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Start, then finish (DW#320)

While some of us have a hard time starting things, there are others of us who are "chronic starters". We are high achievers, we aim high and we always have a ton of projects on the go.

Finishing those projects, or completing those goals, however, is another story (again, don’t ask how I know this . . . ). Perfectionism greets us along the way and uses every tactic under the sun to block us from getting to the finish line.

I just finished reading a great book by Jon Acuff: Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done. It is full of practical ideas on beating perfectionism and completing projects. And it is SUPER FUNNY (was laughing out aloud throughout J )

Here are the three things that I am working on, inspired by this book, to get to the finish line:

Cut your goals in half
This sounds contrary to what we have been talking about, but it is not. We tend to overestimate what we can do in a given amount of time (in the future, that is, not in the present). We always think we will have...

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Between discomfort and delusion (DW#316)

Goals worth achieving are not within our comfort zone. If they were, we would already have achieved them.

However, they cannot be so far outside our comfort zone that they are in the zone of delusion.

If you have never walked a single kilometer, setting a goal to do the Boston Marathon this year might be delusional. Making a daily habit to walk 5 kilometers might be in the discomfort zone but it is doable.

If you have not written a single article, writing a 500-page memoir this year might be in delusional. Starting a blog and committing to publishing an article a week will be a stretch but it is possible with the right planning, scheduling and accountability. It may, of course, lead to a 500-page memoir in the future . . .

If your bank account is at zero (or negative) right now, putting a down payment on a condo this year may be delusional. However, committing to saving 10% of your monthly income will feel uncomfortable but it is achievable if owning your own home has meaning and...

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Are you setting goals that you think you should? (DW#315)

Are you setting goals or making resolutions because you "think you should"? Or because others think you should?

If so, these goals are not very likely to be achieved.

Here is what some experts said in the Journal of Personality: "When goal pursuit is fueled by personal endorsement and valuing of the goal, commitment and persistence will be high. In contrast, when goal pursuit is the outcome of pressures or external contingencies, goal attainment will be comparatively less likely."

So instead of setting goals that others think you should, or that you think you should, just pause for a moment and ask yourself: if you did were not scared, doubtful or anxious, what would you like to achieve this year? If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you go for? What is your heart longing to achieve?

Write that down. Those are goals that are likely to have meaning for you and are aligned with your life purpose.

Setting goals like these are likely to help you realize your full potential....

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The difference between resolutions and goals (DW#312)

Most people talk about making resolutions at the new year, while some of us focus on setting goals.

What is the difference between the two and is one better than the other to bring about change and growth?

Let us take the example of health and fitness as this tends to be the number one domain of goal setting and resolution-making in January.

If you want to drop 25 pounds, it is a goal. A measurable achievement. Goals have a definite and precise endpoint. You will know when you have achieved your goal. (On a side note, when you do, it is important to take time to pat yourself on the back and celebrate!).

If on the other hand, you intend to work out 5 days a week and cut out processed foods, it is a resolution or a habit-goal. A resolution is a promise to yourself, a habit that you want to adopt, and it is more open-ended than a specific goal. It is a way to bring about a permanent change in lifestyle rather than simply a one-off event.

People who successfully make changes in their...

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Take your goals out of your head (DW#311)

What is the one thing that makes it 42% more likely that you will achieve your goals?

It is writing them down.

Here are some reasons why it is a good idea to get your goals and resolutions out of your head and onto paper.

  1. The act of writing down your goals clarifies what you really want
  2. Seeing the written goals motivates you to take action
  3. Writing down the goals gives them a concrete reality and helps to overcome resistance
  4. It invites focus by helping you to filter out other opportunities which distract from the written goals
  5. It allows you to see and celebrate your progress as you achieve these goals
  6. Writing and keeping your goals in view reminds you what you need to work on.
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A good time for a fresh start DW#310)

It is true that you can make changes and begin a journey of growth at any time of the year.

AND it is also true that there are times during the year when it is relatively easier to do so.

Dr. John Norcross (a leading researcher in behavior change) studies new year resolutions. One of his studies found that people who chose the beginning of a new year to make a positive change in their lives were much more likely to successfully make these changes than those who tried to make these changes at other times of the year.

Various experts have suggested that the reasons for improved odds of success at the new year may be:

a) the culture surrounding the tradition of making resolutions which encourages people to stop and reflect
b) the tendency to share these resolutions of change with others which helps keeps people accountable
c) the idea that people who have been thinking about changing for a while pick the new year as a start date because they are ready to move from contemplation to...

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Go ahead, set some goals! (DW#309)

Aristotle taught us that human beings are teleological creatures. Telos is the Greek work for target. In other words, human beings need something to aim towards.

Modern Philosopher Tom Morris puts it this way: "we are hard-wired to live purposively, to have direction. Without a target to shoot at, our lives are literally aimless. Without something productive to do, without positive goals and a purpose, a human being languishes. And then one of two things happens. Aimlessness begins to shut a person down in spiritual lethargy and emptiness, or the individual lashes out and turns to destructive goals just to make something happen". The Art of Achievement

As human beings we are also hard-wired to have dreams and aspirations for a better future. Without a plan or goal however, these dreams and aspirations have little chance of being realised. Worse, they can weigh on our psyche as regrets of an unfulfilled life and of unrealised potential.

So ahead, dream a little. What do you wish...

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Completing the Last Year (DW#307)

According to a 2016 study published in the journal Memory, recalling memories can enhance our well-being and it is not only so-called positive memories that are beneficial.

The study showed that three types of memories bring about positive emotions:

A positive or happy memory: for positive memories, simply thinking about them is enough to make us happy in the present
Problem solving: Remembering a time when you successfully dealt with a challenge increases your self-esteem and sense of efficacy (the belief in yourself that you can do it)
Memories related to identity: An experience, even if challenging and painful, that shaped the person you are today.

Other studies have suggested that while it is enough to simply think about happy memories, when it comes to memories about overcoming adversity, it is better to communicate them by writing them down (or sharing them with someone) rather than just to think about them.

Coming back to our topic of laying the foundation for a successful...

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Happy January! Not in any folder (DW#306)

January is an exciting time. A time for new beginnings. Almost half of us make a commitment to making a positive change in our lives for the new year by making resolutions for self-improvement or set goals to achieve something meaningful.

For the next few days, we will be talking about goals and resolutions and what we can do to greatly increase the odds of actually keeping and completing them.

But before we do that, there is an important action that we need to take. And that is to intentionally complete last year.

Did you know that January was named by the Romans to honor Janus, the deity of beginnings and transitions? Although Janus was called upon to bless beginnings, the Romans knew that he had two faces, one looking at the future and the other at the past.

What this meant was in order to look forward, they needed to glance back at what had passed.

Many successful people and organizations today "glance at the past" by doing an "After-Action Review" to improve performance and get...

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A third kind of lie {DW#293)

When people are asked to speak the truth under oath, it goes like this:

Do you swear to tell the truth (that is no lies of commission, saying exactly what happened)?

The whole truth (that is no lies of omission, leaving no major fact unspoken)?

And then there is a third statement "And nothing but the truth?", which may be less easy to understand.

Psychologists explain that this sentence is used to counteract what is called a character lie or a lie of influence.

In other words, sometimes people say something completely unrelated to the truth to cover up a lie. These lies are meant to make you believe the person who is lying or to make the person seem like such a great person that they are unlikely to be suspected of lying.

For example, suppose a person at your workplace is suspected of taking money from the cash registers. And it is your (most unpleasant) job to find out who it is. You interview one of the clerks and ask him if he took the money. He does not answer your question and...

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