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The Ultimate Guide to Personal Motivation

Photo by Edwin Stemp

This is going to be the last blog post I ever write. That’s it. After this one you won’t be reading any more articles by me online. In fact, the only reason I’m writing this is because I promised Tina I would and I don’t want to let her down.

If I promise someone something I try to follow through, so even though I’ve decided to knock blogging on the head and give up writing for good I wanted to finish with this one post for Think Simply Now first.

Hence the ultimate guide to personal motivation. I like the sound of ultimate because it means final and implies it’s the only guide you’ll ever need. This should be the motivational guide to end all guides because that’s what lazy people need. Reading’s brilliant for entertainment or education yet it’s also a great escape and procrastination device but if you’re reading about personal motivation there’s something you want to achieve. You’re ready to stop procrastinating, spinning your wheels and being lazy because there’s something you want to get done.

What do you want to do or what should you be doing? Is it a long term task like writing your memoirs or something quick but unpleasant like booking a dental appointment or going to it? Why can’t you get motivated? Are you reluctant to vacuum and mop the floor because you know within six hours of completing the job a mob of hungry children will have sprinkled it evenly with bread and cookie crumbs then smeared mud and honey on top? Or is there something deeper holding you back like fear, lack of confidence or perfectionism?

How to Wake Up Inspired …

Photo by Simón Pais

Inspiration is typically viewed as something that comes and goes. Some days you “feel it” more than others.

But what if you could be deeply and unconditionally inspired everyday? I bet it would make a difference in the quality of your life. You would probably wake up excited to start your day. You’d get more done, be more creative and feel more of that elusive “flow.” Being inspired also means enjoying the process more, instead of feeling forced and unnatural.

The best part of persistent inspiration is that action tends to be effortless. There isn’t so much trying, rather you’re more simply being and allowing whatever action is natural to flow out from you.

Most of us just wait for inspiration though. We passively anticipate our muse, instead of actively seeking it out.

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
~Jack London

I’ve been experimenting with something different for a while, purposefully taking responsibility for being inspired. For a while I didn’t know if it would work. Inspiration is kind of an elusive phenomenon after all. And even if you choose to look for inspiration, does that mean it will come?

The Ups and Downs of Life + Personal News

Photo by Vadim Pacev

Coming back from India, I was floating on a cloud of utter joy, blissfully unaware of the personal challenges and surprises that were about to hit me in the coming month.

While I had fantasized over the telling of what has happened over the past month, it quickly became obvious that the toughest part of my job is the potential of disclosing too much about my personal life, thus invading the privacy of those closes to me. Despite the juiciness of the story, I’ve decided to leave most of the details private.

I contemplated on why I wanted to write about it, and it became clear to me that the essence of the story is that we are forever riding the ups and downs of life, and that sometimes when the downs get really down, we lose touch with reality. In those moments, all we need is hope and a gentle nudge to remind us that it is only temporary, and that the highs are not far away.

Overcoming a Rough Week

Photo by Carlos Yepez (flickr stream)

We all have bad days, but have you ever had one of those weeks when it seems everything is going wrong?

Monday, your alarm didn’t ring and you were late for work. Tuesday, your car broke down. Wednesday you lost your credit card. Thursday was your annual review and your employer informed you that, due to the economy, the company is not issuing raises this year. By the time Friday arrives and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, you get a ticket for speeding. How do we handle a series of setbacks and bad news?

I recently had one of those weeks where it seemed that anything that could go wrong – did go wrong. The natural reaction most people have when the walls begin crumbling is to crumble right along with them.

I have developed a habit of not letting outside circumstances consume me. I have learned in the past that the events in your life do not determine the course of your life. Rather, it is your reaction to those events that will determine the quality of your life, and your life direction. In other words, it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to what happens to you.

Most of us can experience certain negative events and dismiss them. But when negative events seem to happen simultaneously – as they often do – they feel suffocating and impossible to overcome. This is when thoughts of giving in to that feeling of helplessness seem to evade the mind.

With the state of the economy and many people losing their jobs and homes, many of us feel powerless. But the truth is that there are many things we can do to help us cope with, and even change a bad situation.

Design Your Life

Photo by the incredible Tom Palumbo of Anne St. Marie, 1959.

Are you tired of setting New Year’s resolutions only to find yourself faced with the same resolutions a year later? Don’t you just hate that feeling of guilt rising in your stomach at the thought of lost time, lost opportunities and lack of self-discipline?

I was at the gym last night and was shocked to see 3 times as many people there than normal. Rushing out of a locker room filled, hip-to-hip, with half-clothed ladies I’ve never seen before, I hopped on the last of twelve treadmills and gazed around the room in amazement – nearly every machine was occupied, the personal trainers were fully engaged, and there were countless new faces.

This is what I call “New Year’s Resolution Syndrome”.

It is well-known that gyms will overbook annual memberships at the start of each year, banking on the fact that many people will not follow through and will eventually stop showing up. Over the next few weeks, the traffic will slowly die down and the gym will be back to its normal and quiet self again.

What’s the problem here? The problem is that resolutions do not work. Especially the socially coined, “New Year’s Resolutions”. It’s a cliché that only 12% of people actually take action on and resolve.

What we need is a different approach. We need a system of designing our lives to sustainably improve the quality of our daily experience.

This article details a step-by-step system that I personally use for creating and living a balanced and meaningful life. Throw away ‘them TO-DO lists, and resolutions, because they don’t work – at least, they don’t last long enough to make a sustainable impact. Let’s drill down and focus on what really matters.

13 Tips to Building Self Esteem

Photo by Kevin Russ
People with high self-esteem are the most desired, and desirable people in society. ~Brian Tracy

Can you recall the last time you were in an emotional slump, such that your beliefs in yourself and your abilities were slipping away? How can we maintain the beliefs we have in ourselves, such that we can live with less anxiety and more joy?

Just imagine the things we would accomplish if we had the belief that we could do absolutely anything, especially if we could maintain a level of self-esteem that no circumstance could shake. What would you be doing?

Self-esteem comes from positive self-imaging, and it is something that we proactively build for ourselves. Self-esteem doesn’t happen while we wait passively. When we leave it up to external factors, we build our self-esteem on sandy ground. What we want is a rock-solid foundation, and this only comes from building it within.

Throughout our daily routines, our minds are very good at picking up all the things we’ve done wrong, and it makes sure we are aware of them. With such a counter-productive force at work, we can benefit greatly by regularly working towards establishing and building our own self image.

I’ve learned that the way we view ourselves directly affects everything we do. People with high self-esteem get along easily with others, rarely get sick, and seem to have high energy reserves. Also, their high level of self-esteem corresponds with their high level of productivity, capacity of happiness and state of well-being.

How to Achieve Anything

Photo: Kevin Russ. Check out his stock portfolio.

Is there a goal you want to accomplish, but just cannot find the time to start it? It might be something trivial like, to reduce the amount of TV watching, or time spent browsing the Internet. It might be, to become an early riser, or to quit drinking alcohol, or to start a home business. Whatever it is, what is keeping you where you are instead of reaching your desired destination?

I have several such targets in my life that I often think about, but rarely take action on. Each time I’m reminded of one of them, I would guiltily say, “I really should do [blah]“, and then forget about it until the next time guilt creeps back into my head.

One such target I have is to exercise. I’ve been talking about wanting to get in shape for about two years now. I even setup an arbitrary goal of doing a triathlon to get me excited. I did start to go running shortly after setting the goal, which lasted for about a week, before I became distracted with another target.

I like to think of myself as a pretty disciplined and motivated person – I mean, I write about this stuff! But, something about this particular target has been very psychologically challenging for me to take consistent action on. And I want to understand it.

12 Powerful Life Lessons

Photo by Lucia Holm
Follow your dreams and transform your life ~Paulo Coelho

As my wife and I were planning our last vacation, one of the first things we did was get out a map and plan our route. Whether it was online maps or old fashioned paper maps – they all helped guide us to our destination. As I was looking at the maps spread across our dining room table, I thought, “wouldn’t it be great if there was a map of life” that could guide you along your life’s journey?

A personal motivation map giving you those life lessons that one typically learns way too late in life. Does such a “map of life” exist? It was then that I stumbled upon a tattered copy of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho in the bottom of my closet.

How to Be Outstanding

Photo of Gala Darling. One of the most outstanding people who I admire.
If you do what you love to do, then you won't do it in an average way. ~Angela Bassett

Are you exceptional in your line of work? Do you love what you do? Perhaps that’s why you are or aren’t getting the results you want.

People who consistently achieve outstanding results all have this in common: they are passionate about what they do. It’s no longer work, but an active participation of joy and creativity.

This article takes a deeper look into outstanding performance, and gives guidance as to how you can manifest outstanding results in your life.

First, I’ll start with a slice from my own experience:

Five years of my life was spent in University getting a Math and Computer Science degree so that I could get a high-tech job with guaranteed security. School was tough and flew by quickly. After battling it out with other competitors chasing after the same jobs, I got what I wanted and landed in Seattle.

Very soon after, I realized that I wasn’t that great at programming software, nor was I very interested in it. I got my job done, but I felt that I had to work extra hard just to keep up with my peers. I longed to fit-in with other engineers and felt like a sore thumb sticking out in the crowd. “One day, they’re gonna find out…” I used to tell myself during the first six months on the job.

I knew better. I knew that I wasn’t average. I knew that my best was excellent. I pulled long hours, worked on weekends, was addicted to caffeine, and within a few month, I developed an immune system disorder called Psoriasis Rosea from stress. It was the drive to be outstanding, in a position that wasn’t fit for me or my interests which brought me to this low point.

Power of Focused Attention

Photo by Simón Pais-Thomas

I recently sat down with several highly enthusiastic achievers, all of whom have many ambitions. These casual chats revolved around the theme of, “How do I turn my ambitions into reality?”

I deeply admired their energy and drive, but it became clear as to why they were not seeing their desired results: Trying to do too much at once.

Despite the social illusion that we can have it all, we only have a limited amount of energy and time. Even if we think we can achieve it all during our heightened state of enthusiasm and inspiration, when reality hits, we’ll find that striving to achieve it all at once will result in exhaustion and disconnection with our inner selves.

Instead of striving to achieve it all, how about striving to achieve what’s most important to us? How about striving to be fulfilled and happy? How about striving for personal wellbeing and meaning?

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