No more self-sabotage!

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We human beings are quirky. We are endowed with several wonderful qualities, such as the ability to communicate, love, dream, and find courage in the face of daunting circumstances.

 

We also have quite the tendency to self-sabotage, often right on the cusp of success. Why is this? Why would we knowingly, purposely quit, give up, cry uncle, back out, and buckle under just when success is within our grasp?

 

It’s a brain thing. Call it a minor malfunction or glitch, if you will. Our mind can trip us up far more than anyone, or anything else in this world. It whispers into your subconscious sneaky lies such as:

 

  • You can’t really do this.
  • You don’t deserve this.
  • Eh, you don’t really, truly want this.
  • Even if you make it, it won’t last
  • This is boring. Let’s screw this up.
  • Hey, look over there – something shiny!

 

You’d think your own brain would be your friend, but apparently it has other ideas about your dreams and goals. The mind seems to be kind of a prankster, actually. So if you are serious about accomplishing something, and don’t want your meddling mind getting in the way – you need to trick it right back.


Strategies to strengthen perseverance

 

“Perseverance, secret of all triumphs” – Victor Hugo

 

The word “perseverance” sometimes seems a bit intimidating. After all, it’s commonly associated with highly successful athletes, corporate kings, miracle stories, and other things that seem slightly out of our reach.

However, perseverance isn’t some magical pill some are given, leaving the rest of us in the cold. It is a skill, nothing more. A skill that can be learned, practiced, and mastered by anyone. It’s like a muscle, work it out a bit every day, and before long, it will be strong.

 

Ways to strengthen your perseverance muscle include:

  • Start small – think of a minor project you’ve been meaning to get done. It can be something as simple as cleaning out your closet (admittedly this isn’t minor for many). Assign yourself a very specific time allotment per day to get this done, say, 15 minutes.
  • Question your perspective – how you perceive a task will define how much of a challenge you think it is, and whether or not you can do it. It’s all in how you see it – like the old “half glass full or empty” experiment we all know. If you can take a negative thought, such as “I’ll never get this done,” and then challenge it, telling yourself “yes, I can, and here are 3 reasons why,” then you’re gold.
  • Define the WHY – keep in the forefront of your mind what it means for you, and why it is important to you.

 

Just as important as perseverance is the ability to keep your goal realistic. That’s not raining on your parade, or saying you shouldn’t aim high and “shoot for the stars,” as they say. It means don’t set the bar for success so high that you virtually are asking for a major melt-down.

 

Room to breathe

Goals and dreams are like us, in some ways. They need support, love, encouragement, pep talks, perseverance (of course) – but like us, they also need room to breathe.

To make this happen, you need to create margin. In the book “Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives,by Richard Swenson,  margin is described as

…the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating.”

 

If in your quest for your goal, you leave no room for mistakes, rest, and breaks, you will undoubtedly begin to burn out. This is the point where your mind starts to whisper “this is too much work, you can’t do this.”

Don’t let that happen. Learn how to create margin so you can have an emergency reserve of perseverance when you need it the most – likely when you are close to the finishing line.

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Benjamin Disraeli once said,

 

“Through perseverance many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure.”

 

What he did not say was that many people seem to have a tendency to, as some joke, “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”  You don’t have to be one of them. You can stop the cycle of self-sabotage.

You can challenge yourself, develop self-awareness, press on, and reach your goal.

 

 

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Wishful thinking, or a wish come true?

Book Review: “Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want,” by Barbara Sher and Annie Gottlieb

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My Rating: 5 Stars


This is the book that started it all for me – that is, my love of all things “self-improvement.”  Written in 1979, when I was eight years old, the book “Wishcraft” has sold over a million copies in more than a dozen translations.

Although it was clearly a hit – I still consider it a “cult following” kind of book because very few people I know have even heard of it.

First of all, they think I’m saying WITCHcraft – so that conversation gets kind of awkward. In any case, you can find thousands of cult-like followers of this book on the web. And I am a proud, card-carrying member of that cult.

This book, more than all the other ones I’ve read combined,  gave me a new outlook on my dreams, and it does so every single time I’ve read it.

I found it at a Half-Priced Book Store back in the early nineties when I was still in college. The day I bought it, I stayed up all night long reading it. I felt like I’d found the Holy Grail of dreams, and in a way, I did.

I’ve always been a daydreamer – and always will be – but the whole “follow through” part was my stumbling block. Oh, I can come up with a hundred fantastic ideas – but they remain just that, ideas. That is, unless I go back to this book and follow all the steps. Step, by step, by step – whatever dream or goal I’ve accomplished, I have done so because of this book.

Because of “Wishcraft,” I got my very first paid freelance writing assignment while still in college. It had been my dream for years to be a (paid) writer, and because of this book – I made it happen. And because of this book, I’m still a writer. Get this: I get PAID MONEY to sit at home and do what I love more than anything in the world!

Thank you, Barbara Sher.

If anyone knows me, they know that I’m a procrastinator, and I tend to be lazy – I’ll take a day on the couch reading a novel or biography over doing almost anything else. But this book takes you by the hand and leads you with baby steps, right to the completion of your goal.

It’s not hard, I assure you. I immediately zone out with any self-help book that looks too complicated, and I immediately get irritated with any that are too “fakey cheerful rah rah” – those just don’t do it for me. I’m all about positive thinking, but it has to be authentic – not cheesy and fake.

Now, back to the book. It is divided into four sections:

 

  • The Care and Feeding of Human Genius

 

  • Wishing

 

  • Crafting 1 – Plotting the Path to Your Goal

 

  • Crafting 2 – Moving and Shaking

 

 

 

The first two sections go over some material that you are probably already familiar with, for example:

 

  • Finding out who you really are
  • Finding your personal style (no, this does not mean clothing – though it can certainly be a part of it)
  • Finding out what your main goals are
  • Dealing with hardships and fear or anxiety during the dreaming and brainstorming phase.


The last two sections are the real heart of the book – helping you create uniquely tailored and very specific steps to reach your goal.

The only caveat I’d give about this book is that you have to be willing to get a notebook and actually DO the exercises and goal planning she recommends. Or, since it’s no longer 1979, open up a Word or Google doc and do it. Doesn’t matter – the point is, if you don’t like doing things like this, then this book will not help you.

If you have a dream that just won’t get out of your heart and mind no matter how hard you try, a dream that you think is silly, impractical, impossible – for whatever reason – do yourself a huge favor and get this book. It could change your mind, and your life.

 

 

5-minutes to happy!

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While no one really expects to feel happy every minute of every day, there are times when the doldrums hit. To kick the doldrums out and sweep out the dull mopey feelings, check out these five easy, quick (5 minutes or less! ) ways to turn your “happy switch” back on.

  1. Watch a funny short video

You don’t need a two hour comedy to get your smile back, just Google “funny videos” and you’ll have thousands of choices! Sometimes we have an old favorite that never fails to get a laugh out of us – if so, go right to that one.

Just take just a couple of minutes to find one that tickles your fancy. In five minutes you could be having a fit of laughter – and laughter heals a lot of ailments, especially the doldrums.

This adorable bulldog trying to get through a door with his bone is hysterical!

  1. Listen to a favorite song

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Now isn’t the time for a slow dance favorite – it’s time to get your happy on! Everyone has that “one song” (or hopefully several) that makes them want to get up and dance.

That’s probably why the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams was such a smash hit – it made people want to get up and dance! The official music video will give you a huge smile.

Another timeless mood boosting song is “Footloose,” by Kenny Loggins. It is almost impossible to listen to this song without smiling!

Surely you have some favorites up your sleeve – but those two songs are definite happy-makers.

  1. Look at pictures of cute baby animals

This admittedly sounds pretty hokey, but try it! Google images for “cute baby animals” and you will be smiling in under five seconds. Often, it’s the things considered downright “hokey” that makes us happiest!

If you want to take it up a notch, look for videos of adorable baby animals – the happy-boost-factor will go up ten-fold!

Here’s my baby kitten Blaze – when he was just 3 weeks old (someone left him in a box in front of a local PetSmart).

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Isn’t he precious! Just looking at him makes me smile!

  1. Take a 5 minute meditation break

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This is rather low key – but the results leave you feeling refreshed and recharged – two very big components of happiness. There are numerous meditation apps you can download right on your smartphone!

If you want to get that refreshment in five minutes flat, you’re good to go with the “5-Minute Meditation” app available for both iPhone and Android.

  1. Get up and MOVE

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Sometimes all you need to shake off the blues is to get your blood flowing. Get up and start dancing, or stretching – anything really. March in place if you’re not the dancing type – it doesn’t matter as long as you get your heart pumping for a bit!

You might want to combine this one with tip number two – play your favorite happy song and bust some moves! The sillier the better – act like a complete goofball and make yourself laugh!

Another great way to get your blood flowing is to take a brisk five minute walk outside if it’s a nice day. If it’s a clear day, the sunshine will be your friend in overcoming the blues – fresh air and sunshine are two of nature’s best remedies.

Do you have any quick tips for boosting your mood?

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