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The One-Hour Investment With A 100-Hour Payoff

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put your phone down

Here’s a quick thought experiment that will teach you something about yourself. Say you’re working at your computer, with your smartphone on the desk beside you.

Your phone buzzes with a new text message. Do you keep working on the computer, or stop what you’re doing to check the text?

The vast majority of us, in my observation, choose option B. A text is usually so much more exciting than whatever we’re working on, so we stop our flow of work and check the text.

Distraction is the enemy of success

When you’re deeply engrossed in meaningful work, you’re in a state of consciousness that psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls flow. You know this state, where you lose track of time and become one with the work. You’re “in the zone.”

Now think of all the digital distractions that constantly tempt us: text messages, instant messages, emails, and so on. When we allow ourselves to be pulled into these distractions, it pulls us out of flow. This means a massive loss in productivity, because it takes time to get back into flow.

I started out my career as a software developer, where flow was necessary. I would be eight levels deep in the code, and if someone interrupted me to ask about my weekend, that entire mental superstructure would come raining down in a shower of pixels. It would take me fifteen minutes to build it back up again.

The bad news is that every digital distraction you allow into your life has a “cascading effect” in terms of lost productivity. The good news is that you can take control of these distractions. And it will only take you one hour.

“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.” – Christopher Columbus

We are all Pavlov’s dogs 

The great Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov conducted an experiment with dogs where he rang a bell each time he served them food. After a while, the dogs began salivating when he rang the bell, whether he served food or not: their bodies became conditioned to expect food whenever they heard the bell.

We don’t often think of ourselves like Pavlov’s dogs, but we are. The text message alert on your phone is a “bell” that has conditioned you to expect a tiny burst of information. Because humans feed on information, the text alert delivers a little dopamine hit to your brain, and you stop what you’re doing to answer it. This is why digital distractions are so difficult to resist: they’re addictive!

Software and hardware makers understand this. These digital distractions are built into every device and app, because that’s how they get you to use them. The more an app interrupts your life, the more likely you’ll get addicted to it.

There’s only one way out: turn off the bell. You have to take control of your own working environment. Turn off, remove, and uninstall as many digital distractions as possible. Strive for a Zen-like simplicity on your computer and smartphone, where you will be able to devote large chunks of uninterrupted time to work that matters.

I recommend investing one hour in cleaning up all these digital distractions. Do it today, before you forget about it. It’s the best time investment you will make this year, because each digital distraction you remove will save you hours of time in the future. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Text messages: Set your phone to vibrate rather than an audible alert when you receive a text. Mute texts during working hours.
  • Instant messages: If you have instant message platforms like Google Chat or Skype installed, turn them off by default, rather than having them load at startup.
  • System messages: Get rid of as many icons in your system tray as possible, and remove their meaningless interruptions. (Most icons allow you to right-click, then choose “options.”)
  • Audible notifications: Turn off all the audible beeps, boops, and ding-dong arooga’s from your phone and computer. These are productivity killers.
  • Live updates: Turn off all the useless, distracting scrolling headlines (on the Windows 10 start menu, for example) by right-clicking and turning off “live updates.”
  • Internet distractions: Remove time-wasting bookmarks from your browser, so you have to type them in manually. Install an app that blocks the internet during working hours.
  • Email: This is the big one. Ruthlessly unsubscribe! Get yourself off all unnecessary email lists. If in doubt, yank it out.

“Don’t become a mere recorder of facts, but try to penetrate the mystery of their origin.” – Ivan Pavlov

If you had the opportunity to invest $1 today for a $100 payoff over the next year, it would be a wildly profitable investment. This is the one-hour time investment that will pay off at least 100 hours in productivity over the next year. Only you can make the investment; no one can do it for you.

How much money will you invest this year? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Chris Targett

    Apr 21, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    Thanks for this John.

    I find I can ignore texts as I put my phone on the other side of the room but an email that pings up in the bottom right hand corner of the screen is always a temptress when working on a mundane task.

    I’ll be a lot more aware of my distractions now and ensure they’re turned off!

  2. Inderjeet

    Apr 13, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Very well written. We should not let these digital distractions affect us…I am turning all off right now. Thanks for great article. Keep it up!

  3. Kylie Rowe

    Apr 10, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    After I read this, I turned off several digital distractions, particularly the live updates scrolling across my laptop screen, and have been 10x more productive in a matter of hours. Thanks for the reminder! Simple but great article.

  4. Gaurav

    Apr 9, 2016 at 7:15 am

    Wow ! a new perspective towards ‘ping, pong, cheu,…..’ Great Article. Thanks

  5. Lourdes

    Apr 8, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Enjoyed this article. This is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Entrepreneurs

7 Awesome Tips for Entrepreneurs to Create an Inspiring Vision Board

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creating a vision board

Vision boards are one of the most powerful success tools that can do wonders to inspire and motivate you, and put you in the right frame of mind. Whether you use them for your business or personal life, creating and using a vision board also adds a bit of fun to your routine, while activating the Law of Attraction and drawing your wants and desires into your life!

If you’re ready to get started, here are 7 tips that you’ll find helpful in creating an inspiring vision board.

1. Be Clear About Its Use

Your vision board is going to be a visualization tool, carrying images and words that will drive you to achieve your goals and fulfill your dreams. As such, don’t move forward with your vision board thinking of it as a wish list or a to-do list.

Note that there are different types of vision boards. If you’re very clear about what you want or you want something specific to happen in your business, you can create an ‘I know exactly what I want’ board. An ‘Allowing’ vision board is for visions and goals that you’re not quite sure about, or if you know that circumstantial changes are to be expected. If you’re working on a particular aspect of your life or are focusing on a specific business goal, a ‘Theme’ vision board will be right for you.

2. Get the Pre-Work Going

Yes, there’s pre-work to be done before you begin creating your vision board! Start with assessing what you’ve desired for your business and personal life over the past 6-12 months. Think of areas like branding, sales, or public speaking, and list goals and intentions in each category that you want to bring change or grow in over time.

Remember to set aside ample amount of time for this activity. You can’t list desires or goals while you’re rushing your lunch or in-between meetings! Sit where you can get some peace and quiet, meditate for a while, and ask yourself what it is that you truly want.

Let visuals and emotions flow freely through your mind, and let this process make for a deeper, meaningful experience. You might want to play some soft, soothing music as you dwell on what’s important to you!

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

3. Narrow Down

Business goals, and quite a few personal goals, can be long-term, requiring you to put in time and effort. By having too many such goals on your mind, you might get overwhelmed easily. Instead, think in terms of baby steps and break down your goals into simpler, manageable steps.

An easy way to do this is to create action plans outlining individual tasks. Make sure you have clearly defined actions so it’s easier to make progress. You can also consider creating time-based milestones.

As an example, if your goals include making more money or expanding your business, don’t just add ‘Make More Money’ or ‘Expand Business’ to your list. Perhaps you need to focus on sales or new product releases to increase revenue that you can further use to support business expansion!

4. Gather Representational Images

Flip through your favorite magazines and see if the images catch your eye. You can also browse images online and download and print the ones you like. A word of advice: Don’t let your perfectionism get in the way and compel you to continue your quest for ideal images! This way, you’ll never find what you’re looking for and you could end up not completing the exercise.

Most importantly, don’t think when choosing images, but feel. This will keep you from perceiving images in a conventional way! In addition to this, don’t stop yourself from picking images that aren’t connected to each other rationally; it’s fine to put up whatever resonates with you on your vision board. Do pick a handful of motivational affirmation words too.

5. Arrange Right

Have a theme and format in mind for your vision board. You can look for inspiration online, but follow your heart if you want to do something original! You might want to accessorize your board with colorful paper, stickers, and more. Keep in mind that all colors impact us differently, so if you’re looking to create a board that gives off calm, pleasing vibes, a red-themed board won’t serve the purpose.

Another thing to be mindful of is that having too many pictures on a single vision board can prevent you from focusing on your goals. To avoid clutter, only choose pictures that inspire you the most. Alternatively, consider creating two vision boards.

6. Put It to Use

No matter how inspiring your vision board is, it will fail to inspire you if you put it up in an obscure place like behind a door or in the cupboard. So put your board up where you can see it every day. This doesn’t mean it’s okay to put it up near a toilet though! Think of a place where you can stand or sit for a while each day and get positive vibes as you view your vision board.

The way you view your vision board also matters! Simply glancing at it won’t produce the results you want, so commit to studying the contents of your vision board for at least 5 minutes, once a day. Read quotes and affirmations that you’ve put up aloud and with conviction. Be careful of resorting to daydreaming; you want to visualize how you’ll work to attain your goals, not just envision your life after you achieve all that you want.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

7. Redo the Board as Needed

You don’t have to stick with the same vision board arrangement for the whole year! There are bound to be changes in your life, so feel free to re-arrange images and affirmation words to reflect the same. Do leave some blank space so you can add new goals as they come along.

Bear in mind that you shouldn’t feel pressurized to have a new arrangement for every month of the year. A vision board only needs to be redone in the event of major changes that affect your outlook and focus.

Don’t let doubts creep in. Every time you look at your vision board, take a deep breath, smile, and tell yourself that you’re closer to achieving your dreams.So get started on creating your inspiring vision board, and let it fire you up to turn your dreams into reality!

How has your vision board helped you? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Entrepreneurs

10 “Brick-In-The-Head” Moments You’ll Encounter as an Entrepreneur

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entrepreneurship

The entrepreneurial life is one of the most challenging, stressful and risky avenues to success you could possibly choose. The issue with doing it alone in business ventures is exactly that; you’re alone. To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be driven, thick-skinned, and ready for any curve balls.

Here is a list of 10 ‘brick-in-the-head’ moments you’ll need to overcome on your path to becoming a market leader:

1. Letting criticism get to you

The ways society deals with ambition and success is very odd, and you may feel like you’re unfairly criticised by your peers regularly. The reality is that you’ll encounter plenty of jealousy and bitterness during the course of your career.

This isn’t to say that all criticism is malicious – constructive critique can go a long way. But remember that nobody understands your vision better than you. Remember that the art of good entrepreneurship is to delve where nobody else is willing to go.

When Bill Gates decided to offer his Internet Explorer browser as a free package with his Operating Systems in 1995, it was considered a counter-intuitive move by some, but ended up being the cornerstone for Microsoft’s resounding dominance.

2. The temptation of ignoring constructive criticism

While it’s worth adopting a thick skin to allow unjust criticism to bounce off of you, it’s also important to know when to take it on board and consider constructive comments. As you’re taking the leap into controlling your own business, sometimes it can become too easy to concentrate on the nuances of your work and miss the bigger picture. Take the time to consider advice that you are offered – if it fits in with your vision, then it may be worth taking.

3. Keeping on top of your cash flow

Making sure you’re focused on your finances is one of the biggest parts of being an entrepreneur – after all, it’s all about making money.

If you’re worried about your cash flow, then it’s probably a good sign. All entrepreneurs struggle with money at times in their careers – and so if you don’t keep an eye on your figures then you risk showing signs of complacency. If your figures are really getting to you, then it might be a good idea to skim through your finances and start saving cents here and there.

4. Facing the unknown

One of the most anxiety-inducing moments is being kept up all night wondering which way your venture’s going to go. Entrepreneurship is a volatile career, and coming to terms with the unknown is a big part of the life that comes with it.

Prevention is better than a cure when it comes to dealing with the uncertainty of building businesses. Try to manage your resources well – it could save a lot of worrying a little bit further down the line.

“Many times, the thought of fear itself is greater than what it is we fear.” – Idowu Koyenikan

5. Abandoning your previous career or education

Often the first step on your path to success can be the most difficult and stressful. You could be leaving a comfortable job, or abandoning your studies to go and pursue an idea that, no matter how good, is not guaranteed success.

Here it’s once again advisable to make sure only you have the final word on the route you take in life. Be sure to listen to the advice that those close to you have to offer but just remember that the choice is yours.

6. Time management

Difficulties with time management can be a big cause of stress when setting up your own business.

The most stressful aspect of this could be that you neglect other parts of your life in order to oversee the successful running of the company.

Juggling your time is perhaps the primary problem that is faced by entrepreneurs. You have to make sure you focus on your output, marketing and networking all at the same time, which can get overwhelming.

Here, the best remedy is to keep records of your tasks and goals using available tools. One should set rotas of where to invest their time and attention over the course of a coming week. It might not seem like much, but it could lift a heavy burden off of your head.

7. Making the right decisions

As an entrepreneur, the significance of the decisions you make could mean life or death for your business. This burden can weigh you down heavily. Remember the very best in the industry make the wrong decisions, and many of the greatest entrepreneurs today have gotten into the position they’re in through trial and error.

The markets are often volatile, and extraneous circumstances which could never be accounted for can come into play. One must find a way of coping with the process of making company defining decisions, and once you’ve become confident enough to take big decisions in your stride, you’ll be well on the way to industry success.

8. Staying true to your vision

Things have a habit of changing very quickly in business. You’ll need to adapt to the ever-shifting sands and stay true to your vision. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Construct a mission statement for your business that you can refer back to in order to hold on to the reason you decided to pursue your idea in the first place. Sometimes seeing what you’re working towards written down can be enough to keep you focused on your goals.

“You have to understand your own personal DNA. Don’t do things because I do them or Steve Jobs or Mark Cuban tried it. You need to know your personal brand and stay true to it.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

9. Team building

Here it’s important to recruit not only the most skilled candidate but the candidate that’ll best fit into your vision for the office culture. Sometimes finding a confident and engaging candidate is a critical factor in recruiting for a job that requires plenty of teamwork and client interaction. The best course of action for lowering the stress of team building is to look for candidates that express themselves in a way that fits the business work ethic best.

10. Dealing with failure

Virtually every entrepreneur has to face the prospect of failure at multiple points in their career. The best way to avoid becoming bogged down by an unsuccessful business is to see it as an exercise in trial and error. Learn from your mistakes, and if your startup has failed, what caused it to fail?

Welcome failure as a valuable learning tool, and jump back into the industry you desire to improve. Improve your original idea or find another one because the life of a successful entrepreneur is built on plenty of experiences and lessons – many of which were learnt the hard way.

What other encounters have you had as an entrepreneur? Comment Below!

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5 Things You Must Have in Order to Succeed as a Freelancer

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successful freelancer

Up until about 3 years ago, I honestly had no idea what a freelancer even was. It sounded like a cool job title and I secretly envied people who could call themselves one. Didn’t they get to travel the world with a laptop and go sailing and sip margaritas beside some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet? Yup, I wanted to be a freelancer.

I wanted in on this action. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I was sure I could pull this off, couldn’t I?

The Mystery Slowly Unravelled

And so began the digging and sniffing around. The more research I did, the more I realized this wasn’t for the faint of heart. I took in as many blogs and pdf’s as I could. I watched YouTube tutorials until my eyes bled. I took in everything I could about it.

I decided that I could easily become a freelance writer. I got good writing skills (did you catch that?) thanks to so many letters written to ex boyfriends behaving badly, and my journal. Yup, I could definitely be a writer.

So now what? Now the real work begins. So you want to be a writer, huh? Get ready girl. You have tons of work ahead of you. Little did I know.

Can’t I just tell stories?

I just wanted to write about all my crazy life stories ‘cause Lord knows I have a million. Surely someone will want to read them, no? Isn’t writing and blogging just about telling stories of how you had some ridiculous upheaval and how you overcame it? I can write about that until the cows come home.

I was determined to write these stories and send them out to anyone, everyone and no one. I hit up all the high authority sites right away. No small fry stuff for this girl. I have great stories and someone needs to read them.

“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.” – William Faulkner

Was I in for a surprise

Apparently not everyone wants to read your stories. Apparently not everyone thinks your stories are great. Apparently not everyone thinks you’re a good writer. I thought this freelance writing stuff would come easy. I can write dammit and I’m friggin’ good at it! They’ll see.

It just didn’t work like that. As I worked my regular full time day job as a hairstylist I continued to write my heart out, before and after work, determined to leave this life behind and become a freelance writer. Little did I know. 8 months of cutting hair and blogging for free taught me many many things about myself and the freelance world.

Here are the 5 things you better have if you want to make it as a freelancer:

1. Determination

You must be all in or all out. There is no in between. You can’t let up or stop for one single minute. You want to be a freelancer, you must give it 100%. This gig isn’t for half assers or sissies. Nope. Only the hardcore, diehard peeps with a strong deep desire for a life of freedom will make it here. There is no giving up. Ever.

2. Passion

If you don’t feel it, you won’t be able to do it. It has to come from deep down in your heart, soul and belly. The reason you want to do this must consume you (and the reason should be more than just money). You should be eating, living and breathing this passion you have to become a freelancer otherwise you’re already doing it for the wrong reasons and you won’t be happy. Trust me on that one.

3. Persistence

Never ever give up and don’t take no for an answer. If a million people say no to you, remember someone is going to say yes. If someone said no a million times keep at it. Figure out what you did wrong and polish up your skills (all the no’s will give you ample opportunity to do just that).

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” – E.L. Doctorow

4. Open mindedness

Stay open to learning new things. Stay open to networking and connecting with others. You will need to collaborate with other bloggers and people who are already doing this for a living in order to learn. You will need to throw your net out far and wide and take in all sorts of wondrous tools. Get ready to step way out of your comfort zone.

5. Confidence

This was a biggie for me. I was pitbull, determined to make it so no amount of no’s was going to get in my way. There were some days I honestly did feel like throwing in the towel (we all have days like that) but I would brush off my butt and lick my wounded ego and keep at it. Have confidence in your skills. Just because 10 people don’t want your stuff doesn’t mean there isn’t 10 out there who do! Remember that. You ARE good at what you do.

Do you have what it takes? Of course you do! It took me almost 9 months before I finally cracked the freelance world and another year to become a full time freelancer. There is no try and there is no giving up. I always tell people, if I can do it, so can you.

What are the obstacles you’re facing right now as a freelance? Comment below!

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5 Crucial Skills to Take Your Business and Relationships to New Heights

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business skills

Our personal relationships are very powerful and provide us with a crash course of exponential growth both personally and professionally. You learn an exceptional amount of information about who you are as a person, how you communicate, manage your emotions and discover traits you were blissfully unaware of.

Of course everyone wants to hear the beautiful love story you so often hear from others. Man and woman meet, fall madly in love, get married and live happily ever after. However, as we all know the fairytale ending is no guarantee.

I met a spontaneous, generous, successful and much older businessman and we dated for a short period of time. I was deliriously happy and determined for everything to turn out perfectly. As expected, he had mastered the art of knowing all the right buttons to push and exactly the right words to say.

I can compare this experience to a going for a long drive in the country. I was speeding down the highway of life, aiming to maintain my complete denial of everything happening around me. To the point that I missed every stop sign, damaged the car from all of the potholes I failed to navigate, and I had several minor accidents along the way.  You name it, I ignored every single red flag that was saying take a detour, choose a different road and look the other way, keep moving forward yet choose a different direction.

Unfortunately, it all came to a grinding halt, when the car burst into flames in the middle of a local National Park causing a wild bushfire. This analogy clearly illustrates the ending of this relationship and the danger of becoming obsessed with a personal goal to the point where it sabotages all your efforts to attain your goal and safely reach your destination.

The brilliant news is that this crash course of exponential growth led to pivotal business lessons that can also help you achieve outstanding results this year. The 5 key business lessons you can develop include:

1. Individual Connection vs Wolf Pack

Be mindful and understand the differences between communicating well with an individual and a team otherwise known as a wolf pack. Notice the differences in the communication, it can be very different. An individual interaction may be far easier than dealing with the wolfpack or vice versa. Pay attention when in both scenarios as it will be highly beneficial for professional career and help you to enhance both new and existing professional relationships.

2. Monumental Giving

Wow, I thought I was a generous person however I quickly realized I had more work to do in this area. This man raised a lot of funds for charities that were close to his heart both personally and via his businesses and he was very proud of his achievement as he should be.

What I liked the most however was the way he built the company culture although he was well renowned for his tough exterior, he did go out of his way to be generous to employees  at all levels within the company and he took the time to get to know them personally despite the number of businesses he was operating at any one time.

“Giving is the master key for success in all applications of life” – Bryant McGill

3. Fanatical Focus

Irrespective of the activity he was engaged in on any given day. From closing a business deal, speaking to a colleague or business associate, negotiating a lease to building his stock portfolio. He was unbelievably fanatically focused on that one activity and ensured that the activity was completed to a very high standard.

Anything less was deemed unprofessional and unacceptable. His unwavering focus was very valuable in making business decisions and closing deals, over delivering on budget, making quick decisions and maintaining relationships.

4. Beware of the ‘Little’ Things

We have heard it before, don’t stress or make a big deal about the little things. When you learn to manage your emotions effectively and allow things to occur rather than resist or get upset about it, life becomes far easier and enjoyable. It allows you to retain your energy for the important things in life and manage actual stressful situations as they arise.

5. Master Communicator

This man was extremely tough and very guarded however, he acted like everyone’s best friend. He understood a lot about how people communicate from their tone of voice, the words they say to how fast or slow they spoke, and he was a master at reading non-verbal communication in both men and women.

“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you are willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” – Brian Tracy

To build a powerful network in business, it is imperative to begin by learning the essentials in communication. Start by researching how to read body language and what various poses or facial expressions mean. By understanding others, you can also adapt your own communication style to become a ‘Master Communicator’ and rapidly improve your overall business results.

As we enter the start of the New Year, now is the perfect time to hone these 5 crucial business skills to take your business and relationships to new heights.

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The One Strategy to Help You Create Meaningful Work

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creating meaningful work

This past week I had dinner with a friend who had recently returned from Japan. While hearing about her trip, the Japanese concept of Ikigai came up and had stayed on my mind for days. I found it really compelling and couldn’t help but delve into the topic. (more…)

Vanya Lazarova is a certified professional coach, specializing in helping people create their life's work by starting with purpose and authenticity. She loves writing, reading, psychology, philosophy, arts and all forms of self- expression. She co-founded a personal development podcast called "The Coaching Journal", where she offers thought provoking concepts to empower people intentionally design the life they want to have. You can find more about Vanya and the work she does on her website www.LiveAuthentic.net and at her podcast The Coaching Journal.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Chris Targett

    Apr 21, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    Thanks for this John.

    I find I can ignore texts as I put my phone on the other side of the room but an email that pings up in the bottom right hand corner of the screen is always a temptress when working on a mundane task.

    I’ll be a lot more aware of my distractions now and ensure they’re turned off!

  2. Inderjeet

    Apr 13, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Very well written. We should not let these digital distractions affect us…I am turning all off right now. Thanks for great article. Keep it up!

  3. Kylie Rowe

    Apr 10, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    After I read this, I turned off several digital distractions, particularly the live updates scrolling across my laptop screen, and have been 10x more productive in a matter of hours. Thanks for the reminder! Simple but great article.

  4. Gaurav

    Apr 9, 2016 at 7:15 am

    Wow ! a new perspective towards ‘ping, pong, cheu,…..’ Great Article. Thanks

  5. Lourdes

    Apr 8, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Enjoyed this article. This is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Entrepreneurs

7 Awesome Tips for Entrepreneurs to Create an Inspiring Vision Board

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creating a vision board

Vision boards are one of the most powerful success tools that can do wonders to inspire and motivate you, and put you in the right frame of mind. Whether you use them for your business or personal life, creating and using a vision board also adds a bit of fun to your routine, while activating the Law of Attraction and drawing your wants and desires into your life!

If you’re ready to get started, here are 7 tips that you’ll find helpful in creating an inspiring vision board.

1. Be Clear About Its Use

Your vision board is going to be a visualization tool, carrying images and words that will drive you to achieve your goals and fulfill your dreams. As such, don’t move forward with your vision board thinking of it as a wish list or a to-do list.

Note that there are different types of vision boards. If you’re very clear about what you want or you want something specific to happen in your business, you can create an ‘I know exactly what I want’ board. An ‘Allowing’ vision board is for visions and goals that you’re not quite sure about, or if you know that circumstantial changes are to be expected. If you’re working on a particular aspect of your life or are focusing on a specific business goal, a ‘Theme’ vision board will be right for you.

2. Get the Pre-Work Going

Yes, there’s pre-work to be done before you begin creating your vision board! Start with assessing what you’ve desired for your business and personal life over the past 6-12 months. Think of areas like branding, sales, or public speaking, and list goals and intentions in each category that you want to bring change or grow in over time.

Remember to set aside ample amount of time for this activity. You can’t list desires or goals while you’re rushing your lunch or in-between meetings! Sit where you can get some peace and quiet, meditate for a while, and ask yourself what it is that you truly want.

Let visuals and emotions flow freely through your mind, and let this process make for a deeper, meaningful experience. You might want to play some soft, soothing music as you dwell on what’s important to you!

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

3. Narrow Down

Business goals, and quite a few personal goals, can be long-term, requiring you to put in time and effort. By having too many such goals on your mind, you might get overwhelmed easily. Instead, think in terms of baby steps and break down your goals into simpler, manageable steps.

An easy way to do this is to create action plans outlining individual tasks. Make sure you have clearly defined actions so it’s easier to make progress. You can also consider creating time-based milestones.

As an example, if your goals include making more money or expanding your business, don’t just add ‘Make More Money’ or ‘Expand Business’ to your list. Perhaps you need to focus on sales or new product releases to increase revenue that you can further use to support business expansion!

4. Gather Representational Images

Flip through your favorite magazines and see if the images catch your eye. You can also browse images online and download and print the ones you like. A word of advice: Don’t let your perfectionism get in the way and compel you to continue your quest for ideal images! This way, you’ll never find what you’re looking for and you could end up not completing the exercise.

Most importantly, don’t think when choosing images, but feel. This will keep you from perceiving images in a conventional way! In addition to this, don’t stop yourself from picking images that aren’t connected to each other rationally; it’s fine to put up whatever resonates with you on your vision board. Do pick a handful of motivational affirmation words too.

5. Arrange Right

Have a theme and format in mind for your vision board. You can look for inspiration online, but follow your heart if you want to do something original! You might want to accessorize your board with colorful paper, stickers, and more. Keep in mind that all colors impact us differently, so if you’re looking to create a board that gives off calm, pleasing vibes, a red-themed board won’t serve the purpose.

Another thing to be mindful of is that having too many pictures on a single vision board can prevent you from focusing on your goals. To avoid clutter, only choose pictures that inspire you the most. Alternatively, consider creating two vision boards.

6. Put It to Use

No matter how inspiring your vision board is, it will fail to inspire you if you put it up in an obscure place like behind a door or in the cupboard. So put your board up where you can see it every day. This doesn’t mean it’s okay to put it up near a toilet though! Think of a place where you can stand or sit for a while each day and get positive vibes as you view your vision board.

The way you view your vision board also matters! Simply glancing at it won’t produce the results you want, so commit to studying the contents of your vision board for at least 5 minutes, once a day. Read quotes and affirmations that you’ve put up aloud and with conviction. Be careful of resorting to daydreaming; you want to visualize how you’ll work to attain your goals, not just envision your life after you achieve all that you want.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

7. Redo the Board as Needed

You don’t have to stick with the same vision board arrangement for the whole year! There are bound to be changes in your life, so feel free to re-arrange images and affirmation words to reflect the same. Do leave some blank space so you can add new goals as they come along.

Bear in mind that you shouldn’t feel pressurized to have a new arrangement for every month of the year. A vision board only needs to be redone in the event of major changes that affect your outlook and focus.

Don’t let doubts creep in. Every time you look at your vision board, take a deep breath, smile, and tell yourself that you’re closer to achieving your dreams.So get started on creating your inspiring vision board, and let it fire you up to turn your dreams into reality!

How has your vision board helped you? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Entrepreneurs

10 “Brick-In-The-Head” Moments You’ll Encounter as an Entrepreneur

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The entrepreneurial life is one of the most challenging, stressful and risky avenues to success you could possibly choose. The issue with doing it alone in business ventures is exactly that; you’re alone. To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be driven, thick-skinned, and ready for any curve balls.

Here is a list of 10 ‘brick-in-the-head’ moments you’ll need to overcome on your path to becoming a market leader:

1. Letting criticism get to you

The ways society deals with ambition and success is very odd, and you may feel like you’re unfairly criticised by your peers regularly. The reality is that you’ll encounter plenty of jealousy and bitterness during the course of your career.

This isn’t to say that all criticism is malicious – constructive critique can go a long way. But remember that nobody understands your vision better than you. Remember that the art of good entrepreneurship is to delve where nobody else is willing to go.

When Bill Gates decided to offer his Internet Explorer browser as a free package with his Operating Systems in 1995, it was considered a counter-intuitive move by some, but ended up being the cornerstone for Microsoft’s resounding dominance.

2. The temptation of ignoring constructive criticism

While it’s worth adopting a thick skin to allow unjust criticism to bounce off of you, it’s also important to know when to take it on board and consider constructive comments. As you’re taking the leap into controlling your own business, sometimes it can become too easy to concentrate on the nuances of your work and miss the bigger picture. Take the time to consider advice that you are offered – if it fits in with your vision, then it may be worth taking.

3. Keeping on top of your cash flow

Making sure you’re focused on your finances is one of the biggest parts of being an entrepreneur – after all, it’s all about making money.

If you’re worried about your cash flow, then it’s probably a good sign. All entrepreneurs struggle with money at times in their careers – and so if you don’t keep an eye on your figures then you risk showing signs of complacency. If your figures are really getting to you, then it might be a good idea to skim through your finances and start saving cents here and there.

4. Facing the unknown

One of the most anxiety-inducing moments is being kept up all night wondering which way your venture’s going to go. Entrepreneurship is a volatile career, and coming to terms with the unknown is a big part of the life that comes with it.

Prevention is better than a cure when it comes to dealing with the uncertainty of building businesses. Try to manage your resources well – it could save a lot of worrying a little bit further down the line.

“Many times, the thought of fear itself is greater than what it is we fear.” – Idowu Koyenikan

5. Abandoning your previous career or education

Often the first step on your path to success can be the most difficult and stressful. You could be leaving a comfortable job, or abandoning your studies to go and pursue an idea that, no matter how good, is not guaranteed success.

Here it’s once again advisable to make sure only you have the final word on the route you take in life. Be sure to listen to the advice that those close to you have to offer but just remember that the choice is yours.

6. Time management

Difficulties with time management can be a big cause of stress when setting up your own business.

The most stressful aspect of this could be that you neglect other parts of your life in order to oversee the successful running of the company.

Juggling your time is perhaps the primary problem that is faced by entrepreneurs. You have to make sure you focus on your output, marketing and networking all at the same time, which can get overwhelming.

Here, the best remedy is to keep records of your tasks and goals using available tools. One should set rotas of where to invest their time and attention over the course of a coming week. It might not seem like much, but it could lift a heavy burden off of your head.

7. Making the right decisions

As an entrepreneur, the significance of the decisions you make could mean life or death for your business. This burden can weigh you down heavily. Remember the very best in the industry make the wrong decisions, and many of the greatest entrepreneurs today have gotten into the position they’re in through trial and error.

The markets are often volatile, and extraneous circumstances which could never be accounted for can come into play. One must find a way of coping with the process of making company defining decisions, and once you’ve become confident enough to take big decisions in your stride, you’ll be well on the way to industry success.

8. Staying true to your vision

Things have a habit of changing very quickly in business. You’ll need to adapt to the ever-shifting sands and stay true to your vision. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Construct a mission statement for your business that you can refer back to in order to hold on to the reason you decided to pursue your idea in the first place. Sometimes seeing what you’re working towards written down can be enough to keep you focused on your goals.

“You have to understand your own personal DNA. Don’t do things because I do them or Steve Jobs or Mark Cuban tried it. You need to know your personal brand and stay true to it.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

9. Team building

Here it’s important to recruit not only the most skilled candidate but the candidate that’ll best fit into your vision for the office culture. Sometimes finding a confident and engaging candidate is a critical factor in recruiting for a job that requires plenty of teamwork and client interaction. The best course of action for lowering the stress of team building is to look for candidates that express themselves in a way that fits the business work ethic best.

10. Dealing with failure

Virtually every entrepreneur has to face the prospect of failure at multiple points in their career. The best way to avoid becoming bogged down by an unsuccessful business is to see it as an exercise in trial and error. Learn from your mistakes, and if your startup has failed, what caused it to fail?

Welcome failure as a valuable learning tool, and jump back into the industry you desire to improve. Improve your original idea or find another one because the life of a successful entrepreneur is built on plenty of experiences and lessons – many of which were learnt the hard way.

What other encounters have you had as an entrepreneur? Comment Below!

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5 Things You Must Have in Order to Succeed as a Freelancer

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Up until about 3 years ago, I honestly had no idea what a freelancer even was. It sounded like a cool job title and I secretly envied people who could call themselves one. Didn’t they get to travel the world with a laptop and go sailing and sip margaritas beside some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet? Yup, I wanted to be a freelancer.

I wanted in on this action. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I was sure I could pull this off, couldn’t I?

The Mystery Slowly Unravelled

And so began the digging and sniffing around. The more research I did, the more I realized this wasn’t for the faint of heart. I took in as many blogs and pdf’s as I could. I watched YouTube tutorials until my eyes bled. I took in everything I could about it.

I decided that I could easily become a freelance writer. I got good writing skills (did you catch that?) thanks to so many letters written to ex boyfriends behaving badly, and my journal. Yup, I could definitely be a writer.

So now what? Now the real work begins. So you want to be a writer, huh? Get ready girl. You have tons of work ahead of you. Little did I know.

Can’t I just tell stories?

I just wanted to write about all my crazy life stories ‘cause Lord knows I have a million. Surely someone will want to read them, no? Isn’t writing and blogging just about telling stories of how you had some ridiculous upheaval and how you overcame it? I can write about that until the cows come home.

I was determined to write these stories and send them out to anyone, everyone and no one. I hit up all the high authority sites right away. No small fry stuff for this girl. I have great stories and someone needs to read them.

“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.” – William Faulkner

Was I in for a surprise

Apparently not everyone wants to read your stories. Apparently not everyone thinks your stories are great. Apparently not everyone thinks you’re a good writer. I thought this freelance writing stuff would come easy. I can write dammit and I’m friggin’ good at it! They’ll see.

It just didn’t work like that. As I worked my regular full time day job as a hairstylist I continued to write my heart out, before and after work, determined to leave this life behind and become a freelance writer. Little did I know. 8 months of cutting hair and blogging for free taught me many many things about myself and the freelance world.

Here are the 5 things you better have if you want to make it as a freelancer:

1. Determination

You must be all in or all out. There is no in between. You can’t let up or stop for one single minute. You want to be a freelancer, you must give it 100%. This gig isn’t for half assers or sissies. Nope. Only the hardcore, diehard peeps with a strong deep desire for a life of freedom will make it here. There is no giving up. Ever.

2. Passion

If you don’t feel it, you won’t be able to do it. It has to come from deep down in your heart, soul and belly. The reason you want to do this must consume you (and the reason should be more than just money). You should be eating, living and breathing this passion you have to become a freelancer otherwise you’re already doing it for the wrong reasons and you won’t be happy. Trust me on that one.

3. Persistence

Never ever give up and don’t take no for an answer. If a million people say no to you, remember someone is going to say yes. If someone said no a million times keep at it. Figure out what you did wrong and polish up your skills (all the no’s will give you ample opportunity to do just that).

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” – E.L. Doctorow

4. Open mindedness

Stay open to learning new things. Stay open to networking and connecting with others. You will need to collaborate with other bloggers and people who are already doing this for a living in order to learn. You will need to throw your net out far and wide and take in all sorts of wondrous tools. Get ready to step way out of your comfort zone.

5. Confidence

This was a biggie for me. I was pitbull, determined to make it so no amount of no’s was going to get in my way. There were some days I honestly did feel like throwing in the towel (we all have days like that) but I would brush off my butt and lick my wounded ego and keep at it. Have confidence in your skills. Just because 10 people don’t want your stuff doesn’t mean there isn’t 10 out there who do! Remember that. You ARE good at what you do.

Do you have what it takes? Of course you do! It took me almost 9 months before I finally cracked the freelance world and another year to become a full time freelancer. There is no try and there is no giving up. I always tell people, if I can do it, so can you.

What are the obstacles you’re facing right now as a freelance? Comment below!

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5 Crucial Skills to Take Your Business and Relationships to New Heights

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Our personal relationships are very powerful and provide us with a crash course of exponential growth both personally and professionally. You learn an exceptional amount of information about who you are as a person, how you communicate, manage your emotions and discover traits you were blissfully unaware of.

Of course everyone wants to hear the beautiful love story you so often hear from others. Man and woman meet, fall madly in love, get married and live happily ever after. However, as we all know the fairytale ending is no guarantee.

I met a spontaneous, generous, successful and much older businessman and we dated for a short period of time. I was deliriously happy and determined for everything to turn out perfectly. As expected, he had mastered the art of knowing all the right buttons to push and exactly the right words to say.

I can compare this experience to a going for a long drive in the country. I was speeding down the highway of life, aiming to maintain my complete denial of everything happening around me. To the point that I missed every stop sign, damaged the car from all of the potholes I failed to navigate, and I had several minor accidents along the way.  You name it, I ignored every single red flag that was saying take a detour, choose a different road and look the other way, keep moving forward yet choose a different direction.

Unfortunately, it all came to a grinding halt, when the car burst into flames in the middle of a local National Park causing a wild bushfire. This analogy clearly illustrates the ending of this relationship and the danger of becoming obsessed with a personal goal to the point where it sabotages all your efforts to attain your goal and safely reach your destination.

The brilliant news is that this crash course of exponential growth led to pivotal business lessons that can also help you achieve outstanding results this year. The 5 key business lessons you can develop include:

1. Individual Connection vs Wolf Pack

Be mindful and understand the differences between communicating well with an individual and a team otherwise known as a wolf pack. Notice the differences in the communication, it can be very different. An individual interaction may be far easier than dealing with the wolfpack or vice versa. Pay attention when in both scenarios as it will be highly beneficial for professional career and help you to enhance both new and existing professional relationships.

2. Monumental Giving

Wow, I thought I was a generous person however I quickly realized I had more work to do in this area. This man raised a lot of funds for charities that were close to his heart both personally and via his businesses and he was very proud of his achievement as he should be.

What I liked the most however was the way he built the company culture although he was well renowned for his tough exterior, he did go out of his way to be generous to employees  at all levels within the company and he took the time to get to know them personally despite the number of businesses he was operating at any one time.

“Giving is the master key for success in all applications of life” – Bryant McGill

3. Fanatical Focus

Irrespective of the activity he was engaged in on any given day. From closing a business deal, speaking to a colleague or business associate, negotiating a lease to building his stock portfolio. He was unbelievably fanatically focused on that one activity and ensured that the activity was completed to a very high standard.

Anything less was deemed unprofessional and unacceptable. His unwavering focus was very valuable in making business decisions and closing deals, over delivering on budget, making quick decisions and maintaining relationships.

4. Beware of the ‘Little’ Things

We have heard it before, don’t stress or make a big deal about the little things. When you learn to manage your emotions effectively and allow things to occur rather than resist or get upset about it, life becomes far easier and enjoyable. It allows you to retain your energy for the important things in life and manage actual stressful situations as they arise.

5. Master Communicator

This man was extremely tough and very guarded however, he acted like everyone’s best friend. He understood a lot about how people communicate from their tone of voice, the words they say to how fast or slow they spoke, and he was a master at reading non-verbal communication in both men and women.

“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you are willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” – Brian Tracy

To build a powerful network in business, it is imperative to begin by learning the essentials in communication. Start by researching how to read body language and what various poses or facial expressions mean. By understanding others, you can also adapt your own communication style to become a ‘Master Communicator’ and rapidly improve your overall business results.

As we enter the start of the New Year, now is the perfect time to hone these 5 crucial business skills to take your business and relationships to new heights.

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