3 Ways to Make Your Life Simple and Successful Again

3 Ways to Make Your Life Simple and Successful Again

“There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.”
―Leo Tolstoy

We all have days, weeks, months and – for some – even years of feeling anxious and overwhelmed with the work we have yet to do.  It’s an elusive feeling that aches from deep within.  From the outside, people think you have it all together, but they can’t see what’s going on in your head.  Stress fills your thoughts and emotions all too often, nagging at you throughout the day.  You have so many things to do and they never seem to get done.  You always feel a day late and a buck short.  The pressure is intense and overwhelming.

Consider an email I got today from a reader named Gale:

“…the older I get the harder it is to feel peaceful and successful.  I’m a wife and a working mom of two, and the thing is, I know I’d feel happier and more effective if my family and I didn’t have so many extra curricular obligations.  But we do.  I have a weekend job where I teach and lead a youth group my daughter is enrolled in, I help my husband coach our son’s soccer team, I lead a prayer group at my church, and the list goes on and on.

Right now, the only way to get everything done is to sleep less and hustle more, but I’ve noticed that I feel sick and can’t really do things well when I haven’t gotten enough sleep.  And I want to take care of my health as well, so I’ve been sleeping eight full hours for the last few nights.  And inevitably, now I’m terribly behind on everything again.”

I can relate all too well, because that’s exactly how Angel and I felt before we started simplifying our lifestyle.  We were being pulled in dozens of different directions every day and never had enough time to get everything done.  Naturally, we wanted to do a great job with each obligation we had, and somehow we had convinced ourselves that we could do it all.  But the reality was we were stretched way too thin, and thus we were doing a lousy job at everything and completely stressing ourselves out in the process.

So to Gale, and to everyone else who feels this way, here’s the harsh truth you’ve been avoiding:

You CANNOT do it all.  Your plate is too full.  You have to let some things GO!

Unless you want your health to decline and your stress to continue to skyrocket, you must start doing three key things:

1.  Decide what you would put back on your plate if you could wipe it clean.

Our lives get incredibly complicated, not overnight, but gradually.  The complications creep up on us, one small step at a time. [Read more…]

7 Things to Remember When You Feel Discouraged and Defeated

7 Things to Remember When You Feel Discouraged and Defeated

The worst enemy to productivity and creativity is self-pity.

This morning I didn’t feel like doing anything.  It’s a combination of exhaustion from a few days of hard work, and a lack of sleep with a baby in the house.

I couldn’t motivate myself to do anything important, which is a rare occurrence for me.  I just felt completely discouraged and defeated.  I started overthinking things and doubting myself, and wondering whether anything I do is worthwhile.

I sat there in this funk for nearly an hour and wondered how to get out of it.  Should I just forget about today?  Should I just give up on this project, because I’m not as good at it as I thought I was?

That’s what I was considering, at least for a little while.  But the better part of me knew this mild state of depression was temporary, and so I dug into my own intellectual toolbox for solutions – little tricks of the mind that can have a real effect on reality.

Here’s what works for me – seven things to keep in mind (and do) when you feel discouraged and defeated:

1.  You are not the center of the universe (stop making it all about YOU).

I think we all have the tendency to put ourselves at the center of the universe, and see everything from the viewpoint of how it affects us.  But this can have all kinds of adverse effects, from feeling sorry for ourselves when things aren’t going exactly as planned, to doubting ourselves when we aren’t perfect.

So this morning, instead of worrying so much about myself, I thought about other people I might help.  Finding little ways to help others gets me out of my self-centered thinking, and then I’m not wallowing in self-pity anymore – I’m starting to think about what others need.  I’m not doubting myself, because the question of whether I’m good enough or not is no longer the central question.  The central question now is about what others need. [Read more…]

9 Ways to Feel Less Stress When Life Gets Crazy Busy

9 Ways to Feel Less Stress When Life Gets Crazy Busy

Don’t stress.  Do your very best.  Appreciate each step.  Forget the rest.

Stress is one of the primary causes of major health problems in our lives: it can cause heart disease, anxiety, sleep deprivation, auto-immune disorders, weight problems, unhappiness, and even deep depression.

But we’re busy – we all have places to be, things to do and people to see.  So how do we alleviate stress and still get our work done right (without neglecting our loved ones and ourselves)?

When life gets crazy busy, you might not have time for week-long meditation and yoga retreats, weekend vacations, or even weekly life coaching sessions.  So what can be done?

I’m going to be brief about this, because time is of the essence.  There are nine simple things you can do.  A few mindset shifts and a couple actions that take only a couple minutes.  These can’t solve the most severe stress related problems, but they can help most of us in a major way, every day.

1.  Be in the moment, completely, with just one task.

Instead of being in a stressful task-switching state of mind, take your next task, let everything else go, and just be in the moment with this one task.

Let yourself be immersed in this task by letting go of the feeling that you need to quickly rush through it – that you need to move on to the next task waiting for you.  There will always be a next task, because that’s the nature of TO-DO lists – they’re never-ending.  So let those later tasks come later.  Just be 100% in this one task, like it’s your entire world.

Bottom line: Slow down.  Breathe.  Review your commitments and goals.  Put first things first.  Do one task at a time.  Start now.  Take a 5-minute break in an hour.  Repeat.  (And always remember, results are more important than the time it takes to achieve them.) [Read more…]

10 Damaging Lies and Excuses Your Mind Loves to Tell You

10 Damaging Lies and Excuses Your Mind Loves to Tell You

It is ultimately only our own thoughts that hurt us.

The mind is a wonderful thing.  It’s also a total liar and an excuse machine that frequently tries to convince us not to take actions we know are good for us.  In the end, this prevents many positive changes from taking place in our lives.

I’ve had to learn to watch these lies and excuses very carefully in order to make the positive changes I’ve made in my life: a healthier diet, regular exercise, meditation, more sleep, daily writing, better planning, less procrastination, more focus, etc.

If I hadn’t learned about these lies and excuses, and how to suppress them, I would never have succeeded in making these positive changes.  In fact, until I knew better, I had failed countless times when I was young because my mind’s deceptive tendencies used to get the best of me.

So why does the mind lie to us and make irrational excuses?

Because the mind wants comfort – that’s why.  It’s afraid of discomfort, pressure and change.  The mind is absorbed in its comfort zone, and anytime we try to stretch that zone too far, for too long, the mind tries desperately to get back to ground zero at any cost… including sacrificing our long-term health, happiness and success.

So let’s expose 10 of the cowardly mind’s most damaging lies and excuses once and for all:

  1. I can’t do it. – It seems too difficult at first, so you think you can’t stick to the positive change you’re making.  You don’t believe in yourself enough to take another step.  This is a common lie/excuse that can be countered by looking at the fact that other people no more capable than you have done it.  For example, my 60-year-old next-door neighbor ran a marathon a little before I started training for my first marathon, and so I told myself, “If she can do it, so can I!”  And I was right.  Truth be told, the only person who can tell you “I can’t” is you.  If you hear those words echoing in the back of your mind, tune them out.  Realize that your doubts and your faith have something in common – they both ask you to believe in something you can’t see.  You simply have to decide which one you want to believe. [Read more…]

5 Simple Questions that Will Make You 5 Times More Successful

5 Simple Questions that Will Make You 5 Times More Successful

Doing your best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.

There’s nothing more disheartening than a perfectly healthy, reasonably affluent human being with the whole world in his or her hands who’s chronically unhappy and unproductive.  There’s really no excuse for it either, yet I see this phenomenon unfolding every single day – people who choose to be stuck in misery and refuse to admit it.  This mindset results from an extremely unbalanced life – one with too much expectation and not enough discipline and appreciation.

What’s the point of achievement if your life has no balance?  There is no point.  Without commitment for what you want most, and gratitude for what you already have, you’ll never know the true joy of success, because nothing will ever change, and even when it does, it will never be good enough in your mind.

But how do you cultivate balance in life when everything is already so far out of whack?

For a decade now, Angel and I have had the privilege of coaching thousands of people from every walk of life, with various socioeconomic backgrounds, from dozens of countries around the world, including some extremely powerful and successful businessmen and businesswomen.

Across the board, we’ve found that successful people habitually ask themselves (and work through) five key questions that dictate both the effectiveness of their decisions and the quality of their lives.

If you avoid these questions and make decisions unconsciously, you’ll end up like the majority of people who tend to be out of shape physically, exhausted mentally, and personally and professionally stressed out.  But if you ask yourself these questions on a regular basis, and make your daily decisions consciously, you can literally change the entire course of your life from this moment forward.

1.  Am I focusing on the right things?

At every moment, millions of little things compete for your attention.  All these things fall into one of two categories: things that are important and things that are not. [Read more…]