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The bad news about inspiration (DW#572)

A couple of days ago we said that the good news about inspiration and motivation was that we all experience it from time to time.

Now here’s the bad news: inspiration and motivation does not last. Meditation teacher Eknath Easwaran puts it this way: people are often heroes at the beginning (the Sanskrit word for this is arambhashura) of a project and take it up with a fanfare of trumpets and enthusiasm but they soon find that their enthusiasm soon "tiptoes down the back stairs."

What this means is that it is perfectly normal for inspiration and motivation to wane over time. The problem is not that we lose motivation for a task but that we stop moving forward when this happens.

So, while inspiration is great to get a project going, it is not a good idea to count on inspiration to help us complete a project.

When inspiration and motivation abandon us (and they will), we do not have to abandon projects that matter. This is the time when we need to remind ourselves about our...

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The cost of procrastination (DW#563)

Some of us thrive on the adrenalin rush that comes from doing things last minute. We tell ourselves that we work best under tight deadlines.

Research shows however, that procrastination comes with many costs. 

University of Calgary psychologist Piers Steel’s studies show that procrastinators perform poorly, experience low self esteem, make poor economic and financial decisions and suffer more medical problems than their non-procrastinating peers. 

And sadly, procrastinators don’t just delay completing unpleasant tasks. They also end up procrastinating on opportunities to enjoy themselves, such as waiting too long to buy tickets for vacations, concerts or sporting events and either miss out on these or end up paying a lot more for them.

Think of a recent time when you procrastinated on something. What did it end up costing you? Was the cost financial, relationship-based or a reduction in self-esteem? 

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What is procrastination (DW#562)

Before we go any further, let’s define what we mean by procrastination.

Here is how Piers Steel (among the world’s foremost researchers and speakers on the science of motivation and procrastination) defines it:
Procrastination is the act of needlessly voluntarily delaying an intended action despite the knowledge that this delay may harm the individual in terms of the task performance or even just how the individual feels about the task or him- or herself. 

In other words, procrastination is not rational. We fail to act even though logically we know that delaying this action is not in our own best interests. 

Timothy Pychyl in his book Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change defines it as a failure of self control. 
"Procrastination is a form of self-regulation failure. We fail to regulate our behavior to achieve our own goals. We make an intention to act, but we do not use the self-control necessary to...

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Let’s talk about procrastination (DW#561)

Most of us know a lot more than we put into action. We may even have a goal or a plan to do something of value to us but we haven’t started on it. We will start tomorrow; next week or next month we may tell ourselves. Or when we have time.

In other words, we procrastinate. We delay or put off something that needs to be done.

If you procrastinate, you are not alone. By some estimates, about 20% of adults have regular bouts of procrastination. Students are of course notorious for putting off things and apparently 70-90% of students chronically procrastinate. I have a theory that students procrastinate about as much as anyone who is engaged in a creative pursuit (writing, preparing a presentation, creating art work or designing anything – anything that will be up for public scrutiny).

For the next few weeks, we will explore the topic of procrastination, why we do it, what it costs us and how we can work around our tendency to delay things that need to get...

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Come up with your own hack (DW#559)

We have shared several marriage hacks over the last few weeks. Which stood out for you and which have you tried? 

The great news is that you do not have to do them all. Even starting with two or three simple things to try can have a positive impact on your relationship. The more intentional you are and the greater the effort you put, the better the results. 

Of course, you can also come up with your hack. What is something simple that you already do everyday for your relationship? 

A young husband shared this hack with me:
Z and I have created a WhatsApp group with just the two of us called "Spousal Appreciation". The aim is to appreciate the spouse every day for at least one thing we are thankful for. Pretty powerful, and good use of social media!

How cool is that? 
So do come up with your own hack and share it with us so that we can all learn from it. 

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Go on a date (DW#557)

As your marriage ages it is very easy to let go of the rituals of early romantic love. The masters of relationships, however, know that the intentionality of continuing to date your partner is a wise investment for the long term health of your marriage. 

So what makes a date a date? 
1)   It is "we" time when you focus on connecting with your partner and catch up with what has been on their mind and occupying their attention. 
2)   It is NOT a time to problem solve or talk about issues in your relationship (that is a very different ritual)
3)   Try to stay away from the business of running a house and a family.  Your children are very important and if you focus on connecting as friends you will be better parents to your children
4)   It is time to focus on your friendship as a couple apart from the issues that may be plaguing your relationship at the time. Intentional love means that you don’t...

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Express affection (DW#556)

This week we are continuing with our series on hacking your marriage which simply means developing and implementing short but powerful rituals for a strong relationship.

Time investment for today’s hack is about 5 minutes a day or a total of 35 minutes per week.

Do you believe that in order to express affection you have to necessarily feel loving or affectionate? Do you wait for the feelingof affection before you engage in affectionate behaviour?

Research shows that happy couples actually develop habits of affectionate behaviour which in turn lead to feelings of affection.


In other words, expressing physical affection when you’re together is vital to feeling connected to each other. So for today’s marriage hack, make sure to take a few moments to cuddle each other before falling asleep and take a moment to kiss goodnight. 

These moments of affection are a great way to let go of the minor stressors and annoyances that have built up over the...

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Admire and appreciate your spouse (DW#555)`

Today’s marriage hack requires a time investment of 35 minutes per week (5 minutes a day x 7 days)

What thoughts do you have about your spouse? Do you focus on their shortcomings or on what you admire about them? Regular admiration and appreciation of your spouse fuels the flames of love. It reminds us why we got together with them in the first place. 

So try making and keeping an ongoing "admiration list". Record small and big things that you admire and connect them to a trait that you appreciate in your spouse. 

And then pick something from the list to express your fondness and admiration to them every day. 

Why do you need to make a list? Because on the days when they are driving you crazy or when you are in the midst of conflict it may be very hard to remember!

And how do we express this appreciation? 

Be specific and mention how this trait or habit of theirs impacts you in a positive way. 
Here is an example: "Thanks for helping out with the dishes...

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Be intentional about greetings (DW#554)

Todays marriage hack requires a time investment of 1 hour and 40 minutes per week (20 minutes a day x 5 working days)

What is the first thing that you do when you meet each other after spending time apart during the day? 

Here are the two rituals that yield great benefits for your relationships.

1)   The 6 second kiss. Share a hug and kiss that lasts at least six seconds. Dr. Gottman calls this a "kiss with potential." The six-second kiss is a ritual of connection that is worth coming home to.Time investment can be as little as six seconds a day. Really. 
2)   The 20-minute stress-reducing conversation. Talk to each other about the day’s happenings. Listen and empathize with your partner. Let them know that you understand the stressors and issues that they are currently facing. Take their side (Do NOT try to get them to see another perspective at this time). This is NOT the time to give advice!

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