Category Archives: Self Leadership

Quit the Excuses!

What's- Your- Excuse -Image
What’s Your Excuse – Image

I can still remember my high school’s days when the then popular “My Dog Ate My Homework” caption was plastered on 3 ring binder folders to serve as the classic excuse for students who had not done their homework. As funny and implausible as that excuse was back in the day, today, many of us use varied excuses to justify our inaction or failure to follow through with important daily tasks and activities. One might even argue that it is human nature for people to come up with reasons or excuses to justify or explain why work projects and tasks were not completed, phone calls were not returned, emails went unacknowledged, key decisions were not taken or dreams and goals were never fully realized. And while there might be good explanations for any or all the above, how do you distinguish between when it is an excuse or a valid reason?  Why do people make excuses anyway? And at what point do the excuses no longer add up and need to stop? This article will attempt to answer all these questions.

People use a mix of reasons and excuses to account for their thoughts, behaviors, or actions. And though reasons and excuses are sometimes used interchangeably, the two concepts are not one and the same. Difference Between explains that “a reason simply refers to a cause or explanation. Reasons explains why someone did something or why something happened. On the other hand, “An excuse, is also a type of reason that specifically justifies or defends a fault.” Based on this, the main difference between the two is – a reason is merely an explanation, and an excuse specifically focuses on justifying a fault. So, how do you account for your behaviors and actions?  Do you have good reasons, or are you merely making excuses?

Why Do People Make Excuses?

According to Tony Robbins, “Making excuses can almost always be traced back to one of three reasons: fear, uncertainty or lack of purpose”.

  1. Fear:  The fear of failure is perhaps the biggest fear that most people have. Robbins goes on to explain that fear and more specifically the fear of failure can cripple some people and cause them to make excuses that prevent them from going after their dreams. This fear of failure might play out as self -doubt or self-limiting beliefs and result in a lack of confidence in one’s potential and ability to succeed.
  1. Uncertainty:  Robbins explains that “as human beings, we all have Six Human Needs that drive our decisions. And one of our most powerful needs is certainty- that is the desire to avoid pain and seek out things that we know will bring us pleasure”. Because of this, people are more likely to remain in their comfort zone and situations that are less than ideal. So, when we are faced with circumstances that we feel uncertain about, our brains prefer, or are likely to default to making excuses over dealing with uncertainty.  Nonetheless, you can override these natural impulses and stop making excuses.
  1. Lack of Purpose: According to Robbins, “people who make excuses often come across as lazy, uninspired and apathetic.” However, he notes that this perception might not be true as it is more likely that they haven’t yet discovered their purpose. Therefore, Robbins advocates that “People are not lazy. They simply have goals that do not inspire them.” So, if you focus on finding your passion and living a meaningful life, the tendency to make excuses will stop.

Top Excuses People Make

Sometimes, I am just as guilty of making excuses as anyone else. For years, I have used both reasons and excuses about timing to justify not starting a doctoral program I have done the research to identify. I have also used excuses about not knowing how, to delay writing and publishing a book that I hope to. But all my excuses and reasons really mask- is my fear of failure and doubts about my abilities. I share all this to say, making excuses is a part of the human condition and is as natural to many of us as breathing.  

So, while the following list of common excuses people make is not exhaustive, you might easily find that the excuses you make are only slightly different from the ones below and might be linked to the reasons given above. Here are seven common excuses that people typically make:

  1. I don’t have enough time/money/ resources:
  2. I am afraid of failure
  3. I am not inspired/ I’m stuck
  4. This is not new/ it’s not original enough
  5. I am afraid of the competition
  6. This is not the right time to do it
  7. I have too much going on /I don’t have the support

So, how do we move past the excuses and avoid sitting like a frog on a log?

How To Stop Making Excuses

According to Tony Robbins, “making excuses is normal from time to time. But if your  excuses  start to interfere with your life and prevent you from reaching your goals, it might be time to learn how to quit doing so. As such, Robbins suggests the following tips that you can use to stop making excuses and take meaningful action towards your goals and dreams:

  • Take Responsibility: Robbins suggest that “the first step to stop making excuses is always to realize that you alone control your destiny. Robbins reminds us that “No matter what has happened to you in the past, your future is up to you.”
  • Shift Your Perspective: Robbins argues that “when you take responsibility, you begin to see that problems are opportunities, not obstacles. Life is happening for you, not to you. Everything that has happened in your life brought you to this moment – and you can either transform your life or keep making excuses.”
  • Uncover Your Limiting Beliefs:  According to Robbins, “People who make excuses are likely have certain limiting beliefs that are holding them back. These are the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. If you believe deep down that you’re not deserving of success or that you don’t have the inner strength to overcome failure, you’ll continue making excuses to avoid going after what you really want.”
  • Change Your Story: Robbins recommends that “Once you’ve identified your limiting beliefs, you can change your story and stop making excuses for good. Do this by identifying negative self-talk and replacing any limiting beliefs with empowering ones. When you change your words – and your story – you change your life.”
  • Find The Lesson: Robbins says that “People who make excuses don’t bother to look closely at their mistakes and determine what went wrong. They blame others and never learn the valuable lessons that failure can provide. Successful people always look for the lesson and apply it to future decisions.”
  • Stop Overthinking: Robbins tells us that “The path to success is to take massive, determined action.” So, to quit making excuses, you must stop overthinking, let go of the past and take decisive action.”
  • Define your vision: Robbins encourages that  you “Go back to the drawing board and examine your blueprint for your life. What do you really want? Create a powerful vision that you’ll be proud to follow, and you’ll never make an excuse again.”
  • Set Goals:  Here Robbins points out that “Discovering your purpose is valuable, but setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible. Working toward actionable goals forces you to stop making excuses and start creating a compelling future. Start small and set achievable SMART goals. As you build confidence, set bigger and bigger goals.”
  • Get Support: When all is said and done, Robbins emphasizes that “The key to stop making excuses is to hold yourself accountable for your actions – but this isn’t always easy.” Therefore, lean on your trusted friends and family for your support.

Over to you- what excuses are you using to undermine your progress and chances for success in your personal and professional life? Whatever they are, it’s time to quit.  Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!

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Check- Your- Blindspots- Video

How to Say NO!

Speech Bubble Saying No
Speech Bubble Saying No

“No is a complete sentence. It does not require justification or explanation”.

Unknown

One of the words that toddlers love to say as soon as they start talking is NO. While toddlers and young children have no qualms about saying no to everything and everyone, the older we get, the more we seem to struggle with repeating this simple yet powerful two letter word. In my last article, I wrote about the Hidden Costs of Yes, and how our yeses place our relationships, resources, and reputation on the line. For the purposes of this article, I want to explore the other end of the spectrum- that is saying no.  

Saying No

It is easy to say no to something or someone when a request goes against rules, policies, laws, and established codes of conduct for behavior. Saying no might even get easier, when it goes against your expressed values, deeply held beliefs, purpose and priorities. But what about those situations when the lines are blurry, and the parameters less clear? That is, when the person making the request is in a place of power, when your no might impact your future, when the consequence of saying no is uncertain, when you are overwhelmed by the fear of missing out? How do you decide when to say no?

In some instances, your decision to say no is going to be heavily influenced by the person asking. Whether it’s at work or at home, the power dynamics between you and the person doing the asking, or the nature of the relationship might significantly impact your answer. Afterall, it’s not hard to say no to someone with who you don’t have a personal or professional relationship or are seeking to build one with. However, saying no becomes much trickier when the person doing the asking, is someone with whom you have a valuable relationship, or one with whom you aspire to have one or preserve for personal or professional reasons.

Additionally, saying no, has the potential to take a toll on the person saying it, as well as to the person receiving it. For some people, the desire to help and do more while not being able, can drive negative thoughts and frustrations about their abilities and deep-seated emotions such as guilt and shame. While it’s important to acknowledge these emotions when they surface, dwelling on them after you have said no, is neither healthy nor helpful.

Why People Fear Saying No?

Many people fear saying no, because they don’t want to appear unambitious, unsupportive, lazy, uncaring, or selfish. They also avoid saying no to prevent themselves from disappointing others or hurting people’s feelings. In the process of doing so, they say yes, to the ever-increasing demands and priorities of their colleagues, friends, loved ones. Overtime, their inability to say no and set appropriate boundaries add up, and results in increased levels of stress and burnout. And they sacrifice themselves, their goals, their happiness and what is truly important to them. But what if you learned to say no as boldly as young children do?  Would saying no make you any less caring, supportive, or hardworking? Truth is, saying no does not make you any less of those things.

When you say no to a request, relationship, or opportunity, you might simply be stating any one or a combination of the following things:

  • I have the right to change my mind.
  • I don’t have the time, or this is not the right time for me.
  • This opportunity or relationship is not for me, or this is not what I want to do.
  • I have the right to decide how I spend my time, talents, and resources.
  • I have established clear and healthy boundaries for my relationships
  • I am choosing to put me first, and not the other person or the opportunity.
  • I will no longer choose to engage or invest my time, talents and energy in people, relationships and activities that do not uplift me or move me forward.

Just be careful to ensure that your no is not driven by bias, malice, resentment, or the desire to get back at someone.

How to Say No!

According to Susan Newman, PhD, “Saying ‘no’ is not something that comes naturally to the majority of people. Learning to say no is a skill that all of us can learn or get better at.” So, if you are struggling with saying no, here are seven tips from psychotherapist and author Johnathan Alpert (writing at INC Magazine) that can that help you deliver your no more effectively:

  1. Say it:  Rather than stalling or not providing a clear answer, it is recommended that you give a straight answer to the person making the request. While you are not required to give an explanation, you can provide a brief one if you feel inclined to do so. But the general rule to note is less is more.
  1. Be assertive and courteous: Though your answer might be disappointing to the requestor, the key is to be respectful. Whether you are saying I’m sorry I can’t right now but will let you know when and if I can.”  Or “I appreciate your asking me for help, but I’m stretched too thin right now to devote the time to be of quality help to you.”, be clear about what you do or don’t have the capacity for.
  1. Understand peoples’ tactics: People will use different tactics and emotional appeals to get you to do what they want. Be aware of these manipulation techniques and be ready to hold firmly to your no.
  1. Set boundaries: One reason people sometimes have a hard time saying no is because they haven’t taken the time to evaluate their relationships and understand their role within the relationship. When you truly understand the dynamic and your role, you might not feel as anxious about the consequences of saying no. If your relationships are strong, they will withstand, they can withstand your saying no.
  1. Put the question back on the person asking: This is highly effective in a work situation. Let’s say a supervisor is asking you to take on several tasks–more than you can handle. Alpert suggest that you might say, “I’m happy to do X, Y, and Z; however, I would need three weeks, rather than two, to do a good job. How would you like me to prioritize them?”
  1. Be firm: If someone can’t accept your no, that is probably a good indicator might not be a genuine friend or respect you. In such case, stand firm, and don’t feel compelled to give in just because that person is uncomfortable.
  1. Be selfish: Here Alpert suggests that you “Put your needs first. Not those of the person asking you for something. If you prioritize that person’s needs over yours, you’ll find your productivity will suffer and resentment will mount. Perhaps we can learn from Warren Buffett, who said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”

Though you might still struggle with saying no, remember it is not possible to say yes to everything and everyone. Don’t allow yourself to be overtaken and stretched too thinly by the ever-increasing demands of those around. You will only make yourself miserable and become resentful in the process. Every time you fail to exercise the courage to say no, you sacrifice your peace of mind, your right to choose and your overall wellbeing for others. Saying no could simply mean you are choosing to follow your gut instincts, acknowledge your thoughts and feelings and you are listening to your body at this time.

Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!

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The Hidden Costs of Saying Yes!

Quotes About Saying Yes
Quote About Saying Yes

Why Do People Say Yes?

Many of us go through our daily lives, continually saying yes to a range of requests and demands from others around us. With each interaction, we say yes to new tasks, responsibilities, opportunities and relationships. And every time you and I say yes, we expand our varied roles, add to our existing workload, schedules and obligations. And before you know it, you find that your bandwidth has shrunken, and you feel overextended from having stretched yourself too thin. With so many people struggling with fatigue, burnout and stress, why do you continue to say yes?

There are many reasons people say yes to the seemingly never-ending demands on their time, resources and talents. Some of the main reasons they say yes include, but are not limited to their need to:

  • Respond to challenges and seize new opportunities
  • Build and preserve relationships personally and professionally.
  • Meet the expectations and needs of friends and loved ones.
  • Fulfill varied roles and responsibilities related to work.
  • Learn new skills to enhance their growth and development
  • Expand their influence and impact on the world around them.
  • Be recognized, valued or affirmed.
  • Respect the power dynamic in relationships and organizations (Playing politics).
  • Avoid the consequences of saying no, or the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO).

Regardless of your reason for saying yes, have you ever paused to consider the hidden costs of doing so?

The Power of Saying Yes

In her TED Talk- My Year of Saying Yes, Shonda Rhimes talked about her experiment where for one year, she said yes to everything that scared her, made her nervous and pushed her out of her comfort zone. Rhimes shared how the act of saying yes and doing the things that scared her, made them less scary. And she further explained how saying yes to everything, changed her, her life, helped her rediscover her creativity and ultimately saved her career. She is not alone. Founder of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson is also a big champion of saying yes.  According to Forbes, he earned the nickname Dr. Yes, because he prefers to say yes instead of no. And his belief in saying yes and “fortune favors the bold” were instrumental in shaping the Virgin Story.

Therefore, there is no denying that saying yes can be life changing. Whether it is to a marriage or business proposal, this three-letter word has the potential to open doors to great possibilities and to unleash power to those who say it. Afterall, saying yes to a call for volunteers can expand your personal and professional network and give a new sense of meaning to your life. Saying yes to a work assignment, can equip you with new skills or shift you towards a new and exciting career path. Saying yes, can provide you with limitless experiences and exposures that could expand your horizons.

The Hidden Costs of Saying Yes

Every yes you give, has an opportunity cost. With only 24 hours in a day, and 365 days in a year, time is a precious and scare commodity. Each time you say yes, you are saying no to something and someone else. And before you know it, your yeses can add up, and become very expensive to your well-being and overall personal effectiveness. For example, saying yes to a project team at work, might mean less time during the workday to complete your primary duties and potentially longer hours in the office. And saying yes to a new opportunity, could result in less time for leisure activities and downtime on the weekend with loved ones. So, with each yes you give, you risk taking on increasing responsibilities, which left unchecked can lead to you becoming overworked, overused and burnout.

And if your word is your bond, or you do as you say you will do, saying yes also obligates you to show up for others. A yes to a simple, small or random request from a co-worker, stranger or loved one, will require you to organize yourself and your resources to respond. This can become especially problematic for people who hold themselves to high standards. In that, the need to perform, meet expectations and fulfill promises, can create additional stress and pressure which can become burdensome fast. Ultimately, saying yes will require you to practice greater levels of prioritization and to make deliberate efforts to maintain work -life harmony.  So, each time you say yes, you put your reputation, resources and relationships on the line.

Additionally, being labelled a “yes- person” isn’t exactly flattering.  Saying yes to everything and everyone could create the impression that you’re a people pleaser. And that you lack the ability to communicate assertively what your needs, goals and priorities are. It might even suggest that you lack the ability to manage your time and set appropriate boundaries. So how do you decide when to say yes?

When to Say Yes?

I recently came across a quote that says, “It’s not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are.” This means that in saying yes, you should consider how your yes aligns to your priorities, broader objectives for your life and how you want to impact your world. But as you do that, you will still need to be careful not to bite off more than you can chew.

So, here are two tips from A.T. Gimbel that you can use to evaluate your yes /no and still maximize opportunities to achieve your goals and live a successful and fulfilling life:

  1. Evaluate your gum balls vs your glass balls:  According to this analogy, “Glass balls break when dropped and need to be handled immediately or the mess from it breaking is even worse to clean up. Rubber balls will keep bouncing over and over again and do not need to be immediately picked up. Eventually they stop bouncing and often roll away; worst case you have to stop and pick it back up. Say yes to the glass balls over rubber balls.”
  2. Be explicit about tradeoffs:  Ask yourself, “What am I saying no to if I say yes to this? If I am choosing between A or B, how do I make it clear to my customer/team/partner that I am making this prioritization?” Doing this will make it easier for you to explain and get support for the tradeoff you are making and why.

In the final analysis, you cannot and shouldn’t say yes to everything and everyone. Your yes should mean something and be given after you have considered your existing roles (at work and at home), the potential costs and benefits to you and your loved ones, and the impact you wish you have on the world around you.

Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!

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What Vulnerability Really Means!

                                                                                

What Vulnerability Really Means
Frayed Rope

Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.     

Brene Brown, Rising Strong

Have you ever felt vulnerable?

Vulnerability is one of those touchy feely words that women fear, and men rarely admit to. However, being vulnerable is a crucial ingredient of forming true connections with others, communicating effectively, and building healthy relationships. Being vulnerable involves being honest and open about our emotions, feelings, fears, insecurities. And sometimes, being vulnerable is about asking people for help.

Like it or not, we have all been vulnerable to something or someone. But what exactly does vulnerability look like? In her book Dare to Lead, Brene Brown describes vulnerability as “the emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” Being vulnerable can make us feel raw, exposed, and uncomfortable, because it puts us in position for us to be seen by others at moments where we might not feel confident or be at our best. At the same time, being vulnerable can help us to practice self-acceptance, gain confidence in our own abilities to overcome hardships, and show empathy and compassion to others. However, there is no mistaking the fact that that being vulnerable is tough. Vulnerability requires us to trust that the person we are being vulnerable with, will not take advantage of us or use our vulnerability against us.

Myths vs Facts Call Out
Myths vs Facts Call Out

Six Myths of Vulnerability

Due to the real and perceived risks that come with being vulnerable, many of us struggle with it and avoid it at all costs. Being vulnerable is necessary part of connecting with ourselves and others. Being vulnerable helps us to get in touch with our own feelings and emotions and to seek and receive support. But, if being vulnerable is so important and beneficial, why do so many of us struggle with it? Answers to this question can probably be found in the hurt that people carry from past experiences and the common misperceptions that some people have about vulnerability. To better understand what being vulnerable means, let us look at what it does not, using the six common myths about vulnerability identified by Brene Brown.

  1. Vulnerability is weakness:  Have you ever choked up in a conversation or felt tears streaming down your face in while talking about something personal? I have. In fact, I used to feel embarrassed and annoyed that the more I wanted the stop the tears, the more freely they seemed to flow. In those moments, I have felt vulnerable, self-conscious, weak, and frustrated and that somehow it meant I didn’t have it all together. I was wrong. Feeling our emotions and expressing ourselves are healthy responses to dealing with difficult experiences. Being vulnerable takes courage and strength to share our thoughts and feelings with another person despite the fear of what they might say or that we will be judged. You can be vulnerable and strong.
  1. I don’t do vulnerability: Does the idea of being vulnerable scare you or make you uncomfortable? You’re not alone. When you’ve always had to be tough or to operate in “keep it together and push through mode”, it can be hard to embrace your vulnerable side. When we repress our emotions, we turn inwards and in some instances, we build walls that keep us isolated from others and hurting. From time to time, we all need to set our egos aside, take off the strong and tough person mask and open ourselves up to others for help and support- no matter how difficult it might feel. Afterall, we have all failed, made mistakes or done things that we aren’t proud of. In those moments, we need to surround ourselves with people who will listen, give us feedback, and offer comfort and support.  
  1. I can go it alone:  I know that we sometimes face situations that might lead us to the conclusion that it is better to go it alone. And there are times when this might feel like the best course of action. However, like the says goes “No man is an island, and no man stands alone.” Though this might seem cliche, we all need each other to get through the challenges and curve balls that life throws at us. So, from time to time, we need to reach out to our village for help and support and to lend a listening ear or helping hands as well. We build stronger and more intimate relationships with others when we can freely admit that we are not ok, when we are not o.k. For as the quote says – “What do we live for if not to make things a bit less difficult for each other?”
  1. You can be vulnerable without being uncomfortable:  There is no avoiding the discomfort that being vulnerable will make you feel. In our most vulnerable moments, we are likely to experience the fear of rejection, shame, guilt, abandonment, or judgment.  While the risks are real, when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we also open ourselves to the possibilities of love, compassion, acceptance, and support. So, think of being vulnerable as that weak muscle that you rarely ever exercise. Whenever you exercise it, it might feel sore for the first couple of days, but if you keep working it, the muscle becomes stronger and so do you. Embrace the discomfort of being vulnerable, it is a necessary part of the process.
  1. Trust comes before vulnerability: Most of us grew up hearing the stern warning to be careful of who we trust because the more we let people in or share, the greater the chance that they might hurt you. It’s no wonder then that some of us struggle with trust and intimacy in our relationships or find it hard to let our guards down. So, which comes first- is it trust or vulnerability? According to the research, the answer is not either or. It’s both. We need trust others to be vulnerable and we need to be vulnerable to build trust with others. Simply put, it you want people to trust you, you must be vulnerable and to be vulnerable you need to trust others. Tag you are it!
  1. Vulnerability means sharing all the private details of your life with everyone: While vulnerability requires honest and openness in communication, it isn’t about spilling your guts to everyone or oversharing information that might be inappropriate. It always important to respect and maintain personal and professional boundaries. You should only share what you feel safe to share and never put out information that might compromise you or put others at risk. So be smart and use common sense as you engage and connect with others.  

When all is said and done, deciding when we to be vulnerable and who we can be vulnerable are dilemmas that we will all face from time to time. However, don’t let the risks and perceived myths about what vulnerability means discourage you from doing so. The next time you find yourself in a challenging situation or have an opportunity to build a healthy and positive relationship (personal or professional) take a chance and exercise your vulnerability muscle. Because when you do, you and your relationships will thrive and become richer, stronger and more meaningful that ever before.

Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!

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How to Have Crucial Conversations: Resist Silence &Violence!

How to Resist Silence  and Violence
Lips Sewn By a Thread

In my last article, I wrote about the importance of Crucial Conversations and dialogue in maintaining healthy and positive relationships (personally and professionally) and how difficult and risky these discussions can be. Yet, one of the biggest reasons people struggle with crucial conversations or avoid them altogether is that they do not feel safe. According to the authors of Crucial Conversations, safety is an essential ingredient for crucial conversations and dialogue because when people feel safe, they can say anything. However, when safety is missing, people believe that they cannot express their opinions and feelings without feeling judged or fear that their voices will not be heard. And when people feel unsafe, they turn to unhealthy patterns of silence or violence which reduces the possibility for honest and meaningful dialogue or progress.

The authors of Crucial Conversations further explained that dialogue requires a free flow of information. But when people feel that their opinions and ideas won’t be accepted, they start to withdraw and hide (silence) or push too hard, (violence). Therefore, to help people feel safe in these crucial conversations, we must establish mutual purpose and mutual respect by letting the other person know that we care about them and their issue and that we have shared goals. When we make people feel safe in tough conversations, we can talk about anything, and people will listen. Afterall, if we don’t fear that we will be being attacked or humiliated, we can hear anything and not become defensive.

We All Deserve to Feel Safe and Respected- Quote
We All Deserve to Feel Safe and Respected Quote

How to Make People Feel Safe

For example, think about a time when you received corrective feedback that was really painful or uncomfortable. How did you react? If you trusted the person and felt they had your best interest at heart, the message (however difficult) might have been much easier to hear. But, if you didn’t trust the person giving you the feedback or questioned the motive behind the feedback, you are more likely to be offended, respond defensively and the communication would breakdown.

Once our emotions take over a conversation, things can get ugly and spiral out of control as voices get raised or become very quiet. One way for us to to avoid this is to practice self-awareness by noticing what we feel and what we do when we begin to get upset. Do we tense up, raise our voice, use sarcasm or do we just shut down and leave the conversation? Noticing our emotions and naming what we are feeling can help up better manage them emotions. It is also important for us to look out for signs that the other person might not feel safe and when their energy and tone begin to change. When we notice the energy of the conversation deteriorating, we should shift focus from the point we are trying to get across and attempt to restore safety to the conversation before we continue.

Plus in crucial conversations, how we discuss the issues or matter at hand is more important than the what we are discussing. Before we enter these conversations, we should check our emotions, assumptions, biases and start with positive intent, good will while focusing on the core issue(s). This is important since we cannot change or control others, we can only control ourselves. So, be ready to listen to the other person’s perspective, be authentic and show respect.

Mistakes to Avoid- Wooden Character
Mistakes to Avoid- Wooden Character

Mistakes to Avoid in Crucial Conversations

So, what does silence and violence look like in our everyday interactions and conversations? According to the authors, the three main ways in which we practice silence are masking, avoiding, and withdrawing.

  • Masking: This is when we minimize situations or selectively share our opinions and feelings. This can also involve using sarcasm, downplaying an issue or sugar coating to make something seem better than it really is.  
  • Avoiding: This is where two persons talk but deliberatively steer away from sensitive subjects. So, while they talk, they intentionally talk about everything but the real issue and the situation at hand remains unaddressed.
  • Withdrawing: This is where you literally check out of the conversation (mentally and emotionally) or physically pull out of a conversation or exit the room.

When it comes to violence, the most common ways that we do this is :

  • Controlling: This involves pressuring others to your way of thinking. It is done by either forcing your views on others or dominating the conversation. Methods include interrupting others, overstating the facts, using generalizations and absolutes, and changing the subject.
  • Labelling: This is where you put a label on people or ideas, so you dismiss them under a general stereotype or category.
  • Attacking: This one speaks for itself since it moves from winning the argument to making the other personal suffer. Tactics include belittling and threatening others with ultimatums or “tit for tat’ statements.
Communication, Dialogue, Conversation
Communication, Dialogue, Conversation

Five Skills for Effective Dialogue

So how do we avoid silence and violence and improve our skills to help us have better dialogue? According to the authors of Crucial Conversations, changing our behavior and patterns starts with the heart. Since we cannot fix anyone but ourselves, we must start with the man/woman in the mirror by examining our personal role in any problem we face. So rather than striving to look good, win, or achieve some other unhealthy objective, we need to ask ourselves, “What do I really want?” And while we don’t want to water down our message to make it easier for the other person to swallow, we must find a way to be confident but humble. And, we will also need to know how to speak without offending and be persuasive without being abrasive. All of this is necessary to help the other person(s) feel safe.

So here are five skills which the authors recommend to help us to confidently share our opinions in tough conversations and humbly and honestly invite others to do the same.

  1. Share your facts: Start with your observations. If you aren’t sure what your facts are, take the time to think about them before you enter a crucial conversation. Avoid jumping to conclusions and basing your crucial conversation on your emotions, judgements, or the stories you made up in your head. Facts are less insulting to other people, so start with the facts and then move to your story.
  • Tell your story: Sharing your story can be delicate process. Even if you started with your facts, the person could still become defensive when you move from facts to stories as you might have to point out negative conclusions about the other person. Nonetheless, do your homework to ensure that you can confidently and clearly use facts to back up your story.
  •  Ask for others path: Once you have shared your feelings and perspectives, it is important for you to invite the other person to do the same. Encourage them to share their facts, stories and feelings and be prepared to listen to what they might have to say. By being open to learning, you are both demonstrating humility.
  • Talk tentatively:  This means that we should tell our facts and stories as a story rather than as sharing it as a hard fact which is unchangeable. One way to talk tentatively is to pay attention to your choice of words. When sharing your story, try to strike a balance between being humble and confident. For example, instead of saying, “The fact is”, change it to “In my opinion”. This is important because while you are trying to get your views across, you cannot force it down another person’s throat.  Speaking in absolutes and overstating does not increase your influence, it decreases it.
  • Encourage testing: When you ask others to share their path, pay attention to how you do it because it can make all the difference. Not only should you invite others to talk, but you should also make it clear that no matter how controversial their viewpoint might be, you still want to hear them. People need to feel safe to share their stories especially when they differ from yours. We can disagree and still respect each other.

Ultimately, everyone is entitled to their own views and feelings as we experience and interpret the the things that happen to us and the world around us differently. The goal of crucial conversations is promote healthy and positive relationships through honest and meaningful dialogue. So, the next time you find yourself in a crucial conversation, resist the urge to turn to silence and violence and use the five skills to stay engaged in dialogue.

Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!

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The Four Agreements to Live By!

The Four Agreements to Live By
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The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz has been sitting on my bookshelf for some time having been gifted to me a few years ago. However, I was nudged to read it after hearing it recommended in a recent discussion. Curious about the what the four agreements were, I spent a few hours reading it on the weekend and was pleasantly surprised by the simple yet powerful code of conduct it shared about how we are to live our lives. I know you must be thinking- what is this code of conduct and how is this relevant to me? But stick with me, I am going somewhere.

Whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or identify as Agnostic or Atheist, you all have some core beliefs that you live by or that guides your actions. These core beliefs or code of conduct provide the fundamental principles and standards by which you live your life. And while the code of conduct offered up in The Four Agreements is not fundamentally new and you probably practice one or all of them in some way, when applied together, they have the potential to transform your life and lead to new experiences of increased freedom, happiness, and love.

What Are Agreements?

According to Ruiz, every aspect of our lives, culture, religion, language, values, and belief systems are based on a series of agreements that already existed before you were born. As children, you didn’t have the opportunity to choose what you believe or did not believe in, you didn’t even choose our own name. Instead, you learned to agree with the information passed on to you from other humans such as your parents, teachers, and other authority figures in your society.

Because of this process which Ruiz called “domestication”, children grow into adults who learn to adhere to the agreements which form their belief systems. When you obey the agreements, you are rewarded and when you go against them, you are punished. The agreements teach you everything- what a “woman” is and who a “man” is. And you also learn how to judge yourself, judge other people and judge your neighbors. You also learn to pretend to please those around you because of the fear of rejection.  You create an image of how you should be to be accepted by everybody.

In so doing, you become someone you are not, punishing yourself when you don’t follow the rules according to your belief system and rewarding yourself when you are a “good girl or a good boy.” The result is that you abuse yourself by not practicing self-love and by practicing self-rejection when you try to measure up to an ideal of perfection. And no one abuses you as much as you abuse yourself.

Ruiz further explained that while there are thousands a of agreements that you and I have made with ourselves, other people, with God, with society, with your partner and your children, the most important agreements you will make are the ones you make with yourself. In these agreements, you tell yourself who you are, what you feel, what you believe and how to behave. And the result of this is your personality. In those agreements, you say- this is what I am. This is what I believe. I can do certain things and some things I cannot do. And these are the many agreements that make us suffer, that makes us fail in life.

So, what can you do about these agreements? According to Ruiz, if you want to experience true fulfillment and happiness, you must find the courage and will to break the agreements you made that are based on fear and claim the personal power that each of us was born with. Each time you break an agreement, the power you used to create it returns to you – allowing you to change the entire system of your old agreements. And this is the personal power that you will need to adopt the four new agreements which will help you transform your life.

Wooden Hands Clasping Each Other
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What Are The Four Agreements?

  1. The First Agreement – Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the words to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love. This agreement urges you to remember that your words are powerful. And like a double-edged sword, they have the potential to speak life or death into your life and that of others. Ruiz explained that the human mind is fertile where seeds are continuously being planted. The seeds are opinions, ideas, and concepts. So, what words do you use to speak to yourself? Are they kind? What words do you sow to your children- are they seeds of love, confidence, fear or doubt?
  1.  The Second Agreement -Don’t Take Anything Personally: This agreement states that nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering. So do not to place your trust in what others do or say. You only need to trust yourself to make responsible choices. When you truly understand this and refuse to take things personally, you can hardly be hurt by the careless actions or comments of others.
  1. The Third Agreement-Don’t Make Assumptions: According to Ruiz we all tend to make assumptions. The problem with assumptions is that we believe them to be truth and act accordingly.  We make assumptions about what others are doing and thinking, we take it personally and then we blame them and react by sending them emotional poison with our words. Rather than doing that, this agreement encourages you to find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.
  1. The Fourth Agreement- Always Do Your Best: This agreement is about the action of the first three. It encourages you to commit to doing your best regardless of circumstances. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Nonetheless, simply do your best, and this will help you to avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret. When you do your best, you don’t have to worry about the results. Embrace the mistakes, learn the lessons, and accept yourself.
My Life- My Rules Picture
My- Life -My -Rules -Image

My Takeaways

I’ve read many books this summer, but this book resonated with me differently than the others. Not only was it deep and full of ideas that challenged my own thinking, but it made me think about the agreements I have made with myself, in my different relationships and roles (personal and professional). And while all four agreements were powerful, the one that gave me pause is the Third Agreement – Don’t make assumptions.  

I know that making assumptions is wrong and that when and where I do it, I am projecting my fears, insecurities, doubts, and expectations on others. I also recognize that I also treat many of my assumptions as truth and act accordingly. Afterall, most of us create stories and narratives in our heads that justify our positions on a issue to help us make sense of situations we are facing. These assumptions are potentially damaging to relationships as we defend our positions and try to make the other person wrong. In so doing, I sometimes take what people say and do personally- making it about me. And sometimes, this might cause me to react emotionally, negatively, and unwisely as I fail to truly consider other people and their perspectives.

I am not particularly proud of this pattern of behavior, and I resolve to do better. This book reminded me yet again that it is always better to ask questions (however uncomfortable) than to make assumptions, because assumptions sets us up for suffering. I also know that it can be hard for us to ask for what we want, and to communicate our needs. But, we can’t assume that the people around us know what our needs are and then judge them when they fail to meet our expectations. Everyone has the right to tell you no or yes, but you always have the right to ask and vice versa.

Final Thoughts

So, today I commit to breaking with my old agreement of making assumptions and to create a new agreement to communicate openly and clearly and free of emotional poison. I also hope that (by reading this article), you take an opportunity to consider how these four agreements apply to how you operate in your relationships and interactions with others and make the changes that will transform your life for better.

So over to you, which of the four agreements resonate most with you? What agreements have you made with yourself and others? What old agreements do you need to break. What new agreements will you make? Comment and let me know .

Until next Remember, ItsALearningLife!

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Danger: How to Avoid Work Stress and Burnout!

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Did you know that overwork and burnout contributed to more than 745,000 deaths worldwide in just one year? Yes, according to Psychology Today, a recent study from the World Health Organization, found that “over 60 percent employees suffer from workplace stress.” In today’s environment, the risk of feeling or becoming “burnout” has never been greater or more real. So even though we survived 2020, most of us approached 2021, cautiously optimistic that the worst was behind us, and that better days were coming with the COVID-19 vaccine. We hoped for the return to some semblance of normalcy and some relief from all the work pressures and life stressors. But here we are in the last quarter of 2021, and many of us are still experiencing a prolonged period of high stress and are at risk of becoming burnout.

In fact, many of us are now grappling with heightened levels of anxiety, renewed fear and uncertainty due to the recent surges in infection and hospitalization rates caused by the Delta variants of the COVID-19 virus, possible shutdowns, a return to the office, as well as the reopening of in person school. Therefore, it is fair to say that 2021, has not delivered the well-deserved break from the stresses of life that many of us hoped or wished for.

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The- Stress- Curve -Image

The Difference Between Stress and Burnout

Although many people use burnout and stress interchangeably, the two concepts are very different. The World Health Organization describes “burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” On the other hand, stress is an everyday response to the demands and pressures of life. Stress affects both our personal and professional lives and can lead to a decline in productivity, motivation, and mental wellbeing, as well as an increase in lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.

In explaining the difference between burnout and stress, Forbes explained that “you can’t cure burnout  by taking an extended vacation, slowing down, or working fewer hours. Stress is one thing; burnout is a totally different state of mind. Under stress, you still struggle to cope with pressures. But once burnout takes hold, you’re out of gas and you’ve given up all hope of surmounting your obstacles. When you’re suffering from burnout, it’s more than just fatigue. You have a deep sense of disillusionment and hopelessness that your efforts have been in vain. Life loses its meaning, and small tasks feel like a hike up Mount Everest. Your interests and motivation dry up, and you fail to meet even the smallest obligations.”

Are You Burnout?

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the world came to an halt, none of us expected it to last this long. Many employees cancelled vacation plans, stop participating in some social and leisure activities that were crucial to maintaining work life balance and overall well-being because of social distancing and quarantine requirements. Without these much-needed breaks and interactions to help them balance and reset, many employees are now experiencing burnout, struggling to maintain productivity, find purpose and meet performance expectations amidst the constant change and uncertainty in the environment. Some of the common signs of burnout identified by Psychology Today are:

  • Disillusionment/loss of meaning
  • Mental and physical fatigue and exhaustion
  • Moodiness, impatience, and being short-tempered
  • Loss of motivation and a reduced interest in commitments
  • Inability to meet obligations
  • Lowered immunity to illness
  • Emotional detachment from previous involvements
  • Feeling efforts are unappreciated
  • Withdrawal from coworkers and social situations
  • Hopelessness, and a helpless and depressed outlook
  • Job absenteeism and inefficiency
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Foggy thinking and trouble concentrating

So, are you burnout or at risk of becoming burnout?

Men Holding Batteries Changing from Full to Empty-Cartoon
Men Holding Batteries Changing from Full to Empty-Cartoon

How to Address Burnout?

In trying to better understand and address burnout, it is important to look at whether work stress leads to burnout or if burnout leads to stress. In this classic chicken and egg situation, it is easy to say that work stress causes burnout or to conclude that burnout causes stress. But although work stress and burnout feed off each other, research tells us that,  “burnout has a much greater impact on stress than vice versa. Once burnout begins, it develops gradually, building up slowly over time. Ultimately it leads to work being increasingly perceived as stressful: The amount of work is too much, time is too short, and stress is too great. When people are tired, their ability to operate effectively and efficiently as well as cope with stress decreases. “This means that the more severe a person’s burnout becomes, the more stressed they will feel at work, such as being under time pressure.” Therefore, ““Employees suffering from burnout should be timely provided with adequate support to break the vicious circle between work stress and burnout.”

Having established that burnout can lead to detrimental physical and mental wellbeing, it is crucially important that we take proactive action to practice self-care (See previous post) and protect our overall well-being.  While each of us have our own strategies to deal with workplace stress and guard against burnout, Psychology Today offers some additional strategies that you can apply to boost your coping and resiliency skills:

  • Set time limits when you start and end your day and stick to those. Ideally, don’t work on weekends or at least limit your work to a couple of hours on one weekend day but not the other.
  • Use assertive communication with supervisors to set boundaries with workload and expectations.  Learn to say no.
  • Create a life vision or career plan that includes work-life balance. Your career and financial success should be harmonious with your personal life, including your health, relationships, hobbies, and more. Plan your career in the context of your life, not the other way around.
  • Be your own good parent and prioritize your self-care. Care enough about yourself to want the best for yourself not only in your career, but in your health and wellness. When you get adequate sleep, exercise, proper nutrition, and allow time for hobbies, you will be more productive at work.
  • Recover from the disease of being busy. Use mindfulness practices to reboot your mind, body, and spirit. By doing so, expect higher productivity, fewer errors, more creative thinking, improved problem-solving and collaboration, and higher emotional intelligence at work.
  • Delegate and access support. Look at your to-do list and ask yourself, “Am I the best person to do this? Am I the only person who can do this? Do I enjoy doing this? Is this worth my time?” Outsource tasks you don’t enjoy, when possible. Identify where you need help and ask for it.
  • Start your day right. Establish a morning routine that works for you and starts your day on the right foot. If you are a planner, plan your outfit, a nutritious breakfast, and set the coffee maker the night before. If not, leave yourself time in the morning for self-care. Practice a morning meditation or set intentions for the day.

Until next time Remember, ItsALearningLife!

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For additional insights on this topic, check out the additional resources at:

The Surprising Difference Between Stress and Burnout | Psychology Today

How To Tell The Difference Between Stress And Burnout (forbes.com)

How to Be Fearless: 5 Principles to Overcome Fear!

Meaning- of -Fear-Image
Meaning- of- Fear- Image

I am not afraid; I was born to do this.”

Joan of Arc

What do you fear?

All the stories of people who have overcame extraordinary circumstances to beat the odds, those who rose to the top of their game to achieve great success or blazed new trails are filled with examples of men and women who pushed past crippling fear, failure, rejection, and disappointment to chase after their dreams. Their stories show how they stepped out of their comfort zone and embraced risks to achieve breakthroughs and their life’s purpose. But whether you are successful or not, every one of us wrestle with fear in one area of our lives or another.

Fear becomes particularly evident when we are faced with making decisions about important life events such as marriage, divorce, starting a new business or career path. Fear can also impact decisions about having children, managing finances and making investments – fear can affect everything. In fact, research tells us that “fear is one of the seven universal emotions experienced by everyone around the world. Fear arises with the threat of harm, either physical, emotional, or psychological, real, or imagined. While traditionally considered a “negative” emotion, fear actually serves an important role in keeping us safe as it mobilizes us to cope with potential danger.”

Having said that, when individuals are driven by fear, they can show up as anxious and unable to take decisive actions. Fear can prevent people from stepping outside of their comfort zone, taking risks, seizing bold opportunities to pursue their dreams and doing things they have never done before. How we deal with fear can make or break our efforts to live meaningful and successful lives. So, what are you afraid of? What would you do if you were not afraid?

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Courage- vs -Fear- Directional- Signs-Image

Be Fearless: 5 Principles for Overcoming Fear

In her book Be Fearless, Jean Case shared five principles for a life of breakthrough and purpose, gleaned from change makers all across the world. She tackled the question about why some people achieve transformational breakthrough while others do not? In answering the question, Case pointed out that the people who have gone on to change the world did not have extraordinary abilities, they were just passionate about making the world better. They seized opportunities despite the obstacles, loud objections and they succeeded. Therefore, if you are seeking to overcome fear and the fear of failure to achieve transformational breakthrough in your life, here are the five principles of “Be Fearless” that you should consider and apply:

  1. Make Big Bets and Make History: There is no perfect time to make a big bet. Case recommended that you start right where you are with the resources, experience, talents, and connections you currently have and just take it one step at a time. Though people will not know about your big bet until it is proven and successful, work diligently at it anyway. All it takes is a passion to make a big bet on that great idea that might change your life, solve a problem, or positively impact the world around you. Big bets change the world. So, while it natural to be cautious, strive for big ideas, not incremental change. Look at what has worked in the past and try to do more of it because history making transformation happens when people strive for revolutionary change. So, do you have a big bet or big idea that’s been burning inside you? What would it look life for you to start where you are and take your own big bet forward?
  1. Be Bold, Take Risks:  According to the Case, it is easy to get caught up in protecting the status quo or what seems comfortable rather than pursuing a different path.  Risks bring failure but we should not fear failure or making a mistake. Instead, we should try new things and keep experimenting. Because according to Josh Linker- playing it safe can become recklessly dangerous. Case also argued that even in parenting, allowing children to take risk teaches resilience and independence and promotes fun. Companies that play it safe and fail to keep abreast of trends are sure to go extinct- think of the fall of Blockbuster and the rise of Netflix. When you consider getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new to advance your big bet, make a point of also writing down the downside of not taking the risk. Then find your “courage zone’ because this is where exciting things happen. You cannot achieve great things if you do not pursue what matters to you.
Fear of Failure on Type Writing
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  1. Make Failure Matter:  We all have suffered failure in one area or another of our personal and professional lives. But for some people, failures can trigger feelings of “imposter syndrome” which causes individuals to doubt their abilities or feel like a fraud. Rather than getting stuck in a rut of self-limiting thoughts, try to apply the lessons learned from your setbacks to help you push forward. This way of thinking about your failures is best captured by the quote from Thomas Edison, who famously said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 things that won’t work.” Making failure matter means staring down both the failure and the fears that accompany it and applying the lessons as you move forward.
  1. Reach Beyond Your Bubble: Study after study confirms that we all have biases of one kind or the other which can narrow our perspectives of people that live and think differently than we do.  To minimize or eliminate our blind spots, we must intentionally seek to open ourselves to diverse people, new ideas and different ways of thinking. This means stepping outside of our “comfort zone” and stepping into our “courage zone.” Rather than see people’s differences as obstacles or barriers, see them as opportunities to collaborate and forge unlikely partnerships and new opportunities. We are better together. Surround yourself with people that can help you reduce or minimize your blind spots. So, the next time you are at a table, ask yourself – who is not at the table, what perspectives could help us avoid blind spots?
  1. Let Urgency Conquer Fear: For some of us, overthinking and overanalyzing are a way of life. But if we spend too much time over thinking things, we will miss the boat, get trapped in analysis paralysis or just get stuck in your own way. But according to Case, we can choose to act with urgency or have urgency thrust upon us.  When our backs are against the wall, when options are few, when time is no one on your side, a certain clarity can set in bring with it a boldness you might not have had in you. So, if you find yourself in this situation, let the urgency of the moment move you to act. Adapt the Nike slogan to “Just Do It”, fail fast and early and use the lessons to move on. So, what would you do if you were not afraid? Each of us are responsible for the kind of impact we have on the world. Go blaze your own trail, follow you own path. Go be the one!

At the end of the day, “fearlessness is not a lack of fear. It is the ability to look fear in the eye and look past it.” 

Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

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The Law of Attraction: 11 Steps to Attract the Life You Want!

The Law of Attraction-Image
The- Law- of- Attraction-Image

One of my all-time favorite things to do is to curl up in a comfy space and read a good book. The kind of book that keeps you flipping the pages, forget that you were hungry and or fail to notice time passing by. And though I read all throughout the year, there is something about summertime that makes me want to read more and spend time reflecting on the gems and insights I gain from all the books I find while combing through the library shelves. So, when I came across The Law of Attraction Plain and Simple by Sonica Ricotti, I became curious about what the law of attraction is, how it works and/or even if it does work. So, I read it and thought I would share some of the main ideas and takeaways from what I learned about the law of attraction.

The Law of Attraction

The law of attraction states that you attract into your life what you project into the universe. This simply means that the people and events you attract into your life are based on what you focus on and direct your attention to. The law of attraction is based on the view that what we focus on expands. So, if you and I have negative thoughts, we will send out negative energy which will attract negative people and things into our lives. But if we think positive thoughts and feelings, we will generate positive energy which will attract positive events, people, and things to our lives. So, if you are feeling negative or positive in this moment- that is the energy you are sending out to your environment and the people around you.

As a person of faith, let me start by saying that I do not necessarily believe that all our life experiences (good or bad) are a result of the energy we put out in the universe. Like me, you might have had good and bad life experiences that you did nothing to deserve or could not control. However, what I liked about the concept of the law of attraction is the perspective that we can shift our thoughts, language, and emotions to stop negative energy flow and learn to project positive energy and attitudes. And when we intentionally project positive energy and attitudes, we will experience greater levels of contentment, inner peace, happiness, and success.

11 Steps to Attract the Life You Want!

While the book is not prescriptive, it outlines 11 valuable steps or suggestions for you to consider as you seek to attract and manifest the life you truly want to live and follow your dreams:

The Law of Attraction
Positive- Attracts- Positive-Image
  1. Decide What You Want: The first step of the law of attraction requires you to think about what you want- what you really want if you want to attract and manifest it. It also points out that some people struggle to figure out what they do want or are fixated on the things they do not want. And when you fixate on what you do not want, you experience negative thoughts that releases negative energy which then attracts negative people, situations, and experiences into your life. The solution to this is to become clear about what would want for yourself if anything was possible. Once you have decided on what you want- write or type your list and post it somewhere where it will be a constant reminder of what you want to focus on and where you are going.
  1. Choose Your Thoughts and Feelings: The second step in the law of attraction is to become aware of what you are thinking and feeling. So, on a scale of 1-10 (1 is feeling bad; 10 is feeling great) how are you feeling right now? The more positive you feel, the more positive the energy you will send out. Similarly, negative thoughts lead to negative feelings which will cause you to send out negative energy. One way to increase your awareness of how you feel is to draw a big wheel with eight spokes representing the areas of your life: finances, health, family/friends, romance /significant other, career, fun and recreation, personal growth, and service to others. Then give yourself a rating for each area. This awareness will help you to shift your thoughts and energy to help you focus on where you want to be.
  1. Keep in End in Mind: The next step of the law of attraction is to think about what you want to be remembered for. What would you want to be said at your memorial service? This will help you to determine what your most important values (The things that are most important to you) are and help you to make the choices that align with your purpose or the life you want to live. Once you have figured this out, write out a list of your core values and reflect on them to determine if you are living in alignment with your values. This will also help you to generate the positive energy required to attract all that you desire for your life.
  1. Remove meaning: This step is based on the perspective that you create and attach meaning to everything you experience in life. You get to decide whether an experience is positive, negative, or neutral. You have the power to choose what feelings you attach to each situation, event, and experience by how you interpret the things happening to you. The best way to do this is to separate the facts of the situation from your interpretation of the situation. If you can recognize the difference between the facts of what happened and your interpretation of what happened, you are free to choose an interpretation that is more positive in nature.
  1. Let Go: This step of the law of attraction advocates that you let everything that is currently happening in your life be and the accept your life exactly the way it is and exactly the way it is not. Acceptance does not mean you are giving up or resigning yourself to any condition, it simply means that you stop resisting. Resisting does not change the situation and only generates negative energy, which then attracts more of the same negative situations in your life. Additionally, whenever you use the word should to describe how things should be in your life, you are resisting what is. And this generates more negative energy.
Positive Mind-Positive Vibes-Positive Life-Image
Positive- Mind-Positive-Vibes-Positive- Life-Image
  1. Forgive: Forgiveness is one of the ultimate keys to emitting and creating positive energy but is arguably one of the most difficult things to do. However, nothing produces more negative energy than unforgiveness. Holding on to grudges and resentment can feel like an anchor is dragging you down. The key is to free yourself from those negative thoughts and emotions. Because according to Ann Lamott “not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”
  1. Unleash the Past: While your past plays a big role in who you are today, holding on to the regrets and mistakes of the past can create negative feelings which some people take into their present and future. This step of the law of attraction recommends that rather than feeling like a victim of your past, you should release past experiences and the negative energy they produce. By freeing yourself from the past, you create a clear space to generate positive energy. And by being aware that you are holding on the past and recognizing that your choices are influenced by that, you develop the consciousness to make other choices.
  1. Be Grateful: The step of the law of attraction recommends being grateful for what you already have in your life by simply taking the time to recognize your many blessings. When you focus on what you already have, you feel good and release positive energy. One way that you can practice being grateful is to start and end your day thinking about 3 things that you are grateful for.
  1. Choose Your Friends Carefully: This step draws on the old adage that says “show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.” Reflect on how you feel after you have spent time connecting with your friends. Do you feel energized, encouraged, and inspired? Or do you find yourself always giving advice or feeling drained after you have been around them. Surround yourself with people who are living the life you want to live or those that will push you towards the direction of your dreams.
     
  2. Connect Mind, Body and Spirit: This step makes the point that most people make excuses that they are too busy juggling all their responsibilities to take care of themselves. However, self-care is an important part of taking care of your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. So, ask yourself- what are the obstacles in your life that have prevented you from taking time for yourself and recharging your batteries? Then set aside some time to do activities to improve your mind (reading) your body(exercise) and your spirit (meditation).
  1. Allow It: The final step is the law of attraction is to allow that which you desire to manifest in your life. For you to receive it, you must be prepared to receive it and have no doubt. So, dream big and believe anything is possible if you believe.

Until next time, Remember It’sALearningLife!

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