The Investment That keeps on Giving

Invest in Yourself and your Personal Development

When you invest in your personal development you take responsibility for your life, your circumstances and your happiness. You become the agent, the doer, and the effecter.

If, on the other hand, you sit back and don’t make the effort to take charge of your life you set yourself up for events to affect you. If you’re unprepared and not proactive you will end up reacting to, rather than affecting what is going on around you.

It would be like being on a boat that springs a leak. If you haven’t prepared for the possibility, you’ll be scrambling around bailing out water, panicking, and hoping you don’t sink. If, however, you had anticipated this could happen, you have the proper tools handy, you fix the leak, secure your vessel and proceed with your journey.

Two very different responses to the same obstacle.

So it is with life. Nothing is guaranteed or always goes smoothly as planned. Not your job, your relationships, your health or anything else. Given that uncertainty, in order to make your life work, you have to plan, set goals, prepare and bring your best game (the best you).

Where do you start?

Once again you start with yourself . You invest in your personal development and work on being the best that you can be.

When you do, everything else comes together in seemingly effortless fashion – your relationships, your work, your home life, and your over-all sense of well-being. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t challenges and obstacles. There always are. It just means that you are better equipped to handle them.

How do you go about it?

Devise an personal development action plan or checklist to follow. It can be flexible and serve as a guide or outline for what you want to accomplish. Write it in journal or chart format so you can monitor your progress.

For example:

Under Health
– Will incorporate a new exercise into routine. (If you don’t have a routine this     is a good time to start one.)
–  Will cut down on fat/food intake and try eating a new fruit or vegetable each     month.
–  Will drink an extra glass of water each day.
–  Will go to bed a half hour earlier.
–  Will cut down on junk food.

Under Intellectual Development
– Will read a new book each week (biweekly or monthly).
–  Will go to the art gallery, theatre or symphony/concert once a month.
–  Will listen to a new musical genre or artist.
–  Will read about a different philosopher or literary figure once a month.

Under Emotional and Spiritual
–  Will learn to meditate, or learn a relaxation or deep breathing technique.
–  Will take time for myself to rejuvenate, contemplate and connect.
–  Will make a point of spending some quality time for family and friends.
–  Will visualize and use affirmations to get into the positive thinking habit.

You can devise any kind of plan or schedule that suits your tastes and needs. The important part is to make a conscious decision to actively engage in personal development. Always be willing to stretch yourself, keep an open mind and learn new things.

 

Benefits of Investing in Your Personal Development

  • Will be proactive and affect change rather than merely react to or be at the mercy of it.
  • Enjoy a sense of mastery and accomplishment.
  • Be better able to maintain control of your reactions and emotions.
  • Better clarify and define your goals.
  • Live life more consciously, purposefully and deliberately.
  • Be more focused and centered.
  • Acquire more self-awareness, self-trust and self-confidence.
  • Be more genuine and true to yourself .

Take the time to invest in yourself by developing all aspects of your
being – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. To be the best you can be is to live life to the fullest!

 

 

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Why Quick Fixes Don’t Work!

Quick FixQuick fixes don’t work in personal development!

Most of us don’t want to hear this, but; there really are no quick fixes or short cuts to personal development (or to anything else worthwhile, for that matter).

The road to bettering ourselves is a long continous one that requires time, commitment and self-discipline.

Of course, it’s human nature to look for the quickest, easiest way to get what we want. We tend to look for the one size fits all solution to our problems. We want to find the book, the DVD, or program that will fix us and make everything all right – overnight – and we want it pronto!

Well here’s the reality – apart from being improbable and unrealistic, most things just don’t work that way. One of the reasons they don’t, is that quick fixes are neither lasting, nor sustainable. A quick fix for any problem is only meant to hold things together until an effective long-term solution is found. It’s merely the proverbial band aid.

Making positive lasting change in your life takes time and this is why:

    • A new habit takes at least 21 days of consistent effort to set in – When we try to change a behaviour/habit or implement a new one, it takes at least 21 days of consistent repetitive behaviour for it to set in. If it happens to be an addiction, it could take as long as 35 days, or more. No quick fix is designed to change habits.

 

    • Habituation and homeostasis factors – Habituation refers to the things we do daily without having to think about doing them. Another way to put it is ‘getting used to things’. Homeostasis, a term used mostly in the context of biology, is a regulatory function that keeps an organism stable. An example would be when temperatures outdoors fall or raise significantly, our body temperature remains stable. Psychological homeostasis works similarly in that it keeps you fixed in the same habits or mindsets whether they are working for you or not. That is why it’s so hard to change a habit. Habituation and homeostasis, while they are necessary mechanisms so that you don’t have to rethink how to do everything every single time you go to do it, they make it very difficult for quick fixes or behavior changes to take hold permanently.

 

  • Certain endeavors rely on ongoing repetitious strategies in order to take effect – If you want to lose weight permanently, or if you intend on having successful relationships, plan to work on it for the long haul. For instance, if you want to lose 20 pounds of weight, you cannot do it by eating little and well for only one day. Instead, you would have to implement a plan whereby you consume and expend a set amount of calories consistently over a given period of time. Then the weight would come off slowly and steadily.Likewise, to maintain a good relationship, you couldn’t be pleasant and agreeable with someone for one or two days and then expect to have an understanding or connection. It would take days, months, sometimes even years to build a trusting, mutually fulfilling relationship. It cannot happen overnight.Only by working on goals slowly and steadily can you achieve lasting and rewarding results. By contrast crash dieting, blitzing, cramming, or bombarding (quick fixes) will derail your efforts.
  • It takes hard work and commitment – How many times have we started a new project, exercise routine, or diet plan bursting with energy and enthusiasm only to see wane and wither away? Too many, I’m sorry to say. The truth is, it isn’t easy to stay focused and committed, which is why, once again, we look for the quick fix instead of buckling down and getting on with it. If we recognize that it will take time, hard work and continued dedication to develop and improve ourselves, we would save a lot of time and heartache.

Examples where quick fixes have backfired:

Who doesn’t want to be rich?

In 1993 Suzanne Mullins won $4.2 million in the Virginia lottery. She subsequently became deeply in debt to a company that lent her money using the winnings as collateral. What she came to realize is that in our culture we tend to believe that money solves all problems and if people had more of it their troubles would be over. Unfortunately, when money is acquired quickly and suddenly it can cause more problems than it solves.

Evelyn Adams won the New Jersey lottery twice (1985, 1986) amounting to approximately $5.4 million. Today the money is gone and Adams lives in a trailer.

William Post won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988 but now lives on his Social Security check. “I wish it never happened. It was totally a nightmare,” says Post.

Susan Bradley, a financial planner who wrote Sudden Money: Managing a Financial Windfall, says “People think windfalls are about money. But it’s really all about change and transition … and people need time to adjust.” (i.e. quick fixes do not last, nor do they actually fix anything).

What happens when we crash diet to lose weight quickly?

Although much has been written lately about how losing weight quickly is unhealthy and unproductive many still attempt it. Losing weight too quickly, like any sudden change to your body, is dangerous. We know that fad diets, diet pills, and fasting indeed induce rapid weight loss, however they also cause you to lose muscle mass and may injure the heart and other vital organs in the process. The answer? Instead of aiming for an overnight miracle (quick fix), opt for a sensible nutritious eating plan as well as a realistic exercise regimen.

The bottom line is that personal development, or self-improvement, is hard work! It takes time, consistent effort, focus, discipline and patience. Remember the work you do daily, monthly and yearly culminates in a rewarding, successful outcome.

5 Tips on Overcoming Adversity

Overcoming AdveristyWhether we like it or not, adversity is part of life. Overcoming adversity is one of the biggest hurdles we face.

As Havelock Ellis wrote, “Pain and death are part of life. To reject them is to reject life itself.”

Problems, large and small, present themselves to us throughout our whole existence.

Regardless of how sharp, clever, or happy-go-lucky we are, we will encounter struggle, challenges, difficulties and at times, heart wrenching moments. Is this meant to be a negative, cynical assessment of what we have to look forward to?

Not at all!

 

In fact, thank goodness for adversity! Learning to deal with and overcoming adversity is what builds character and resilience. Every challenge and every difficulty we successfully confront in life serves to strengthen our will,confidence and ability to conquer future obstacles. Herodotus, the Greek philosopher, said, “Adversity has the effect of drawing out strength and qualities of a man that would have lain dormant in its absence.”

When you respond positively and constructively to your biggest challenges the qualities of strength, courage, character and perseverance emerge from deep inside of you.

Of course, since we are human, it is very easy to get caught up in the self pity, unfairness of life, or ‘why me?’ traps. When we do, we fail to recognize the opportunities for wisdom and growth that accompany adversity. However, as soon we allow ourselves to think more clearly, we are able to let go of self-defeating and unproductive thoughts and get down to the business of dealing with what’s before us.

The Tips For Overcoming Adversity

1. Be aware of, and accept that adversity is inevitable in life. As has already been pointed out, adversity is part of life. To avoid or resist it will only make it persist. Everywhere you look in the world there is unmistakable struggle. There are floods, tsunamis, wars, and calamities of all types. Even within your own circle of family and friends there is death, loss and tragedy. Although pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. So what do you do?

2. Build your internal resources. Before adversity hits, work on cultivating emotional strength, courage and discipline. When you make yourself aware that certain difficulties are inevitable, you can prepare yourself mentally for confronting adversity head-on. It would be no different than a warrior going to battle. He (or she) prepares himself physically and mentally for any possibility. He knows it could be ugly, daunting, and grueling, but he is equipped. More often than not, when you’re prepared for the worst, the worst never happens, or it’s much less severe than anticipated. Another invaluable inner resource is faith. Faith that everything will work out; faith that there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and faith that “this too shall pass.” Everything in life has its place and purpose.


3. Build your external resources. Build a support system of family and friends. When the going gets tough, we all need encouragement and support. We need someone to talk to; someone to help ease the burden. You would be surprised to discover how often a friend has had a similar experience and can help guide you through the difficult time. Even just knowing a friend is there when you need them can be most comforting.

4. That which does not kill you doesn’t always make stronger. Sorry Nietzsche! While I agree with Nietzsche, in principle that – “that what does not kill you will make you stronger”, I do not necessarily agree with him in practice. For instance, if you do not have enough built-up resilience or experience in dealing with difficulty, adversity can crush you. On the other hand, if do you have sufficient resilience, then indeed it will make you stronger. How so, you ask? Resilience like any muscle is built up gradually and exponentially with repeated exposure to obstacles. If you lack practice in confronting obstacles (as when you choose to avoid them), one traumatic event can take you down.
To underscore this point, developmental research has shown that traumatized children are more, rather than less, likely to be traumatized again. Likewise, those who grow up in tough neighborhoods become weaker, not stronger, and are more likely to struggle in life.

5. Take inspiration and learn from others who have dealt successfully with adversity. There are many inspiring stories of people who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds. They triumphed over their adversities to live successful, productive lives instead of surrendering to it.

Here are some examples:

Helen Keller: Lost her sight and hearing due to a mysterious fever when she was only 18 months old. She overcame her deafness and blindness to become a strong, educated woman who spoke about, and promoted, women’s rights.

Winston Churchill: Overcame a stuttering problem and poor performance in school to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and one of the most influential political leaders of the twentieth century. He was also known for his powerful and rousing speeches.

Wilma Rudolph: The Olympian born prematurely, the 20th of 22 children. She overcame double pneumonia, scarlet fever and polio to become winner of three Gold medals in track at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games.

J.K. Rowling: Born to a poor family; left a bad marriage with a young baby to live on government assistance; wrote her first Harry Potter book and was turned down by most publishers until Bloomsbury Publishing picked it up. Need I say more?

Determination, resilience, and persistence enabled all of these great people to push past their adversities and prevail. If they could do it, surely the rest of us can summon the strength and courage to do overcome our adversities!

Points to Consider

  • The difficult times in life help us appreciate when things are going smoothly.
  • Look for the learning opportunities in every adverse situation.
  • Decide whether you will allow your experience to make, or break you. Depending upon how you choose to perceive it, it could go either way.
  •  Be prepared to accept the worst, should it occur. When you have prepared yourself mentally for the worst, it rarely ever happens, and if it does, it seems less so because you are better equipped to handle it.
  • Cultivate faith, courage and resilience. The more of these qualities with which you are armed, the lesser the impact of the adversity.
  • Remind yourself that adversity is part of life. Accepting adversity, helps you overcome it.

Overcoming adversity is one of our main challenges in life. When we resolve to confront and overcome it, we become expert at dealing with it and consequently triumph over our day-to-day struggles.

4 Life-Changing Tips on Developing Patience

PatiencePatience, a challenge for most of us, is the ability to tolerate waiting, delay, or frustration without becoming agitated or upset. It is being able to control your emotions or impulses and proceed calmly when faced with difficult or frustrating situations. It comes from the Latin word pati which means to suffer, to endure, to bear.

Needless to say, patience is not easy to attain and it’s probably harder now to achieve than ever before. In today’s world of ‘instant everything’, technological advancements and readily available credit have allowed us to obtain, experience, and consume practically anything we want – almost immediately. Do we even need to be patient anymore?

Well, if we want to reach our goals, have successful relationships and achieve personal peace, the answer is a resounding yes!

Anything worthwhile and of importance cannot take place right away. It takes time, dedication and effort to achieve; so even in this day and age, patience is a virtue.

The Benefits of Developing Patience

  • Reduces stress levels and makes you a happier, healthier person.When you learn and practice patience you don’t get as angry, stressed or overwhelmed. You are more in control of your emotions and in a better position to deal with difficult situations with ease and poise.This promotes longevity and makes you a happier, healthier person.
  • Results in better decision-making. When you’re patient you take the time to assess the situation, see the big picture, and weigh any pros and cons. The chances of making a big mistake lessen because you avoid making it in haste. Taking the time to problem solve requires patience and deliberation.
  • Helps develop understanding, empathy and compassion. You are automatically more understanding and compassionate with others when you yourself are patient. Patient people take the time to process what they go through and are able to determine what it takes to overcome obstacles so they are more understanding of others. This results in better, more fulfilling relationships with spouses, friends, children and bosses.
  • Helps you understand and appreciate the process of growth. As mentioned earlier anything worthwhile takes time and effort to achieve. As the old saying goes “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Planning, growth, evaluation and measurement all take time, and taking time takes patience.

 

 

Tips on How to Develop Patience

  1. Take a day where you make patience your goal for the entire day. Make a concerted effort to take your time and think about everything you do, be mindful and live in the moment. At the end of the day, observe all the ways in which you’ve made smarter decisions, got along better with others and actually understood what took place. Learn to do it on a daily basis. Developing patience is much like physical exercise because it requires persistence and effort.

 

2. Slow down. If you have the tendency to rush around and try to hurry things up, want things done immediately and can’t wait for things to take their natural course, STOP. Take several deep breaths before you act or make a move. For example, if you’re in a long lineup at the grocery store or in heavy traffic, make the decision to pause and not get worked up. Do some isometrics, listen to the radio, or just enjoy the view. Getting impatient won’t make things move along any faster, so why get worked up for nothing?

3. Practice delaying gratification. When you want to reach for that dessert, second drink, or buying your tenth pair of red shoes, stop and think about it first. Maybe you don’t need or want any of them that badly after all. You can save yourself some money or added calories.

4. Practice thinking before you speak. At times we blurt out the first thought that comes into our heads without considering the consequences. If we’re patient, pause and go over what we want to say, we can avoid hurting or offending others.

 

Situations for which patience is a must:

–  Reaching most goals
–  Losing weight
–  Having a baby
–  Becoming a professional career person such as a doctor, lawyer, engineer
– Becoming a top athlete
– Becoming a virtuoso in any musical field
– The healing of any wounds or illnesses
– Getting over loss or tragedy

Patience is definitely a valuable character trait to develop. It may appear to be passive, however it is an active, purposeful and necessary form of self-discipline. Without patience many of our actions would be counter-productive and ultimately much time and energy would be wasted spinning our wheels. Surely, patience is a time-tested virtue.

How to Overcome the Fear of Failure

Overcoming fear of failure is crucial for success. For many highly successful men and women who have accomplished great things in life, failure was merely a stepping stone to achieving greatness.

Men like Henry Ford, Winston Churchill and Thomas Edison understood that failing to make the attempt is the ‘real’ failure and that doing nothing, begets nothing – least of all success.

Likewise, women like Emily Dickinson and Marie Curie did not succeed initially and had a more difficult time striving towards their aspirations.

Why then would someone have a fear of failure?

Not knowing what it really takes to succeed. One reason is that many of us are so focused on success and the appearances of it, that we forget what it really entails. We rarely think about failure as being a part of life and how many success stories have emerged from sheer failure. No one talks about how many times Abraham Lincoln failed at getting elected to office before he ended up becoming president (8); how Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard before becoming a sensation in the computer world, or how Michael Jordan failed to make his high school basketball team before becoming one of the greatest basketball players ever. In these times of fast media and instant news we often see the glamorous side of success rather than the obstacles and hard work it takes to get there.

 

Having unrealistic expectations. We often expect to succeed on our first attempt at a venture and if we don’t, we think we’ve failed. How realistic is that? Just because we failed a test, got passed over for a promotion, or didn’t get a ‘yes’ asking that cute girl/guy for their phone number, does it mean we will never succeed at it? Not at all! Yet fear of rejection, or perceived failure, stops many from trying again.

The same applies in competitive sports. Athletes must learn to accept loss before they discover what it takes to win. In any sport, expecting to win from the onset is totally unrealistic. Failure is part of the process of learning how to win. Likewise, in the entertainment and music businesses. Most ‘overnight’ successes take years in the making before they achieve high levels of success.
In his book Outliers Malcolm Gladwell repeatedly talks about the “10,000-Hour Rule”, in which he states that the key to success in any field is largely a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours. As an example, he brings up that The Beatles performed live in Hamburg, Germany alone over 1,200 times from 1960 to 1964, amassing more than 10,000 hours of playing time. He also points out that Bill Gates met the 10,000-Hour Rule when at the age of 13, he spent some 10,000 hours or more, learning programming on a high school computer that he managed to access.

Needless to say, 10,000 hours of practicing anything would include many occurrences of failure, some frustration and falling short of goals.

Perfectionism. Some of us are afraid of failure because we believe we must be perfect. If we make an attempt and then fail at it, we risk looking foolish and therefore feel somehow flawed.

Perfectionists believe everything must be done at a high level with no room for mistakes. If they can’t get something done perfectly, they’d prefer not do it at all. Unfortunately, this type of thinking deprives the perfectionist of real learning and the benefits and value gained from experience.

How to Overcome Fear of Failure

Only by overcoming fear of failure can we achieve success in life. Here are some tips on how to eliminate fear and focus on success:

    • Understand and expect that at times you will fail. Realize that you are human and humans make mistakes. Before any of us learned how to walk, we crawled. We got up, fell down, got up again and continued the process until we could walk expertly.

 

    • Don’t take failure personally. Instead, view it as a stepping stone. Make certain you learn from it and then apply what you’ve learned to future situations. Refuse to consider failing a character flaw or weakness. Doing so will only prevent you from achieving future success.

 

    • No one succeeds all of the time, probably not even most of the time.In baseball, star players fail 70% of the time. Babe Ruth’s batting average was .342 which means he struck out 66% of the time. Wayne Gretzky’s career shooting percentage in hockey was 17.57% meaning he missed 82.43 % of the time. Wayne is also famous for saying “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” So it is in life. You won’t fail at anything if you don’t make the attempt. You also won’t succeed!

 

  • Remember that ‘failure’ has produced many successes. Consider how many people in history had failed before they became successful and indeed because they failed. Albert Einstein’s teacher told him to quit school because; “Einstein, you will never amount to anything!” Ludwig Von Beethoven’s music teacher said of him “as a composer, he is hopeless”. Henry Ford’s first two automobile companies failed.

michael jordan failure quote

    • Appreciate the benefits of failure. Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” In other words, your chances of getting things right on the first try are slim to none. The more you try, or experiment, the better you’ll get at it.

 

  • Believe in yourself. Rather than giving up when things don’t work out, take it as an opportunity to build perseverance and resolve. Believe that you’ve got what it takes to work through the obstacles and difficult times. Remind yourself how many failures became successful because they wouldn’t give up. The wonderful poem Don’t Quit by Edgar Albert Guest is an inspiring illustration of that mindset.

 

The Benefits of Overcoming Failure

  • You build valuable experience and knowledge You build strength of character and focus
  • You find more ways of being creative and sharpen your problem solving skills
  • It gives you an opportunity to redefine your goals or set upon a new path, if necessary
  • You build flexibility and open mindedness
  • You increase self-confidence and self-worth

7 Simple Steps to Develop Great Habits

We humans are creatures of habit, therefore developing good habits should be simple – right! Well, not always.

The problem is that we get very comfortable doing things the same way each and every day. We often absentmindly stick to a daily routine without considering the consequence or effectiveness of it. Why change?

Unfortunately, not all of our habits are healthy, or good. If we are in the habit of coming home after work each day and reaching for an alcoholic drink to relax instead of getting on the treadmill to let off steam, it will adversely affect our health.

Or, if, while watching television in the evening we tend to snack on chips and drink soda pop instead of munching on veggies and sipping on fruit juice, it will ultimately lead to the consequence of poor health.

If we are in the habit of smoking to relieve stress/anxiety, or over-eating, or taking our frustrations out on others, we must recognize these as habits worth changing, or eliminating. So where do we begin?

 

7 Seven Simple Steps to Develop Good Habits

1. Identify the habit. As mentioned, most of the time we are no longer conscious of our habits, good or bad, so the first thing we need do is become aware. If that cough has been getting worse, or if we become winded after walking up a few stairs, it’s likely that a bad habit (smoking, sedentary lifestyle), or a lack of a good habit (exercise) is to blame. Maybe our finances are in disarray, which means that we’ve been in the bad habit of spending more than we earn, or not practicing the good habit of maintaining a budget and sticking to it. It’s time to examine our habits!

2. Make the decision, and then the commitment, to change. Of course, this is easier said than done. How many times have we said to ourselves, “Yes, I should exercise more and eat better. Not to worry, I’ll get around to it sooner or later?” Unfortunately, procrastinating just makes it harder to change a bad habit. The longer you put off taking action, especially where health is concerned, the unhealthier you, or the situation, will get. A conscious commitment is necessary because that’s what it takes to get the wheels of motion in action.

3. Discover your triggers and obstacles. If you don’t know what your triggers are, or if you are unprepared for the inevitable obstacles, you will set yourself up for failure. In order to develop good habits, we must be aware of what our habits are. All of us, in moments of weakness and vulnerability, need support or a release for our frustrations. Reaching for alcohol, drugs, over-eating, or over-medicating is not the answer. If an unpleasant incident takes place at work, or a messy traffic altercation occurs on the way home, you have to find a healthy alternative to your usual way of dealing with it. We all have bad days, but we need not resort to unhealthy habits to alleviate the stress. Likewise, we cannot let boredom, anger, or anxiety be triggers for bad habits either. Look for healthy ways of dealing with triggers and obstacles.

4. Devise a plan. Benjamin Franklin had a great plan for overcoming his bad habits and replacing them with good ones. He developed a process whereby he listed 13 virtues he felt were important in his life and then proceeded to work on them. He focused on one virtue per week for a 13 week period. By the end of each week he felt he had mastered the bad habit so he proceeded to the next one the following week.

During this process he kept a journal of his success with the virtues. Since some of the virtues helped facilitate the acquisition of others, he put them in a particular order beginning with temperance because “it tends to procure that coolness and clearness of head, which is so necessary where constant vigilance was to be kept up.”
This will work well for anyone who is trying to establish a new good habit – vigilance is indeed needed to make sure you stick with it! After temperance he worked on silence because knowledge could be best obtained “by the use of the ears than of the tongue.”

Franklin had rhyme, reason and purpose for every virtue. He figured that to develop good habits, keeping order would free him up for the things he really wanted to accomplish in life. His resolve, once it became habitual, would help him remain focused in order to implement all the other virtues. Here for the fun of it is Benjamin Franklin’s list of virtues. You can devise a similar list for yourself to help you incorporate good habits into your lifestyle.

The List of Virtues which Benjamin Franklin incorporated into his life:

  1. Temperance – Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence – Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. Order – Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Resolution – Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. Frugality – Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
  6. Industry – Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity – Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice – Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. Moderation – Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness – Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
  11. Tranquility – Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. Chastity – Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  13. Humility – Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

5. Employ visualization and affirmations. Visualization and affirmations are great for integrating the new habit into your routine. While visualization is a powerful motivational tool and energizer, affirmations program the subconscious with the right mindset for establishing a new habit. Together they allow you to feel and imagine yourself carrying out the correct behaviors making it easier to adopt the new habit. Certainly developing good habits is easier when employing visualization and affirmations.

6. Enlist support from family and friends. Let people know what you’re trying to accomplish. This way they will understand if you want to pass up the desert or go for a walk instead of stopping at the pub on the way home. When your friends know you are serious about changing a bad habit into a good one, not only will they help you steer away from temptations, they will cheer you on and give you moral support. We all need support in achieving our goals!

7. Find healthy ways to reward yourself. One of the reasons we develop many bad habits in the first place is because they make us feel good, even if it’s just temporarily. The experience of feeling good is meant to soothe or placate us when we’re stressed, dejected, or just plain out of sorts. For example, you might over-eat and feel really good while doing it, but then you feel twice as bad afterwards. The same goes for smoking or drinking too much. While you’re in the act you feel relaxed and trouble free, however, afterwards you feel remorse and vow to quit – soon. So, in order to minimize falling off the wagon and slipping back into old, detrimental habits, reward yourself when you’ve done well. Treat yourself to a new book, a movie, a concert, or new exercise equipment. If you’re short on cash, visit a friend you haven’t seen for a while, go to the downtown art gallery, or enjoy a skinny latte.

The wonderful benefit of developing good habits is that after doing them repeatedly, they soon become automatic. Anything you do for a long while and consistently enough eventually becomes a habit, and once it does, you no longer have to put much effort into it. Such is the beauty  of developing good habits!

10 tips on Building Self-Confidence

“If you don’t think very highly of yourself, you can’t expect anyone else to think it of you.”

Translation – It means that we alone are responsible for building self-confidence.

We cannot depend upon, or wait for anyone else’s approval. We must see ourselves as worthy and capable of achieving anything we choose to achieve.

Ultimately, how we see ourselves is more important than how anyone else sees us. If we don’t work at loving and accepting ourselves, nothing anyone else thinks matters.

10 Tips on Building Self-Confidence

    • Acknowledge Your Uniqueness. Believe in yourself and know that you are one of a kind. In the words of Walt Whitman know:
      “That you are here–that life exists, and identity;
      That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.”

      There is no one else like you on this planet. No one looks like you, has the same talents, experiences, or perspective as you do. You are unique and are therefore here to make your unique contribution. If we each focus on what we bring into the world to share, there can be no comparisons, envy or regret. We are here to “contribute a verse”.

    • Give it Your Best. When you do the best you can, with the best of what you’ve got, you can’t help but feel good about yourself and that confidence comes through in everything that you do. Giving it your best makes you unafraid to take risks or step out of your comfort zone – both great confidence-builders.

 

    • Persevere. Everybody has setbacks and obstacles to contend with. Don’t let them undermine your confidence. Treat them as opportunities to strengthen your resolve and then persevere. See Article: The Power of Persistence

 

    • Overcome adversity. Overcoming adversity builds and strengthens self-confidence. The greatest songs, works of art and literary pieces have been written by those who have experienced the depths of despair, loss, and emptiness, and then overcame them. Experiencing sadness and loss, and then rising above them, gives rise to hope and triumph. It makes you stretch and become more than you were.

 

    • Accomplish something. Set goals for yourself and then push yourself to reach them. Self-confidence soars when you know you can do what you put your mind to. It makes you feel unstoppable. Likewise, achieve mastery. Mastery experiences are those for which you know you have worked hard and sustained great effort in order to achieve success.

self-confident woman

    • Separate Yourself From the Event. You are not what happens to you, nor how you believe others see you. In other words, you are not defined by what happens to you, nor are you defined by how others see you. You are who you choose to be – a person of character, dignity and self-confidence.

 

    • Confront your fears. There’s nothing that destroys self-confidence more than succumbing to fear. Everyone feels fear at various times; we’re human, however facing circumstances with courage and poise strengthens character and builds self-confidence. Put yourself out there! If you’re afraid to meet new people, attend social events, etc. – don’t stay home and fret. Doing builds confidence. Of course, you’ll feel, and probably be awkward the first few times in new situations, however, the more you do it, the better you’ll get, and therefore the better you’ll feel about yourself.

 

    • Good looks do not equal self-confidence.  Some of the most attractive people in the world are insecure and lack self-confidence. Marilyn Monroe was considered to be one of the sexiest, most beautiful people in the world, yet she lacked a positive self-image. She misguidedly allowed external factors, such as the approval of others, to determine her self worth. Good looks may help you feel good about yourself temporarily, but are by no means enough.

 

    • Take good care of yourself. When you are in fit, in good health, and make a point of looking your best, you can’t help but feel confident. This is different, of course, from comparing your looks to others. It’s about being comfortable with you. Everyone looks good when they’re in good shape, well groomed, and healthy. You can’t help but have a glow about you when you take good care of yourself

 

  • Learn how to give yourself a pep talk.  We all have our down moments, moments of doubt, confusion and uncertainty. When that happens, we must learn how to restore self-confidence. One way is to understand that everyone goes through such moments. Another is to remember past successes, visualize the desired outcome, and keep at it! Practice makes perfect.

Self-confidence is absolutely essential to achieving success in any endeavor. You acquire it by doing, learning, accomplishing, and persisting.

The Art of Conversation

How to improve your communication skills

 

The art of conversation, like any art, is a skill of elegance, nuance and creative execution.

I happen to believe that there is an art to everything we do and why not? Without flair and panache most things become drudgery. Why settle for drudgery when you can have art?

When it comes to the art of conversation we’ve all met people who seem to have the knack for it. They can talk to anybody about anything and they seem to do it with complete ease. And while it’s true that there are those who are born with the gift of gab, luckily for the rest of us, conversation skills can be developed and mastered.

In my article Good Communication Skills – Key to Any Success, I talk about the importance of being a good communicator and I give tips on how to convey ideas and information successfully. Many of the same tips hold true for developing good conversational skills. Have a look at the article for added tips which I won’t be repeating here.

 

Conversation is a form of communication; however, it is usually more spontaneous and less formal. We enter conversations for purposes of pleasant engagement in order to meet new people, to find out information and to enjoy social interactions. As far as types of conversation, they vary anywhere from intellectual conversations and information exchanges to friendly debate and witty banter.

While there is more to having good conversation skills than being a comedian, dramatic actor, or a great story teller, it is not necessary to become more gregarious, animated, or outgoing. Instead, you can develop the ability to listen attentively, ask fitting questions, and pay attention to the answers – all qualities essential to the art of conversation. With diligent practice and several good pointers, anyone can improve their conversation skills.

Tips on How to Improve Your Conversation Skills

Show interest and be curious. People who are genuinely interested in others are usually interesting themselves. Why? Because they are more open to learning about and understanding new things. Showing interest also encourages the other person to be relaxed and share information more freely. Display attentiveness by keeping good eye contact and listening actively.

If you happen to be shy and need time to warm up before you share your own views, you can ask open-ended questions or encourage the other person to elaborate on their insights. This kick-starts the conversation and before you know it you are engaged in a good conversational flow.

Ensure there is a balance of give and take. A conversation can get boring quickly if one person is doing all the talking while the other is trying to get a word in edgewise. When that happens whoever is not talking begins to tune out and there is no conversation!

There can be many reasons for a lack of give and take. Sometimes nervousness can get in the way and you ramble on without realizing it. Or, nervousness can make you freeze and you don’t know what to say next. If you find yourself freezing up, take a deep breath and do your best to focus; smile, and then reflect on what you want to say. If the other person is the rambler and you’ve tried several times to interject but haven’t been able to, then excuse yourself politely and move on.

If later on you realize that you were the rambler (heaven forbid), then at least you will have made the most important step towards improvement which is – awareness.

Determine whether your tendency to dominate a conversation is due to nervousness or self-involvement.

Either way, review the conversation in your head. Look for spots where you could have paused and allowed the other person to talk. For future conversations a good rule of thumb is after you make a point, pause for either agreement or an alternative point of view. Observe body language for cues whether to stop or continue. For example, is the person glossy-eyed and therefore bored? Are they moving towards you to speak and you just keep on talking? Are they looking elsewhere (for an escape) while you are carrying on? In a good conversation each person needs to express themselves or it is no longer a conversation but a monologue.

Be interesting and have something to say. While you don’t have to be a comedian, entertainer, or brilliant raconteur, you do need to be interesting otherwise what would you say? If you are not well informed, tend not to read much, or have very few interests, you will have very little to talk about except yourself. Unfortunately, no one wants to hear about your latest troubles, conquests, or daily routine. Yet so many dull conversationalists believe that’s what people want to hear from them. Who hasn’t been stuck with someone at a social event who blathers on about their family history, latest job interview, or the like?

conversation skillsTo avoid being that person, become knowledgeable about world events, people in the news, or what’s going on locally. Take time to keep up with the latest music, new technological discoveries, or recent best sellers. No one can know everything, so if you can enlighten someone during the course of a conversation, you’ll be a hit! By the same token, you can learn something new as well.

Of course, not all conversations are knowledge sharing gatherings or discussions of global import. Many, especially at social functions, consist of light-hearted and cheerful banter. In such cases, be aware of the tone and mood of the conversation and go with the flow. If you are not particularly good at one-liners, or much of a jokester, you can always listen, smile and enjoy the humor. Never act like you feel out of place or ill at ease.

Be relaxed, be yourself. If you are on edge, or trying to be someone you’re not, it will show and therefore doom a conversation to failure before it starts. Admittedly, if you are not relaxed it’s hard to appear as if you are. Slow down and take a deep breath. If you don’t do your best to relax, you will end up saying something silly, unintelligible, or unrelated to the conversation. Also smile warmly; it will make you appear pleasant and therefore, more approachable. Worth noting: if you are trying to hard to be something you’re not, you will come across as a fake or a wannabe.

improve conversation skillsTo start a conversation, go up to someone and introduce yourself. It is both polite and necessary to start things off smoothly. If the occasion calls for it, you can offer a handshake and then smile and make eye contact. Being friendly puts the other person at ease and opens the door for them to introduce themselves. If, for whatever reason, your attempt is not well-received and you notice the other person is cool or standoffish, bow out gracefully and move on. Do not take it as a rejection; merely consider that the person has their reasons for not reciprocating. Perhaps they are not feeling well, have had a bad day, or are not in the mood for conversation.

To improve, practice and then practice some more. The art of conversation, like any skill, takes practice. Do not expect to be adept after your first few attempts. It will take practice as well as exposure to many different social situations. A good way to get practice before you venture out to an event is with family members and people you are comfortable with. They can give you helpful and supportive feedback, which in turn, gives you something to work on. You can never have too much practice!

Quick-Tips for The Art of Conversation

  • Do not dominate a conversation or make it all about you. A monologue is not conversation.
  • Show interest and curiosity in others.
  • Strive for a balance of give and take.
  • Be an active listener by maintaining good eye contact and asking pertinent questions.
  • Train yourself to relax by using visualization, meditation, or other relaxation methods. Being relaxed is vital for good conversation.
  • Do not interrupt and cut in with your own ideas before the other person is finished speaking.
  • Maintain an open mind; everyone has a right to express themselves even if you don’t agree with what they are saying.
  • Although this is cliché, try to avoid topics such as sex, religion and politics. You would be surprised at how  many people get trapped by them and end up in verbal battle, not conversation.
  • Be prepared by staying on top of the latest news, developments and world events.
  • Be approachable by staying relaxed, smiling and maintaining a friendly attitude.

Possessing the art of conversation improves personal, social and work relationships. It gives you the opportunity to meet interesting new people and introduces you to various new topics and subject matter. With practice and application anyone can improve their conversation skills.