Lost your creativity?

You need a 7 Day BrainwashI must be honest. There are some days when I sit down to write and I think there’s not a shred of creativity in me. Today, as I began, was one of those days.

So I thought, why don’t I tell them about that? How do you get creative or resourceful when it just doesn’t seem to be there?

Easy peasy, as we used to say at school. (I think we might have added “lemon squeezy” too – but who cares?).

I simply remember all the times I have been resourceful. I see myself sitting at my desk writing furiously, wondering how on earth so much time can have passed I’m on such a roll. I recall times when I was teaching, or explaining something passionately to my kids, or when I had to think up a plausible excuse to get myself out of a hole, or when friends dropped in unexpectedly and I concocted a meal out of a larder I had considered empty …. the number of times any one of us has been creative and resourceful is huge.

Pretty soon, my brain is so full of ideas, I wonder if I can just keep to one a day. My posture changes, I may walk about, my breathing is different.

And you know what? You can do it the other way round too. If I change my posture, my breathing and my movements to the way I am when I feel creative, that old creative feeling comes back all by itself.

Share Your Goals for Success

You need a 7 Day BrainwashMost people have a laundry list of ideas, goals, dreams and aspirations for their life. There are so many things they want to do but life gets in the way. The days, months and years pass by and many of those ideas never see the light of day.

There is a little technique you can use, if you have the courage, that will almost guarantee the achievement of big goals and dreams. It is based on the idea of “social pressure”.

Think about this; let’s say you have a goal to lose a certain amount of weight or achieve some desired level of fitness. You can set the goal privately and tell yourself, “I am going to achieve this goal by August 1.” On the other hand, you can make the goal public by telling all of your friends and family what you intend to do and even give a date for your desired completion.

As soon as you take that goal public, you move into a different state of mind. No longer are you at the mercy of your own self-discipline (which has been tarnished by years of bad habits). Now you have a much more powerful force dictating your day to day actions and decisions.

Is this method too aggressive?

Perhaps you’re thinking, what if I declare this goal to everyone and then fail to achieve it? It is a valid concern but let’s look at it in more detail.

If you set your goal, tell everyone about it and work hard towards the goal, only to fall a bit short, you are still in a better position than you were before setting the goal. Your results will have improved to some degree. You can move forward and set new goals from there.

However, if you set the goal, tell everyone about it and then take no action towards the goal, you have now put yourself in an embarrassing position. In my opinion, I think the pain of an event like that might be just the fuel you need to motivate yourself into action the next time around.

If the goal or dream you are aspiring for is important enough to you, I think this exercise would be extremely valuable to you and your life.

So how do you apply this to your life? Start by grabbing a pen and paper and simply brainstorm all of the things you would like to accomplish. Have fun with it and let your mind wander. Then, look at the most time sensitive goals. For example, the goal of becoming an expert guitar player may take years while the goal of quitting smoking can happen in a matter of days or weeks.

Pick a short term goal, set a date, declare the goal publicly and start working on it. You’ll be amazed at what happens!

Use competition to push you

You need a 7 Day BrainwashI don’t know about you but when I am put in a position where I’m competing against one or more people, my motivation shoots up to a whole new level. I have talked to many others who experience the same.

When you compete against someone, in any area of life, you setup 2 incredibly powerful forces.

The first is the desire to be triumphant. Imagine the excitement someone must feel when they win a gold medal in the Olympics. They have achieved a personal dream and they get a flood of recognition from friends, family, media, fans and ultimately their entire country. What person would not love this kind of validation of success? The same kind of triumph can be experienced (maybe not at the same level of intensity) when you win a competition that you have been involved in, no matter how small it may be.

The second (and more powerful) force that gets created in competition is the desire to avoid defeat. Most humans instinctively associate any form of loss with pain and in most cases, will do anything necessary to avoid that pain. If you enter some kind of competition that will help drive you towards your goals, this pain avoidance force may be the deciding factor in your success.

Use competitive scenarios to drive you forward but remember to detach from the outcome. If you happen to lose your competition, don’t get down in the dumps. Focus on what positives came out of it (usually a drastic increase in results) and continue moving towards your goals.

The Forgotten Skill of Focus

You need a 7 Day BrainwashLately, I have noticed a common theme among many friends, colleagues and associates. It seems we are all struggling with the same issue the ability to stay focused on a single task for a prolonged period of time.

When I recently took a mental inventory of my typical day, I quickly became alarmed by the number of concurrent tasks I found myself working on at any given time. Worse yet, when I examined my results and productivity levels, it was evident that I was struggling to keep up with previous outputs during the earlier phases of my business.

Then I came across an article written by Josh Waitzkin that pinpointed the direct cause of my reduced effectiveness. The article was on a topic he calls the “Multitasking Virus” as posted on Tim Ferriss’ Blog at http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog.

In the article, Waitzkin demonstrates the detrimental effects of multi-tasking and makes reference to a recent study at the British Institute of Psychiatry which ” showed that checking your email while performing another creative task decreases your IQ in the moment 10 points. That is the equivalent of not sleeping for 36 hours more than twice the impact of smoking marijuana.”

This was a real eye opener for me! I would have a hard time counting the number of times I had been checking my email throughout any given work day. On more than one occasion, I would completely stop a task (often an important, revenue generating task) to tend to a new email that popped up in my inbox regardless whether it was an important email or not.

When I discovered that this type of distraction was literally decreasing my IQ, I could immediately see certain areas where the quality of my work had been impacted. But it also forced me to stop and think about all of the other distractions that I was allowing (knowingly or unknowingly) to impact my work.

Between news and information websites, email, phone calls, instant messaging and business research, I was probably getting distracted a minimum of 10 times a day! If you think that sounds like a high number, take a few moments right now to mentally review some of your own personal distractions. You will likely notice that they add up pretty quickly! In my case, these distractions would actually make me stop the task at hand and move on to something different. Often, I would move on to something of lower priority but I was unable to recognize this at the time due to the fact that I had been so severely distracted from my previous train of thought.

Like anyone else, I am at my best and produce my most valuable work when I am able to stay focused and concentrated on one item of work. This really applies to any task we perform. If you have ever learned a manual skill like laying a hardwood floor, using a weed remover for your lawn, or even running large stacks of paper through a laminating machine (these all happen to be tasks that I recently performed), you likely noticed a learning curve. At first, you might have felt awkward and you may have even fouled up your first few attempts at the task. Gradually you got the hang of it and developed a rhythm. After a certain period of time, you actually started to master the skill and eventually you were able to do double, triple, quadruple (or even better) your productivity.

The same thing applies to practically everything we do in life. If you want to learn a new skill, the best way to do it is through a complete immersion process. If you want to run a marathon, you focus on running and likely divert from the weight room until after the competition. If you want to learn how to speak Spanish, your best bet is to get into a Spanish class and postpone your French class until you have mastered Spanish. Regardless of what you may be trying to accomplish, you will produce your best results when you are able to consistently focus on the highest priority activities.

When I want to write an article, I remove myself from all distractions. I even remove myself physically from my office and go to the library or another spot where I have no choice but to focus on the task at hand. My local library happens to have neither wireless internet availability nor cell phone reception. This combination makes for the perfect cure to my typical interruptions! I am often able to complete my articles or reports in less than a third of the time it would have taken me had I been working from my office and connected to my world of distractions.

An empowering discovery I have made about utilizing the power of focus is that it becomes increasingly easier to stay focused for longer stretches as you develop the mental discipline. One of the six intellectual faculties of every thinking person is something called “will”. This is our ability to sustain concentration on one item for an extended period of time. If you think of your “will” as a mental muscle, you can actually grow and develop this muscle similar to the way you would develop physical muscles at the gym; through frequent exercise.

If you are experiencing problems with productivity, take some time to carefully review the key points of this article. Then, try to determine if and where you are falling victim to distractions. Make a commitment to eliminate these distractions (disconnect from the internet, turn off the cell phone, etc ) so you can begin to practice your focusing exercises. You may want to start with 30 minute blocks. Work on staying 100% present with the task at hand. Monitor your progress. As you feel comfortable and find your rhythm, work on stretching it out to an hour, then two hours and then go beyond if you can.

But don’t forget to listen to your mind and body. Taking breaks is absolutely critical for your long term success. Since I often work from home, I use my breaks to drop all work from my mind and spend quality time with my wife and son. Whatever your situation, make sure you have an outlet to relieve your mind from your work for at least 15 minutes at a time.

Then when you’re ready, go back and continue to strengthen your focusing skills.

Motivate Yourself For Success

You need a 7 Day BrainwashDid you see the Beijing Olympics, the World Cup Soccer or Wimbledon this year? Rarely are we privileged to witness such triumph and human spirit at its absolute best.

How did all those athletes get motivated, especially the gold medalists and the winners?

Was it the thought of the gold medal itself that kept them running, jumping, swimming or facing whatever feat of endurance that will write them into the history books?

Well, perhaps. But we know that what we saw them all do was the end of very, very long journeys for those incredibly motivated men and women.

Along the way, most of them will have faced failures, challenges such as injuries or changes in their personal lives, and there will for many of them I am sure, have been times when they lost heart and just believed they could not succeed.

We all know this. Most of us don’t even aspire to be Olympic athletes, but we each do have our dreams – for our businesses, our families, our relationships and ourselves.

Who wants to write a novel? Who’d like to perform their own song or play? Who wants to be a millionaire?

The journeys to dreams are rarely straightforward or without challenge. If they were, they’d hardly be worth having. The glory of an Olympic gold medal is precisely because it’s extraordinarily difficult to earn one. If they were handed out like candy at a kids birthday party, no one would have the slightest interest in a gold medal or gold medallist!

However, the biggest challenge isn’t with the feat of endurance – it’s with your own mind. You have to believe that you can do whatever it is, and in those moments when doubt creeps in, at those dark times when you lose heart, you have to know how to get back on track – fast!

Your coach, if you have one, can be a great help. Family and friends will rally round to support you. But ultimately it’s down to you. If you keep shaking your head saying, “I can’t do it. I can’t, I can’t,” eventually even your coach will leave you behind – and they’ll find someone else who believes they can!

Masters of Success know this. They know how to recognize the signs and symptoms of self doubt. More than that, they know how re-ignite the flame of desire for the goal, and fan that flame into a fervour that drives them – with passion – to keep going. That flame eventually becomes their personal blaze of glory.

Stay motivated. It sounds simple, but unless you know how to follow that instruction, it’s as daft as saying to someone who’s stressed, “Try to relax.” (What do you suppose they’ve been doing?)

Success comes from within. Motivation is a major component of any kind of success.

Going for gold?

See you at the top!

Design your life

You need a 7 Day BrainwashOne of the most difficult things to master in life is your own mind. Every one of us has hundreds, maybe even thousands, of thought patterns that repeat themselves over and over in our head.

Some of these thoughts are supportive of our goals and self esteem but many of them actually hurt us or hold us back.

Taking control of your mind and directing your thoughts towards the things you want in life can be a huge challenge. But when you are able to overcome the challenges and focus on the things you intend to create in your life, the results can be amazing and exciting.

Let’s say, for example, that you have had a lifelong dream of traveling the world for a year. You know that this would be a life changing experience that you would remember forever.

But then you look at your current circumstances and you see a laundry list of reasons why this dream could never come true: a good job you can’t leave, a lack of funding, commitments to family, friends, teams and organizations, etc…

Your mind immediately says, “this trip is not possible until you clear all of those obstacles out of the way.” You then realize that removing all of those limitations is next to impossible and even if you are able to remove them, new obligations/limitations will replace the existing ones.

At the same time, you could look at other areas of your life where you are able to make things happen that seem impossible: you meet a crazy deadline at work, you brave the snowy roads and somehow make 3 family events for Christmas, you get the kids to school and yourself to work despite a huge traffic jam and car problems. The point is, you are achieving things in your life, on a regular basis, that seem difficult or impossible when you analyze them. Yet you seem to pull them off over and over again because you had no other choice… you had to get these things done.

When you realize that you have this ability to make things happen and figure things out “on the fly”, you gain a new confidence that you can apply to even the biggest goals in your life.

So if your dream is to travel the world but there are a mountain of excuses stopping you, the real solution is to treat the dream as inevitable and start acting as though it is inevitable. It could start with a small action like doing research on places to stay in your dream locations or it could start with a huge action like buying plane ticket to the first country on your dream list. This first action will lead to another and like every other time in your life, you will figure it out as you go along only this time, instead of getting the kids to school or finishing that project at work, you will be fulfilling a lifelong dream!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

You need a 7 Day BrainwashThe other day someone reminded me of a quote from “A Course In Miracles” which goes something like: “All human behaviour is either an act of love or a cry for help.”

Such pearls of wisdom are lost, aren’t they, unless they have some personal meaning?

Then yesterday I got upset with someone I’m very close to. I mean angry and hurt. In my heart of hearts I knew I wasn’t being rational or constructive, but in the heat of the moment it didn’t matter. I was right, darn it!

And then, as so often happens when you just release for a while, the answer fluttered in. That quote reverberated round my brain for a while, and then I asked myself, “Well, in that case, I’m either performing an act of love or a cry for help. This surely doesn’t feel loving, so what is it I want help with?”

As if by magic the pieces dropped into place. I went to this person and said, “Listen. I need your help. I need not to feel like this. I know your behaviour wasn’t intended to hurt me, so I must have made up the hurt myself. But I’m kinda playing this loop tape in my head that you didn’t put there, but once I started it, for a while, it’s all I can hear.”

We reached a loving understanding in less than ten minutes. We are closer, bigger inside and enriched.

So here’s my tip for now, for this day and for always. If there’s anyone you’re upset with, even if it’s an old upset, ask yourself, “What is it I need help with?” And then humbly and sincerely ask them for your help. Do it with your palms up and your head high, for you are bigger than your anger, and love and friendship are more important than your ego.

Improve Yourself Programatically

You need a 7 Day BrainwashFor the past 3 years, I have spent most of my time developing my business and along the way, have had to overcome a number of fears and self-limiting ideas. What I was really doing was reprogramming my mind to think differently.

Here are 3 techniques you might want to try that will help you reprogram yourself to a new and improved YOU:

1. Hang out with an influencer.

When I first got started in business, I was struggling to pay the bills and find enough clients to keep me going. Even when I did find clients, I did a terrible job billing for my time and I was not recognizing my own value as a service provider.

I was then lucky enough to meet another business owner who had built a number of successful companies and had already been through all of the tough business lessons that I had yet to be exposed to. Over time we became friends and I was able to absorb an incredible amount of information about business, mindset, dealing with clients, social skills, etc… all of the things that made him so talented at business.

The challenge here is that you can’t just walk up to someone and ask them to be your friend. When you meet someone who you would like to learn from, show them that you value their time and bring something of your own to the table. If they feel they can also learn from you and your life experiences, they will be far more willing to hang out with you.

2. Wage a war against the whiny voice in your head.

Have you ever had an idea that totally captivated your imagination and inspired you to think about a life far beyond the one you are living today? If so, were you also among the majority of people who had that cynical, whiny, negative voice pop up and immediately tell you all the reasons why this new idea could never come true?

Instead of falling victim to that defeating voice, try turning the tables. Picture that voice as a vicious enemy trying to steal your life, power and happiness away from you. Challenge the voice. Question its authenticity. Question its reasoning. Make it powerless against your will.

Realize that you have the choice to replace that voice with a more encouraging, faithful and friendly one. A voice that will consider your goal not just a possibility, but a probability. A voice that does not look externally for validation before taking action, but rather, uses self-belief as its driving force. A voice that realizes that any person who has ever achieved greatness had to do so against similar odds and that all things are possible to those who commit to their vision.

3. Get the competitive edge.

When you want to accomplish something new, try setting up a competition against one or more people who want the same thing. This creates two powerful forces.

The first is the desire to be triumphant. Imagine the excitement someone must feel when they win a gold medal in the Olympics. They have achieved a personal dream and they get a flood of recognition from friends, family, media, fans and ultimately their entire country. What person would not love this kind of validation of success? The same kind of triumph can be experienced when you win a competition that you have been involved in, no matter how small it may be.

The second (and more powerful) force that gets created in competition is the desire to avoid defeat. Most humans instinctively associate any form of loss with pain and in most cases, will do anything necessary to avoid that pain. If you enter some kind of competition that will help drive you towards your goals, this pain avoidance force may be the deciding factor in your success.

Use competitive scenarios to drive you forward but remember to detach from the outcome. If you happen to lose your competition, don’t get down in the dumps. Focus on what positives came out of it (usually a drastic increase in results) and continue moving towards your goals.