Stop Procrastinating- 6 Timeless Tips

I’ll get my paper started , I just need to check my facebook page.”.  “I’ll get to the gym, I just need to be in the right mind set”. “ I know the laundry is piling up but I can’t miss the True Blood season finale”. Sound familiar? Yup, it’s procrastination. Statistics show that procrastination affects over 20% of the population and is growing steadily as it has been over the past 30 years.

Why do we procrastinate? Is it laziness or maybe fear of failure?  Are we perfectionists that will only begin working after every little detail is in place? Or perhaps we easily panic or get distracted when we have something important to get done.

Whatever the reasons may be it deters us from our daily productivity but luckily it is something we can learn to control.

Here are some helpful tips to help you tackle that burden that is weighing you down.

1) Breath! You will feel much better in an instant by taking a few deep breaths. Getting more oxygen into your brain and releasing physical tension will allow you to be more calm and collected even if your demanding situation is completely stressing you out.

2) Jot Em Down! Start by listing the individual tasks that need to get done, write whatever comes to mind. Organize your list in order of priority and deadline. Try breaking down the larger projects into smaller parts to make them easier to accomplish. Next to each task set an estimated time slot. This will give you the clarity to complete each task in an organized and timely manner.

3) 1-2-3 Go! Your well organized list is in front of you and now it is time to fire it up. 1-2-3, we use this tactic with our kids, using the #3 as the ultimate threat. So, (close your eyes and visualize in big bold letters, “DO IT NOW”) count until 3, jump up from whatever you are doing and get moving. RememberDon’t count the minutes, make the minutes count….Don’t loose the momentum once you have it.

4) Check! Now for the best part, make a big red check in the box near each task that you complete. Watching each box get checked throughout the day is the best payoff you can ask for and will encourage you to keep going.

5) Shutout! With facebook, twitter, iphones, BBMs, gilt, hulu… distractions are almost inevitable. No wonder so many of us are ADD. Shut everything out if possible.  Award yourself with 3-4 little breaks throughout the day. Whether it’s a snack, a red bull, a quick facebook glance, an awesome Gilt deal on your favorite Marc Jacob bag, go for it, but remember you want to keep the momentum so don’t get carried away.

6) Don’t Panic! If you didn’t complete all your tasks in one day, spread them out over a reasonable block of time. Mark everything down on paper so you can keep track.

Enjoy this clip that demonstrates this ever so common problem many of us face.

Leading by Example

A Michigan principal is getting a friendly send off from his students as he embarks on a year-long deployment in Afghanistan. Dundee High School Principal Bryan Schroeder will become Capt. Bryan Schroeder. An Army reservist, Schroeder served in Iraq in 2003 and has already completed his required service years. But he said he gives everyone the same answer when they ask him why he’s going back.

“Go through life and give, don’t always take. Go through life and make a better place for every one, not just yourself,” he said.

Bryan Schroeder is the principal at Dundee High School , but he’s also an Army reservist soldier. In just a few days he will begin training to go overseas for a new mission.

“At first I was kind of disappointed because he’s such a great principal but what he’s doing we are so proud of him”  said Grace Gimesky, Dundee High School student.

Principal Schroeder has been a leader at Dundee High School for the last three years but the students here are supporting him all the way on his next mission.

His wife and two boys will be waiting when he comes back, and so will many of his students. Many students wore t-shirts that said “Our Principal is Army Strong” as a way to support Schroeder.

“What I teach the kids, it’s very simple,” Schroeder said. “For every dollar you get, give two back. Go through your life with your hands on something positive, not always asking for something. So, I guess, I’m leading by example.”

Schroeder is a leader who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.

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Against All Odds

If you haven’t heard about the new NCAA Wrestling Champion Anthony Robles, don’t feel bad. Many have not. After all, he’s not an NCAA basketball superstar or college football Heisman Trophy winner. However, maybe you should still consider his achievement. Over the weekend, Arizona State’s Anthony Robles won the 125-pound division of the NCAA Wrestling Championship…with only one leg.

Born without his right leg, Robles defeated Iowa’s Matt McDonough in the title match. Robles came in seventh last year and fourth two years prior. Dedicated and adamant on improving this year, amazingly, Robles went undefeated on the season finishing 36-0 and after his championship win, 17,099 people in attendance gave Robles a standing ovation.

What Anthony Robles has achieved is obviously a tremendous accolade in itself, however two things come to mind that make Robles an even bigger hero: one is the apparent disability Robles had to mentally and physically overcome, but the other is the fact that Robles represents the black athlete in a sports world that is so engulfed in NCAA, NBA and NFL superstars.

Robles showcases strength, dominance and grace and the ability to overcoming overwhelming obstacles. Robles delivers inspiration for the young athlete working hard to make a mark.

Additionally, Robles portrays opportunity resulting from confidence, superior work ethic and persistence. There are no limitations to success, only you can defeat yourself. To go undefeated for the entire season is remarkable, and to do it in athletics with a disability such as Robles against “unfair” competition is all the more powerful.

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Letting Go of the Past

Whether you would rather read the latest mystery or romance novel to hit the shelves or a political memoir or even a new book on health and fitness, one thing remains true: Each chapter tends to build on the past.

Particularly in fiction, the action in one chapter drives the plot. The character – hero or villain, take your pick – may “talk” about life experiences that shaped his or her journey, but rarely does living in the past play a major role. Far more often, letting go of the past is the one thing that lets the hero grow. The hero overcomes his past failure and goes on to topple his nemesis and save the city. The school teacher tells students a story about life in another time – and those students, drawing on the parallels, go on to change lives in their community.

It’s never the case that these events did not matter. The past serves to provide lessons and insights. Action takes place. Change happens. And the characters of the story grow.

In day to day life, however, it is often another story altogether. While sitting at the same cubicle year after year, the office worker thinks about an email mistake – sending a letter complaining about the boss to the boss, for example – and how if only he could go back in time life would be better and he’d have moved to the corner office. A mother watching her daughter, struggling as a young adult, focuses on what she could have done differently: “If only I’d never let her date that Jonathan character, she would have had so much more self-esteem,” she might think. That same daughter may have a completely different regret that holds her back – something like regretting not picking up the call her grandfather made the day he died because she was running late to meet friends.

In all of these situations and any others you might name, there is one challenge that slows progress – and it’s rarely, if ever, the past event that you’d like to blame. The challenge is the regret. The challenge is not letting go of the past. The challenge comes from giving an event from the past so much power that it is carried into the present – and slows progress that could be made toward achieving future goals.

By holding too tightly onto the past, it becomes impossible to live in the now. By holding too tightly onto what could have been done, there are fewer opportunities to take now. By not closing the door on one chapter of our lives, we make it difficult to move to the next.

Rather than focusing on what you could have done, look at how you’ve grown. Rather than contemplating a missed opportunity, focus on what you can do now – today – to create a new opportunity in your life. Instead of lingering on thoughts of the past, visualize your future. Turn the page and welcome what comes next. Your goals may not be reached overnight, but you’ll know that you’re closer to achieving them.

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The Positive Power of Passion

Almost all children have dreams for their lives, and yet as adults we tend to forget those dreams and settle for doing things out of obligation. We begin to live our lives on autopilot, doing the same things every day like robots. If we continue to exist like this, we will unquestionably shrivel up and die inside. Snap out of it! Decide today that you are going to stop living a life of drudgery. Find your true passion, and begin to truly live.

Don’t let a lack of self-confidence hold you back from the life you’ve always wanted, either. Too many people yearn to do something but never start because they are convinced that they could never be good at it. That’s a bunch of baloney. Every single person has the ability to do anything that they want to, as long as they are passionate about it. In truth, not only do they have the ability to simply do it, but they can become amazing at it.

That’s exactly what happened with the people in the video. They said to themselves, “I am going to do something I love.” Their passion drove them forward, and they began to immerse themselves in what they had decided to do. Eventually, they became so incredible at it that they could do things you wouldn’t have even thought were possible. There is no question that the lives of the people in the video are exciting and exhilarating. They are happy, and you can be, too– simply follow your dreams.

Passion is what makes life enjoyable, but what if you don’t know what your true passion is? How do you find it? Actually, it’s not as hard as it may seem; just follow these three simple steps:

Step one: Ask yourself some basic questions.

What makes you feel happy just thinking about it? What stimulates you to become more creative than you normally are? What did you dream about as a child? What would you gladly spend hours doing without getting paid for it? What could you talk about forever? Asking yourself these types of questions can help you discover your passion.

Step two: Do some research.

Once you find something that answers all of the above questions, learn everything you can about it; talk to experts, read books, and visit Internet sites. If you become more excited about the topic the more you learn about it, you may have found your passion. If not, keep looking.

Step three: Try it out.

Once you have found something that you think is your passion, start doing it and assess how it makes you feel. If it is truly your life’s passion, you will feel vibrantly alive while doing it. You won’t mind working at it and putting forth the effort to become great, and when you do it, you will often find yourself completely losing track of time.

Find your passion. Put the spice into your life. Wow the world.

Why the Naysayers Are Never Right

“The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty—a fad.”
The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903

“The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.”
Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office, 1878.

* * *

History is filled with great technological achievements and their inventors – brave men and women who believed in themselves so much they were willing to put their entire professional careers on the line. Henry Ford, inventor of the automobile and Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, are two such historic individuals. However, history is written in retrospect. Sure, it’s obvious now that the invention of the personal computer, for instance, was a huge leap forward. It made some people extremely wealthy. But just thirty-four years ago, this is what they said:

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. 1977

While success rules history, unfortunately it is often naysayers that dominate the present. Don’t let them dominate your life. If, for instance, Bill Gates had listened to what Mr. Olson had to say, the personal computer revolution would never have happened. Or, more likely, someone else would have gotten his fame, his wealth and his business. Check out what some unfortunate executive who probably lost his job said about the copying machine:

“The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most.”
IBM, to the eventual founders of Xerox, saying the photocopier had no market large enough to justify production, 1959.

Riches only ever belong to those who dream and do big things. Naysayers are never remembered except as fools. Do you want to be remembered as someone who only listened to fools, or do you want to take a chance on your visionary ideas?

“The cinema is little more than a fad. It’s canned drama. What audiences really want to see is flesh and blood on the stage.”
Charlie Chaplin, actor, producer, director, and studio founder, 1916

“Television won’t last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.”
Darryl Zanuck, movie producer, 20th Century Fox, 1946

Naysayers often come across as experts in their field. Yet, they only ever speak out because your radical dreams represent a threat to their established ideas and economy. Charlie Chaplin, a former stage actor, spoke out against cinema. Mr. Zanuck, the movie producer, said what he did because television would cut into his profit margins. People wouldn’t go out to see movies if they could watch moving pictures in their homes. Always follow the money – chances are that a person isn’t speaking so much from expertise as they are from fear that your passion will turn their world upside down. Your dreams have great power. Naysayers know this; that’s why they speak out against you, and that’s why you should never, ever listen when they try to put you down.

“There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.”
Albert Einstein, 1932.

“X-rays will prove to be a hoax.”
Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883.

That is not to say that the road won’t be difficult. Great scientists and great inventors know this. Just because you have a dream and an idea doesn’t mean it will be easy to carry out. Following your dreams will require sacrifice, and there are sure to be plenty of long, dark nights of the soul when the naysayers’ words ring more strongly in your ears. You may have to give up money, comfort, prestige and respect in order to see your passion through to its end.

“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.”
Pierre Pachet, British surgeon and Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

Louis Pasteur was not accepted by the medical establishment until the late 1880s, near the end of an entire life spent trying to convince the world of the merits of germ theory. Yet, his fearlessness to stand in the face of so much scorn for his entire life laid the foundation for modern medicine. Millions would be dead if Pasteur had listened to the naysayers and given up the fight.

“Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.”
Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre, 1904

“A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.”
New York Times, 1936

History is always built on the backs of dreamers. However, even if your dreams aren’t so big that they shake the world to its core, they will always be big enough to shake you to yours. While not everyone is able to build jet planes to win wars, or to build a rocket to leave the earth’s atmosphere, anybody can build a future that leaves his or her past behind. Today is always a new day to begin the fight.

In the end, you have only yourself and your desire to achieve your dreams. Nobody ever lay on his or her deathbed thinking, “if only I hadn’t believed in myself so much.” The future is much too short to spend in premature regret, worrying that you can’t get to where you want to be. What else are you going to do? Watch television? Screw around online? Shy away from the passion that makes you human? Don’t listen to the naysayers who tell you that your beliefs are foolish or impossible. If you can dream it, do it until it’s done, even if the end seems so far away.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Nelson Mandela

Three Quotes That Will Change Your Life

Changing a life is a lot to ask of a simple quotation. There are plenty of quotes for every occasion from which to choose, but quotes are not mantras or magic spells. You can try reciting them when the moon is full and you’ve just picked up a fresh supply of eye of newt, but a quote’s power is immune from planetary influences.

And you won’t make any friends among the newts.

The power of a quote to change your life comes from truly understanding the quote’s message and taking that message to heart. Only when a quote is put to work can it make a difference. Here are three quotes that just might do the job.

“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”
Socrates

Socrates lived some 2,500 years ago. He taught Plato, who in turn taught Aristotle, who in his turn taught Alexander the Great. That hardly sounds like the resume of someone who knew nothing and who ended up in the philosophers’ Hall of Fame. Perhaps he was simply being modest, but words do not survive for thousands of years to demonstrate that an ancient Greek was not very good at self-promotion.

In one sense, though, Socrates was being modest after all. His words are an inducement to keep an open mind. No person has all the answers. There is always something left to learn, even for an expert and even if that expert is Socrates himself. In fact, these words are most important for those who think they have it all figured out. If Socrates could admit his ignorance, perhaps we can all benefit from a touch of humility and a willingness to be challenged by new ideas.

Of course, things did not end well for Socrates. After the Oracle of Delphi called him the world’s wisest man, Socrates approached Athenians known for their own wisdom in an attempt to disprove the Oracle’s claim. Socrates, the man who knew nothing, let it be known that he was not impressed. He was condemned to death for his troubles. Perhaps some wisdom is better kept to oneself.

“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
Lao Tzu

Some quotes get to be cliches, the equivalent of receiving an Academy Award for lifetime achievement. Those quotes have been around for a while, they are not flashy and they may end up in fortune cookies, but their longevity speaks to their reliability and their resonance with the human condition.

Lao Tzu himself is a bit of a mystery. He may or may not have existed, but, if he did, he was coining phrases in China shortly before Socrates had his day in Greece. His message about the long journey has been echoed around the globe in countless sayings, and its very ubiquity may make it easy to dismiss.

Yet, it abides. It survives today in the many systems that try to make it easy for people to get things done, especially those that break large, intimidating projects into manageable chunks. It speaks to procrastination and the value of simply making a start to avoid paralysis when faced with the enormity of the entire task.

“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”
Albert Einstein

The journey from Socrates to Einstein is a long one and the destination comes as a bit of a surprise. The preeminent physicist of the 20th century could have left us with something more profound than kissing pretty girls.

Einstein’s remark, though, makes for a natural complement to the sayings of Socrates and Lao Tzu. If, like Socrates, we remain open minded and humble, and we take Lao Tzu’s advice to take the first small step, Einstein advises us to pay attention. The trendier term is “mindfulness,” but it amounts to the same thing. Be in the moment. Be aware of the task at hand, whether large or small, and stay fully in the present moment. When even the small tasks are performed with respect and attention, the big jobs will follow suit.

Einstein may not have been the Don Juan of his time and you might not choose him for your driving instructor, but his attitude toward the mundane is one to emulate, even if we don’t quite get his more cosmic theories.

Expand Your Ego

The ego has fallen into disfavor. Big, bulging egos are obnoxious, while little, dinky egos broadcast low self-esteem. Spiritual teachers speak of “egoless” states, while personal coaches urge us to replace ailing egos with winning mindsets.

An ego is really just a self-concept in relation to the world. It’s a perception and projection of what we think we are. Being “egoless” is probably impossible unless we’re in a vegetative state. Even in dreams, we’re expressing the beliefs we hold about ourselves.

If we see ourselves as inferior, dysfunctional losers, we’ll convey that by skulking about and making a mess of everything we do. If we think we’re the center of the universe, we’ll behave like spoiled toddlers, demanding satisfaction of every need. In both cases, the ego is in a negative state.

A strong and positive ego comes from right thinking in combination with a healthy and realistic view of ourselves and the world. When we can see ourselves as teachable, having great potential, and being about as good as everyone else, we’re in a position to move forward. If we think we’re constitutionally incapable of being anything but jerks, we’ll probably be the most successful jerks on the planet.

The only catch is a little thing called the subconscious mind. It works for us or against us depending on how it’s programmed. The ego is a reflection of what’s going on in the subconscious.

Let’s say you grew up in a family where every action was criticized or condemned. You learned to stand up for yourself at every turn. This programming served you well as a kid, but as an adult it makes you so defensive that you’re driving everyone nuts. You interpret everything as a life-threatening attack. You don’t see the problem because you’re behaving in a way that once worked well. In truth, you’re behaving in a way that’s not appropriate for current conditions.

The subconscious is like a personal computer. The currently running software determines how we function. You might consciously believe you’re a good person who deserves the best, yet your life is full of squalor. That’s a sign your subconscious PC is running programs of limitation and lack. The original software might need prosperity updates, or you may have been infected with an unworthiness virus.

Tracking down negative subconscious programming takes work. How can we clean out what’s corrupted and install new software to better serve our needs? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Get feedback. If people are reacting to you negatively, it means that you’re doing something to create that reaction. Ask friends what they think. It’s humbling, but you’re likely to learn things that can help you change.

2. Observe your behavior. Does fear of failure keep you from taking risks? Do you complain without taking action for change? Do you try to change circumstances without changing yourself?

3. Examine your dreams. In dreams, the subconscious has free reign. Do you dream of playing the victim, being unprepared, or running away? Dreams often mirror our characteristic ways of dealing with life.

4. Monitor your reactions. Does your ego go into an uproar if someone cuts you off in traffic? Do you have a panic attack if your best friend doesn’t return your call within the hour? Symptoms of ego distress often show up in out-of-proportion reactions to everyday events. If you can reprogram the way you interpret life, you can choose a response that’s healthy and realistic.

5. Acknowledge your feelings. The subconscious expresses itself in emotions. Do you feel upset if your every post on Facebook doesn’t get at least ten comments? You may have an excessive need for external validation. Are you willing to let it go? Can you be happy with only 3 comments, or none at all?

6. Practice positive affirmations. It sounds corny, but do it anyway. It’s one of the easiest ways to reprogram the subconscious.

There’s no escaping the ego. The only question is whether we want one that serves our purposes and helps us achieve our goals. A good ego is fed with ego-friendly food. Lovingly tended, it helps us to hold our own in the world and broadcasts a positive message about who and what we are.