So often when the new year rolls around, we make resolutions that don't stick. How do we change that troublesome pattern? Here are some secrets for staying focused and getting what you want even when malaise sets in. Many of these ideas come from my new book Time for Me: Simple Pleasures for Women Who Do Too Much.
AVOID TIME BANDITS
One of our challenges is that there aren't nearly enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on our "to do" list. But do we use our time wisely? Sometimes we let others distract us from our priorities as they make us tend to their demands NOW, but those time bandits are benign compared to the excessive burdens we put on ourselves. Many of us fall prey to the "tyranny of trying to be perfect." We set imaginary standards no one can fulfill, and criticize ourselves when we fall short -- a waste of our time and energy! What are the other culprits? Second-guessing ourselves for one, and procrastination is a close second. Indulging these behaviors takes away from our focus and serenity, and of course, induces stress. Stress is not a given -- we are stressed because we are stressable!
Awareness is the key to changing these destructive patterns. Use this Spot-Check inventory to catch yourself, at any time of day, to see what's really going on. Ask yourself:
- What am I feeling? For example, are you angry with a co-worker, significant other, or yourself?
- Why am I holding on? Say you've identified what's bothering you and have even spoken with the person, but still haven't let the incident go. Try focusing on something entirely different and use positive mind-talk.
- What productive action can I take in this moment? Try saying to yourself, "my best is good enough," or, "why put it off? I will take one small action towards my goal."
Instead of going mechanically from one activity to the next, practice pausing. It can make a world of difference. We don't need to carry the challenges of past issues into the present moment. We can start fresh. Try taking a few relaxing, deep breaths. Do you feel grounded? Now take the next best action.
POWER OF "NO"
Often, when we say NO to someone else, we are saying YES to ourselves. The guilt we may feel by turning down a request is par for the course, but no one person can be all things to all people. In fact, think of it this way... if you feel guilty, you are probably doing something right! When we start saying "no," we end up doing the things that are important to us. Also, by saying no, you are opening up opportunities for other people. I love what Charisse Lillie, vice president of community investment, Comcast and president of the Comcast Foundation said, "My NO is someone else's YES."
"I am enough, do enough, have enough." Come from the spirit of abundance, not lack. When you do, you create room for more.
"When in doubt, leave it out." Saying no to time bandits will create more time for doing what you love.
Adapted from: Time for Me: Simple Pleasures or Women who Do Too Much. This book can be purchased here.