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5 Simple Strategies to Help You Perform Under Pressure

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how to perform under pressure

Keeping calm and clear in high-end pressure situations is a skill and not always that easy, especially as we raise the stakes. Whether it’s giving a presentation, performing a musical piece, playing a sport or entering a job interview, there are skills and strategies we can implement to help us perform at a higher level.

Here are 5 things you can do to help you perform under pressure:

1. Focus more on what you can control over what you can’t

On the lead-up to any performance, focusing on what you can control over what you can’t is a very effective way to get you in the zone. Let’s imagine we have two circles:  the circle of concern (things you can’t control) and the circle of influence (choices you can make to influence your environment).  If we spend too much time focusing on what we can’t control it can lead us to either fall into a negative mindset or lose track of our own progress.

There is nothing wrong with analysing what the competition is doing – sometimes this clearly has to be done, especially in the business world and sport. However, too much focus on the opponent can be negative in the long run. If you’re starting any business venture, take a look at what the competitors are doing but then play to your own strengths. Don’t just copy or get sucked into what they are doing.

You are unique, so celebrate that and create something you’re proud of. If you are a musician, remember the phrase ‘Steal like an artist’. Listen and play your favourite band’s songs then take all the influences and write some fresh, new original material.

2. Develop concentration through meditation

Concentration may sound like a very obvious example to keep you in the zone. One very effective way to increase your concentration levels is through meditation. By simply focusing on one object during the meditation you can master the art of concentrating the mind. This could be an external object, the breath or the inner body. The idea is to keep bringing the mind back every time it wanders. So for any long match in which your attention and concentration is needed, you can hold a high level of concentration for longer.

“Quiet the mind and the soul will speak.” – Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati

3. Use an anchor

Using a holistic word or image to guide performance. This can be a great technique for when we start to overthink during a task. This can be a really helpful strategy to help keep our minds in the moment and at ease. It can be as simple as using a holistic cue word such as ‘expansive’, ‘smooth’ or ‘clear’. Anything that enhances the movement in the performance.

Now, if we apply this with an image this can become very effective. A group of basketball players did an experiment in which they used the analogy, ‘Shoot as if you were trying to put a cookie in a cookie jar on a high shelf’. In the same experiment, another set of players were given an eight-step rundown on what to do. The team who were given the simple analogy outperformed the other group when the pressure was increased.

4. Affirmations

For me, affirmations don’t work just on their own. They sound great but need utilising more effectively. A great way to do this to have a three-step process when writing your affirmations.  Affirmations are also personal. A professional rugby player may use a completely different set of affirmations than a professional snowboarder. And it’s down to the individual’s tastes and needs in the given task.

Step one: Hold a factual statement on who you are. “I am one of the most committed, skilled musicians there is”.  

Step two: Hold the right mindset prior to the event by identifying the main obstacles the performer faces.  By adding “If I do this”, you really give the affirmation impact. “My biggest challenge is harnessing my concentration. If I harness my concentration I really get into the flow of the music”.

Step three: Focus on improving your process and practice. “There will always be bum notes but they can never penetrate my secure performance bubble. There are no limits at the margin of everything I do”.

Be creative with your affirmations and come up with some yourself. Have fun with them but stick to the three steps and don’t cheat yourself – use affirmations that really affirm how you think and feel.

“I accept my power.” – Louise Hay

5. Feeling and accepting what arises

This is to desensitise yourself to the discomfort of pressure. This can be a great technique for helping musicians with stage fright. Many musicians at first struggle with stage fright, but over time they get used to getting up over and over again – it becomes like home.

Their biggest challenge is keeping the consistency when the pressure gauge is turned up. This can also be a really helpful way to manage your emotions. A lot of the time we tend to resist what arises. This is especially true in a high-pressure situation. By simply accepting what arises, you may be surprised to see the emotions shift.

One of the most effective ways to accept an emotion is to consciously ‘be’ the emotion. This may sound paradoxical, but true acceptance comes when you can truly be with what arises.

A level of confidence will naturally grow from this great insight. For example, if anger arises in a situation, it might not be the most helpful emotion. If you catch it as it arises, ‘be’ the anger – remain rooted in it and see what happens. If you resist it, it only gets stronger.

This is the same for anxiety and nerves. Try your best not to resist what arises. This may sound a lot easier than it is, but with time it can really be a powerful technique in both pressured situations and the rest of your life. Take some time to try some of these strategies and step into your greatness today.

What do you do to help you perform under high pressure situations? Leave your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Daniel Rutter is a Musician, teacher and life coach, He is on a mission to help people find their own greatness across the globe. Whether it's increasing performance, having better relationships, finding your purpose in life or finding the happiness you want, Danny has developed the tools needed to help each individual awaken their own greatness. Head over to his website to learn more.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Linda

    Apr 24, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    Loved the anchor suggestion and your use of affirmations.

  2. Molly

    Mar 28, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Great article on getting through stressful times when under pressure. Very insightful.

  3. Brandy

    Mar 21, 2017 at 12:47 am

    Perfect article for during the storm and I agree it is so true to be consistent during the pressure. I believe you summed it up great.

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

Success Advice

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.

Ikigai, pronounced (ee-kee-guy), translates to “One’s Reason for Being.” It is believed that everyone has an Iikigai and discovering it brings satisfaction and meaning to life. The challenge is to find it since it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self.

I invite you to explore whether you have found your meaningful work- your Ikigai- because if you haven’t then you might be working to help someone else achieve theirs.

Not too long ago, I was going through my own career struggle. I was extremely unhappy and disconnected to my work. I only wanted to wake up inspired and enjoy what I do, instead of playing various scenarios in my head telling my manager that I was ready to quit.

I had no clue what would be the best fit for me. I craved a meaningful career, not just a job to get by. I tried testing different options, but as time went by I lost hope that I would ever be able to discover my life’s work.

I was desperate for clarity, but instead, I was getting more and more confused. Later on, it became clear to me I was doing it all wrong. I was influenced by countless opinions and suggestions of others, all showing how work should be, which eventually resulted in a total choice paralysis: Should I start a business? Should I try to establish myself in a company? What was I even interested in? What was I truly good at?

When it finally became clear, I couldn’t believe it took me almost two years to figure it out, because it was so simple.

The one strategy I needed was starting backwards.

I started by unwinding my creative imagination and used a design thinking approach. I knew once I crafted a vision about work which could get me excited, I would be on the right track. In the beginning, I was trying to create my life around a career, instead of doing just the opposite. I had to first design the life I wanted to have and then search for what careers fit that lifestyle.

“The life you want begins by embracing the life you have.” – Rob Bell

I had to start backwards from the bigger vision of what I wanted my life and work to look like. Not many people will implement that approach, but for me, it made all the difference. I took my time to articulate my own perspective on life and work. I figured I should be asking myself different questions which would help me understand what I wanted for my life as a whole, not just my career, family, or social life.

Truth be told, our work consumes a huge amount of our time. Spending it asking the wrong questions won’t get us any further. The key to a happy and fulfilled life is to create a way to integrate all areas of life into a coherent lifestyle. A life that allows us to fully express ourselves and our beliefs in order to be content with how we spend our time. Essentially, all of us want to live a happy and fulfilled life as opposed to a mediocre existence.

I started with the bigger vision in mind and asked myself the following questions:

  • What is the lifestyle I want to have?
  • What do I want my day to day activities to be?
  • Where would I like to work from?
  • What hours and intensity of work do I want to commit to?
  • What is my social and family life going to look like?
  • What are the fields of interest that I would like to develop, learn and grow in?
  • Who and what is supporting my values and interests?
  • What is making me proud to say what I do for a living, and why?
  • What impact do I want to create for the society and for the community I am a part of?
  • How do I want to make money and how much money do I need to feel comfortable supporting myself and my family?

Once I reflected on all of these questions I was able to look at my life from a much more creative angle. I gave way to my imagination and curiosity, because I saw my life as a joyous experience I wanted to intentionally design. I was approaching my career with a whole new perspective, which allowed me to see opportunities I didn’t think existed before.

I have come to realize that our school system is more often preparing us for a scripted life. It isn’t set up to propel asking the important questions. In fact, there isn’t a class which teaches how to discover meaning and fulfillment. Climbing the corporate ladder only to wake up bored every morning isn’t what we signed up for, but somehow most of us end up doing just that.

“Create the highest grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.” – Oprah Winfrey

Today, I dare you to create your Ikigai- by getting clear on what you desire your life’s work to be. Start designing your vision with intention and you’ll encounter wonderful serendipities. The right people will come your way, opportunities will align and eventually, you’ll find yourself on the right track.

How will you make sure you achieve your goals? Comment below and share your plan with us!

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Success Advice

I Can’t Always Be Mr Success And Neither Can You.

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Today I stuffed up big time.

I’ve spent the last five years becoming disciplined and learning every self-improvement hack I could.

I’ve tried very hard not to drink too much alcohol, minimise my sugar intake, reframe from swearing, treat people better, give more to those in need and be an all round good human being.

But today I F*#ked that up. Can you believe it?

Well, you better.

As hard as I try to be successful, there are going to be times when I mess up. Today was the day I was put to the test.

So today we had a function for work, and we went to a secluded island to sit back, relax, and let our hair down. We had to board a ferry to the island and there was a long line of people. Our group was at the front because we had waited for the longest.

When we finally got to the front, a young lady attempted to push in. Without thinking, my friend and I prevented the cue-cutting attempt. What happened next shocked me. This lady then began dishing out all sorts of insults.

She made fun of the way I looked, accused me of being such a low life that I must be single, had a crack at my financial position and everything under the sun. I managed to reframe from overreacting until I let one insult slip.

That insult is what surprised me. I’ve tried so much to be well behaved and then in the heat of the moment I broke the promise to myself.

 

It’s normal to mess up.

Okay, so I’ve been well-behaved for quite a while and you probably have to. It’s not the end of the world when you fall back into your old ways for a brief moment. The key is to acknowledge when you’ve returned to an old pattern and stop yourself.

The moment I let out that inappropriate insult, I knew I’d stepped over the line. It didn’t feel good. I felt guilty. I wanted to take it back but couldn’t because the young woman had left.

“If you try and cruise through life, and never break your commitments, you’ll fail and hate yourself”

There needs to be some room for stuff ups. You have to be okay with being imperfect once in a while.

 

The idea is to outweigh the bad.

What I mean by this is that you need to aim for 51% or more of quality habits, conversations, gestures, etc. The more you tip the scales over to the good side, the less you’ll be tempted to fall back to your old ways.

 

Shooting your mouth off like I did is only a temporary blemish.

You can come back from it and it all starts with taking ownership. Being in denial or acting like you did nothing is not okay. Being a leader and admitting the error in your ways takes guts and that will lead you towards success in the long run.

“Don’t let a brief moment of madness ruin all the progress you’ve made”

Make your temporary mishaps parts of the self-improvement process and use them as a lesson. Experience the regret that comes with being out of alignment with your true self.

This personal incongruency is the motivation you need to stand true to your commitments.

 

Sometimes we all need a reminder.

Otherwise, we forget the life we’ve left behind and it becomes far to easy to lose the plot and rack up a scorecard of negative activities. That slap in the face that you get when you go back to the past and reunite with your addictions and temptations is exactly what you need.

Reconnecting with the past gives you perspective. It also shows you how far you’ve come. The moment your personal progress is under threat, you’ll be surprised how quickly your mind puts you back on the path you were on.

 

It always starts with trying to be right.

Falling back to your old ways always starts with trying to be right. It’s because we all secretly hold rules of how life is supposed to be and when someone violates that rule, we risk going back to our former self. You can’t always be right so stop pretending you can be.

Don’t let trying to be right all the time stand in the way of all the progress you have made. I know it sucks when someone does something that violates what you believe but think before you take action. There are times when you should stand up and there are other times (like my recent encounter) when you should just reframe from going down the rabbit hole of rules you wished people would live by.

 

The truth is we all stuff up.

Even your favorite pop star Katy Perry loses her mind once in a while. That’s right I saw when she was interviewed by a therapist and she had a brief moment of huge failure, embarrassment, and dirty laundry aired on TV. It’s okay.

Once you understand that there are times you are going to do the opposite of what your goals say, and that’s cool, you’ll live a much more relaxed life.

 

Try forgiveness.

This is what I tried after the mishap on the ferry. I permitted myself to mess up. I told myself I was sorry and committed to making up for what I’d done. The most difficult person to forgive is yourself a lot of the time and that’s who needs it the most.

Don’t just try and be kind to others; be kind to yourself too. If you forgive yourself more often when things go wrong, you’ll discover what it’s like to take failure and disappointment by the curly ones and own your life.

 

Life is about owning your successes and your mishaps.

The mishaps lead to your success, eventually.

Never forget that. I’m not successful 24/7 and neither are you.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Success Advice

The Three Fundamental Principles of Achievement

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I’m all about keeping things simple. The world is much too complex and I find that much like Vince Lombardi, we tend to complicate things. If we just focus on truly mastering the basics, we can achieve whatever we set our hearts and minds to. One of my favorite stories comes from Coach Lombardi’s best-selling book.

“He took nothing for granted. He began a tradition of starting from scratch, assuming that the players were blank slates who carried over no knowledge from the year before… He began with the most elemental statement of all. “Gentlemen,” he said, holding a pigskin in his right hand, “this is a football.”

It is the summer of 1961, and he begins training by introducing a “football” to a bunch of men who had been playing football for years, perhaps well over a decade. Was this Insulting? No, because the players obviously knew what a football was. Nonetheless, from day one Vince Lombardi was teaching them the basics. This was the secret of one of the winningest coaches in the history of football because the basic, fundamental principles never fail.

When you build a wall, the basic element is a single brick. Put enough of them together, in the right pattern and you have your wall. Concert pianists use only eight keys to create the world’s greatest masterpieces. They don’t try to come up with new notes. They work with what they have.

As fortune would have it, there are basic principles of achievement that when mastered, create success. It’s a formula you can count on, which is as predictable as the sunrise. Success doesn’t care how old you are, how much money you have or haven’t earned in the past. It doesn’t give a hoot about your skin color, background or where you grew up. Regardless of who you are, success is achieved when the basics are mastered.

Here are three of the most fundamental principles of achievement:

1. High-achievers take action

With a ready-fire-aim mentality, nothing beats taking action. You could pull out a great book about success and learn from the greats, but there is no better teacher than experience, which comes only from taking action.

The dangerous thing about the internet is the overabundance of information as we’re still a little unsure of how to handle it. Because of all this new information, many entrepreneurs can easily get caught in a comfort zone of learning because it makes them feel like they’re doing something when they’re not sure what else to do or they’re afraid to take action. By reading another book or listening to one more podcast, they delay action and don’t have to feel guilty.

Others spend too much time making a decision. They worry about making the “right” decision. A mentor of mine taught me that it’s far more powerful to “make a decision, and then make it right.” If you find out it’s wrong, make a new decision, pivot quickly and take new action. Whatever you do, avoid getting caught up in analysis paralysis. Action is the cure.

“The path to success is to take massive, determined actions.” – Tony Robbins

2. Consistent action breeds momentum

Momentum is the mitochondria of the cell; the powerhouse. When you have momentum on your side, several benefits kick in. For example, challenges shrink from overwhelming obstacles to small speed bumps and you will tend to make decisions quickly. Small annoyances become meaningless as momentum serendipitously brings with it a cousin named “confidence.”

Think back to the last time you made a lane change while driving. It was easy; you glanced over your shoulder (hopefully) to make sure there was adequate space, put on your blinker and drove into the other lane.

Compare that with your lane getting caught in a standstill. The lane next to you is cruising along, must be an accident up ahead. Naturally, you want to make the same maneuver- a lane change. You look over your shoulder and…wait. You wait for a gap sufficiently large enough to allow you to jump into the lane and speed up without cutting off oncoming traffic.

Granted, some drivers don’t seem to care much about that (ask me how I know), but you get the idea. Momentum is a mindset game changer. When you have it, everything seems easier because everything is “going your way.”

3. Habit takes over and rules it all

Once you are consistently taking action, and you’re having fun because of all this newfound momentum on your side, you’re likely to repeat it and form a habit. Firstly, this happens mentally and then physically. Mentally, a habit is a new way of thinking about things, because your expectations change. Without realizing, you begin “looking” for good things to happen because you just know they will. You become an optimist.

Your habits are the backbone to your success. Once you start the mental habit of thinking like a successful person and you start doing the things successful people do every day, your life changes. Success is inevitable. It’s the law of the harvest- you reap what you sow. Plant good seeds in the spring, water them all summer and fall will produce.

“Winners make a habit of manufacturing their own positive expectations in advance of the event.” – Brian Tracy

If you aren’t where you want to be in life, take a deeper look and you’ll notice a breakdown somewhere along the way. Be honest in your self-diagnosis and admit when you’re off track. Allow for mistakes, because perfectionism is one of the great plagues prevalent in our society.

So now that you’ve read this blog, stop learning and start earning. Get up and take action- start the cycle and see how it changes your life.

Which one of these principles will help you most this year? Let us know in the comments below!

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Success Advice

My Giant Imaginary Billboard Would Say This: The Stories You Tell Yourself Come True.

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We’ve all played the game where we try to think of a message we’d put on a metaphorical billboard that costs us nothing.

The point of the exercise is to try and find out what one message you would share with the world that could change the game for all of us.

I racked my brain trying to think of mine. There are so many messages I want to share. Finally, I figured out what mine would be.

The message I would put on a giant billboard is:

“The stories you tell yourself come true”

 

The stories you tell yourself.

The reason I chose this powerful message is that it’s the one thing that has changed the course of my life. When I began telling myself a new story, everything around me appeared differently. I genuinely believe that I am going to change the world in a big way and create positivity.

You have a recurring story running through your own brain that you’re probably unaware of. The story might be one like this:

– Life is hard, so I better relax tonight.
– I need to make more money so life will get easier.
– Why do these disasters always happen to me?
– Why is it so hard to make a living?
– Why can’t I find my passion like everyone else?

These stories are all built on a lie. These stories focus on inaction and that will get you nowhere.

 

The stories you tell start with a question.

To improve your story, you first need to start by asking better questions. Questions that limit you will destroy your success. I’ve found the best questions to ask yourself have the following elements:

– They’re big and audacious
– They mention the phrase “Changing the world”
– They’re open-ended
– They assume the best, not the worst
– They’re not of a selfish nature

Write down some questions that will help you create a new story for your life.

 

You’re going to be repeating this story a lot so it might as well be good.

These stories play over and over in our head every day. You might as well have a story that’s interesting and makes you feel good don’t you think?

I don’t want to hear nonsense playing in my head on repeat. There’s enough of that in day-to-day life already.

That’s why my story says the following:

– I will inspire millions of people
– I will be healthy so I can have energy to do what I love
– I will have a life full of challenges and no matter what I’ll find the positive
– I will be fearful and that means I’m excited
– I will help others because that’s the true wisdom of life

 

What you tell yourself over and over becomes your reality.

Your life becomes what you tell yourself over and over. Change that pattern and insert a new story, and if you’re patient enough, you’ll become that new story.

Not overnight. Not in 60 seconds. In a few years probably.

So tell yourself things that are going to inspire you to do the extraordinary. Don’t fill your head with deadbeat ideas like “I’m not enough.”

You are bloody enough and you can be a bloody ripper of a person if you put your mind to it and tell yourself clever things.

The whole “Life Hacking” sport has become everybody’s favorite TV station. The thing is you don’t need to hack anything if you tell yourself the right stories.

 

Translation of “The Stories You Tell Yourself”

This line is a bit hocus pocus when I think about it. If I were to transcribe this phrase, I’d say that the stories you tell yourself stem from one idea: YOU MUST BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!

All the stories I just shared with you that I tell myself are stories of believing in what I can achieve. If you don’t believe in yourself then how can you expect anyone else to take a chance on you? There are so many distractions nowadays so for anyone to give you their attention, they have to believe it’s going to be worth it.

Believing in yourself is centered around one idea: You’re going to back yourself even though you don’t know the outcome or the steps you necessarily need to move forward.

Believing in yourself is a belief in the reality of uncertainty.

Uncertainty takes courage and that means crushing fear. All of these fundamentals of life that I’m sharing are not new things that you’ve never heard. These pillars of life are interconnected.

“When you fall in love with uncertainty, you tell yourself that you’re confident, strong and can deal with obstacles. This creates a fortress around your mind that protects you from outside, negative forces, telling you a different story. It’s how you avoid the opinions of others and back yourself”

 

5 years ago…..

I told myself a story that I was going to crush my ridiculous fears and become somebody who focuses on the “doing” and spreading positivity.

That new story seemed so stupid at the time because of where I was but none the less I believed it. It then took everything I had to make it come true. I never let challenges bring me away from that storyline and I kept it front and center.

People told me I wasn’t good enough, rich enough, smart enough, experienced enough and I decided to tell myself the story that “Yes I am and I won’t be stopped from achieving my goal.”

I’ve told this story so many times since then that now the majority of my network and colleagues believe it. It’s no longer an idea. It’s now a reality.

“The stories you tell yourself do come true and I’m living proof of that”

 

Commit to a new story.

I never write any blog post without insisting on one action from you. The action for you right now is to commit to a new story. Sign up for a new story and put all your poker chips on the line. Throw away that old story that told you that you weren’t good enough.

Create a new story that supports the person you want to become and the goals you want to achieve. The last step is this: Tell that new story to yourself every single day and believe every word.

The stories you tell yourself do come true and that’s what I would put on a giant billboard if I were given access to one. Much respect.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Success Advice

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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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Linda

    Apr 24, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    Loved the anchor suggestion and your use of affirmations.

  2. Molly

    Mar 28, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Great article on getting through stressful times when under pressure. Very insightful.

  3. Brandy

    Mar 21, 2017 at 12:47 am

    Perfect article for during the storm and I agree it is so true to be consistent during the pressure. I believe you summed it up great.

Leave a Reply

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

Success Advice

The One Strategy to Help You Create Meaningful Work

Published

on

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.

Ikigai, pronounced (ee-kee-guy), translates to “One’s Reason for Being.” It is believed that everyone has an Iikigai and discovering it brings satisfaction and meaning to life. The challenge is to find it since it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self.

I invite you to explore whether you have found your meaningful work- your Ikigai- because if you haven’t then you might be working to help someone else achieve theirs.

Not too long ago, I was going through my own career struggle. I was extremely unhappy and disconnected to my work. I only wanted to wake up inspired and enjoy what I do, instead of playing various scenarios in my head telling my manager that I was ready to quit.

I had no clue what would be the best fit for me. I craved a meaningful career, not just a job to get by. I tried testing different options, but as time went by I lost hope that I would ever be able to discover my life’s work.

I was desperate for clarity, but instead, I was getting more and more confused. Later on, it became clear to me I was doing it all wrong. I was influenced by countless opinions and suggestions of others, all showing how work should be, which eventually resulted in a total choice paralysis: Should I start a business? Should I try to establish myself in a company? What was I even interested in? What was I truly good at?

When it finally became clear, I couldn’t believe it took me almost two years to figure it out, because it was so simple.

The one strategy I needed was starting backwards.

I started by unwinding my creative imagination and used a design thinking approach. I knew once I crafted a vision about work which could get me excited, I would be on the right track. In the beginning, I was trying to create my life around a career, instead of doing just the opposite. I had to first design the life I wanted to have and then search for what careers fit that lifestyle.

“The life you want begins by embracing the life you have.” – Rob Bell

I had to start backwards from the bigger vision of what I wanted my life and work to look like. Not many people will implement that approach, but for me, it made all the difference. I took my time to articulate my own perspective on life and work. I figured I should be asking myself different questions which would help me understand what I wanted for my life as a whole, not just my career, family, or social life.

Truth be told, our work consumes a huge amount of our time. Spending it asking the wrong questions won’t get us any further. The key to a happy and fulfilled life is to create a way to integrate all areas of life into a coherent lifestyle. A life that allows us to fully express ourselves and our beliefs in order to be content with how we spend our time. Essentially, all of us want to live a happy and fulfilled life as opposed to a mediocre existence.

I started with the bigger vision in mind and asked myself the following questions:

  • What is the lifestyle I want to have?
  • What do I want my day to day activities to be?
  • Where would I like to work from?
  • What hours and intensity of work do I want to commit to?
  • What is my social and family life going to look like?
  • What are the fields of interest that I would like to develop, learn and grow in?
  • Who and what is supporting my values and interests?
  • What is making me proud to say what I do for a living, and why?
  • What impact do I want to create for the society and for the community I am a part of?
  • How do I want to make money and how much money do I need to feel comfortable supporting myself and my family?

Once I reflected on all of these questions I was able to look at my life from a much more creative angle. I gave way to my imagination and curiosity, because I saw my life as a joyous experience I wanted to intentionally design. I was approaching my career with a whole new perspective, which allowed me to see opportunities I didn’t think existed before.

I have come to realize that our school system is more often preparing us for a scripted life. It isn’t set up to propel asking the important questions. In fact, there isn’t a class which teaches how to discover meaning and fulfillment. Climbing the corporate ladder only to wake up bored every morning isn’t what we signed up for, but somehow most of us end up doing just that.

“Create the highest grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.” – Oprah Winfrey

Today, I dare you to create your Ikigai- by getting clear on what you desire your life’s work to be. Start designing your vision with intention and you’ll encounter wonderful serendipities. The right people will come your way, opportunities will align and eventually, you’ll find yourself on the right track.

How will you make sure you achieve your goals? Comment below and share your plan with us!

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I Can’t Always Be Mr Success And Neither Can You.

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Today I stuffed up big time.

I’ve spent the last five years becoming disciplined and learning every self-improvement hack I could.

I’ve tried very hard not to drink too much alcohol, minimise my sugar intake, reframe from swearing, treat people better, give more to those in need and be an all round good human being.

But today I F*#ked that up. Can you believe it?

Well, you better.

As hard as I try to be successful, there are going to be times when I mess up. Today was the day I was put to the test.

So today we had a function for work, and we went to a secluded island to sit back, relax, and let our hair down. We had to board a ferry to the island and there was a long line of people. Our group was at the front because we had waited for the longest.

When we finally got to the front, a young lady attempted to push in. Without thinking, my friend and I prevented the cue-cutting attempt. What happened next shocked me. This lady then began dishing out all sorts of insults.

She made fun of the way I looked, accused me of being such a low life that I must be single, had a crack at my financial position and everything under the sun. I managed to reframe from overreacting until I let one insult slip.

That insult is what surprised me. I’ve tried so much to be well behaved and then in the heat of the moment I broke the promise to myself.

 

It’s normal to mess up.

Okay, so I’ve been well-behaved for quite a while and you probably have to. It’s not the end of the world when you fall back into your old ways for a brief moment. The key is to acknowledge when you’ve returned to an old pattern and stop yourself.

The moment I let out that inappropriate insult, I knew I’d stepped over the line. It didn’t feel good. I felt guilty. I wanted to take it back but couldn’t because the young woman had left.

“If you try and cruise through life, and never break your commitments, you’ll fail and hate yourself”

There needs to be some room for stuff ups. You have to be okay with being imperfect once in a while.

 

The idea is to outweigh the bad.

What I mean by this is that you need to aim for 51% or more of quality habits, conversations, gestures, etc. The more you tip the scales over to the good side, the less you’ll be tempted to fall back to your old ways.

 

Shooting your mouth off like I did is only a temporary blemish.

You can come back from it and it all starts with taking ownership. Being in denial or acting like you did nothing is not okay. Being a leader and admitting the error in your ways takes guts and that will lead you towards success in the long run.

“Don’t let a brief moment of madness ruin all the progress you’ve made”

Make your temporary mishaps parts of the self-improvement process and use them as a lesson. Experience the regret that comes with being out of alignment with your true self.

This personal incongruency is the motivation you need to stand true to your commitments.

 

Sometimes we all need a reminder.

Otherwise, we forget the life we’ve left behind and it becomes far to easy to lose the plot and rack up a scorecard of negative activities. That slap in the face that you get when you go back to the past and reunite with your addictions and temptations is exactly what you need.

Reconnecting with the past gives you perspective. It also shows you how far you’ve come. The moment your personal progress is under threat, you’ll be surprised how quickly your mind puts you back on the path you were on.

 

It always starts with trying to be right.

Falling back to your old ways always starts with trying to be right. It’s because we all secretly hold rules of how life is supposed to be and when someone violates that rule, we risk going back to our former self. You can’t always be right so stop pretending you can be.

Don’t let trying to be right all the time stand in the way of all the progress you have made. I know it sucks when someone does something that violates what you believe but think before you take action. There are times when you should stand up and there are other times (like my recent encounter) when you should just reframe from going down the rabbit hole of rules you wished people would live by.

 

The truth is we all stuff up.

Even your favorite pop star Katy Perry loses her mind once in a while. That’s right I saw when she was interviewed by a therapist and she had a brief moment of huge failure, embarrassment, and dirty laundry aired on TV. It’s okay.

Once you understand that there are times you are going to do the opposite of what your goals say, and that’s cool, you’ll live a much more relaxed life.

 

Try forgiveness.

This is what I tried after the mishap on the ferry. I permitted myself to mess up. I told myself I was sorry and committed to making up for what I’d done. The most difficult person to forgive is yourself a lot of the time and that’s who needs it the most.

Don’t just try and be kind to others; be kind to yourself too. If you forgive yourself more often when things go wrong, you’ll discover what it’s like to take failure and disappointment by the curly ones and own your life.

 

Life is about owning your successes and your mishaps.

The mishaps lead to your success, eventually.

Never forget that. I’m not successful 24/7 and neither are you.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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The Three Fundamental Principles of Achievement

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I’m all about keeping things simple. The world is much too complex and I find that much like Vince Lombardi, we tend to complicate things. If we just focus on truly mastering the basics, we can achieve whatever we set our hearts and minds to. One of my favorite stories comes from Coach Lombardi’s best-selling book.

“He took nothing for granted. He began a tradition of starting from scratch, assuming that the players were blank slates who carried over no knowledge from the year before… He began with the most elemental statement of all. “Gentlemen,” he said, holding a pigskin in his right hand, “this is a football.”

It is the summer of 1961, and he begins training by introducing a “football” to a bunch of men who had been playing football for years, perhaps well over a decade. Was this Insulting? No, because the players obviously knew what a football was. Nonetheless, from day one Vince Lombardi was teaching them the basics. This was the secret of one of the winningest coaches in the history of football because the basic, fundamental principles never fail.

When you build a wall, the basic element is a single brick. Put enough of them together, in the right pattern and you have your wall. Concert pianists use only eight keys to create the world’s greatest masterpieces. They don’t try to come up with new notes. They work with what they have.

As fortune would have it, there are basic principles of achievement that when mastered, create success. It’s a formula you can count on, which is as predictable as the sunrise. Success doesn’t care how old you are, how much money you have or haven’t earned in the past. It doesn’t give a hoot about your skin color, background or where you grew up. Regardless of who you are, success is achieved when the basics are mastered.

Here are three of the most fundamental principles of achievement:

1. High-achievers take action

With a ready-fire-aim mentality, nothing beats taking action. You could pull out a great book about success and learn from the greats, but there is no better teacher than experience, which comes only from taking action.

The dangerous thing about the internet is the overabundance of information as we’re still a little unsure of how to handle it. Because of all this new information, many entrepreneurs can easily get caught in a comfort zone of learning because it makes them feel like they’re doing something when they’re not sure what else to do or they’re afraid to take action. By reading another book or listening to one more podcast, they delay action and don’t have to feel guilty.

Others spend too much time making a decision. They worry about making the “right” decision. A mentor of mine taught me that it’s far more powerful to “make a decision, and then make it right.” If you find out it’s wrong, make a new decision, pivot quickly and take new action. Whatever you do, avoid getting caught up in analysis paralysis. Action is the cure.

“The path to success is to take massive, determined actions.” – Tony Robbins

2. Consistent action breeds momentum

Momentum is the mitochondria of the cell; the powerhouse. When you have momentum on your side, several benefits kick in. For example, challenges shrink from overwhelming obstacles to small speed bumps and you will tend to make decisions quickly. Small annoyances become meaningless as momentum serendipitously brings with it a cousin named “confidence.”

Think back to the last time you made a lane change while driving. It was easy; you glanced over your shoulder (hopefully) to make sure there was adequate space, put on your blinker and drove into the other lane.

Compare that with your lane getting caught in a standstill. The lane next to you is cruising along, must be an accident up ahead. Naturally, you want to make the same maneuver- a lane change. You look over your shoulder and…wait. You wait for a gap sufficiently large enough to allow you to jump into the lane and speed up without cutting off oncoming traffic.

Granted, some drivers don’t seem to care much about that (ask me how I know), but you get the idea. Momentum is a mindset game changer. When you have it, everything seems easier because everything is “going your way.”

3. Habit takes over and rules it all

Once you are consistently taking action, and you’re having fun because of all this newfound momentum on your side, you’re likely to repeat it and form a habit. Firstly, this happens mentally and then physically. Mentally, a habit is a new way of thinking about things, because your expectations change. Without realizing, you begin “looking” for good things to happen because you just know they will. You become an optimist.

Your habits are the backbone to your success. Once you start the mental habit of thinking like a successful person and you start doing the things successful people do every day, your life changes. Success is inevitable. It’s the law of the harvest- you reap what you sow. Plant good seeds in the spring, water them all summer and fall will produce.

“Winners make a habit of manufacturing their own positive expectations in advance of the event.” – Brian Tracy

If you aren’t where you want to be in life, take a deeper look and you’ll notice a breakdown somewhere along the way. Be honest in your self-diagnosis and admit when you’re off track. Allow for mistakes, because perfectionism is one of the great plagues prevalent in our society.

So now that you’ve read this blog, stop learning and start earning. Get up and take action- start the cycle and see how it changes your life.

Which one of these principles will help you most this year? Let us know in the comments below!

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Success Advice

My Giant Imaginary Billboard Would Say This: The Stories You Tell Yourself Come True.

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We’ve all played the game where we try to think of a message we’d put on a metaphorical billboard that costs us nothing.

The point of the exercise is to try and find out what one message you would share with the world that could change the game for all of us.

I racked my brain trying to think of mine. There are so many messages I want to share. Finally, I figured out what mine would be.

The message I would put on a giant billboard is:

“The stories you tell yourself come true”

 

The stories you tell yourself.

The reason I chose this powerful message is that it’s the one thing that has changed the course of my life. When I began telling myself a new story, everything around me appeared differently. I genuinely believe that I am going to change the world in a big way and create positivity.

You have a recurring story running through your own brain that you’re probably unaware of. The story might be one like this:

– Life is hard, so I better relax tonight.
– I need to make more money so life will get easier.
– Why do these disasters always happen to me?
– Why is it so hard to make a living?
– Why can’t I find my passion like everyone else?

These stories are all built on a lie. These stories focus on inaction and that will get you nowhere.

 

The stories you tell start with a question.

To improve your story, you first need to start by asking better questions. Questions that limit you will destroy your success. I’ve found the best questions to ask yourself have the following elements:

– They’re big and audacious
– They mention the phrase “Changing the world”
– They’re open-ended
– They assume the best, not the worst
– They’re not of a selfish nature

Write down some questions that will help you create a new story for your life.

 

You’re going to be repeating this story a lot so it might as well be good.

These stories play over and over in our head every day. You might as well have a story that’s interesting and makes you feel good don’t you think?

I don’t want to hear nonsense playing in my head on repeat. There’s enough of that in day-to-day life already.

That’s why my story says the following:

– I will inspire millions of people
– I will be healthy so I can have energy to do what I love
– I will have a life full of challenges and no matter what I’ll find the positive
– I will be fearful and that means I’m excited
– I will help others because that’s the true wisdom of life

 

What you tell yourself over and over becomes your reality.

Your life becomes what you tell yourself over and over. Change that pattern and insert a new story, and if you’re patient enough, you’ll become that new story.

Not overnight. Not in 60 seconds. In a few years probably.

So tell yourself things that are going to inspire you to do the extraordinary. Don’t fill your head with deadbeat ideas like “I’m not enough.”

You are bloody enough and you can be a bloody ripper of a person if you put your mind to it and tell yourself clever things.

The whole “Life Hacking” sport has become everybody’s favorite TV station. The thing is you don’t need to hack anything if you tell yourself the right stories.

 

Translation of “The Stories You Tell Yourself”

This line is a bit hocus pocus when I think about it. If I were to transcribe this phrase, I’d say that the stories you tell yourself stem from one idea: YOU MUST BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!

All the stories I just shared with you that I tell myself are stories of believing in what I can achieve. If you don’t believe in yourself then how can you expect anyone else to take a chance on you? There are so many distractions nowadays so for anyone to give you their attention, they have to believe it’s going to be worth it.

Believing in yourself is centered around one idea: You’re going to back yourself even though you don’t know the outcome or the steps you necessarily need to move forward.

Believing in yourself is a belief in the reality of uncertainty.

Uncertainty takes courage and that means crushing fear. All of these fundamentals of life that I’m sharing are not new things that you’ve never heard. These pillars of life are interconnected.

“When you fall in love with uncertainty, you tell yourself that you’re confident, strong and can deal with obstacles. This creates a fortress around your mind that protects you from outside, negative forces, telling you a different story. It’s how you avoid the opinions of others and back yourself”

 

5 years ago…..

I told myself a story that I was going to crush my ridiculous fears and become somebody who focuses on the “doing” and spreading positivity.

That new story seemed so stupid at the time because of where I was but none the less I believed it. It then took everything I had to make it come true. I never let challenges bring me away from that storyline and I kept it front and center.

People told me I wasn’t good enough, rich enough, smart enough, experienced enough and I decided to tell myself the story that “Yes I am and I won’t be stopped from achieving my goal.”

I’ve told this story so many times since then that now the majority of my network and colleagues believe it. It’s no longer an idea. It’s now a reality.

“The stories you tell yourself do come true and I’m living proof of that”

 

Commit to a new story.

I never write any blog post without insisting on one action from you. The action for you right now is to commit to a new story. Sign up for a new story and put all your poker chips on the line. Throw away that old story that told you that you weren’t good enough.

Create a new story that supports the person you want to become and the goals you want to achieve. The last step is this: Tell that new story to yourself every single day and believe every word.

The stories you tell yourself do come true and that’s what I would put on a giant billboard if I were given access to one. Much respect.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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