There are times when we can trick ourselves into believing that because we’re busy, we’re also being productive.
Being busy doesn’t always mean we’re doing what’s important. Sometimes doing what’s urgent, which often are false emergencies, can cause us believe we’re productive.
As we get busier, take on new responsibilities or start new ventures, the demands on our time will continue to increase.
If we don’t have intelligent ways to use our time, it can lead to:
- High levels of stress or pressure.
- Feelings of overwhelm or frustration.
- Delays in getting things completed.
- Poor quality work.
- Our relationships with those we interact with being affected.
Using our time intelligent doesn’t mean better time management. The reality is time cannot be managed. We can only manage ourselves or our activities in relation to the time available to us. Not matter what we try to do, we cannot increase the time available to us.
Having intelligent but simple ways to better use our time in our daily activities will help us be more productive and effective.
We’ve all had experiences where we’d been trying to achieve something but no matter what we did, we didn’t make any progress.
When we have those types of experiences, we can quickly feel disappointed, discouraged and unmotivated. If we don’t manage our emotions well and shift our focus, it can cause us to give up and eventually quit on what we’re trying to achieve.
There will be times when we’ll struggle to get through the middle stages of a project. During such times, we need to be able to deal with our struggles and continue moving forward.
The costs of giving up on things important to us include:
- It will erode our self-confidence.
- It can affect others who may be depending on us reaching a particular outcome.
- It will make us less likely to take on bigger risks in life.
- It can hinder our ability to do our best work consistently.
- It can cause us to question our ability to create what we want.
As the Dalai Lama says, “Remember that sometimes, not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”
We go through ups and downs in life, and the good news is, there are things we can do to shift our focus when we feel like giving up.
Failure is a powerful word. It’s hard not to be triggered in some way when we hear it being mentioned.
What is it about the word failure that makes it so powerful?
Some of the reasons may include:
- Success is much better than failure.
- Failure implies we didn’t achieve something we wanted.
- Failure has a stigma or negative connotation to it.
- Failure implies we weren’t good enough in some way.
- Failure can be mentally, emotionally and physically damaging to us.
We’ve all experienced some type of failure in life. What if we can reframe failure to our advantage?
I’m reminded of a quote by Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
My belief is everything is a learning experience and we only fail when we quit on something that’s still meaningful or important to us.
From an early age, we’re told that in order to be successful in life, we have to work hard, which often gets interpreted as working long hours.
We hear people say they’ve been “burning the midnight oil” or “doing an all-nighter” in order to achieve a particular outcome.
There is value in having a strong work ethic and doing what’s required to get to where we want to be, but there also has to be a certain level of intelligence as to how we go about it. Working long hours doesn’t always equate to how much we actually get done.
Have you ever been in a situation where you know you’re about to go on a holiday and you have certain things that must get done before you leave? What usually tends to happen?
Oftentimes, the last couple of days before we leave is when we get the most done because we have an unmovable deadline. We somehow manage to become so productive and get things done.
If we can be so productive being we leave for a holiday, it means we have the capability to do that whenever we want. It also means we have to question the need to work long hours consistently.
Working long hours does not always result in us doing our best work.
As we get older, we tend to adopt beliefs based on the events in our lives and the experiences we’ve had. Those beliefs can either help or hinder us.
Have you ever changed your point of view about something, that at one time you had a different belief about it?
One belief I had was, in order to be successful in life, I needed to have the right qualifications and be highly educated. As I have gotten older, I have learned that most things are learnable and trainable.
If there is something we want to do or achieve in life, being committed to it and doing what’s required is far more important than just having some kind of qualification, which doesn’t always translate into actual results.
A number of years ago, I did some training development work for an organisation and was part of a team that had a few contractors. Within a few months of me being in that team, a member decided to move on and took up a different role within the same organisation.
I remember at that time, there was a lot of discussion whether it was a good decision or not. One member of the team said, “The pasture is not always greener on the other side.”
That statement revealed a belief that particular team member had about opportunities and how they viewed the world.
We’ve heard the saying, “Life is short,” yet how many people do you know who live their lives to the fullest?
Our lives often becomes about making a living or meeting our responsibilities, rather than living the life we really want. We buy into our stories as to why we cannot do the things we want to in life, which can affect our mental, emotional and physical states.
From my experience coaching and mentoring people, the majority of people are not doing what they really want to. They’ve often settled for a career or a business that makes them a living, even if it does not bring them joy, rather than choosing to do something that excites them or something they’re passionate about.
One question I often ask people is, “If you were told you had six months to live and you had the same abilities or capabilities as you have today, what would you choose to do?”
There isn’t a right or wrong answer. The objective is to get people to really think about what they’re doing with their lives. Most people will respond by saying, “I’d spend more time with my family and loved ones” or “I’d travel more” or “I’d would do community work.”
The question I often then ask is, “Why aren’t you doing those things now?”
This is when I start to hear the real reasons that prevent people from living the life they want.
As human beings, we love to feel comfortable. Whenever we experience something that’s uncomfortable, it can generate a range of unpleasant emotions.
To even suggest that being uncomfortable can be a good thing may bring up a lot of resistance. We feel better when we’re comfortable. We all have a natural state or a comfort zone, in which we know we can cope with the demands of our lives.
The truth is resistance is what makes us stronger. If we reflect back on our life experiences, we learned more from our struggles rather than from our successes.
We strengthen a physical muscle by putting it under stress, which will allow it to increase how much resistance it can handle. Similarly, our capacity to cope with more things in our lives is developed by putting ourselves in situations which will cause us to grow stronger.
Things to Be Aware of About Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone
- It’s not something that will get easier quickly. It will take time therefore, consistent action is the key to maintaining progress.
- Fear and doubt will always be present. It’s up to us to acknowledge what we’re feeling and continue taking action to move past our fears or doubts.
- Having someone like a mentor or a coach can be helpful if we’re trying to raise our comfort zone.
The good news is that even though we may feel uncomfortable when doing something that’s challenging us, we will always learn valuable lessons.
Our attitude determines our experience of life. If we have a healthy, positive attitude, we’ll be able to cope better when things are not going our way.
If we have a cynical, negative attitude, we’ll find ourselves struggling to deal with our challenges and make the changes necessary in order to get the results we want.
This quote from “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl emphasises the importance of our attitude. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
What is Attitude?
Before we can change something, we must know what we are dealing with first. In order to change our attitude, we need to understand what it means.
The best definition of attitude I have learned is that it’s the composite of our:
- Feelings, and
These three ingredients make up what we call our attitude. In order to change our attitude, we have to be aware of how we are operating at these three levels.