Track your progress

You need a 7 Day Brainwash“What get measured gets managed.” — Peter Drucker

The beginning of a new year is a time where we all sit down and determine once and for all that we are going to change. We’ve failed our resolutions in years past, but not this time. Right?

If this describes your thought process, the odds are drastically against you. Most of us live our lives primarily through habit. Hundreds (actually more likely thousands) of little habits determine our moment by moment choices and ultimately our results in life.

Making permanent change usually requires a lot more than a simple new year’s declaration. And the key is becoming aware of the changes you want to make.

Enter the fun and exciting world of statistical measurement. Okay, even as a Math major I find the idea of stats and data completely boring. Or at least I DID find it boring until I read the quote at the beginning of this article.

The truth is, when you begin to measure anything, the simple act of observation will begin to impact the results.

In 2007 I was on a mission to change my life, build up the courage to quit my job and start my own business. This required a total re-engineering of my thought patters, beliefs and behaviours. Without knowing it at the time, I actually used precise measurement and analysis to drive my permanent lifestyle change.

For a period of 100+ days, I tracked almost every single activity I performed in a day. This included everything from work, to checking Facebook (back when nobody knew Facebook), to grocery shopping. What this allowed me to do was evaluate my actions and focus more time and energy on activities that ultimately moved me towards my goal of being an independent entrepreneur.

If I engaged in a goal-destroying activity (like watching TV instead of working on my new business), I had to write it down on my activity list. Of course, I didn’t want to write these destructive activities down so my “list” became my control mechanism. Instead of discipline and wishful thinking, I had a practical, tangible solution to changing my life.

In hindsight, I now realize that this simple system can be used to activate any change you want in your life. From losing weight to increasing productivity to improving relationships, measure the activities and instantly bring a new awareness that provokes positive change.

Your task. Go to the dollar store, buy a simple 3-subject notebook and begin tracking “some” data that is impacting your life. It could be a food/exercise journal, it could be a list of all “time wasters” that are hurting your success. Make sure you have a specific goal in mind and then track your improvements as you track your activities. The small changes in numbers will have a large impact on your life.

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!

Have a positive attitude

You need a 7 Day BrainwashIf you have a positive attitude, you will find it much easier to manifest your desires, as you will be naturally giving out positive emotional thought vibrations which will attract positive things to you. Even if you are not consciously trying to manifest something, your positive attitude will naturally attract more things to be positive about and you will be one of those people who seem to attract endless good fortune.

Try to remain positive at all times. This doesn’t mean you can never feel down or can never again have a good old moan, but you have to make your natural state as positive and as upbeat as possible. Get out of the habit of complaining about certain situations in your life. Stop any negative self talk, such as Oh I’ll never be able to do that’. Expect that good things will happen to you and that every outcome will be positive.

If something unwanted happens, try to see a positive side to it if you can. For example, if you moan that every time you have a little extra money, your car needs repairs or you receive an unexpected bill, try turning it around and start being thankful that you have the extra money to allow you to pay for these unexpected expenses.

I heard about someone whose car required so many repairs it was not economically worth repairing. He couldn’t afford to replace it, so decided he would have to go without a car until he had saved the money for a new one. He started cycling to work, and after a few months realized that he had lost two stones in weight and was enjoying cycling so much he decided to take it up competitively. So from not being able to afford a new car, he became fit and healthy and found a new hobby!

Always get into the habit of looking for the positive side to your problems.

Unfortunately our natural state is to feel either negative or at best in a state of what I call flat- neither unhappy but not particularly great either. It is very difficult to attract positive things into your life by feeling flat, as you are shutting yourself off from vibrating at a higher level; these vibrations flow best when you are feeling happy, positive and good about yourself.

Do more of the things that bring you joy, for whenever you feel joy, happiness and love you are connected most strongly to your higher self. Chat to your partner, laugh with your children, stroke or play with your pet. Meet up with a friend for coffee and have a laugh. Listen to your favorite music, or music that calms, relaxes or inspires you, or watch a television show that motivates you or makes you laugh.

Place pictures of your family, your pets or of you enjoying a favorite hobby around your home and place of work. Looking at them should help you to feel instantly more positive and full of love.

Exercise can be a great mood lifter. Even a gentle walk can raise your spirits and boost your energy levels.

Nobody can feel happy all of the time, although feeling upbeat becomes easier the more you practice it, but start by finding things to feel great about in your life; laugh more, moan less, hang around with positive, upbeat people and try to avoid negative folk. Expect that things will turn out well and that if you experience a problem you will find a solution. Expect good things to come your way!

Not only will you start to attract many more good things than bad into your life, but you will be much more open to receiving your intentions.

Take time to relax

You need a 7 Day BrainwashOne of the “personal skills” I have been working on for the past couple of years is my ability to not take things too seriously. There are so many events in our day to day lives that make us stressed out and it is easy to get wrapped up in the intensity of a situation. This is especially true in business situations but it can really apply to any area of your life.

If you allow yourself to be consumed by the stress, it obviously can take a huge toll on your well being. Here are 4 steps you can follow to stay calm and relaxed when a situation reaches a point of stress or intensity:

Consciously relax. You can literally reduce sensations of stress and anxiety if you force the muscles in your body to relax. The easiest way to do it is to start at the top of your head and focus on each area of your body. Make a point of relaxing any muscle that seems to be tense. In many cases, you will be amazed at how much tension you were holding onto (this technique works well if you are nervous before delivering a public speech as well).

Focus on breathing. Similar to the first point, focused breathing is a simple trick you can use to immediately reduce any tension you might be experiencing. Breathing into the stomach for a count of 3 and exhaling for a count of 6 will slow your breathing to a point where you will automatically start to relax.

Visualize something funny. This is a personal trick I use but it really works. The fastest way to move yourself out of a negative thought pattern is to totally replace the thought with something different. For example, if I am speaking with a customer who is angry, I might visualize myself interrupting the conversation so that I can break into a fast paced dance routine. Then I visualize the other person’s stunned reaction and I immediately feel like laughing.

Verbalize your relaxed approach. This is the key step in process. If you can demonstrate to the other person that you are not allowing yourself to get “out-of-control angry” and tell them that you intend to reach a solution without getting upset, they will often match your energy. A conflict can only escalate if both people are willing participants. By refusing to participate in the conflict, you remain in full control of the situation.

Next time you have a situation where there is conflict or an argument, try these techniques and see how much more effectively you can handle the situation.

Clear the clutter

You need a 7 Day BrainwashIt can be very hard to make important decisions about how to change your life if your whole life is feeling cluttered. You might be feeling overwhelmed by feelings of bewilderment, that life is passing you by and you might not know which way to turn to make important changes that will ultimately improve your life in the long term.

Maybe you just long for a simple life? Perhaps your life is too fast-paced and you have no time to think, let alone plan or dream for your future? Maybe you struggle from one situation to another because you lack the clarity needed to resolve certain issues?

There is no shame in feeling that your life is unfulfilled in terms of the envisaged potential or that you have been swallowed up in the murky depths of uncertainty, there is shame however in not doing anything to get yourself out of it, because the solution isn’t as difficult as you might think.

There is no doubt about it. Clutter causes additional stress and it can prevent you from having feelings of clarity about your situation. Take a good look around you and see if you can detect things that have been cluttering up the house and yet have not been needed in months or even years. Are there things that you could give away which would free up your home and might be of real benefit to others?

Clearing clutter is not easy. Often we bond with possessions that bring us no real happiness and yet we stubbornly refuse to let go of them. To be able to de-clutter, you need to have one hard and fast rule, get rid of those items that have been lying around or have not been used within the last two years. The moment that you spot something, package it up ready to give it away. Be ruthless. Surprisingly, once you get started, you will find it very cathartic.

You will be amazed at how much stuff you have harboring in your wardrobe and how much of your clothes may no longer fit or is no longer in style. Try on any clothes that in your mind still have potential but be realistic, if you haven’t worn those clothes in a few years, you are not likely to.

Work your way through the whole house in this manner and feel a real sense of achievement once you are finally de-cluttered and have room to grow and to live.

The “Need” to be Right

You need a 7 Day BrainwashOur world is full of variety. On any given day we can have both positive and negative experiences. Many of these experiences ultimately influence the way we see the world and the opinions we form about how the world works.

Everyone lives in the context of their own perspective. While one person may look at a snow storm and be excited about the possibilities to get out and have fun, another person might be full of fear because they had previously been involved in a driving accident caused by dangerous winter driving conditions.

The events and circumstances are neutral. Our opinions about them are not!

Since we all have our own way of seeing the world, conflict with family, friends, colleagues, etc… is inevitable. There is absolutely no way that you are going to process every event in the same way as the people in your life. When these conflicts and differences of opinion arise, are you prepared to deal with them?

While I do believe that a good debate can often lead to effective solutions of problems, many debates can turn sour and become more toxic than helpful. When this happens, it is important to recognize that the situation will likely end in a stale mate and that you don’t “need” to be right.

The “need to be right” can be harmful to your health. If you spend all of your focus and energy trying desperately to convince someone else that your perspective is the correct one, you are creating a huge amount of unneeded stress in your life. If you go into this mode of “needing to be right”, you should take a step back and ask yourself why. Why do I need to be right? Why do I need this other person to accept my way of thinking so badly?

This ultimately comes down to self esteem. If you believe in your heart that a certain perspective is 100% true, there is absolutely no need to force anyone else to agree with you. The sooner you can embrace this, the sooner you will reduce stress and create more happiness in your life.

Embrace the idea of not “needing to be right”. If someone is taking an aggressive stance with you and trying to force an opinion on you that you do not agree with, let it go! Let them be right in their head and you can confidently carry your own truth in your heart.