Toy Smith said, "Self-control (discipline) is the fire by which talent becomes ability". We all have the potential and capabilities needed to do great things; however, life challenges can cause us to lose focus on our abilities. To overcome this huge distraction we must execute self-control. Gordon MacDonald says that "when we are afraid of discipline we do the minimum and when we are unafraid of control (discipline) we have no problem doing the maximum". It's simple, to improve ourselves we must be willing to control ourselves.
1. Thinking – Our minds are powerful. What we think about usually becomes our reality. To get to any goal requires a directed focus with controlled thoughts. Achieving goals is almost impossible with negative thoughts. If we don't believe it, then we probably won't do it. This doesn't mean that it can never ever happen, but it does mean that our thoughts are making it impossible for it to be a reality for us.
Work on having controlled thoughts by only allowing the ones that produce success to linger around. Separate your negative thoughts from the positive ones. This doesn't mean that you ignore reality but it means that you control the thoughts you allow to develop. Be thought controlled to achieve the success you desire.
2. Emotions – We are emotional creatures, full of passions and feelings. When we get up in the morning how we feel is usually the number one concern. How we feel usually determines what we do or how well we will do it. Feelings are real, but shouldn't be the final say in what we do. John Maxwell says that we can either master our feelings or be mastered by them. To master them does not mean that we overlook them and act as if they don’t exist but it does mean that we will not allow our feelings and emotions to drive and push us to do things that we don’t want.
Put your feelings and emotions in their place by mastering (controlling) them. When you feel a certain way, think through that feeling or emotion to the end before acting on it. Ask yourself, "What would happen if I acted the way I feel or allowed this feeling to tell me what to do". If you see the outcome is not successful, push it out with positive ones. Continue to control your emotions.
3. Actions – We have heard the phrase, "Actions speak louder than words". Simply put, it’s easier to judge what is being done instead of what is being said. But we must not stop with just knowing that. We must all work at aligning our words and our actions to achieve success for our future.
Let your actions meet your verbal obligations or sentiments. Control your words. Be honest with yourself first by studying what you will be talking about before opening your mouth. If little is known, keep your mouth shut. Words are meaningless without the actions to support them but beautiful when they are supported with loving actions. Select your words wisely and remember few are needed when actions are boldly speaking.
Summary – To live a controlled life for success - think instead of reacting, process emotions instead of losing them, and act out positive desires instead of just talking about them. Don't base today's decisions on short-term feelings but on what's required for the long-term goal. Live controlled!
Our lives are like a puzzle made up of pieces from our past. But the exciting thing is we are creating new pieces every day. Our future can be shaped by what we decide to produce daily. Using our abilities to generate, create, and enhance movement towards our goals is a part of being productive. It's just a matter of focusing on being better every day than who we were yesterday. I like the way Leo Rosten put it, he said, "The purpose of life is not to be happy - but to really matter, to be productive, to be useful, and to make a difference in the world because we have lived."
3 - Tips to Productivity
1. Prioritize - Productivity is the result of intelligent planning and progressing towards our goals – not just doing more but doing the right things with the right amount of effort. Let's face it, we've all experienced setbacks with our goals. During these times it's good to look at our schedules to cut the dead weight that might be bringing stagnation to our efforts. Revaluating our priorities to make sure they are aligned with our values is a necessity for improving and moving forward.
Take 15 to 20 minutes at the beginning of each week to plan your week. Then take five minutes at the start of the day to organize your task by - identifying the top three priorities with the length of time you desire to spend on them. Minimize your distractions by staying away from the things that lure you away. Be disciplined about producing small results towards your goals by demanding yourself to reach a certain spot before moving to something else. Remember, big goals require small goals to be identified and pursued with continuous steps in the right direction.
2. Routine - It is said that we repeat 40 percent of the same things daily. We get comfortable doing things the same way so that we don't have to "think" about it. That's not a bad thing when we put a routine into being more productive with our efforts. Success is usually developed through the assignment of certain times and days to work on specific things. Now, in reality, we know everything can't be controlled but the bulk of our schedules should have a particular structure or a routine. A system always helps us measure efforts to produce more.
Create your routine with the time you control. Make time slots for specific projects and tasks. The productivity of your goal will always be based on how much time and energy you put into it. It can help to have ways to measure your progress with a phone app or special tabs in your planner. Keeping track is a routine that can help you stay motivated as well as find those wasted moments that need filling. Work to implement a routine of continuous steps towards your goals.
3. Magnify - The Pareto Principle brings to life the 80/20 rule, that is 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of effort. Often our productivity is cut short because of a great mixture of goals. Many goals aren't the problem but trying to go after a lot of them at the same time is usually unproductive. We must remember, success tends to come in the areas we magnify with intentional focus, guided time, and channeled efforts.
A laser is not powerful because it controls all the light, but because it magnifies a little light to make it powerful. Magnify what you do well and your production will increase.
Summary – It is said, that a life without a plan, is a life planning to fail. Then a plan that has no action is only a passing thought. Therefore, once you have a plan, it's up to you to make it produce optimum level by prioritizing your tasks, creating a routine that builds momentum, and magnifying the intensity of your efforts. Think productive! Be productive! Live productive!
An anonymous writer said, “If you give up at the first sign of struggle, you're not ready to be successful.” I was in a class where the majority of the students complained about how hard the class was. They channeled their energy to finding all the reasons why they needed to drop the class instead of viewing the struggle as an opportunity to gain strength and be better. We all deal with some kind of undesired struggle in our lives that causes us to want to quit. But, success (reaching a goal) and improving come from allowing struggles to make us better through out the journey. Let's look at three common struggles that we can overcome with proper diligence.
1. Self-Sabotaging – Our minds tend to be the number one down fall to our successes. In our minds we tend to think negatively about ourselves first. We quickly label ourselves with thoughts of being unworthy, guilty, or discreditable. Our responses often include the “I can’t....” phrases. When sabotaging thoughts are allowed to dominate our views, they (struggles) become empowered and limit our chances for success.
Be diligent about believing in yourself! From the time you get up until the time you go to bed, be empowered with the thought of “I can...”. You may have limits and unknowns but be willing to learn and improve from them. Don’t be afraid to rely on others who can help where you are weak. You mind is your foundation, don’t sabotage it with negativity.
2. Fear – Angel Richards says, “Holding on to fear is like holding on to fire…but worse. Fire will burn you and take your life but fear will slow your life down and drag it out making it last f-o-r-e-v-e-r.” Fear inhibits our full potential and overcoming it can be a big hindrance to success. We often try to operate within fear which is like being stuck in the mud - a lot of spinning and noise but no movement. Don't be "fear stuck".
Fear is only pushed out with faith - a hope in something that can't be seen but believed to be a possibility in time. Have faith in yourself that you can make it. Take risks! Believe that there is a master plan for your life. Be willing to fail but don’t fail to get back up and try again. Remember, “Nothing beats a failure but a continuous effort to keep improving.” Continuing to diligently confront the struggle of fear with faith will put you on the way to long term success.
3. Un-productiveness – What we do daily builds the life we live. Some of our habits keep us forever struggling to be productive. Steve Maraboli said it best, “We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.” Our past unproductiveness can be changed to being productive with diligent energy to move forward to success.
Implementing these simple daily habits can help you avoid some major life struggles. Avoid overspending which leads to financial struggles. Stray from overeating which leads to struggles with health and low self-esteem. Steer from lying which leads to struggles with trust. Convert to finding ways to tell the truth. Prevent struggles in relationships by not cheating and sleeping around. Cut out excessive partying and staying up late because they can lead to struggles in life and on the job. Run from quitting and giving up because it leads to struggles with being successful. Evade wasting time because it leads to struggling with achieving goals. Be diligent about making your life productive over your common struggles.
Summary – “As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better.” (Steve Maraboli) Your struggles for becoming better can make you stronger if you allow them to. Work to put your mind to thinking the best about yourself, overcoming fear, and being productive every day. Diligent efforts can help you overcome your struggles and put you on the road to your success.
Diligence is the constant, persistent effort of working hard to achieve a goal. Michael Josephson said, "It doesn’t make sense to run faster if you are running in the wrong direction. It doesn’t make sense to work harder if you are working on the wrong thing. Speed and diligence are only virtues once you have a clear and worthy goal." There is a great danger in being diligence in the wrong area especially when we think we are progressing. Let's become aware of some common dangers that we could find ourselves diligently doing.
3 Dangers To Avoid
1. Idleness – Doing things that are unproductive or avoiding hard work is a danger that will destroy any plan or goal. Diligence to idleness is like putting our head in the sand when work needs to be done and expecting it to be done when we pull it out. There is a fine line between being active and making progress. We can be active yet still idle when it comes to the tasks that we should be on.
Overcome this danger with the mindset of being engaged towards your goal. When you are faced with a project or task make sure it lines up with what you are suppose to be doing, then take it on wholeheartedly. Be one that owns it and works to makes things better. Quickly accept your responsibility instead of finding ways to not do it. Strive daily to move closer to your destiny by destroying idleness and procrastination with steps of diligence.
2. Improvidence – We can display this character by failing to have foresight for our future in our lives. When we find ourselves doing things without thought of our destiny we are facing a diligent danger that's a set up for failure.
Be careful when you hear yourself saying "I don't care." If it involves you, you should care because it affects your destiny. Keep the bigger picture, the end goal or purpose before you at all times. Meditate on it to help you through the distractions life can bring. If you desire to be effective in all that you do, be diligent in being passionate for the things that are foundational for your goals.
3. Ignorance – We all are ignorant about something. We do not know how to do it all. We constantly need to gain knowledge or information of how to do what we do better. Willful ignorance, on the other hand, is a different story. It is the decision to not want to improve one’s self. It's the personal choice to cut off ones ability to grow or improve. Willful ignorance is detrimental to the success of any goal.
Be diligent in knowing what it takes to get to your next level. Face your failures and learn from them. Fight ignorance with intelligence by applying what you learn to better you in your situation.
Summary – Dangers to your goals are all around. Some are impossible to avoid but the ones you can control are idleness, improvidence, and ignorance. Be actively diligent about make yourself better and avoiding the dangers that you face from within. Remember the words of Aristotle, "Excellence is never an accident."
"The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you (diligently) do.” say’s Bill Phillips. A few months back I was on a three-day hiking trip with a group of guys. After the first day, I decided to help with the stragglers at the end of the line to see if I could motivate them to keep pushing towards the goal. After all my encouragement and coaching there was one guy that just wasn't getting it. His comments were continually negative - “I’m trying, but it’s too hard." He wanted to quit so bad that he just sat on the ground refusing to continue. Now, his stopping wouldn't have been too bad if the rest of the group waited up for us but they kept trudging leaving us in the middle of nowhere. I was frustrated with several hours of this nonsense of "I can't....". When I had heard enough, I snapped by responding to his next comment with, “Don't say, I can't anymore! Close the mouth and put one foot in front of the other! We will rest when we make it to the end. Let's do what we must do!"
We can be the same way with our goals, stuck in the "I can't..." and going nowhere. When we are there we cancel our own abilities. The only thing that will help us reach the end is diligence. Diligence is the continual persistent effort we put into each step to be successful in the long run.
3 Angles of Diligence
1. Constancy – If we want to get strong results, we must be willing to consistently overcome strong challenges. The hiker in my story wanted to reach the goal but he didn’t want to overcome the constant struggle of making the steps in his mind and with his feet.
Carrying your load and doing what you might not feel like doing is a part of being diligent. Face your obstacles and learn to overcome them. Don't be afraid to mess up and fail, but also don't fail to get up, learn from it, and try again. Develop the constant “I can do it attitude”. Push and pull yourself to be better than who you were yesterday. Constancy is the only way to long-term success.
2. Meticulous – A great writer once said, “Winners actually do sweat the small stuff; because they know that getting the details right is the difference between success and failure.” So often it's easy to pass over the hard stuff to avoid conflict, but passing a step can be detrimental to long-term success. We must keep the details in view of what we are doing.
Be diligent about covering the right components of your projects. Comb through the details and then align yourself with what's required. Always be willing to make time to reflect on details.
3. Hard work – David Bly said, “Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted.” We have become numb to the concept of "hard work". If we're honest we all probably try to avoid hard work. However, for continuous success, we must always be ready to work hard. I’m convinced that the faster we accept hard-work the quicker we can achieve our goals.
Overcome your fear of hard-work by embracing the challenges that you face. Be wise in how you take on your challenges. If hard work is done in the wrong direction it will cause the wrong results. Therefore, be efficient and effective with your efforts. The amount of harvest is determined by the amount of hard work you put into planting the right things.
Summary – Diligence is the constant, persistent effort of working hard to achieve a goal. Achieve your success by diligently applying the right details to the proper tasks for success. Be diligent!
Implementing change is a common notion for the New Year. Resolutions or better commitments are made to hopefully improve the upcoming year. Statistics show that over half of the commitments (resolutions) made at the beginning of the year are broken within the first six months. So how can we make resolutions that will accomplish the changes we need? Les Brown says, “We may not accomplish every goal we set – no one does – but what really matters is having goals and going after them wholeheartedly.” In other words, be willing to always get back up no matter how many times you fail. Never give up on your goal.
1. Know Why – I once had a co-worker that did things only because everyone else seemed to be successful at it. He didn’t care if it fit him or not he just did it because it worked for the other person. Our resolutions should not be chosen because someone else is doing it. To be successful it needs to be based on what we really want for ourselves. This is what sets us up for long-term success.
Decide what you really want to achieve and write it down. Self-improvement always starts with the deep concerned about bettering you. Make goals for yourself. Try to be specific and realistic about what you want to achieve. For example: "I want a new job," is an open-ended dream compared to, "I want to work at FedEx headquarters in Memphis, TN as a manager." You increase your chances of success by narrowing down your goals with specific details.
2. Know When – Often times I have set goals at the beginning of the year but had not really set a deadline to when I wanted to reach my goals. This mindset caused many of my goals to be lost and forgotten due to burn out and the daily grind.
Put a time limit on your goals. Sometimes to do this requires you to break up large goals into smaller ones that you can manage and gauge the progress. For example, if you're still in your first year in college, it's not realist to try to graduate this spring. That goal is a process that requires specific steps to achieve. The current goal should be something like, "I'm going to work to get the best grade I can on the upcoming assignment; then I will continue to work hard to do my best in each of my class - even the ones I don't like. Once the basics are covered you can be hopeful for the semester, the year and so on and so forth. Always work to master the step you are on before trying to conqueror the entire flight of stairs.
3. Know Action – Many great plans never get acted upon. I'm sure we know why we should do something different for the New Year and we probably know when we need to have it done, but carrying out the plan is another story. To do what's required to achieve any goal requires long-term diligence. Zig Ziglar said this about action, “Setting goals helps to bring our future into our present because in the present is where we must take action.”
Make every day a day of "action"! Do something that progresses you forward to the desired goal. Even small steps will get you there if you are consistent. Set a regular time to review and evaluate the action to be taken for the day. (Ex. - First thing in the morning, first fifteen minutes in the office, and/or a moment before going to bed.) Don’t be afraid to tweak and refine your goals. Change is inevitable. As you act upon one action step you are bound to learn how to improve the next.
Summary – If you are making or have made resolutions for the New Year and want to be successful, keep in mind - why the change is needed, when the change is best, and decide to continue acting out the desired change no matter how difficult or small the progress. Someone once said, “People with clear written goals accomplish more in a shorter period of time than people without them can ever imagine.” Go reach your goals today!