Grit is the key to getting what you want

Persistence, resilience, and grit, words that we have used to described someone who seems to never give up, focused and determined in what they do and achieve the things that they do.

Grit is best described or defined by Angela Duckworth in her book “Grit the power of passion and perseverance as “grit is passion and sustained persistence applied toward long-term achievement, with no particular concern for rewards or recognition along the way.  It combines resilience, ambition, and self-control in the pursuit of goals that takes months, years or even decades.  Based on her research, she documents how grit predicts long-term success in nearly every realm of life. 

The culture of today is contrary to grit, in that, we want everything now and little effort as possible.  The culture of instant success, instant achievements without the hard work, effort, determination, and grit.  That makes it more likely than ever that people will give up before ever achieving their goals or desired outcome.  Why?  The ability for them to keep on going on when the going tough is just not there.  This ability of grit takes time and challenges to overcome.

What does grit help you to do?

Grit allows you to achieve these 3 key areas:

  1. Keeps you achieving goals.
  2. Keeps you focus.
  3. Keeps you going

Keeps you achieving goals

The 2 keys in grit that keeps you achieving goals are:

  1. Purpose.
  2. Sustained persistence.

Before any goals or achievements can be realised, it has to start from a purpose.  We don’t just do things for the sake of doing things.  We can do that, but you will soon realise that achieving goals just for goals sake without a deeper purpose does not bring about satisfaction.  Purpose that is fulfilled gives you meaning and satisfaction that goes beyond the feeling of pride or happiness that a goal is met.  It means more because it comes from a state of meaning.  Purpose needs to be the heart of why we do what we do.  Out of that purpose is where goals, targets, ambitions are born.  Purpose or your why, should always be your starting point.

Once you have your why or your purpose, then you are able to set goals that you want to achieve.  To realise any of those goals, you will need to be able to have sustained persistence.  You will need to have persistence not just once or twice but over a sustained period.  In some cases, over months and even decades.  We know (but total dislike) that challenges, difficulties, tough situations, and problems will arise, and they usually will come as a bundle deal.  Like a meal deal, it is never just one at a time but when it comes, it just comes and sometimes it may feel like it never ends.  That is where sustained persistence comes into the picture.

Sustained persistence over a long period is required to overcome, to work through and push down the barriers that are faced.  However, once we can move past the difficulties and achieve the desired outcomes, the victory is also very sweet.  Probably sweeter because of all the adversities that had to be overcome.

Grit is more than just persistence or perseverance.  It is about having that something extra and that is that it has be sustained.   It’s for the long haul. 

Keeps you focus

The 2 keys in grit that keeps you focus are:

  1. Ambition or a goal.
  2. Self-control

You have a goal to achieve.  You have a purpose to fulfill.  Grit is not just persistence; it has an element of ambition.  The element of ambition is an important differentiating aspect because it gives you a purpose, a why, a goal to aim for.  You are not just persisting for the sake of persisting.  It’s like how some people don’t give up even if they are hitting their heads against the wall or even when they are wrong because to give up means that they are losers.  Well, persistent with ambition is not just being persistent for the sake of persistent but because you want to achieve something.  That will drive you at a very different level.

Ambition or a goal or a purpose, your why will help to keep you focus.  You know why you are doing what you are doing.  You know why you are persisting.

To ensure that you stay focus, that is where self-control comes into play.  Self-control is pretty much self-explanatory.  You have the ability to control or to discipline yourself whether it is around your thoughts, emotions or actions.  Self-control is required is pretty much everyday situation.  We need self-control in order to do the things that we don’t like to do but know that we have do, to wake up in the morning even though you really don’t want, to keep your emotions in check in front of a difficult client and the list goes on.

Self-control is key to personal leadership.  Afterall, if you are not able to lead yourself, how would you expect to lead others.  Self-control is key to enabling personal leadership to be walked out in your life.

Keeps you going

There are 2 attributes in grit that helps you to keep going are:

  1. Passion
  2. The lack of concern for recognition or reward along the way. 

Think about it.  For most people, when we face challenges, barriers or setbacks, we get discouraged, disappointed, and frustrated and probably have lots of thoughts of giving up.

However, passion is a key value here that will keep you going.  When the going gets tough and there will be tough situations to overcome, passion is critical in ensuring that we pick ourselves up and keeps us at it.  Passion being part of grit is there to help drive you forward.  Passion in many ways is difficult to describe but once you have experienced it, you just know its that extra something that gets you wake up energised, to see possibilities from setbacks, opportunities from failures.  When you are passionate about something, you put your heart and effort into it.  Passion does not die easily.  In fact, without passion, the various innovations that we are now benefitting from would not have come to reality.

The second attribute that keeps you going is the fact that recognition and reward is not the reason why you are doing what you are doing.  People who need recognition or are driven by reward to keep them going will naturally stop when they don’t receive it.  People who are clear on their purpose, who are passionate about what they want to achieve seldom require other people’s recognition or affirmation to keep going.  In fact, they pretty much ignore the naysayers in the process.

How does one develop grit?

  1. Resistance
  2. Work it out
  3. Know your why

Resistance

Well, sadly it is not an attribute that you get.  It is not like talent where you have some natural strength or skills in certain areas.  Grit is fair in that each of us must develop it.  To develop it, just like any muscle, it requires resistance.  Resistance in the form of challenges, tough situations, difficulties, and just plain hard work.

Grit is developed through resistance, and it is all about usage or practice or application.  You have to get outside of your comfort zone, try new things, learn new things until you are able to develop your mental toughness.

Work it out

Just like how you would go about developing muscles, you will have to work it out.  When you are looking at building your muscles, it is not just about buying the resistance band or the weights.  It is about actually working it out.  It is about actually doing it.  In order for you develop grit, you will need to work it out.  You will need to increase your mental toughness, apply the growth mindset, and keep at it.

Know your why

That’s right, you will need to know why you are doing what you are doing.  Without a clear purpose or knowing why you want to achieve a certain goal or outcome, you will lose your passion and the determination to keep on keeping on.  No one has an unlimited supply of perseverance.  What we do have is the opportunity to fill and refill the perseverance bucket through constantly reminding yourself when you need it towards your why.  Get back to knowing the heart of the reason for your effort and hard work.

Let me summarise. 

Grit is critical in ensuring that you get what you want.  To achieve what you want.  To achieve what brings you meaning, impact and satisfaction.  Grit allows you to achieve these 3 key areas:

  1. Keeps you achieving goals.
  2. Keeps you focus.
  3. Keeps you going

How would you develop grit?  Think of developing grit like a muscle.  You need resistance, you need to work it out and in order for you to keep working at it, you need to know your why.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article.  I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life.   As always, please subscribe, follow and share this blog with your friends.  Take care and step into the everyday with purpose. 

Start the Year Intentionally and Sustainably

Another year has passed us by, and another year is here.  Every year, people start with the intention of changing or achieving a certain goal and every year after 2 months almost 80% of people who had a new year resolution has given up or tore up the plan and have gone back to their “normal self of yester-years”.  Every year we wonder what happened and every year the same reasons appear.  According to research the top 5 reasons why new year resolutions don’t work are:

  1. The change is too dramatic or too quick.  People expect change to happen overnight or the change that they want to make is too dramatic or big to happen with just one attempt.
  2. The goals are unrealistic.  People want to achieve their goals which are either multifaceted or too broad to be realistic.
  3. Lack of accountability.  Setting goals to achieve on your own is the start but to achieve them requires more than just goals written on paper.  It requires a support structure and when you lack accountabilities, there is no support structure in place to help you move forward when the going gets tough.
  4. Lack of planning and tracking.  More often than not, people fail because their either lack a plan or lack a detailed plan with helpful tracking and milestones.  To not be prepared is one certain way of not achieving your goals. 
  5. Gap between head knowledge and application.  Resolutions or goals are great in our heads and even better when its written down and is visible.  However, the energy, commitment, and work involved in thinking up a plan, writing it down and actually doing it is vastly different.  For most people, we have the head knowledge of something and even how to do it but the gap between what’s in our mind or our knowledge and actually getting it done is vastly different.  You will only truly know something when you do it and experience it for yourself. 

Hence the question:  Should I even bother with new year resolutions or goals?  My answer is don’t bother creating one unless you are able to be intentional and to be able to sustain it over a period of time.  We are all wired to want to make a difference, to be of useful service, to make an impact.  In order to end the year feeling that you have actually achieved something, you will need to be intentional.  Most people want to have a resolution or a goal because they want or need to achieve something different in the new year.  Most people are not satisfied with not accomplishing much or feeling like every year is the same as the last.  Where is the meaning of life if life is just going to pass us by without leaving some sort of mark on the lives of the people around us or in our quest to further grow and mature as an individual.  To accomplish any of those desires, we do need to be intentional and not just to be intentional but also one where it can be sustainable over a long period of time such as over the course of the year.

How do I go about having a sustainable and intentional year?

There are 3 keys to being intentional and 3 key for it to be sustainable.  The 3 keys to being intentional are:

  • Have simple and clear goals
  • Have a plan of what to do
  • Have a plan of what NOT to do

The 3 keys for it to be sustainable:

  • Support structure
  • Fun and Exciting
  • Reward yourself

Let’s break it down:

The 3 keys to being intentional sounds simple enough but it is in this simplicity that we need to put our attention on.  For you to be intentional you will need to have a clear focus for you to gather all your time, energy and resources.  A clear and simple focus comes from what you prioritise over all else.  For example, I don’t have a new year resolution with goals but every year I have a word focus.  A word that focuses my priorities and outcomes.  Last year, the word was Fruitful.  The outcome of that, whatever I want to do, I would think about the fruitful outcome or nature of it.  I would not do anything that did not bring about a fruitful outcome.  Fruitful does not necessarily mean that it had to provide a 10- or 100-fold output but it would be one where it had to be impactful for at least one more person than me.  Most of the time we stop ourselves because we think that what we do is of little or insignificant impact.  However, that is not true.  Don’t believe the lie that your life is of little consequence just because you are able to influence or impact one person.  You will never know the true impact today but years later the world might experience it.  You could be raising the next Einstein!

A simple and clear plan is more important that a multipage plan.  Simple and clear plan allows you to take the steps that you need to especially if it’s to change a habit or to create a new habit or to develop an attribute.  Remember, you can’t change overnight, and neither can you scale a mountain overnight or without practice and hard work.  The simpler the plan, the easier it will be for your start and to maintain over a period of time. 

As part of the simple plan of knowing what to do, it is just important to know what you will NOT do or to let go of or to eliminate all together.  Deep down we each know of some things that we should stop doing.  We also know that if we stop doing some of these things, we are able to free up time to do the things that we need to.  Part of stopping doing the things that we should not be doing should include things that do not bring you satisfaction or impact. To let go of certain emotional baggage is just as important as letting go of physical baggage.

The 3 keys to being sustainable.

In order for you to sustain your intention for the whole year, you will need to have these 3 elements, namely a support structure, for you to have fun and to enjoy doing it and to reward yourself daily.

Support structure comes in many forms.  It can from tools that you will need to use in order for you to get organise, to keep on your track, to help you be more productive and to more efficient.  It can be from your close connections to help support, encourage, coach, mentor and guide you along the journey.  It can be from consuming more knowledge in the form of books, classes, podcasts, etc.  Pick and use all forms of support structure that will help you.  Do not let your fear of not knowing stop you from taking steps to learn and gather information to help you make informed decisions for your next steps.

Having fun and enjoying the process and journey is critical is ensuring that you are able to continue and sustain the journey.  If you are not enjoying or having fun, than you have almost lost the battle already.  One of the reason, people do not make health or fitness changes sustainable over a long period is because it is not fun or enjoyable.  When you are not enjoying something, you are not motivated to keep going when the going gets tough and the going will get tough.  We should expect that and prepare for it.

Thirdly, reward yourself daily.  Most people leave the reward to the end of the goal.  When I have achieved the goal, I will then reward myself.  That might work for someone who is very discipline and has excellent self-control, however, for me, I need to reward myself daily.  To know that I have taken this step or achieve this small task is enough for me to reward myself.  Now, of course, my reward will be appropriate based on the achievement.  Therefore, don’t get me wrong, don’t abuse the reward structure by rewarding yourself disproportionately because your internal core value will know when it’s not aligned and that will not sit well with you.  The point is to ensure that we are thankful and grateful along every point of the journey.  This will help sustain you through your intentional journey.

Let me summarise.  To have this new year be intentional, remember the 3 keys to being intentional and they are:

  • Have simple clear goals
  • Know what to do
  • Know what NOT to do

In order for it to be sustainable you will need to have these 3 keys:

  • Support structure in place
  • Have fun and enjoy the journey
  • Reward yourself daily

Thank you for taking the time to read this article.   I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life.   As always, please subscribe, follow and share this blog with your friends.  Take care and step into the everyday with purpose. 

The Direction of Your Life is Determined by Your Thoughts

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You might have the intention to either step into the day with purpose or to live a life that is intentional but…

Great phrases and deep down that’s exactly what we have in mind for our lives.  I bet, there is no one who intentionally plans to have a bad life.  No one intentionally wakes up to be the worst employee of the day.  I would wager that for most people, we wake up and want to be the best, to achieve the best and to live out the best life not just for today but every day.

However, the reality may not be the case.  In fact, I think the best time of the day is when I am in still bed, planning the day with the intention for it to be the best day ever.  Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration but not too far from the truth.

At any point of your life, if you were to just stop and reflect and think about what and where you are today, what would you think?  Would you think that your life is exactly where you had planned and thought off?  Would you say that you are living the dream now?

If you are somewhere along your life journey and pretty much what you thought you would be, then well done.  If you are somewhere that is not where you had thought you would be, then is this something that you might want to change?  The key here is what you think, your thoughts and how your thoughts will impact and determine your actions and outcomes.

Hence the phrase, “The direction of your life is determined by your strongest thoughts” and or in other words, it is your strongest thoughts that determines the direction of your life.

For example, if you think your life is miserable, your life is most probably miserable, and the direction of your life is most probably heading in a more miserable direction.  Your thoughts will determine how you perceive the world around you.  Your thoughts will determine how you interpret what happens to you, and if your thoughts are negative or pessimistic in nature, then you will interpret the situation negatively.  However, if you view the world positively, you will perceive the situation very differently.

That is what differentiates a person living a life heading in the right direction.  The mindsets, thoughts and responses to what life throws at you determines how you live your life.

The direction of your life is determined by your thoughts.  In fact, it is determined by your strongest and loudest thoughts.

To change the course of your life, you will need to change your mindset.  It is your mindset that will determine how you perceive information, determine your thoughts and determine your actions or responses.

Example, boat or ship.  To change the direction or course of where a ship is sailing, it is the rudder which will determine the direction of the ship.  The rudder, by comparison to the size of the ship is very small and yet the impact is huge.  Therefore, our thoughts, no matter the size of the shift or change, can create a huge impact in the outcome or the direction of your life.

3 keys to changing your thought life and they are:

1.  Mindset change. 

2.  Persistent feeding of renewed thoughts. 

3.  Be kind to yourself. 

Mindset Change.

The starting point of any change to your thought pattern comes from mindset changes or shifts.   What is mindset?  To put it simply, mindset is a set of beliefs or values that shape how you interpret the world around you.  It is a series of beliefs that you hold about yourself and of others.  Your mindset will determine your outlook, behaviour and mental attitude.

According to Carol Dweck, the author of the book Mindset, The New Psychology of Success, there are essentially 2 Mindsets, and they are Growth and Fixed.  The key differences between the mindsets are how individuals view themselves in terms of their learning abilities, how to respond and react to challenges, difficulties, and criticism, how they view failure, effort, and how success is defined and shared.

The critical thing to note is that regardless of which mindset you are currently in, you have the power and the ability to change your mindset.  Why?  Your mindset is not set in stone.  Your mindset is determined by what you choose to set your mind on.  As the saying goes, where there is a will, there is a way.  We have the great ability to make dramatic changes when we decide to do it.

What is your current mindset?  Growth or Fixed?  How can you tell? 

 Here are some simple questions to get you started:

1.  What is your view around your intelligence or learning abilities?  Is it fixed or can be constantly developed? 

2.  How do you view challenges?  Do you embrace or avoid challenges?

3.  How do you view failures?  Is it the end of the world or it is an opportunity to learn?

4.  How do you view feedback or criticism?  Do you avoid or ignore negative feedback and only want to hear good and positive feedback?  Do you view criticism or negative feedback as an opportunity to learn and improve from?

5.  How do you view others especially their success?  Do you feel threatened?  Do you find it as an opportunity to learn from them?

The key is to know that mindsets can be changed.  To change your mindset is to essentially reprogram your mindset.  Mindset change is possible by focusing your thoughts on the new or desired one.  For example, if you want to change from a fixed to growth mindset, you will now focus on growth mindset attributes such as a learner mindset.  You will now consciously reprogram your thoughts to those such as:

  • “I am a learner and therefore this is an opportunity to learn.” 
  • “This did not work but I have now learned what does not work so that I can try something else to learn what does work.”

Persistent feeding of renewed thoughts. 

Once you have determined your current mindset, you now have the power to change your thoughts.  If there is only one thing that you will get out of this episode, it is this… you will need to feed your new thoughts.  Creating a change in your mindset, would mean nothing if you are not feeding your new thoughts.  What do I mean by that?  A thought is like a seed.  It starts out as a seed; it needs to be watered and cared for in order for it to grow and then to ultimately bloom.  Your new budding thoughts needs to be carefully cared for.  The best way to feed these new thoughts and cement the mindset change is to put it into practice.

Just like any new habit that you want to develop, you will need to put it into action and do so consistently.  Yes, at the start, it will be hard because it would seem very uncomfortable and unnatural for you.  With time and constant application, the new thoughts will eventually take hold and become second nature to you.

There is no running away from effort and energy that you will need to put in place.  You will need to put in the effort to refocus or replace old mindsets with the new.  Whatever thoughts you feed the most, that is what will grow.  Whatever thoughts you starve, that is what will die.  Therefore, to create new thought patterns, you will need to starve the old and feed the new.

To further help you along, you might want to learn more and the 2 best books that I have read around this topic is:

1.  Carol Dweck on Mindset

2.  Jim Kwik, Limitless.

Be Kind to Yourself.

Be kind to yourself.  That is probably the best self-care advice you could get and apply.  No one learns anything perfectly at the first time.  In fact, for most of us, it takes many hours of making mistakes and failing before you are able to learn any skill or perform anything to a level of satisfaction.  That’s part of the exciting journey of learning and development.  The good news is that you are not the only one to have failed or made a mistake.  Therefore, the best way to pick yourself up and to try again is to be kind to yourself.

It is quite amazing if you were to think about all the skills that you have picked over the years.  If you were to look back at the first time when you were learning to do anything, you will remember just how awkward or difficult it was.  However, after many hours of practice, you can now see the progress and in some cases just how easy something is now.  For example, the ability to write.  I am sure that for most of us we have forgotten just how difficult it was.  Just watch any child learning to write and you will see just how difficult it is.  Just writing a letter is a struggle.  The good news is that with practice and persistence, a child is able to write.  How do we treat a child when he is learning how to write?  We encourage them and are kind to their effort.  We need to do the same to ourselves too.

Be kind to yourself.  Change does not happen overnight.  Because some of our toxic mindset and thoughts have been developed and nurtured over years, it will take time for you to change it.  Therefore, it is important that you are kind to yourself.  Be kind to yourself when you fall back into those old thought patterns.  However, as soon as you realise it or am aware, change or replace your old thought patterns with the new.  Mindset changes will happen, and it takes time.  Expect setbacks but do not let the setbacks set you back.  Do not let the setbacks keep you hostage.  You have the power to change and to overcome because the same source of the toxic or destructive mindset comes from the same source that is able to create the fresh and forward moving thoughts.  That power lies in you.

Let me summarise what has been covered:

The direction of your life is determined by your thoughts and therefore to change the direction of your life, you will need to:

1.  Change your mindset.

2.  Be persistent in feeding the new mindset and thoughts.

3.  Be Kind to yourself.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life.   As always, please subscribe, follow and share this blog with your friends.  Take care and step into the everyday with purpose. 

Make Time Your Friend and NOT your Enemy

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Why are we not able to help others even though we have the desire to? One of the questions that I have been pondering over the last few weeks is this statement that a friend made. I want to help others, but I can’t seem to be able to because I just don’t have time.  I thought that was interesting because it struck me on two fronts. One, the desire to help others and two, time was the reason for not being able to do so. Is time really the enemy? Is time really the barrier for us not being able to do what we want to do? Is time just the simplest and laziest excuse that we can come up with?

I feel sorry for time. Afterall, it is blamed for most things in life. I can’t do this because of time.  I feel stressed because of not enough time. I am stretched and burned out because of time. If time was a person, I sure do pity her. However, if we were to really think about it, is time really the enemy of us all? I am sure that you have encountered people who seem to be best friends with time.  Managing and manipulating time in such a way that they seem to glide through the time barrier and get so much done and be completely content and satisfied with the outcome.

Time is a resource that is equally and fairly distributed to all. No one gets more or less time. How we use time is both the challenge and the answer. The challenge with time ultimately lies in how we use it.  Hence lies the answer. How do you use time in a way that gets things done and still be satisfied with the outcome of what you use the time for?

Let’s break it down.

How do you use time to get what you want done? For most people there is usually around 12 to 16 hours of time that you are able to use, taking into account sleep time.  How we therefore use that amount time is where we have to build a healthy relationship with time.

Make time your friend by doing these 3 things and they are: 

1.   Create margins in your day.

2.  Do what’s important first

3.  Improve your performance speed.

Create margins in your day.

Going back to my friend’s statement “I can’t help because I just don’t have the time.” This struck me not because it is the first time I am hearing it but because it is one of the most common reason I hear.  It is sad because clearly there is a conflict of wanting to help and yet feeling helpless. The main cause of this lies in the fact that we do not have any margins or buffer in our day. We have not allowed ourselves to have the buffer of time.

Margins just like on paper gives you some room to breathe and to write notes or highlight key areas and not to mention just makes the page more readable. Margins in your day gives you room to breathe, time to reflect and access to make changes, flexibility, and availability to manage emergencies or crisis or to answer a call for help. Creating margins in a day is not hard. It is simply by setting aside some blocks of time for it. If you use the Pomodoro Technique, you have created margins in your day by having intervals or blocks set aside. If you do not, just leave 15mins – 30 mins in between the next meeting or the next activity. In fact, you will be surprised with just how much you are able to achieve in the 15 mins – 30 mins that you have set aside.

Do what’s important first.

We all make time for the things that are important for us.  Therefore, the “I don’t have time” phrase and what it is really saying is “It is not important enough for me to put the time to do it.”  Yes, sounds brutal when it is put that way. However, it is true. Yes the truth hurts especially if you are at the end of the “I don’t have time to do this.”  If it is important, you will make the time to do it. What you prioritise you will get done. Time is the not the enemy. Even if you had more time, if it is something that you don’t want to do or is low on your priorities list, it will still not get done.

However, there are also situations where you must decide on which to do or spend time on because you can’t do everything.  For example, when both choices are good, you want to do them and are equally meaningful for you. How would you then decide? Tossing a coin is one option. However, learning how to prioritise is a great skill to learn. There are various methods and the one that I fall back on all the time is 10-10-10.

Suzy Welch in her book 10-10-10 is a great simple technique to help you prioritise. It simply goes like this… What would happen if you did or don’t do this in the next 10 mins, 10 months and 10 years?  In order words, what is the impact in the short, mid, and long term.

There will never be simple priority choices. However, you can still make the best decision considering the constraints.

Improve your performance speed.

The ability to for you to perform a task and how fast you can do it, will have an impact in how time is used and its outcome. 

Have you noticed how 2 people can perform the same job in varying degrees of effectiveness and efficiency?  For example, a simple task like washing dishes, one person could take just 10 minutes whilst another person might take 30 mins. Take another example, writing a report, a person might take 30 mins whilst another a full day of work.  The speed of a person’s ability to complete and perform a task is vastly different and variable. A person who can work faster clearly has an advantage here. I was watching MasterChef and one of the observations is just how fast a professional chef can get a dish completed vs. an amateur. The same set of skills are required, but the speed is vastly different. Maybe there is something to be learned here… speed does matter, and speed is dependent on practice.  Take knife skills as an example. The ability for you to chop, cut, slice and dice or your knife skill is determined by how many hours of usage or practice. Therefore, the more you use a certain skill, the faster or more efficient you will be in that area.

My nephew latest interest is around the Rubik’s cube. He can solve it very quickly after learning the various algorithms and more importantly the practice hours that he has put into it. It is extremely cute to watch his little fingers move so quickly and dextrously to move the cube around and to solve the puzzle.

The good news is that yes, you can improve your performance speed.

Let’s summarise…

Time is neutral. Time can be your friend or enemy and it all depends on how you view and make use of it. Time in fact is one of God’s most valuable gifts because it allows you the opportunities to create work, consume content and connect with people. It also gives you the rest that you need for you to continue to create, consume and connect.  Make time your friend by prioritising what is important, creating margins in your day and improving your performance speed.

Hurry is the Enemy of a Satisfied Life

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Slow down, take a breather and smell the roses.  I am sure that you have heard all these phrases.  In fact, one of the upsides of lockdowns and restrictions is in the fact that we are forced to slow down and, in some cases, stop.  So much of our lives are filled with busyness, rushing from here to there and just trying to hurry through life so that we can end the day completing a check list of things that seems to never end.  Every day, the list starts again, and the hurried busy life starts again.  Pretty much like a mouse running on a never ending, never stopping wheel.  It just keeps going but not going anywhere.

On the one hand we want to live a life that is meaningful and purposeful while trying to survive the never-ending list of things to do.  To get the things that we want and need to be completed within the hours that we have in a day, there might seem to be no choice but to just hurry through it all.  After all, if we can finish something faster then we can get on to the next thing.  However, the next thing never really stops or ends. 

The downside of hurry is that you have now failed to enjoy the life’s journey that is, the moment that you are in.  By failing to appreciate and make the most of every moment, you have in essence missed out on precious moments that you are never going to be able to get back.  A well lived life is one that is filled with these moments, small and big, that you are able to enjoy and make the impact that makes its meaningful and satisfying.    No one can live a well lived life by hurrying through it. 

For example, when you are on a holiday, you have a great list of things to see and to do.  However, based on my experience, the best moments of any holiday is just to enjoy the moment.  The best moments are seldom the place itself, but it is the time that you take to appreciate everything around you, the sights and sounds, the people, the laughter and the breathtaking views and so on.  It is the journey that makes the holiday amazing and not necessarily the location itself.

When you are rushing around and hurrying through the day, you are short-changing yourself from enjoying the moment because we all know that when the moment passes by, it is gone, you cannot get it back again.

Hurry is the enemy of happy and satisfied life because it robs you of:

  • Appreciating the moment.  You miss the moment because you are not paying attention to the present.  You are focus on hurrying through that your focus is not on the things that matter, but on the things that passes by.
  • Appreciating the people around you.  You will miss the time and joy of spending focused and quality time with the people around you.  How many of us spend “physical time” with people around us and yet not know any more about the person.  Spending time is not just being physically present.  It is communicating and connecting with the person in a meaningful way.
  • Appreciating the journey of life.  Life is about the journey and not the destination.  Destination helps us to know where you are going but life is made up of the journey to the destination.  In fact, at every different season of your life, the destination is different and will continue to change.  However, the life what we live is the journey.  The journey shapes your experience, growth and maturity.  The journey shapes the world around you.  The journey shapes the perception and mindset that shapes how you will live. 

What can you do to reduce or eliminate the rushing around and hurried life?  I think there are 3 guidelines that we can follow, and they are:

  1. Create margins in your day and in your life.
  2. Focus on the important and impactful.
  3. Walk and Not Run

Let’s break them down.

Create Margins in your day, in your life

We need margins in our day.  Margins in your day is pretty much like margins on a piece of paper.  On a piece paper, margins allow you to “add notes”, gives you the ability to make highlights and pointers and provides you with visual clarity.  When you see a page with nicely spaced words and margin, you will automatically perceive it to be a readable piece of work.  On the other hand, if you see a page that is cluttered with words crammed into a page, you will perceive it to be a sloppy work.  Our eyes, what we see, provides visual cues to our mind which will in turn either focus or distracts us.  Giving yourself that extra space or margin in the day, provides you with the opportunity to not hurry or rush through the day.

Margin gives you the required space and an opportunity to take a little time to slow down, to recharge, to reflect and to make small but necessary changes along the way.  Create margins in your day and in each week, in each month and so on.  Ultimately these margins will give you the opportunity to slow down and appreciate the moment. 

How would go about building in margins in your day?

Just like on a piece of paper, you set up the margins up front.  Once the margins are set up, the rest will flow accordingly.  Just like on paper, when you have set up the margins, the number of words on a page is determined.  In the same way with your day or schedule, set up the margins first.  The first margin item on your calendar should be time for yourself.  Whether that is at the start of the day with exercise or mindfulness activities and or at the end of the day with reflection and grateful sessions, block that into your calendar first.  After which, you will prioritise the important and must do items.  Look through what you need to do that will give you the most impact and satisfaction.  Then, the nice to do’s and so on. 

Another option is that you build in margins in each activity or after a block of sessions that you have scheduled.  For example, if you are someone who has back-to-back meetings scheduled, you would certainly have experienced running late for meetings and if you start the day running late, then it is safe to say that you would probably be in a hurried, rushed and distracted mindset in and for every meeting.  That will hardly produce the best outcomes.  Create and give yourself margins even if the margin just looks like a 15 min break for coffee and toilet breaks.  You can also create margins at different check points throughout the day so that even if you do start running late, you will be able to “catch up” at the next point of your schedule.  No one wants to be in a hurried mode for the whole day.

Focus on the Important and Impactful.

Focus allows you to know what to eliminate and what to say no to.  The truth is that time is not the problem, the problem is what you do with your time.  How you use the time that you do have is where most people find challenging.  The only way to manage your time is for you to develop your skills to prioritise, the discipline to stay focus and to be comfortable with saying No

The ability to prioritise will help you know what you need to schedule into your day.  When you are clear on your priorities, you will then be able to focus and allocate the appropriate energy resources on getting the job done.  Focus on the important and impactful.  We have the natural tendencies to do what we like and sometimes what we like and enjoy is not necessarily what will give you the impact that you desire.  For example, I enjoy binge watching Netflix but that is not going to give me the impact that I want to accomplish for my day. 

For me to do the things that I need to do, I need to be discipline.  Discipline to stick to my commitment and to carry it through.  Discipline is critical in any execution of task especially the ones that you might not like.  Let’s be honest, there are things on our to-do list that we don’t like nor enjoy but it must be done.

Lastly, in order for you to stay focus on the important and impactful, you will need to stop being a people pleaser and learn to be comfortable with saying No.  Say No to other people’s expectations or their ad-hoc request.  Time is our friend and enemy and it is the same for everyone.  No one has more or less time than you.  Everyone is given the same number of hours.  We have enough to do on our own, we don’t have to add other people’s expectations to it.  One of the many reasons why we need to hurry is because our list of things to do does not just consist of our list but other people’s list as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying don’t help or to be selfish and self-centred.  In fact, on the contrary.  I am suggesting that if you can build margins in your day, you will have the opportunity to help people when required.  Why?  You have built in the margin to do so.  You can help because you have built in the margin to do that.  If you have not built in the margin in your day, your ability to help is limited.

Walk and Not Run.

To stop the hurry, it is by doing the opposite.  Stop running.  Start walking.  You will still arrive at the destination, maybe taking a little longer but you will certainly reach the destination without the pain of running to the destination.  Pain is not gain when it is not required.  I think that it’s foolish to want pain when you don’t have to.

Slow down and walk to your destination.  This allows you to observe and appreciate everything along the way.  You can smell the roses, see the beauty of flowers, the amazing changes in the seasons and the colours that follow the change of the season.  Enjoy the journey.  One of the certainties of life is that there will be challenges and situations that are tough and hard.  When you are able to slow down and not be hurried, you are also able to perceive and respond to situations differently.  The “Walk” will allow you to have clarity in your thoughts, to make decisions in a calm and measured approach, and to make changes along the way. 

For example, the path that you are taking is filled with pit holes, some smooth and rocky or bumpy roads and barriers in between, leading to where you want to go.  When you are running, the chances of you falling, tripping, and hurting yourself is much higher as compared to when you are walking the path.  It is the same with how you live your life.  A hurried life where you are always running, you are faced with a higher chance of hurting yourself.  Slow down and walk because ultimately you will arrive at your destination.  The difference is how bruised and battered do you want to be.

Life is hard enough, don’t add to it by hurrying through it.  Do the opposite and walk to your destination, all the while enjoying each moment.  Appreciating the journey, how you managed to avoid falling into a pit hole or tripping over a barrier and experience the journey for what it is. 

Let me summarise how you can eliminate or reduce the hurry in your life in order for your have a happy and satisfied life.  One, create and build margins into your day and life.  Two, focus on the important and impactful.  Third, walk and not run.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article.   I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life.   As always, please subscribe, follow and share this blog with your friends.  Take care and step into the everyday with purpose.