How to build lasting Motivation

 

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible”. – Francis of Assisi

Whenever we try to make changes in our life, or include a new habit, or change unhelpful habits, or want to learn a new skill, or start a certain project, we need a lot of motivation. Sometimes it is easy to keep yourself motivated, other times, it is nearly impossible to figure out how to motivate yourself and you either end up procrastinating, or deferring or giving up on your new habits or behaviour. It is also tough to stay motivated all the time. There are bound to be days when you don’t feel like working towards your personal and professional goals and there will be off days where your energy and enthusiasm are in downward spiral. Often our motivation and enthusiasm tends to be very high after starting something new, but after a while, it fades away. As a result, we fail to maintain that level of enthusiasm through the action phase and we stop doing what we started to do. When you lack motivation, your great ideas almost seem impossible and impractical.

When we are motivated, it becomes easier to bear the inconvenience of action than the discomfort of remaining same and we come up with inspiring ideas. Motivation is important to become successful in your pursuit of goal-striving. You may want to set the best goals and establish right rewards to motivate yourself or your team or those around you. There are plenty of ways to get motivated. But certain permanent habit changes or to attain certain of your goals or objectives requires consistency. To achieve this, you need to stay motivated for long periods of time.

So, what can you do to be motivated on a consistent basis? To build lasting motivation, it is important that we understand what motivation really is, what factors guide and direct our motivation and types of motivation.

Understanding Motivation ..

Motivation is the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviours. It makes you to act on your plans be it gaining a skill or working towards your fitness goals or work goals.

Motivation indicates motives or whys of our behaviour like our needs or wants or desires that make us do what we do. It is an inner force that pushes you to do and accomplish things, but by simply having the desire to accomplish something is not good enough to motivate yourself. It also involves initiation of behaviour, ability to persist through obstacles and focus to pursue the goal or desire.

Many factors lead to motivation that can activate, direct and help you in sustaining your goal-oriented behaviour. It is important to understand these factors behind motivation. Sometimes, our behaviour is motivated by certain basic human instincts like anger, survival, safety, fear, and love. Some are motivated to do things because of external rewards like money, fame, and compliments or for future expectations. But many of our behaviours are motivated to fulfil our biological needs and drives like need to eat, drink and sleep. According to Dr. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. our most basic needs must be met before we become motivated to achieve higher level needs. First we are motivated to fulfil basic physiological needs like food and shelter, then the safety needs, then those of belongingness & love needs, and then esteem needs like feeling of accomplishment. Once these needs have been met. The primary motivator becomes the self-actualisation or achieving one’s full potential.

To become motivated on a daily basis, you must be able to identify the factors that influence motivation and any thoughts that are moving you away from it.”

Types of Motivation

When it comes to motivating yourself for health or fitness or career goals being motivated ‘intrinsically’ or ‘extrinsic’ can make all the difference. If you are intrinsically motivated, you do something because you find it inherently satisfying. May be you take up to a sport because you enjoy the challenge, or eat healthy food because you prefer the taste. Intrinsic motivation is more powerful as it involves emphasising on your values, and processes for achieving goals that are relevant to your life in the present and not based on some distant future rewards. But the downside is that there is not always an obvious way to create intrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic motivation takes the form of a reward or punishment. Some intentionally pursue certain actions in order to gain rewards. External rewards like compliments or fame or winning can get you started but it only lasts as long as there is an external reward and there are chances that it might decrease your intrinsic motivation. Researchers have found that when people are given external rewards for activities that they already find intrinsically motivating, they became less interested in participating in those activities in the future. Sometimes there can be extrinsic-intrinsic motivational factors like for instance, from desire to help others or support a cause you care about, you would want to create something that will benefit others.

Use of external rewards to motivate desired behaviours can be useful in some cases as they can be easily created to get you started, but intrinsic factors like desire for achieving and willingness to put in your effort can be even more important to build lasting motivation. Your intrinsic motivation can be improved by making your activities sufficiently challenging and interesting.

Short-term vs long-term motivation

Maintaining motivation over the long run is difficult as your drive to achieve your objectives is constantly obstructed by negative thoughts and your anxiety about the future. Some people seem to have all the motivation in the world, while others in spite of having all the goals, remain unmotivated and stuck. Every one faces self-doubt. But what separates high achievers and highly successful is their ability to keep themselves motivated to go after their goals and aspirations. Sometimes we get motivated after reading an inspirational book or when we listen or watch a motivational video, but it doesn’t last long as learning and hearing about others’ success can only motivate you for short-term. Whereas by gaining self-awareness, creating your own ideas and applying them to achieve your goals can result in long-term passion and momentum that lasts long.

You have all these goals you would desperately want to achieve and feel as though you have so much potential, yet there are times when you feel unmotivated. There are some valid reasons for lacking motivation. May be it is your emotional reasoning, or negative thoughts and beliefs, or fear of failure, lack of focus or confidence that is making you demotivated. The key is to understand these reasons to help you become aware of how you got yourself into this demotivated state.

So, how to stay motivated in the long-term?

Without enough motivation, you will fall back to indulging in unhelpful and limiting habits that will only keep you stuck and unmotivated. With the right kind of motivation, you will always find reasons to keep going no matter what obstacles you might face. There isn’t a single method that fits all when it comes to motivation. But if you decide to take the initiative to make necessary changes in your pursuit of achieving your personal or professional goals, you can build right momentum to stay motivated. Here are some strategies to help you build lasting motivation.

Find your motivation

Set achievable goals to work on and spend time to think why these goals are important to you. Identify your motivations for pursuing these goals, either motivations you already have that is intrinsic or sources of extrinsic motivation you could create for yourself. Write down both the goal and the motivation. Always build your habits and set personal standards that supports your desired goals and objectives. If your motivation is extrinsic, don’t overrely on extrinsic rewards. Choose a reward or punishment that will reinforce your intrinsic motivation and try them only during initial learning period or when you have no intrinsic interest in the activity and phase out once you develop interest.

Build routines

The secret of getting ahead is getting started” – Mark Twain

By building routines, you can follow through your work or goals regardless of your motivation levels. Routine building makes your activity repeatable and easy to do. It gets you started and reduces the chance that you skip it and can pull you into the right frame of mind . Your routine should get you moving towards your goals. When your routine gets tied to your goals, by simply doing the routine, you enter motivated state to accomplish your objectives. When you lack motivation, it is harder to decide what you should do next, and you often give up on the task or activity. However, by building routine, you can just follow the pattern, show up and build the momentum to do the work and can stay motivated.

Find your Flow

In order to build lasting motivation, it is important to find your flow. Flow is a state of being “in the zone” where you are completely involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; To find your flow, it is necessary that the challenges or tasks you face are just manageable. Break away from boring old routines and find ways to make them challenging that match your current abilities. By working on tasks of optimal difficulty and adding incremental challenges, you will not only be motivated but also improve your skills and move closer to achieving your goals.

Challenge your Limiting Beliefs

People with self-sabotaging beliefs are often unmotivated and simply lack interest. If you have set of limiting beliefs that are in conflict with your goals, or new ideas, or new beliefs, then you will likely to sabotage your enthusiasm and motivation. This is because when you face situations where your pre-existing belief system gets so strongly threatened, you experience negative emotions making you demotivated. When you have negative beliefs – ask yourself – what’s the evidence for and against your belief? If it is demotivating, replace it with new belief that strengthens your desire to achieve your goals. Being open to new ideas and alternative perspectives increase your motivation and make you willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish your goal.

There are no limits to what you can accomplish, except the limits you place on your own thinking.” – Brian Tracy

Improve your Psy-cap

Your psy-cap is the psychological capital which is a combination of your self-efficacy,(your ability to take on and devote the necessary effort to succeed at challenging tasks) hope,(which increases your desire to persevere) resilience, (your ability to face problems and adversity) and optimism (ability to believe that you will succeed). By improving your psy-cap, you can feel accomplished, appreciated, motivated and empowered in your pursuit of achieving purpose oriented goals. This way you are more likely to stick with your routine or habits or behaviour. Surround yourself with positive people who support your goals and focus on your strengths to rejuvenate your motivation

Focus on the efforts not on outcome

Focusing on the outcomes or only on your talents can make you person of fixed mindset or view. This decreases your motivation and it is more likely that you might easily get unmotivated at the instance of a failure, or mistake or when you encounter a difficulty. Instead of focusing on the outcome and imagining your success, try to visualise the effort that goes into making your goals into a reality. Figure out what type of challenges you might encounter. This way you can deal with them easily and can come up with strategies to overcome those challenges. By assessing your efforts, you can build lasting motivation and can improve on your future actions.

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goal.” – Zig Ziglar

Finally,

Recharge your willpower

What most people try to do with willpower is that they keep exerting it forever thinking that it never gets depleted. You can only rely on will power to get yourself motivated in short bursts. Over-reliance on will power by convincing yourself that you need to try harder only leads to an endless cycle of over-exertion and failure. Avoid situations where your willpower is used continuously without rest. Indulge yourself in activities that you find relaxing and refreshing that can restore your willpower.

To conclude,

• Set clear goals that affirm your values. make you happier, healthier and feel better.

• Be aware of what committing to your goals will ultimately achieve, beyond the goal itself.

• Build routines to get you started that take you closer to your end goal.

• Strive for higher needs like passion and creativity.

• Focus on intrinsic goals like personal growth and well-being as opposed to external motivators like money and status.

• Make your tasks challenging enough to find your flow.

Strong, lasting motivation is often the biggest difference between your success and failure. When it comes to achieving your important goals, it’s very common to lose your motivation a little way down the line. When you aren’t feeling motivated, remind yourself why you are doing what you do and apply the above strategies to build lasting motivation.

 

 

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/

 

 

 

Are you distracted by ‘busyness’?

“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants, the question is, what are we busy about?” —Henry David Thoreau

Time is the greatest opportunity in our life among all. Those who utilise it well are the successful ones. Almost everyone these days have too much to handle and not enough time to get it all done. Most of us do lot of things which make you seem busy in a public manner like answering mails at all hours, or scheduling and attending meetings constantly, or instant messaging when someone poses a new question and so on. For many, there’s a comfort in such artificial ‘busyness’ of fast e-mail messaging and social media posturing, while actual work demands that you leave much of that behind. In such cases, your ‘busyness’ becomes proxy to your efforts in doing productive work. Such unproductive busyness leaves you discontent as there are always certain aspects that could be done better thereby forcing you to confront the possibility that your best is not that good.

Being ‘busy’ is not same thing as being ‘productive’

We find ourselves tackling too many things at the same time, spreading our focus so thin that nothing gets the attention it deserves. While many might be logging in long hours at work, or at home, but the same might not always end up in doing quality work. Because of this we often feel that we spending a lot of time on something, but don’t feel like been productive enough. One main reason for this could be the most important tasks are usually a bit more difficult and require more of our attention, time and focus. But most of the time, we get so caught up in the day-to-day distractions or ‘busyness’ of life and give either more or less attention to things than they deserve and lose the sense of being in control. We often cite the reason of being busy for postponing some of our important tasks. This habit of putting off important tasks on the back burner can rob you of your hours of achievement and success.

Think about the last time you felt highly productive. In productive state, you remain highly focused on what you are doing and make a noticeable progress towards a meaningful outcome. Whereas with ‘busyness’, you start to feel out of control, unfocused, confused and stressed out. The inability to manage your time properly leads to additional stress related issues and burnouts very early on. In the absence of clear goals, the visible busyness becomes self-preserving, and developing a belief that if a behaviour relates to being busy, then it’s good-regardless of its impact on our ability to produce valuable things. All of the social, digital, and societal trends only add to one’s busyness and do not directly add to the value of quality work one produces. With unmindful busyness,

• You waste time on doing unimportant tasks that could be used productively.

• It creates unnecessary anxiety as you put off the important tasks to later.

• It impedes your clarity and focus.

• By leaving little time for the important task, the final output is usually short of what you are really capable of.

• You cannot adopt to changing situations as busyness impacts your perspective of what’s really going on.

• You cannot plan on sticking to your deadlines for your projects.

• Leads to flawed thinking and distracted behaviours.

“The greatest enemy of good thinking is busyness.” –John C.Maxwell

How to overcome ‘busyness’ to become more productive

But if you’re willing to sidestep these comforts and fears, and instead deploy your attention to its fullest capacity to things that matter, then you’ll discover that you can create a life rich with productivity and meaning. To overcome ‘busyness’, one has to manage his/her time effectively to work on priorities. Making optimal use of time helps you in curbing the stress and burnouts. If you spend significant amount of time towards professional aspirations and goals, learning how to use that time optimally will help you achieve positive outcomes.

Here are certain strategies to overcome your busyness and become more productive.

Put first things first

Because of the busyness, we always have a reason to put off the important things. What fills up our time is a result of what we let into our days. When you don’t choose important things, your days automatically get filled with not so important ones. Prioritising helps you in making right choices. In order to rise above ‘busyness’, you have to know what your purpose is and should be able to define your goals. Before doing something, consider asking yourself

whether the tasks you are working on are important for your end goals. Unless you consciously take time out for your priorities, you will not be able to accomplish goals that are important to you. Start your day with a “To do list” and prioritise the vital few after picking them from the trivial many.

“Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. — Saint Francis of Assisi

Avoid multitasking

We find that more we do, the more we add up to our to-do-task list and end up in multitasking. Multitasking has become a part of life for many of us where we believe that this is a way to be more productive. Science reveals that our brains actually can’t handle doing more than one thing at a time. With multitasking, your attention remains divided as there will be a residue of your attention when you switch from one task to another. This leads to poor performance. Whereas by working on a single hard task for a long time without switching, you can overcome non-productive busyness and can also maximise your performance.

Reduce your distractions

Many are permanently tethered to their work day in and day out, dealing with trends like answering emails at all hours, instant messaging, and active presence on social media. Of course certain mediums offer benefits to your social life, but none are important enough to what really matters to you. Always trying to catchup can claim your attention and time adding to only to your ‘busyness’ and not in producing work of real value. Learn to reduce your reactiveness to these distractions. Identifying factors that side track and deter you from achieving the task at hand. Consider blocking or create blackout periods over a day to free up your time. Try and fill up your free time with something of more quality and meaningful.

Delegate

Many times we get drowned in the details instead if focusing on micro and macro. Details are important, but only those that will affect your end goal. You only have a limited amount of time a day. The end goal is to accomplish your task efficiently by way of optimal use of your time. If a particular task is taking too much of your time and it’s not the most important part of your work, delegating it to right people can help you overcome your ‘busyness’. Once you do this, ensure you trust the person and provide them enough room to get the job done. Using the right people, tools, and resources to is important in doing so.

Focus on being effective

Improve your overall quality, rather than trying to tick everything off your to-do list. It is important to understand when to say no by asking whether are these tasks necessary. If you say yes to everything, you find your schedules with things that keep you busy but don’t make you productive. Once you have set out to achieve your important tasks, ensure you say no to disallow things that hamper your productivity. Saying yes to the wrong things, even if they are small will eventually take up your time later on and add to your busyness’. Saying no to unimportant things will protect your time so that you can use it for the things that matter.

“If you want more time, freedom, and energy, start saying no.”

Schedule your day

Many of us spend much of our day on autopilot—not giving much thought to what we’re doing with our time. Because of this, it’s difficult to prevent the trivial from creeping into every corner of our schedule. But by scheduling your day, you can determine how many hours you’re spending in doing quality work.

Scheduling your tasks for the day helps you plan your work goals and removes the risk of losing out on important tasks. Doing this at the beginning of the day can get you more organised. If your schedule is disrupted, you should at the next available moment, create a revised schedule for the time that remains in your day. This will give you a careful gauge in your efforts and you can discover pockets of free time that go wasted.

Relax & Unwind

Unproductive ‘busyness’ often leaves you exhausted, bad tempered and stressed. You fail to gather momentum for next days’s work unless you recharge yourself. Once you are out of your working hours, inculcate unwinding yourself. The impact of unwinding is often underestimated and we fail to recognise that our minds need a downtime as well. Our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax says David Allen in his book “Deep Work”. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts organised can we achieve effective results and unleash our maximum potential. Mindfulness practice is a perfect antidote for ‘busyness.’ Taking some time to practice being in the moment helps you connect with your inner self and reduces feelings of tiredness and stress thereby creating space for you to become creative and productive.

Apply outcome thinking

You can’t really decide the right action until you know the outcome you’re after, and if your outcome is disconnected from reality if you are not clear about what you need to do to make it happen. Setting Goals or desired outcomes creates a cause-and-effect link in your mind about when certain goal-relevant actions will be taken. When you make plans ahead of time and decide what actions will be carried out, you can engage in doing productive work instead of being bogged down by unimportant tasks. Setting goals provides sufficient direction to move you toward your outcome rather than wasting your time in unproductive ‘busyness.’

Adopt next-action approach

Most of the times too many discussions in workplaces end with only a vague sense that people know what they are going to do. But without a clear decision that there is a next action, not much is accomplished. Forcing the decision about the next action prevents those issues that are important from slipping away thereby providing more clarity. Walking away from discussions with clarity of outcome makes each member involved in your discussions more responsible about the specific job assigned to them. This also reduces anxiety of undecided actions and increases your productivity.

Finally, Be willing to change your unproductive busy habits to do something more meaningful and productive work.

when you take up tasks, asking yourself,

“What does this mean to me” Or “ what’s the desired outcome?” “What are the pros and cons?” lets you identify things that aren’t necessary. This way you can align yourself to be productive instead of engaging yourself with everything that comes your way.

Conclusion

Are the tasks you are busy with right now add to your life’s purpose? Or are you being the victim of distractions and social trends? or can you find better and organised ways to do your tasks?

If you want to focus without distraction, achieve more in less time and be better at what you do, apply the above mentioned strategies. Getting past the unproductive busyness of your life not only helps you to become more productive but also provides a sense of fulfilment and gives your mind something to do meaningful.

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,

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.

Stay consistent with change

We all have certain personal behaviours we wish we could change. Whether this change can be related to healthy eating choices, lifestyle choices, decisions related to work or relationship choices. Some of us set goals to achieve our dreams or improve our behaviour and wellness. And in order to achieve these goals, certain negative habitual patterns need to be replaced by positive ones that actually stick. But despite our intentions, more often we fail to be consistent in our efforts. When we are starting out in a new goal, we are full of energy and enthusiasm. We eagerly make changes in the first few weeks. But as the days pass on, the newness wears off and we fall off the wagon back into old behavioural and habitual patterns. Many lack potential to be consistent with the change.

Why is it difficult to change and be consistent with change once we decide upon it!

The main reason being our own perception of change. We begin to form these perceptions from a young age. Because of this, thinking of change makes us feel uneasy and we start resisting changes we wish we could have made. Because of the perceived risk or fear attached to it, we end up procrastinating, stressing ourselves up or ending up dropping the changes and resorting to old behavioural or negative habitual patterns.

We always have a choice when it comes to choosing between self-managed lifestyle and our present orientation. Most of our positive habits develop out of necessity, without specific intention. This can make us inconsistent in following our resolutions inspite of putting in the time and effort. We are often unaware and unprepared for change because of our habitual nature of our behaviour, which drives much of our daily activities as often as usual. Change in our habitual behaviour cannot happen in linear fashion or in a single moment but only occurs gradually.

Factors that obstruct change

When we want to implement a change, we temporarily face resistance by becoming angry and withdrawn. Thinking “it’s all hopeless and impossible to make changes, so, why try?” or “just stay the way you are” is what usually keeps you from it. when we have some habitual and behavioural patterns buried deeply within us, often our reaction is to think the approach is silly, or it doesn’t make sense, or unacceptable. We don’t want to do it. Because of this it becomes difficult to switch between habitual behaviour and deliberate decision. The effective method is to reduce the habitual control over behaviour and modify the factors that control the behaviour.

Here are some factors which impede your ability to be consistent with the change.

• Even when you know your old habits are inefficient, you remain convinced that they are necessary for success.

• Your environment is unsupportive of the habits you are trying to cultivate or the changes you’re trying to make.

• Undervaluing the achievement and overvaluing the importance of the interruption.

• Misplaced belief in a less effective habit leads you astray and a positive belief in bad habits turn a habit into a permanent behaviour.

• Lack of motivation and lack of conscious intention towards change.

• Incorrect perception of the advantages of change and deeply ingrained contrary perspectives interfere with your ability to keep up with the change.

• Having an inflated self control belief or overestimating the ability to control can increase chances of exposing yourself to impulsiveness.

• Not having proper commitment to plan, act and make substantial adjustments to keep up with the intended change.

To shift from habit to goal-directed action, you have to make an effort to do small things that will add up to you moving in that direction of change. The mind is a pattern making system. You should be capable of breaking out of inherited collective mind-patterns and cast off your limitations in order to adopt to your new behaviour to be in consistent with it.

Here are certain ways to progress in the direction of change and to be consistent.

Identify consistent cues

Our behaviours are triggered by physical and mental cues. When you put your plans into action, you have to make substantial adjustments to your routine, environment, your relationship and to yourself in order to further the change you desire. For instance, if you are looking to decrease procrastination, you should follow a realistic and purposeful daily schedule. By engaging in habits consistently, you can maintain a stable routine. Identify those things that happen with relative consistency from your daily routine and use them as anchors for your new behaviour or habits.

Be persistent in your efforts

From the moment you decide to make a change until you get the demonstration, there is a transitional period. You tend to go back and forth between what was and what you would like to be or to have. Don’t beat yourself up for the step backward and view it as a relapse into past habits. Trust that you will have plenty of days in the future to get back on track. At the same time remember to praise yourself for each small step forward that you make. Reflect back on advantages of the commitment you have made to be persistent in your efforts.

Develop insight awareness

Most of the times, you may not find yourself commit to making a change because of feeling a overwhelming sense of uncertainty. By analysing the advantages and disadvantages of continuing with the proposed behaviour and thinking through all possible avenues towards change, can help you in setting measurable goals and not to give up on them easily. It is essential to look at how your old habitual behaviour may conflict with your personal goals. This can be helpful to correct your perception of the advantage of change and can motivate you to progress in the direction of change.

Rely on intrinsic motivation

Sometimes, intrinsic motivation enhances your efforts of staying consistent with change by directly reinforcing the changed habits or behaviour. If you are intrinsically motivated, you continue with the changed habit or behaviour because you find it inherently satisfying. On the other hand, if your change is influenced by pressure from others, your willingness to be with the change will be short lived. By knowing why that desired change is important to you, you can reinforce your willingness to keep up and you can get through brief periods of temptation and can provide yourself with positive reinforcement of your changed behaviour or habit.

Practice self-reflection

Once your desired habit or behaviour is established, chances of returning to old habits or behaviour may always be present. It is important to avoid those things that might trigger your old behaviours or habits to reappear. Avoid overthinking or feeling guilty if you find yourself fluctuating back and forth. Reflecting upon these triggers can help you avoid them the next time around. Acknowledge your responsibility in having created that condition and plan on what you would do differently in the future to avoid these triggers.

Finally,

Develop mental agility to deal with change more effectively. Work on your own change. Do not identify with unhappy, fearful and limited self. Cast off your limitations. Break out of inherited collective mind-patterns and habits to achieve whatever you intend.

In conclusion

The majority of people fail at building life-changing habits because they start strong but give up early. You can’t focus on achieving something overnight. It takes time until you are strong in the new and have gone through complete change. Until then, you must be vigilant in your endeavours to change. Even the tiniest of efforts, when done consistently that brings you good results over time.

Notice if any of your long-standing behaviours are causing anxiety, guilt, fear, or depression, identify as to what factors are controlling your behaviour and work on changing them one by one and stay consistent in your efforts.