to. In other words your belief system is the invisible force behind your behaviour, be it your habits, or personality, or any decisions that you make, or the way you communicate or react to anything.

Importance of your beliefs

Your beliefs also influence your health behaviours. Research shows that people are more likely to engage in healthy habits if they have a greater sense of self-belief. A stronger self-beleif can help you in dealing uncertainty and anxiety thereby maintaining your emotional well-being. Here is why your beliefs play an important role in your personal and professional lives.

Beliefs provide clarity. The moment you believe in things you value, you find your way to achieve them.

Beliefs empower you to overcome obstacles. If you don’t believe in something that makes your goals worth striving for, you will lack the enthusiasm ṭo overcome failure or difficulties.

Beliefs take you in the right direction. If you don’t know what you believe to be true, you’ll tend to drift from your purpose and priorities.

Beliefs influence your choices and decisions you make.

Beliefs will determine your expectations and perceptions of your reality.

Beliefs encourage your critical and creative thinking skills.

Beliefs determine your goals and how you about accomplishing them.

• Your beliefs form the foundations of your self-concept and how you see yourself.

Understanding your belief system

Beliefs are conditioned perceptions that are built upon your experiences of past and present together with other factors such as your personality, habits, and so on. Some of your beliefs are based on your interpretations, emotions, or thoughts which you judge to be true and some come from your friends, family, and environment. Deeply ingrained beliefs act as commands to your nervous system and uses them as shortcuts for pattern recognition. When we process new information, we try to fit the new information into an already existing belief system thus leading to distortions, biases and errors. We generalise and make assumptions based on similarity to previous recognised patterns while drawing conclusions.

We hold on to most of our beliefs to fulfil our needs, whether that is related to feeling loved, secure, or sense of belonging, or to develop our self-esteem. We experience less stress, fear, and anxiety holding on to our belief system. But when your belief system is not aligned with the goals and objectives you would like to achieve, you often feel limited, stuck and unfulfilled. This is because when you have a deeply ingrained pre-existing belief, which is limiting, your mind will find evidence to support that belief.

But if overtime, you are exposed to empowering beliefs, you will start to question your existing disempowering beliefs. This is more like water dripping on a rock where the shift in your existing belief system will happen but takes long time. Instead if you consciously make an effort to transform your old beliefs that no longer serve your purpose, the process can be faster even with the ones that you held dear or which were once part of your identity.

Why is it hard to change your belief system

Sometimes to learn something, you might have a belief problem. When you come across a different environment or circumstance which exposes you to a different belief system, you face resistance to get adopted to new ones.  Also, a sudden disruption of your old beliefs can effect your sense of self and your emotional stability. This is because we don’t work towards changing our awareness or beleif. Our life changes, but our beliefs remain constant.

It is hard changing from your prior beliefs as your opinions turn into deeply ingrained beliefs due to repeated situations that prove their legitimacy. Over time they grow more strong, consistent and stable and get intertwined with how you define yourself by preserving a constant self-image. As a result, you become highly resistant to change whenever you are exposed to a highly different view point as compared to your own belief system.

Also as people invest a lot of personality in their belief system, or structure their whole life around a belief, changing their mind through disproving previously held beliefs can make them experience emotions such as anger, anxiety, confusion, and frustration.

If you have a set of strong beliefs that are in conflict with your goals, or new ideas, or new beliefs, then you will likely to sabotage your efforts in moving forward in achiving them. This is because when you face situations where your pre-existing belief system gets so strongly threatened, you experience negative emotions making you think there is something wrong with you.  You become emotionally entangled with ideas you come to believe are true and this causes you ṭo pay more attention to ideas that support your current belief and disprove ideas that contradict your current belief. But it doesnt mean that your beleifs cannot be replaced or can be stabilised once replaced. Beleifs have a capacity to reach a state of equilibrium, can adapt and repeat themselves.

How to build new beliefs into your belief system?

When you embrace the process to build new beliefs into your belief system,  your view point can evolve into something very different than what it used to be. That is when real self-change happens. So when you are exposed to new ideas and beliefs, instead of being anxious and confused, accept that period of time as it is. It may be very well a period during which your belief system is restructuring due to things you have experienced or ideas you have been exposed ṭo. Your belief system is striving to adapt itself to the new conditions and towards a state of stability. You can use this time to expose yourself to the right ideas and right environment which will help you to go in the direction of your desired goals. You can use this time to be reflective by asking yourself ‘what resistance are you feeling while thinking about achieving your goal?’ Or ‘which beliefs are holding you back to achieve your goal?’ Or ‘which beliefs you now started to question?’ Or which new beliefs you can expose yourself to progress in the direction of your goals?’ Here is how you can build your new empowering beliefs in to your belief system.

Reframe your limiting beleifs. Each of your belief exists because it sees a purpose or it is protecting you from something. But not all of them might be purposeful. Most of the times, you exaggerate based upon how you visualise,hear, and feel things internally. To move forward from such pre-existing limiting beliefs, you have to reframe your limiting beliefs. By doing this, you can convince yourself that the value you derive from your new empowering belief is mich more and thus can align with your goals.

Create new beliefs that are aligned with the goals you would like to achieve. Choose a new empowering belief according to the goal that you want to achieve, the person you want to become, and the values you want to represent. By asking yourself how this belief can empower you in the long-term or how it can change your life for the better, you can change your old beliefs systems and create new beliefs that serve your purpose.

Strengthen your new beliefs.As you work through your belief transformation, you must be open to possibilities, new perspectives, and you must accept alternate view points. Be receptive to new beliefs and willingness ṭo adapt to changing conditions and circumstances can help you strengthen your new belief system. Adopt new habits, decisIons,and actions that support your new beliefs. By building the evidence in favour of your empowering belief you can strengthen and change your mindset.

Condition yourself to new belief. You can do this by making necessary changes to your environment, thoughts, communication patterns, values and so on to support your new empowering belief. If you still face resistance to your new belief, you will find it difficult to adopt it. Asking yourself whether your thoughts and perspectives are in alignment with your new belief, or how must you change other aspects of your life to integrate new beliefs successfully into your life can help you to adjust to your new belief system.

Finally, Get into the habit of using your new empowering belief until it begins to feel familiar. Stay flexible in your approach and make corrections when required. Your new belief might need some alternations and this you can figure out only when you begin to take proactive action towards the attainment of your goals by puttinag them to use.

Conclusion

As you read this, take some time to reflect upon your belief systems.

What are the new beliefs that you want to create in your life?

Which beliefs are disempowering your self-change?

Which empowering beliefs you can build that will help you in the process of achieving your cherished goals?

What evidences you can look for that support your new beliefs?

By taking conscious control over your beliefs, you can integrate your empowering thoughts into your belief system.

Related links:

https://sscascades.org/2019/01/05/reframe-your-limiting-beliefs/