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101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life, Vol. 2 – excerpt

Articles by John Gray, Jack Canfield,
Richard Carlson, Bob Proctor,
Linda Sapadin, Alan Cohen

101-Great-Ways-featureWhat’s Stopping You?

Your Favorite Don’ts

What are your favorite don’ts that prevent you from doing what you need to do to be successful or happy?

Perhaps you believe you don’t have the talent, the money, the confidence, the know-how, the energy, the time, the looks, the brains, the motivation, the willpower. Ten big don’ts! And there are many more. Hence if I neglected to mention your dearest don’t, add it on now.

What do these don’ts stop you from doing?

I don’t know,” shrugged Jeff. “I have no idea what I want,” whined Winona. If you, like Jeff or Winona, don’t know what you want, how are you ever going to get it? Don’t tell me you still believe in Santa Claus bringing you what you want. And by the way, how would he know what you want if you don’t even know?

Marilyn Monroe once said, “I wasn’t the prettiest. I wasn’t the most talented. I simply wanted it more than anyone else.” Obviously, there was a lot of Monroe’s life that didn’t work, but if you’re open to learning, then know that anyone in life can be your guide.

If your mind easily zooms in to why you can’t do something, here’s some important advice for you.

  • Do what interests you, even when there’s more pain than gain. When I first began skiing, I loved the sport – despite falling on almost every turn. Black and blue bruises be damned, it was too much fun to give up!
  • Learn to tolerate feelings of inadequacy. There are days when you will feel incredibly dumb or klutzy. These are “bad days,” not a life position – unless you choose to make it so.
  • Quit comparing yourself to the best. Sometimes people think they can’t even try an activity (like writing or public speaking) because they won’t be any good at it. They compare themselves to the best and fall short. Cut that out! No, you’re not the best. You’re not even average. You’re just a beginner. Let yourself be one. Don’t belittle what you’re doing. Don’t call yourself nasty names. And don’t give credence to others’ wisecracks.
  • Take an action. Thinking, reading, talking, or wishing you could do something is often a good way to begin. But if you want to pursue an activity or reach a goal, you must take the plunge and do it. Thinking is no substitute for action.

If you still find yourself stuck and can’t get moving to do what needs to be done, go back to your list of don’ts. Treat these don’ts as naughty children who are behaving badly. Give them time-outs. Now that they are stuck in their room, you are free! Take the opportunity to go and do what you’ve always wanted to do. No excuses. Do it now!

How to Beat Procrastination in the Digital Age – excerpt

by Dr. Linda Sapadin

in the Digital Age

PEOPLE HAVE STRUGGLED WITH procrastination since the beginning of time. Let’s see, shall I spend the evening doing mind-numbing clean-up chores or enjoy a good time with my friends? Shall I do tedious and tiresome paperwork or plop down on the couch and watch a movie? It’s never been easy to control our impulses and urges, especially when the “correct” choice goes against our grain.

In the modern world, however, procrastination is even harder to conquer. Accessible, appealing, addictive distractions are everywhere. Beepers beckon. Diversions call. Entertainment entices. Digital devices ding. Add up the hours you spend on stuff that has nothing to do with your personal or career goals. Now, is it any wonder that you’re teetering on the edge of the Boulevard of Broken Dreams?

Though there were (and are) plenty of pre-digital ways to fritter away your time, digital temptations are just so much easier, enjoyable and seductive. Sure you could always neglect your chores to take a snooze or flip through a magazine or actually read a book. But how can you compare those distractions with the ones currently available to us?

Exciting, fast-paced entertainment has actually changed the way your brain operates. Your gray matter now craves excitement. If a task doesn’t immediately hold your interest, your mind gravitates to other matters as your accomplishments gravitate downhill. Don’t live one more day regretting how you spend your time. You deserve better. You can do better. This book will show you how.

One Size Does Not Fit All

All procrastination styles are not the same. If you’ve tried to curtail your pattern but haven’t been successful, it could be that you haven’t found the right approach. If it were a simple matter, like “making resolutions ” or “just doing it,” don’t you think your mom’s nagging or your teacher’s scolding would have cured you of it years ago? Most how-to advice highlights developing better organizational skills and increased discipline. Those are good skills to learn; but they’re not enough. Why not? Because many habits—including procrastination—are driven by subconscious personality traits and emotional needs.

Whatever self-defeating pattern of behavior you want to conquer, you must know your personality style. This is essential, as the right advice for one style is the wrong advice for another. One change program does not fit all. Two examples:

If your procrastination is driven by a perpetual pursuit of perfection, it’s essential that you pay less attention to details. Putting too much emphasis on the details inhibits your ability to complete your work. Why? Because if you believe your work isn’t perfect, you’ll never want to wrap it up and call it a day.

However, if your procrastination is driven by a perpetual pursuit of pie-in-the-sky dreams, it’s essential that you pay more attention to details. Not enough emphasis on the details will thwart your progress. Why? Because though you may have spectacular ideas, your ideas will never come to fruition when you neglect doing the details.

Because procrastination is not fueled by the same reasons, I describe 6 personality styles and provide you with a change program tailor-made for each style. The change programs are not designed to turn you into a rigid, clock-driven, no-fun person. The opposite, however, is also true. I’m not suggesting you live the life of an unstructured, spur-of-the-moment, follow-your-impulse person.

You may question: Why not? Why can’t I live in the moment, doing only what I feel like doing? The short answer: Because a funny thing happens when you’re working at a job, involved in a relationship or simply trying to create a life for yourself. People expect you to take care of responsibilities. And when you don’t, when you’re late or when you do a half-assed job, stuff happens. Unpleasant stuff! So what’s the goal?  In one word: BALANCE

And, if there’s one thing that can throw you off balance, it’s procrastination. With so many seductive distractions, it’s tough to maintain a balanced life in the digital age. And yet, you can break the pattern. Indeed, you need to break the pattern. For the consequences become increasingly severe as time goes on.

You talk your way into a dream job—only to be fired when they notice your less than sterling work habits.

You have bills to pay—only you delay doing it and next thing you know the collection agency is on your back.

You have every intention of revising your resume—only you neglect to do so and are still stuck in a boring dead-end job.

You want to feel closer to that special someone—only you put off addressing the conflicts and now the relationship is in jeopardy.

Yes, procrastination can have many negative unforeseen effects. So, kudos to you for deciding to squash your debilitating habit before it squashes your future.

In the next chapter, you will find a self-assessment quiz to help you determine which of the six styles is yours. Know that each style has its splendid strengths and its wavering weaknesses. The goal of each change program is not to change you into another type of personality. That would be counterproductive and frankly, rather insulting. Yes, it might be helpful if you were better organized like your sibling or more detail oriented like your friend—but you’ve got admirable traits that they don’t have. Whatever your style, there’s no need for a personality makeover; the change program for each style works with you—helping you to nurture and sustain your best self.

Now I Get It! Sensational Advice for Living and Loving – excerpt

by Dr. Linda Sapadin

Now I Get ItYou Don’t Have To Be a Victim

It’s easy to feel like a victim when someone bigger, more powerful or more outspoken than you tells you what you should be doing. You may believe that you have no other option but to fold. Yet, I am here to tell you that you always have an option.

You may not be able to change the situation, but one option that nobody can take away from you is your personal power to interpret the event anyway you’d like. If you feel stuck and don’t know how to do this, turn to either the wisest person you know for advice or to the youngest person you know for creativity.

If you’re wondering how a 3-year-old can teach you anything, here’s an example of what my youngest son Daniel taught me when he was still in nursery school. Danny was a determined, self-assured little boy. He seemed to be that way from the day he was born.  He knew what he liked. He knew what he wanted. He knew how to avoid being a victim.

One day, Danny’s older brothers and dad were glued to the television set for a playoff game. A bored Danny was doing everything he could to distract them from their activity. After a fair amount of warnings, we all had had it with his antics. I decided it was time to take action. Short-tempered myself, I pulled Danny down the hallway; then shoved him into his room. (Not my finest moment. I admit.) As I slammed the door behind him, I hissed, “now you stay there!”

Without missing a beat, Danny opened the door, slammed it in my face and shouted, “you can’t come in!”

As I walked away, I could only admire his moxie. Though I was powerful enough to make him stay in his room, I had no control over his personal power. Danny refused to be the victim. He reframed the situation and made it a punishment for me!

Coming from a background in which I felt easily intimidated by others, I was blown away that Danny could do this at such a young age. What a great role model for me! Since then reflecting on this incident has been my confidence booster in many a tough situation.

Now let me share with you another story about a kid who also refused to be a victim but her dad wasn’t savvy enough to be impressed by her smarts.

Walter was grouchy the day he picked up 6-year-old Amelia from soccer practice. They were in the car for just 3 minutes when he noticed in the rearview mirror that Amelia had not buckled her seat belt. Walter barked, “Stop jumping around. Get that seat belt on. And sit still!”

Amelia complied. A few minutes later, however, he noticed her sitting with arms folded and an impish look on her face. Walter demanded to know what was so funny. Amelia spit it out: “You can make me sit still, but I’m still jumping around on the inside.”

Too bad Walter didn’t get it. Too bad he wasn’t impressed with the fact that Amelia could comply and defy at the same time, ending up with one sensational solution. Walter just couldn’t get beyond his belief that Amelia had been disrespectful. Hence, when they arrived home, she was punished for the transgression of “jumping around on the inside.”

Now, what about you? Is there a situation in which you think of yourself as the helpless victim when maybe, just maybe, you can view it another way? Before you immediately say ‘no way, this situation is different’, think of both the wisest person you know and the most creative child you know. Ask them what they think.

Procrastination Busting Strategies for Perfectionists – excerpt

by Dr. Linda Sapadin


Procrastination BustingPerfectionism and Procrastination?
They Don’t Seem to Fit

Most people picture procrastinators as lazy folks who don’t give a damn about accomplishing anything. That’s definitely not you! You care. You have high standards. You do great work. So how come you have a tendency to put things off? It doesn’t make sense. But in a twisted kind of way, it does. Here’s why:

The same attribute that is your strength (you want to do a “knock ‘em dead” job) is also your nemesis.

It’s tough to start a task when you perceive it as a humongous, time-consuming undertaking before you even begin.

It’s tough to complete a task when it doesn’t satisfy your high standards and/or the high expectations that you believe others have of you.

It’s tough in the middle of a task when you’ve put in so much time and effort and still there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Overworking, paradoxically, is an unrecognized form of procrastination. Though you may work hard, you don’t always work smart.

As you can see, being a perfectionist does not inoculate you from procrastination. Indeed, it can actually fuel it.

Procrastination: An Approach-Avoidance Conflict

Before we go further, let’s take a look at what procrastination really is. Some people believe it’s nothing more than laziness. Sorry, not true – especially not for perfectionists. You know how hard you work!

The crux of procrastination is that it’s an unresolved “approach-avoidance” conflict. A part of you knows you need (or even want) to do a task but another part of you resists doing it. Like a Hamlet in the world of action, you’re torn between two impulses: “to do or not to do.” So what happens?

You feel helpless, powerless, frustrated. You may direct these feelings inward, regarding yourself as incompetent or direct them outward, regarding others as the source of your problem.

You rationalize your lack of action, believing that there’s nothing you can do about it. You explain away your tendency to procrastinate as a fact of life, immutable as eye color, rather than as an acquired habit, capable of being modified.

You forestall criticism by laughing at or even boasting about your procrastination tendencies, ignoring what’s at stake for you when you fail to meet your personal or career goals.

You obsess about what you’re putting off yet you don’t take sustained action. Obsessing may initially feel productive until you realize you’re like a dog chasing its tail, expending much energy, achieving little.

You feel recurring regret that eats away at your capacity to work at what’s important to you. Such regret may escalate into crippling guilt or humiliating shame that makes altering your pattern seem ever more difficult.

Can Procrastination Be Creative?

Some procrastinators defend their stalling tactics by calling them “creative.” It’s good to procrastinate, they claim. Why do things on time when you can put them off till later? It’s amazing how some people can fool themselves about almost anything. If you’re tempted to spin your procrastination into a laudable trait, don’t. If there’s one thing you owe yourself, it is honesty.

But aren’t there ever good reasons to put things off? Absolutely! Here are three:

You’re Overcommitted: You’re juggling so many balls that you just can’t handle one more and do justice to it. If that’s true, be honest about your predicament—both with yourself and with others. Rather than simply procrastinate (say you’ll get to it but don’t), create a time in the future when you won’t be spread so thin. At that point, you’ll have the resources to do a better job.

You’re Overemotional: It’s not the best time to take care of matters when emotions are soaring. In the heat of anger, it’s easy to regret what you do. True even for joyful emotions. Best not to get married when you’re on a cloud-piercing love fest. When your emotions come down to earth, then you’ll be able to consult both your head and your heart before you make your decision.

You’re Impulsive: You’re impatient. You want things to be done, fixed, completed right away. The more technologically sophisticated you are, the faster you expect things to happen. Yet acting impulsively (i.e. tweeting without thinking) is a precursor to tomorrow’s remorse.

“The greatest of faults, I should say,
is to be conscious of none.”
— Thomas Carlyle