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How I Work Smarter: The Practical And Really Dumbed Down Strategies.

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Working Smarter. Productivity Hacks

I’m somewhat of a productivity freak. I like having time.

Time allows me to work smarter, and so I protect it like a rare and beautiful diamond. If you want to steal my time, you better be prepared for one hell of a battle. I’d happily give up money before I would ever give up time.

Here’s how I work smart and how you can do the same:

 

I take the stairs.

While everybody is lining up for the lift or going 1 meter every ten minutes on the escalator, I take the stairs. It keeps me fit and I get where I want to go faster. Nothing in life worth achieving is easy so get used to taking the stairs and doing some physical work.

 

I keep it simple (decision fatigue).

Water instead of wine/soft drink/coffee etc.
One big goal at any point in time instead of a to-do list of goals that lead nowhere.
One email address instead of multiple inboxes.
One computer and one phone instead of a Fitbit, laptop, phone, tablet and Apple Watch.

“Vanilla options are easy and low fuss. Decisions fatigue you”

 

I have lunch before midday.

Lunch can be done in 15 minutes. The trick is to buy or make your lunch before the rush. Standing in lines and getting frustrated is unnecessary. Get some time in your day back by doing lunch earlier. I recommend 11:45. With the extra time you gain back, try adding in 10 minutes of meditation.

 

Leave the car at home.

When I go to the city, I leave the car at home. By the time I get into the car, battle against the seven seas that is traffic and then get parking, I could have already been there by train or equivalent. This transit time also becomes my portable learning time. I use this time to listen to podcasts and audiobooks instead of having to think about driving.

 

One day a week in isolation.

Being alone with your thoughts and complete silence, once a week, makes you mega productive. A few moments of quietness are far more valuable than hours of busyness and noise. In complete isolation, you have no choice but to focus and complete your goals.

 

I use tiredness to do housework.

People hate tiredness. I love it. Tiredness tells me to stop working on my goals and do the things we all have to do like housework. I don’t need any energy or inspiration to do housework so why waste my high energy states on it?

Having said that, I aim to eliminate tiredness. This is a work in progress and requires exercise combined with an excellent diet. Until then, housework I love you!

 

Notifications are turned off except for SMS

That word “notifications” feels like grand larceny. Companies used to steal my time through notifications and now I’ve declared war on them. When you’re powering through a task, the last thing you want is an interruption in the form of a notification.

That small amount of time you spend getting distracted takes you out of the zone and away from the focused state you’re in. Go to settings and turn off notifications – especially Facebook.

 

I don’t play computer games.

As a kid, I loved computer games. That’s why I know to stay away from them as an adult because they are designed to get me to fight someone else’s mission. There’s no such thing as a quick game. Games are designed to keep you engaged and continually challenge you.

 

I get up before everybody else.

Yes, sir! I get up when it’s dark so I can do the big stuff first. Before the rest of the world can wake up and distract me, I’m getting my game on in the early hours of the morning. I really think you should wake up early. If you ignored everything else I said and just woke up early, I’d be proud.

 

I tell myself no before saying yes.

Yes has become a first world disease. You can’t work smart if you say yes to every offer that comes your way. That’s why I tell myself no first, and then try to convince myself of yes. If I can’t convince myself, I say no. Auto responding with yes answers will make you busy.

 

Busy is not smart.

If you think you are busy, and you verbally say so regularly, you’re not working smart. Busy is dumb. Busy will cripple your time and make your mindset go into meltdown. Humans can only focus on a small number of things so stop being busy!

Tell people the truth. Say no more. Guard your time. Avoid the trap of busy.

 

I chunk down big tasks.

If I have to give a big speech then in the same week, I move away any other big goals that might distract me. Too many big goals all in a small space of time can become overwhelming quickly. Stick to one or two big goals at a time and you’ll achieve a lot more. Less is more.

 

I own less stuff.

That way I don’t need to worry about maintaining things, securing things, thinking about objects, spending money on things I can’t afford. Sell, sell, sell yourself out of living the dumb life.

“Stuff does not equal progress; personal growth does and money can’t buy that”

 

I invest in dumb stuff.

With almost no knowledge, anyone can invest in index funds and not have to worry about the burden of trying to predict the next biggest thing. In reality, this strategy will probably beat all of the people who waste their lives away trying to be fortune tellers.

All I do is buy low-cost index funds of major economies like the USA. I invest the same amount each time so I’m not affected by the rise and fall of the stock market. Thank you, Tony Robbins and Warren Buffet for this strategy.

I don’t have video streaming.

Time looking at a screen is better spent reading a book. Fictional TV shows are not teaching me about life. Reading biographies, books about life lessons and the latest research in human psychology does that for me. One up on mediocrity and cancel your subscription.

 

Simplify your subscriptions.

Here’s the thing: Subscriptions equal time.

Companies have moved their business models to subscriptions because it helps keep you engaged and addicted to what they have to sell because you’re paying a recurring fee for it. Delete as many subscriptions as you can. I have one for my meditation app, one for the gym and one for my writing software.

 

Delete apps from your reading device.

Okay, so I do use Kindle which means that there is a temptation to look at apps. Delete apps from your reading device so you can actually read.

 

I take summer holidays when everyone returns to the office.

In Australia, everyone goes away in December and January. I take my holidays when they return to work. This means:

– More time in the office when it’s less busy
– Cheaper flights and accommodation during low peak times
– More chances to step up to leader roles while others are away

Everything is just less busy when you holiday off-peak.

 

I avoid junk food during major goal weeks.

This week I have a public speaking competition. I need all the practice I can get which requires energy. That’s why, in big goal weeks like the one I’m in right now, I cut out junk food. Energy equals time. Do a cheat day to celebrate at the end if you must.

 

I split my resources like this.

– Travel
– Necessities like food, clothes and rent
– Money for family and my girlfriend
– Unplanned indulgences (cheat day)

A balanced life requires resources (money). Splitting your money across these four areas allows you to work smart. You only have to work dumb when you waste your resources and therefore have to work ten times harder than you need to. When in doubt, less is more.

 

Stimulants are neglected.

Coffee only makes us get the jitters and be nervous. I find when I’m on coffee I become more fearful. My relaxed state disappears.

 

I do regular breaks.

We’re not machines. I do regular breaks of trampoline, walking, and eating fresh food in-between hours of writing on the weekend.

 

I outsource stuff I’m bad at.

If I do things I’m horrible at, I do them badly. This stops me from working smart and can cause negativity. That’s why I outsource stuff I’m bad at wherever possible.

 

I get enough sleep.

7 hours works for me. You have to sleep otherwise you’ll get tired which will cause negativity and a poor quality of work. This “sleep when you’re dead” tend is a fallacy.

 

I value you my time.

I’ve placed a very high dollar value on my time. Because I consciously value it, I’m always reconciling how much time I have. By valuing your time, you become aware of it. You can’t focus on something you are not aware of.

 

I do phone first, instead of coffee catch-ups.

LinkedIn sends me multiple requests a day for coffee catch ups. Most of them don’t state any valid reason for the catch-up. Now if you just say no to them all you could be missing out on the gift of socializing, learning new things and meeting people you can do business with.

The hack I use is this: Always do the first conversation via phone. That way you can tell if there is value or a need for a coffee catch up.

Second hack: do a video call instead of an audio-only call. Video lets you see the other person and connect better. It’s more personal and you’ll quickly figure out if you need that coffee after all. I personally don’t drink coffee, so these sort of catch ups take me out of rapport with the other person from the start.

 

Happy partner, happy life.

I spend less time arguing because I do stuff that my partner wants to do even if I don’t. She does the same. This way everybody wins and I don’t need to waste time arguing and lighting a fire under my mindset that causes me to want to evacuate to the world of temptation (coffee, Netflix, games, useless crap).

 

I cheat on my phone regularly.

That’s right! I sleep around with any activity that doesn’t involve looking at my phone.

“The small glass window of my phone feels like such a tiny part of what the world has to offer. I choose to look out of the window of life instead and see limitless possibility”

 

I do exercise to boost my mindset.

Being smart is only possible when you have a positive mindset served on the side. Exercise has helped me relieve stress and get back to feeling good again. Do it.

 

I don’t allow people to steal my time.

People will gladly rob you of your time and waste it. They do this primarily because they have their own selfish goals, or they’re bored with life and wasting your time makes them feel better. Prosecute these time thieves’ by telling them your expectations and referencing your calendar if you have to.

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

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared millions of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around personal development and entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net

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Success Advice

3 Life Lessons in Perseverance to Achieve Your Wildest Dreams

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I have two careers as an actor and a marketer with each having its own unique challenges. However, the number of parallels I continue to find in my chosen professions never ceases to amaze me. Of these lessons, perhaps one of the most valuable is that of persistence, and the mental resilience I’ve had to learn. You can’t be an actor without resilience as I experience rejection dozens of times per week.

Acting is a lesson in endurance, not a sprint. When you think about it though, doesn’t that apply to any career? It’s not easy to “Keep on keeping on.” No matter what path life has led you down, I’m sure you’ve experienced plenty of bumps. Sometimes, those bumps turn into potholes that the universe seems to refuse to fix.

As an actor, rejection is par for the course. Thankfully, I’ve learned how to persevere in spite of it. When life gets especially challenging, and you are dealing with change, disappointment or missteps, make use of these life lessons and continue pressing on towards your goal.

Below are 3 lessons in perseverance which will help you achieve your wildest dreams:

1. Know when it’s time to recalibrate

Goals are an important and necessary tool to reach our full potential. They keep us focused to help make small decisions on a daily basis such as if I should get up for that 8 a.m. run along with bigger decisions such as if I should take a new job offer. While setting goals is essential, don’t let them overpower you.

Tunnel vision in reaching your goals adds unnecessary pressure. This causes us to make mistakes we wouldn’t have made otherwise. Get too obsessed with a goal and you’ll forget the big picture, such as why you chose this course to begin with. Take a lesson from one of my favorite casting directors, Dave Newman of McSweeney Newman Casting.

Forget trying to “make it big” as an actor. It is normal to wait years before booking work with a decent paycheck. If you’re in the room with Dave, it’s hard not to let the pressure take over your performance.

In the words of Dave, as soon as those words from A Chorus Line enter your head, “God, I hope I get it!” it’s time to adjust your mindset. Dave advises taking a step back, refocusing, and doing anything that isn’t acting. Sometimes the best way to reach a goal is by shifting your gaze just for a moment. Take the pressure off and recalibrate your thoughts. You’ll come back recharged with a fresh perspective to pursue your objectives.

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

2. Appreciate the journey

Perseverance requires a heaping dose of appreciation. This means acknowledging all the wins in your life, both big and small. Even if you haven’t yet met your goal, remember that you are moving towards it and that alone is an achievement.

As Linda Gillum, Casting Director at Chicago theatre Remy Bumppo explains, “With everything you do, you’re planting seeds.” It takes time for the seeds of success to grow. As an actor, my seeds take a lot of sunshine, water, and gratitude for the little things. A win can be as simple as improving my technique or getting an audition; I can’t base my happiness on booked jobs.

Persistence becomes much easier when you notice your achievements despite those potholes surrounding you. Celebrate the small wins; they’re what milestones are built on. Even if your manager or co-workers don’t recognize your work, give yourself that pat on the back.

To stay motivated, make a mental highlight reel of your achievements. Afterwards, be ready to hit the play button whenever you need a quick pick-me-up.

3. Embrace mistakes or at least be okay with them

No matter how much you hate mistakes, they’ll keep happening. Some people seem to move on from mistakes quickly, letting them roll off their backs. For others, that’s not the case (If you’re fighting to be perfect or gain confidence I’m talking to you!). The fear to avoid mistakes can be crippling.

This is also true in acting, where you work and wait years for a five-minute audition that could change everything. However, my best work won’t come unless I live in the moment and trust my instincts. And you know what that means, things can go wrong in an instant. But guess what? I still have to dive in, and I mean all in. If I don’t risk it all, my audition will suck, and I’ll lose before I even walk through the door.

We all recognize that positives, including life lessons, come from mistakes. However, that doesn’t stop the nosedive mistakes caused on emotions and confidence. Sometimes, we do everything in our power to avoid that feeling.

“The phoenix must burn to emerge.” – Janet Fitch

Remember that there’s truth in the statement, “The biggest mistake is not making mistakes.” One way to get over your fear of failure is to make your focus on continuous improvement, not perfection. Teaching yourself to be okay with mistakes takes time but is necessary to maintain resilience.

You can allow yourself a learning curve, but it is essential to work on letting go of missteps. It takes practice to let go of the could have or would have statements. The good news is practice and persistence go hand-in-hand.

Take stock of what makes you happy in life, and turn to those things when mistakes happen. Little by little, as you learn to turn your attention elsewhere when missteps occur, you’ll train your brain to move on. This is how mistakes lose their power over you and enable you to pursue your goal with confidence.

Persistence is a state of mind. In the end, it means being kind to yourself. Know when to give yourself a break and pat on the back as you recharge your batteries. Then, you’ll find yourself able to maneuver whatever twists and turns life throws your way.

How do you remain determined in reaching your goals when it seems like the day won’t come? Let us know your advice and tips for your fellow entrepreneurs below!

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Dress for Success: 4 Small Fashion Choices That Make All the Difference

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When it comes to succeeding in business, making a good impression is just as much about your inner qualities as it is about your outer presentation. The fact of the matter is that your clothing and color choices, affect others’ perception of you. Believe it or not, you can achieve fashion-inspired success without splurging on a pair of Louboutins or shelling out $1000 for a designer suit. Just a few striking accessories can often complete the picture.

It may sound ridiculous that small accessories can affect the vibe you give off. It’s true, and certain accessories can even send certain messages. A recent study conducted by the University of Hertfordshire found that well-dressed male figures (whose faces were not shown) were perceived to be more confident, trustworthy, and well-to-do. Even minor adjustments to their clothing, such as adding on an accessory or more closely tailoring the suit, impacted these impressions.

However, our clothes not only impact the way others perceive us, but the way we perceive ourselves. A study conducted by the Scientific American, found that those who “suit up” performed better in cognitive tests. It suggests that being well-dressed releases more testosterone, which in turn increases confidence.

This allows well-dressed professionals to negotiate better deals, and in the long run, potentially make more money. So, maybe you’ve got the clothes, but what are the finishing touches you can put on your outfit to send an even stronger message? See below!

1. Wear a watch

A beautiful watch makes all the difference – and this goes for men and women. Even a simple button-down and jeans, or plain-colored dress, can be exponentially stylized by a standout watch. Charismatic individuals tend to talk more with their hands, too, as this captivates their listeners. Wearing a flashy wrist accessory like a watch will make your points even more engrossing. Furthermore, wearing a watch sends a subconscious message: you’re always on time. Individuals who wear a watch can always keep track of time and therefore, will never be late to a meeting.

“To me, clothing is a form of self-expression – There are hints about who you are in what you wear.” – Marc Jacobs

2. Tie it off with a tie pin

The one criticism of men’s business fashion is that it lacks variety. Let’s face it, while women have an infinite number of patterns, dress lengths, colors, and sleeve styles to choose from, men are pretty much locked into one outfit: the suit. You can buy one in suede, another in navy blue, throw in a paisley tie, but it’s simply not enough.

Adding on a tie pin will make a significant difference. Not only does it add a little shimmer to an otherwise dull suit, but it adds personality too. The kind of tie pin you choose says a lot about you. Maybe you’re a simple guy who just likes sterling silver, or you may choose to tout your school pride by wearing the colors of your alma mater (which, by the way, can also make a great conversation starter).

You can also create custom tie pins that feature the name of your company, or perhaps a saying that you’re fond of. The options are limitless.

3. A quality briefcase

It doesn’t even matter if you have nothing to carry around, the key is to never show up empty-handed. A quality leather briefcase is an important asset for men and women. Backpacks and most handbags don’t signify professionalism. A briefcase, on the other hand, symbolizes professionalism and importance. After all, what else would you carry in a briefcase except for a load of important documents and files, right?

The truth is, it doesn’t matter if all you have in your briefcase is a Kit-Kat Bar. All that matters is that it’s by your side and contains the essentials – a beautiful silver pen (perhaps with your name engraved), a notepad or iPad, and business cards that can be pulled out in a flash without having to rummage through your pockets.

“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.” – Edith Head

4. Nice sunglasses

It’s a sunny day and you’ve got a working lunch across town. Rather than squinting your way from Point A to Point B, top off your look with a pair of stylish sunglasses. Not only do these send a more casual vibe when tucked in your pocket, but the right sunglasses can give you a sleek aesthetic (think 007, but with business lunches). Wayfarers a la Audrey Hepburn and aviators a la Tom Cruise are the go-to choices for business professional sunglasses. You can’t go wrong with either of these styles.

The bottom line is that you choose how you wish to be viewed. The lesson here is much akin to the old adage: “don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want.” And if you have the job you want, don’t send your fashion choices to the sidelines. Not only can clothes/accessories indicate our knowledge and experience, but also our authority.

How has a nice outfit helped you in your professional career? Comment below!

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How Creativity Leads to a More Successful Life

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Human beings are curious, inquisitive and creative. We have a deep desire to make meaning of our world and each other by creating. Each culture brings new ideas and meaning to gain a sense of belonging and purpose. Success comes from understanding your contribution to the world and the spark of this contribution comes from a creative place. Understanding the power that comes from creativity can help to elevate you in many ways.

Mary Lou Cook said, “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun.” Having fun is part of the human experiment that not only provides a sense of purpose, but builds our humanity and scales our ability to succeed. Too many of us don’t allow ourselves a creative outlet or space because we don’t see the value in it if it doesn’t lead to a specific outcome.

Creativity is ever more important in today’s connection economy, because it is the outcome. As the world continues to race toward innovation, faster, cheaper, and quicker, are what distinguishes us from the crowd in terms of individual creative contribution. The more we share and create, the more we find out how valuable this concept is. Creativity cannot be outsourced, it must be cultivated, challenged, and inspired by human curiosity.

Below are 4 ways in which creativity leads to a more successful life:

1. Creativity Creates Deeper Connection to Work

Creativity is the act of experimenting and learning about what works and what may not. When we see creativity as a part of our work and not something left to a small artistic elite then we can create a deeper connection to the work we are meant to do in the world. If we see work as a part of our bigger purpose then our success will increase when we spend time being creative.

The more your creative footprint can be seen, understood, and felt, the more impact you will have. If you see an opportunity to think outside of the box in a particular situation because you see the world differently than your peers, then you have the edge to provide value that no one else can. And, guess what? Each one of us sees the world differently as part of our own uniqueness.

You already possess that special edge even if you were unsure of it before now. If you constantly avoid sharing your creative thoughts you are resisting your inner talents and hiding from the possibilities that lie within the power of your creativity.

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” – Dorothy Parker

2. Incorporate More Creativity into Your Life

One of the ways you can grow in your ability to bring creativity in your life is to spend time having a “What if” mentality. Spending quality time wondering, dreaming and not stressed about the consequences of being wrong can be freeing.

If what we created wasn’t judged or had no real consequence beyond an act of wonder, we might dream up new solutions to old problems. Elon Musk allowed this “What if” mentality wondering what if he created a company that would make commercial space flight possible? His company is built not around what is, but what might be.

By bringing this sense of wonder and playfulness into our work, life and contribution, we can let go of some of the self-imposed limits we have placed on our own success. If we treat our work and life a bit more like play, we will see a growth in our ability to perform and contribute even more to the already exciting and wonderful world we live in.

3. Opportunity for New Thinking

Sometimes when we are working on a project, either in a team or solo, we might find that we are hitting a wall with a project or in finding a solution to a problem. Instead of looking for the answer, sometimes we need to allow our creative brain to play and search for answers that might be hidden.

By hidden, I mean not yet created. Take some time to remove yourself from the work at hand and just wonder. Consider ways that might seem impossible to do but might spark new ideas. New learning can come from adding two crazy ideas together or taking an old idea and making a wild new way of thinking about it.

For example, posing a question and just wondering about a solution might spark a solution that was not seen. How might we improve the passenger boarding process at the airport so that we can foresee new ideas that were not there before.

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso

4. Create New Learning Pathways and Increase Brain Activity

When we are creative, we start to open our minds to new thinking. We begin to see new thinking and opportunities that we didn’t notice before. We also silence our amygdala or our lizard brain that is often in fight or flight mode to protect us.

When we are in a state of creative flow we silence the need to protect ourselves and find more peace and openness to new ideas and success. Try drawing on paper using colors, images and textures to visually create and noodle over ideas.

By using colors and a variety of mixed media aside from computers, smartphones and other electronics, you will invite a playful, often semi-dormant, part of your subconscious mind to work in upping your creativity game. The subtle connections and associations that occur in our brains when we use visualization can lead us to embark on new discoveries and success.

How has using your own creativity helped you succeed? Let us know in the comments below!

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Challenge Your Comfort Zone: 4 Behaviors to Master Effortless Execution

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Comfort zones are strange psychological oddities. They exist, but they are hard to pin down. Here is a comfort zone summary: In each of us there exists a psychological boundary. As long as we behave within the confines of that boundary, in other words, inside the zone, we feel by definition, comfortable. When we venture outside of the boundary, we feel uncomfortable.

Think about waking up and brushing your teeth. Are you challenged? That behavior has become so ingrained into your personal morning routine that you probably don’t even think about it or remember doing it.

Now, think about having to give a 30-minute presentation to the board of directors of your company. Are you palms starting to sweat yet? In the former example, we are well within our comfort zone while in the latter, well on the outside of it. The question before us is how do we expand our comfort zone so that a behavior like speaking in front of the board of directors is just as easy as brushing our teeth?

I have been training and coaching on comfort zone expansion for many years, and I’ve come up with 4 behaviors that will get you outside of your comfort zone so that you too can experience the joys associated with continued success.

Before I give you the behaviors, let me cover a few axioms that should sell you on the idea as to why you want to get your comfort zone to expand. (Keep in mind the expansion (or contraction) of your comfort zone is totally up to you. It is a decision that you need to make and that you need to follow through on. No one can do it for you!)

Axioms:

  • Successful people do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do! Face it, the reason people become successful is because of achievement! They have a bias toward action.
  • Successful people are people who reside at the edge of their comfort zone. These are the people that volunteer to take on that tough client, head up that tough project, chair that committee that no one else wants to. Don’t get me wrong, they are nervous and doubtful of their abilities and are afraid, but they do it anyway. Why? Because they are hardwired for success.
  • Successful people are people who begin to feel comfortable feeling uncomfortable. These are people who are consistently on the edge of their comfort zone, thus they got use to it. Now, taking on the tough assignment is second nature to them.

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy

So, as you can see, success and stepping outside of the boundaries in which you feel safe and secure are really the same thing. Success comes to those who say they have the courage to try something new; something different.

How do you develop a bias toward action and stepping outside of your comfort zone? Try these 4 behaviors:

1. Do the same thing you have always done, only do it different

Take a different route to work. Try a different place for lunch (or at least something different on the menu). Use a different treadmill at the gym. Take a different route on your evening run. Get the idea? Take a different spin on the same old – same old.

2. Do the same thing you have always done, just do more of it

So, you wake up at 5:30 and run a mile? Good for you. Try waking up at 5:15 and run a mile and half. Is that too much of a change? No problem. Take 2 weeks to just wake up at 5:15. Spend a few extra minutes getting use to that time. Then start your mile and a half run after the 2 weeks of getting up 15 minutes early.

3. Stretch yourself; challenge yourself

But don’t venture so far outside of your comfort zone that you lose hope and get demotivated. If you have never exercised before, don’t expect to spend 3 hours at the gym your first day. (I love working out, but if I ever had to spend 3 hours at the gym, even after all these years, I would probably join the kingdom of coach potato!) Go slow, but go steady. No one says that you need to go a mile outside of your zone. Try venturing out an inch, then another inch, then a foot, and so on.

“There is no challenge more challenging than the challenge to improve yourself.”

4. Celebrate your victories

Congratulate yourself on your little successes. There is nothing so demotivating as to tell yourself that you will celebrate after victory, but never have a solid definition of success to gauge your celebration against.

If you begin to practice these behaviors and do so on a daily basis, you will begin to become aware of the fact that you are living on the edge of your comfort zone. You are trying new things that frighten you but are relishing in the exhilaration of those exciting new behaviors.

Richard Branson said that if our goals don’t scare us, they aren’t big enough. The way you determine bigger goals is to step outside of that land that is safe and secure and venture out into the wilderness of that frightening land of discomfort. Soon, you will claim that land as your own and it will be comfortable.

You may ask, what should I do then? That is, when I have attained comfort in doing what I felt uncomfortable doing in the past? The answer is simple: Keep going!

What is a big goal you have for yourself which you want to accomplish by the end of the year? Let us know in the comments so we can all encourage each other!

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25 Confucius Quotes That Will Inspire You to Live the Best Life Possible

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Confucius was an exceptional teacher and philosopher that founded Confucianism which can be described as a way to govern your life. (more…)

Armando Quintana III is a current master’s student and one of his main goals is to be a physician. He mentors high school and college students along with giving them speeches on alternative ways to reach success, and aims to educate people as a future physician on the natural healing powers of the body. He can be reached through social media at @armandoq3 or his website at mfmanifesto.com.

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Success Advice

3 Life Lessons in Perseverance to Achieve Your Wildest Dreams

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I have two careers as an actor and a marketer with each having its own unique challenges. However, the number of parallels I continue to find in my chosen professions never ceases to amaze me. Of these lessons, perhaps one of the most valuable is that of persistence, and the mental resilience I’ve had to learn. You can’t be an actor without resilience as I experience rejection dozens of times per week.

Acting is a lesson in endurance, not a sprint. When you think about it though, doesn’t that apply to any career? It’s not easy to “Keep on keeping on.” No matter what path life has led you down, I’m sure you’ve experienced plenty of bumps. Sometimes, those bumps turn into potholes that the universe seems to refuse to fix.

As an actor, rejection is par for the course. Thankfully, I’ve learned how to persevere in spite of it. When life gets especially challenging, and you are dealing with change, disappointment or missteps, make use of these life lessons and continue pressing on towards your goal.

Below are 3 lessons in perseverance which will help you achieve your wildest dreams:

1. Know when it’s time to recalibrate

Goals are an important and necessary tool to reach our full potential. They keep us focused to help make small decisions on a daily basis such as if I should get up for that 8 a.m. run along with bigger decisions such as if I should take a new job offer. While setting goals is essential, don’t let them overpower you.

Tunnel vision in reaching your goals adds unnecessary pressure. This causes us to make mistakes we wouldn’t have made otherwise. Get too obsessed with a goal and you’ll forget the big picture, such as why you chose this course to begin with. Take a lesson from one of my favorite casting directors, Dave Newman of McSweeney Newman Casting.

Forget trying to “make it big” as an actor. It is normal to wait years before booking work with a decent paycheck. If you’re in the room with Dave, it’s hard not to let the pressure take over your performance.

In the words of Dave, as soon as those words from A Chorus Line enter your head, “God, I hope I get it!” it’s time to adjust your mindset. Dave advises taking a step back, refocusing, and doing anything that isn’t acting. Sometimes the best way to reach a goal is by shifting your gaze just for a moment. Take the pressure off and recalibrate your thoughts. You’ll come back recharged with a fresh perspective to pursue your objectives.

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

2. Appreciate the journey

Perseverance requires a heaping dose of appreciation. This means acknowledging all the wins in your life, both big and small. Even if you haven’t yet met your goal, remember that you are moving towards it and that alone is an achievement.

As Linda Gillum, Casting Director at Chicago theatre Remy Bumppo explains, “With everything you do, you’re planting seeds.” It takes time for the seeds of success to grow. As an actor, my seeds take a lot of sunshine, water, and gratitude for the little things. A win can be as simple as improving my technique or getting an audition; I can’t base my happiness on booked jobs.

Persistence becomes much easier when you notice your achievements despite those potholes surrounding you. Celebrate the small wins; they’re what milestones are built on. Even if your manager or co-workers don’t recognize your work, give yourself that pat on the back.

To stay motivated, make a mental highlight reel of your achievements. Afterwards, be ready to hit the play button whenever you need a quick pick-me-up.

3. Embrace mistakes or at least be okay with them

No matter how much you hate mistakes, they’ll keep happening. Some people seem to move on from mistakes quickly, letting them roll off their backs. For others, that’s not the case (If you’re fighting to be perfect or gain confidence I’m talking to you!). The fear to avoid mistakes can be crippling.

This is also true in acting, where you work and wait years for a five-minute audition that could change everything. However, my best work won’t come unless I live in the moment and trust my instincts. And you know what that means, things can go wrong in an instant. But guess what? I still have to dive in, and I mean all in. If I don’t risk it all, my audition will suck, and I’ll lose before I even walk through the door.

We all recognize that positives, including life lessons, come from mistakes. However, that doesn’t stop the nosedive mistakes caused on emotions and confidence. Sometimes, we do everything in our power to avoid that feeling.

“The phoenix must burn to emerge.” – Janet Fitch

Remember that there’s truth in the statement, “The biggest mistake is not making mistakes.” One way to get over your fear of failure is to make your focus on continuous improvement, not perfection. Teaching yourself to be okay with mistakes takes time but is necessary to maintain resilience.

You can allow yourself a learning curve, but it is essential to work on letting go of missteps. It takes practice to let go of the could have or would have statements. The good news is practice and persistence go hand-in-hand.

Take stock of what makes you happy in life, and turn to those things when mistakes happen. Little by little, as you learn to turn your attention elsewhere when missteps occur, you’ll train your brain to move on. This is how mistakes lose their power over you and enable you to pursue your goal with confidence.

Persistence is a state of mind. In the end, it means being kind to yourself. Know when to give yourself a break and pat on the back as you recharge your batteries. Then, you’ll find yourself able to maneuver whatever twists and turns life throws your way.

How do you remain determined in reaching your goals when it seems like the day won’t come? Let us know your advice and tips for your fellow entrepreneurs below!

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Dress for Success: 4 Small Fashion Choices That Make All the Difference

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When it comes to succeeding in business, making a good impression is just as much about your inner qualities as it is about your outer presentation. The fact of the matter is that your clothing and color choices, affect others’ perception of you. Believe it or not, you can achieve fashion-inspired success without splurging on a pair of Louboutins or shelling out $1000 for a designer suit. Just a few striking accessories can often complete the picture.

It may sound ridiculous that small accessories can affect the vibe you give off. It’s true, and certain accessories can even send certain messages. A recent study conducted by the University of Hertfordshire found that well-dressed male figures (whose faces were not shown) were perceived to be more confident, trustworthy, and well-to-do. Even minor adjustments to their clothing, such as adding on an accessory or more closely tailoring the suit, impacted these impressions.

However, our clothes not only impact the way others perceive us, but the way we perceive ourselves. A study conducted by the Scientific American, found that those who “suit up” performed better in cognitive tests. It suggests that being well-dressed releases more testosterone, which in turn increases confidence.

This allows well-dressed professionals to negotiate better deals, and in the long run, potentially make more money. So, maybe you’ve got the clothes, but what are the finishing touches you can put on your outfit to send an even stronger message? See below!

1. Wear a watch

A beautiful watch makes all the difference – and this goes for men and women. Even a simple button-down and jeans, or plain-colored dress, can be exponentially stylized by a standout watch. Charismatic individuals tend to talk more with their hands, too, as this captivates their listeners. Wearing a flashy wrist accessory like a watch will make your points even more engrossing. Furthermore, wearing a watch sends a subconscious message: you’re always on time. Individuals who wear a watch can always keep track of time and therefore, will never be late to a meeting.

“To me, clothing is a form of self-expression – There are hints about who you are in what you wear.” – Marc Jacobs

2. Tie it off with a tie pin

The one criticism of men’s business fashion is that it lacks variety. Let’s face it, while women have an infinite number of patterns, dress lengths, colors, and sleeve styles to choose from, men are pretty much locked into one outfit: the suit. You can buy one in suede, another in navy blue, throw in a paisley tie, but it’s simply not enough.

Adding on a tie pin will make a significant difference. Not only does it add a little shimmer to an otherwise dull suit, but it adds personality too. The kind of tie pin you choose says a lot about you. Maybe you’re a simple guy who just likes sterling silver, or you may choose to tout your school pride by wearing the colors of your alma mater (which, by the way, can also make a great conversation starter).

You can also create custom tie pins that feature the name of your company, or perhaps a saying that you’re fond of. The options are limitless.

3. A quality briefcase

It doesn’t even matter if you have nothing to carry around, the key is to never show up empty-handed. A quality leather briefcase is an important asset for men and women. Backpacks and most handbags don’t signify professionalism. A briefcase, on the other hand, symbolizes professionalism and importance. After all, what else would you carry in a briefcase except for a load of important documents and files, right?

The truth is, it doesn’t matter if all you have in your briefcase is a Kit-Kat Bar. All that matters is that it’s by your side and contains the essentials – a beautiful silver pen (perhaps with your name engraved), a notepad or iPad, and business cards that can be pulled out in a flash without having to rummage through your pockets.

“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.” – Edith Head

4. Nice sunglasses

It’s a sunny day and you’ve got a working lunch across town. Rather than squinting your way from Point A to Point B, top off your look with a pair of stylish sunglasses. Not only do these send a more casual vibe when tucked in your pocket, but the right sunglasses can give you a sleek aesthetic (think 007, but with business lunches). Wayfarers a la Audrey Hepburn and aviators a la Tom Cruise are the go-to choices for business professional sunglasses. You can’t go wrong with either of these styles.

The bottom line is that you choose how you wish to be viewed. The lesson here is much akin to the old adage: “don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want.” And if you have the job you want, don’t send your fashion choices to the sidelines. Not only can clothes/accessories indicate our knowledge and experience, but also our authority.

How has a nice outfit helped you in your professional career? Comment below!

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How Creativity Leads to a More Successful Life

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Human beings are curious, inquisitive and creative. We have a deep desire to make meaning of our world and each other by creating. Each culture brings new ideas and meaning to gain a sense of belonging and purpose. Success comes from understanding your contribution to the world and the spark of this contribution comes from a creative place. Understanding the power that comes from creativity can help to elevate you in many ways.

Mary Lou Cook said, “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun.” Having fun is part of the human experiment that not only provides a sense of purpose, but builds our humanity and scales our ability to succeed. Too many of us don’t allow ourselves a creative outlet or space because we don’t see the value in it if it doesn’t lead to a specific outcome.

Creativity is ever more important in today’s connection economy, because it is the outcome. As the world continues to race toward innovation, faster, cheaper, and quicker, are what distinguishes us from the crowd in terms of individual creative contribution. The more we share and create, the more we find out how valuable this concept is. Creativity cannot be outsourced, it must be cultivated, challenged, and inspired by human curiosity.

Below are 4 ways in which creativity leads to a more successful life:

1. Creativity Creates Deeper Connection to Work

Creativity is the act of experimenting and learning about what works and what may not. When we see creativity as a part of our work and not something left to a small artistic elite then we can create a deeper connection to the work we are meant to do in the world. If we see work as a part of our bigger purpose then our success will increase when we spend time being creative.

The more your creative footprint can be seen, understood, and felt, the more impact you will have. If you see an opportunity to think outside of the box in a particular situation because you see the world differently than your peers, then you have the edge to provide value that no one else can. And, guess what? Each one of us sees the world differently as part of our own uniqueness.

You already possess that special edge even if you were unsure of it before now. If you constantly avoid sharing your creative thoughts you are resisting your inner talents and hiding from the possibilities that lie within the power of your creativity.

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” – Dorothy Parker

2. Incorporate More Creativity into Your Life

One of the ways you can grow in your ability to bring creativity in your life is to spend time having a “What if” mentality. Spending quality time wondering, dreaming and not stressed about the consequences of being wrong can be freeing.

If what we created wasn’t judged or had no real consequence beyond an act of wonder, we might dream up new solutions to old problems. Elon Musk allowed this “What if” mentality wondering what if he created a company that would make commercial space flight possible? His company is built not around what is, but what might be.

By bringing this sense of wonder and playfulness into our work, life and contribution, we can let go of some of the self-imposed limits we have placed on our own success. If we treat our work and life a bit more like play, we will see a growth in our ability to perform and contribute even more to the already exciting and wonderful world we live in.

3. Opportunity for New Thinking

Sometimes when we are working on a project, either in a team or solo, we might find that we are hitting a wall with a project or in finding a solution to a problem. Instead of looking for the answer, sometimes we need to allow our creative brain to play and search for answers that might be hidden.

By hidden, I mean not yet created. Take some time to remove yourself from the work at hand and just wonder. Consider ways that might seem impossible to do but might spark new ideas. New learning can come from adding two crazy ideas together or taking an old idea and making a wild new way of thinking about it.

For example, posing a question and just wondering about a solution might spark a solution that was not seen. How might we improve the passenger boarding process at the airport so that we can foresee new ideas that were not there before.

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso

4. Create New Learning Pathways and Increase Brain Activity

When we are creative, we start to open our minds to new thinking. We begin to see new thinking and opportunities that we didn’t notice before. We also silence our amygdala or our lizard brain that is often in fight or flight mode to protect us.

When we are in a state of creative flow we silence the need to protect ourselves and find more peace and openness to new ideas and success. Try drawing on paper using colors, images and textures to visually create and noodle over ideas.

By using colors and a variety of mixed media aside from computers, smartphones and other electronics, you will invite a playful, often semi-dormant, part of your subconscious mind to work in upping your creativity game. The subtle connections and associations that occur in our brains when we use visualization can lead us to embark on new discoveries and success.

How has using your own creativity helped you succeed? Let us know in the comments below!

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Challenge Your Comfort Zone: 4 Behaviors to Master Effortless Execution

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Comfort zones are strange psychological oddities. They exist, but they are hard to pin down. Here is a comfort zone summary: In each of us there exists a psychological boundary. As long as we behave within the confines of that boundary, in other words, inside the zone, we feel by definition, comfortable. When we venture outside of the boundary, we feel uncomfortable.

Think about waking up and brushing your teeth. Are you challenged? That behavior has become so ingrained into your personal morning routine that you probably don’t even think about it or remember doing it.

Now, think about having to give a 30-minute presentation to the board of directors of your company. Are you palms starting to sweat yet? In the former example, we are well within our comfort zone while in the latter, well on the outside of it. The question before us is how do we expand our comfort zone so that a behavior like speaking in front of the board of directors is just as easy as brushing our teeth?

I have been training and coaching on comfort zone expansion for many years, and I’ve come up with 4 behaviors that will get you outside of your comfort zone so that you too can experience the joys associated with continued success.

Before I give you the behaviors, let me cover a few axioms that should sell you on the idea as to why you want to get your comfort zone to expand. (Keep in mind the expansion (or contraction) of your comfort zone is totally up to you. It is a decision that you need to make and that you need to follow through on. No one can do it for you!)

Axioms:

  • Successful people do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do! Face it, the reason people become successful is because of achievement! They have a bias toward action.
  • Successful people are people who reside at the edge of their comfort zone. These are the people that volunteer to take on that tough client, head up that tough project, chair that committee that no one else wants to. Don’t get me wrong, they are nervous and doubtful of their abilities and are afraid, but they do it anyway. Why? Because they are hardwired for success.
  • Successful people are people who begin to feel comfortable feeling uncomfortable. These are people who are consistently on the edge of their comfort zone, thus they got use to it. Now, taking on the tough assignment is second nature to them.

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy

So, as you can see, success and stepping outside of the boundaries in which you feel safe and secure are really the same thing. Success comes to those who say they have the courage to try something new; something different.

How do you develop a bias toward action and stepping outside of your comfort zone? Try these 4 behaviors:

1. Do the same thing you have always done, only do it different

Take a different route to work. Try a different place for lunch (or at least something different on the menu). Use a different treadmill at the gym. Take a different route on your evening run. Get the idea? Take a different spin on the same old – same old.

2. Do the same thing you have always done, just do more of it

So, you wake up at 5:30 and run a mile? Good for you. Try waking up at 5:15 and run a mile and half. Is that too much of a change? No problem. Take 2 weeks to just wake up at 5:15. Spend a few extra minutes getting use to that time. Then start your mile and a half run after the 2 weeks of getting up 15 minutes early.

3. Stretch yourself; challenge yourself

But don’t venture so far outside of your comfort zone that you lose hope and get demotivated. If you have never exercised before, don’t expect to spend 3 hours at the gym your first day. (I love working out, but if I ever had to spend 3 hours at the gym, even after all these years, I would probably join the kingdom of coach potato!) Go slow, but go steady. No one says that you need to go a mile outside of your zone. Try venturing out an inch, then another inch, then a foot, and so on.

“There is no challenge more challenging than the challenge to improve yourself.”

4. Celebrate your victories

Congratulate yourself on your little successes. There is nothing so demotivating as to tell yourself that you will celebrate after victory, but never have a solid definition of success to gauge your celebration against.

If you begin to practice these behaviors and do so on a daily basis, you will begin to become aware of the fact that you are living on the edge of your comfort zone. You are trying new things that frighten you but are relishing in the exhilaration of those exciting new behaviors.

Richard Branson said that if our goals don’t scare us, they aren’t big enough. The way you determine bigger goals is to step outside of that land that is safe and secure and venture out into the wilderness of that frightening land of discomfort. Soon, you will claim that land as your own and it will be comfortable.

You may ask, what should I do then? That is, when I have attained comfort in doing what I felt uncomfortable doing in the past? The answer is simple: Keep going!

What is a big goal you have for yourself which you want to accomplish by the end of the year? Let us know in the comments so we can all encourage each other!

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