Don’t get lost in the urgent

One attribute of organized, outcome-driven people is a focus on deadlines. This can paradoxically cause you to lose focus on what’s most important and meaningful, as most important things are not deadline-driven.

It’s rarely urgent to improve valuable, income-generating skills, create a backup contingency for your business tools, schedule an annual medical exam, or teach children critical thinking skills, values, or money management.

One solution is to schedule time on the calendar for the things that you recognize as important and meaningful. Many of these things are not urgent. Until they are, when it’s too late.

High quality questions to help you get unstuck

  • What would be ideal? (I find this to be MUCH more informative than “what do you want?” or “what would make you happy?”)
  • What one thing can I let go of such that my level of stress will be significantly reduced? 
  • Can I convert this thought or belief from shame/fear to hope/compassion? 

Dependability

Dependability is a high-ranking “soft skill” that employers, colleagues and customers desire.

When it comes to your career, there are many worthwhile investments you can make to sharpen the saw of your particular expertise. On top of this, try to cultivate a reputation for being dependable. People want to know that they can count on you, and that your word is reliable.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that so-called soft skills are not trainable. All of them are. For this particular skill, all you have to do is make sure you always do what you say.

Desires

It’s healthy to have desires, goals, and hopes for better versions of the future.  But so often we fall victim to as-soon-as syndrome, making our desires much like contracts we make with ourselves to be unhappy until we get what we want.

Defining and striving for things in line with our desires is essential.  Just be sure you’re not trading a possible future for an unmistakable now.

Negativity bias

My music has received over 50 million streams and downloads, hundreds 5-star ratings, and the kindest reviews and compliments. Yet I can recite verbatim the ruthless critique of my voice from an anonymous user 10 years ago. A decade-old review from one person.

This is negativity bias in action. We’re all susceptible to it. We too quickly forget the praise we receive and tend to highlight the cynical people and opinions.

I keep an email folder called “inspiration” where I file the kind words I’ve received from people who clearly value what I do. It helps to keep a reminder that most of the time you’re doing a stellar job.

This too shall pass

Life has ups and downs. Where you are right now, and how you feel about it, is much like a balance sheet. It’s just a snapshot of your emotional assets and liabilities for a moment in time.

The most important thing to remember is that where you are right now (physically, financially, emotionally) does not reflect what you are.

Motion and action

People confuse being busy with getting things done.  And then we confuse getting the right things done – the things that matter.  As my dad would say: “don’t confuse motion with action.”

Working long hours doing unimportant things efficiently accomplishes nothing but burning resources that could be used on important things.

Before getting busy painting rooms, make sure you’re in the right house.  Working hard on the wrong things is demotivating and takes you further from your goal.

Persuasion hack

Psychology teaches us that people will work harder to avoid a loss than they will to achieve a possible gain.  A famous, successful investor admits that it angers him more to lose $100 than it excites him to gain $100.

You can utilize this with any kind of persuasion, whether it be sales, or helping friends make positive changes.  Put them in a position where the perceived gain looks more attractive than the risk of doing nothing.

One non-sales-related hack to guide others to help themselves is to ask: “How would you feel if…?”  This allows them to envision a world in which they have a successful career, a fulfilling relationship, or a substance-free life.

The value of rituals

One significant cause of stress is the uneasy feeling that things are out of control. Children may or may not crave structure, but it’s certainly what they need.

Don’t discount the value of simple routines or practices like making your bed, establishing a morning routine, taking 10 quiet minutes to enjoy your coffee without multi-tasking.

As much as we want to see ourselves as spontaneous and free, there is a part of us that craves and needs structure. Rituals may be an antidote to chaos and stress.