Micro milestones (DW #950)

We are discussing how the journey of self-growth is never ending and the good life is a direction, not a destination.
Having said that, it is still valuable to have micro-milestones along that journey.
Because, according to Teresa Amabile at Harvard Business School, one of the major ways to keep ourselves motivated is to recognize the power of small wins.

In her Harvard Business Review article The Power of Small Wins and her book The Progress Principle, Teresa Amabile explains that when we are feeling good, we tend to be more productive and creative at work. When we are not feeling so good, we are not as productive and creative.

Ok sure.

But the million dollar question is this: how do we make sure we are feeling good most days so that we can be productive and creative at work (and be motivated on our journey of self-growth?)

Here is the key which she discovered after much research.

(Amabile has surveyed hundreds of top executives...

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Guiding stars and distant shores (DW #949)

Yesterday we spoke about how the journey of self-growth is an endlessly evolving process. And our role in that process is to keep moving, to keep taking baby steps in that process.
Today let us explore two more takes on this same idea.

The first one comes from Tal Ben-Shahar book The Pursuit of Perfect where he tells us that our ideals are more like "guiding stars" than "distant shores."
When we think we are chasing distant shores, we are focused on the outcome, on the destination (not always helpful) instead of being focused on the journey.
It can be so helpful to think of our ideal selves and the good life as guiding stars. Guiding stars show us where to go, they point us in a general direction, tell us what to do in the moment, which choice to make to go towards our aspirations and ideals.

In other words, in which direction to take our baby steps.
Our second nugget is from Carl Rogers, the founder of humanistic...
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A never ending series of baby steps (DW #948)

We have been talking about the power of action and taking baby steps towards our goal.
Now sometimes our goals are very clear and defined and at other times, not so defined.

If the overarching purpose of our life is to live the good life and be the best version of ourselves, when and how do we reach this goal? And how many (hundreds of thousands) of baby steps is it going to take??
Great question! And no answer!! (Btw, have you noticed how great questions never have easy answers :) )
Here is a more helpful way to think about it, an idea also borrowed from Phil Stutz:

We need to embrace the fact that self development and the good life (and every project, thing and relationship within that good life is) an ENDLESSLY EVOLVING PROCESS.

  • Endlessly: As in, it will NEVER end. Nope we are never done working on ourselves. We need to do this EVERY SINGLE DAY.
  • Evolving: The whole point of life (according to spiritual teachings and many philosophers) is...
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[Over] thinking and doing (DW #947)

Today’s wisdom comes from Phil Stutz who teaches us this exercise to get out of our heads.  

He says:

  • "Draw a horizontal line. Above that line, put ‘Thinking Space.’ Below the line, put ‘Work Space.’"
  • "You know what the ‘Thinking Space’ is good for?" (do you have a good answer to this? Me neither!)
  • "NOTHING. Nothing happens in the Thinking Space."

Of course, planning, reflecting, taking a perspective, strategizing are all thinking tools which are vital for us to take wise action.

However, using these tools exclusively will not bring about change in our lives or improvement in our circumstances.
The fact is that nothing actually HAPPENS until we take action, use what we have learnt and act on it.
I don’t know about you, but I love to hang out in the Thinking Space.
And need to remind myself to get down into the Work Space. Action Space. And do something. Anything.
Let’s get to work.
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Turning worry into constructive action (DW #946)

When we are worried or concerned about something, it is natural to want to solve the problem. We focus all our energies on trying to think of ways we can make the problem go away.

Now, most big problems are not that easily solved. And when our minds are consumed with the enormity of it, it can be challenging to come up with an action plan that will make the problem go away completely.

Steve Chandler in Time Warrior has some great advice for times like this:

"Replace worry with action. Don’t worry. Or rather, don’t just worry. Let worry change into action. When you find yourself worrying about something, ask yourself the action question, "What can I do about this right now?"

And then do something. Anything. Any small thing".

This is hugely powerful. Really. Please try it.

Are you worried about something right now?

Do a quick check in to see what part of this problem is in your circle of control.

"The next time you’re worried about something, ask yourself, "What...

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The secret of confidence and courage (DW #945)

Many of us seek to find the secret to confidence.

"Oh the things that we could do", we tell ourselves, "if only we had the courage and the confidence".

In other words, we wait to take action on what matters to us, till the feelings of confidence arise within us.

Here’s the thing: It is foolish to have confidence in something in which we have no practice!

Remember when we learnt how to drive? Good thing we did not have much confidence before we had lots of practice, right? This fear and caution helped us to prepare, be careful and do our best on the road.

And as we repeated the act of driving scared many many times, the feelings of confidence began to appear . . . until we were no longer scared.

Similarly, in order to gain confidence in anything at all, we first have to do it scared.

Confidence does not precede action, it develops as a result of taking action.  

Emerson once said, "The greater part of courage is having done it before."

He also...

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The anxiety busting question (DW #944)

Anxiety, like overwhelm, can be an immobilizing experience. Our minds get into a convoluted mess and we can start believing that we cannot take action. All our energy is taken up by our mind and little left for our organs.

Of course, our hands and legs are not paralysed. . . . our minds just lead us to think that they are.

When we are stuck, it is time to ask ourselves the all-important anxiety-busting question: What’s my next action?

"I learned I can solve all this worry and decision-making anxiety by taking action. By admiring action. By having action plans, by asking, whenever stuck, WHAT’S MY NEXT ACTION? And then, doing that action NOW. Action. Movement. Decisive energy. Solves most everything!" Steve Chandler in Time Warrior

Feeling stuck? Worrying about the future? Anxious? Feeling immobilized?

Remind yourself that you are not actually immobilized. You can still move your arms and legs (try it now!)

What’s your next action? Go do it now. Thank you....
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The task in front of you (DW #943)

Yesterday, I shared a snippet from Byron Katie’s book, Loving What Is. The full passage from the book on dealing with the task ahead of you is really worth repeating:

"What I call "doing the dishes" is the practice of loving the task in front of you. Your inner voice guides you all day long to do simple things such as brush your teeth, drive to work, call your friend, or do the dishes. Even though it’s just another story, it’s a very short story, and when you follow the direction of the voice, the story ends. We are really alive when we live as simply as that—open, waiting, trusting, and loving to do what appears in front of us now…What we need to do unfolds before us, always—doing the dishes, paying the bills, picking up the children’s socks, brushing our teeth. We never receive more than we can handle, and there is always just one thing to do. Whether you have ten dollars or ten million dollars, life never gets more difficult than...

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The antidote to stress and overwhelm (DW #942)

Most of us experience a fair bit of stress and overwhelm in our 21st century lives. There just seems to be so much to do and not enough time to do it.

I love Steve Chandler’s wisdom on dealing with stress and overwhelm by focusing all of our attention on the one task in front of us.

Here is how he puts it in his great book Time Warrior: "In a simple life in which you only do what’s in front of you, there can be no overwhelm, ever. That life is yours to create. And it never arrives, it must be created."

So next time we are feeling overwhelmed, it might be useful to remind ourselves that it may be because we are spending too much attention on thinking about the future and all the things you think you need to get done, instead of actually doing some of them.  

Byron Katie in Loving What Is puts it this way: "We never receive more than we can handle, and there is always just one thing to do."

Just one thing. Pick one thing to do and do it with...

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Keep your eye on the path (DW #941)

Have you heard the old saying: "Keep your eye on the prize"?

That may be good advice when you need to renew your motivation and remember your "WHY" but also consider this piece of wisdom from Russell Simmons:  

"I know some people say ‘Keep your eyes on the prize,’ but I disagree. When your eyes are stuck on the prize, you’re going to keep stumbling and crashing into things. If you really want to get ahead, you’ve got to keep your eyes focused on the path."

This is exactly what we mean when we keep reminding ourselves to

  • focus on the process and on our efforts (which are in our control) instead of exclusively on the outcome (often not in our control) and
  • learn to enjoy the journey

    Here's to not stumbling and crashing into things!
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