A great quote says, “Everything we do is based on the choices we make. It’s not our parents, our past relationships, our job, the economy, the weather, an argument or our age that is to blame. We are responsible for every decision and every choice we make. Period!” Choices are inevitable in life. If we live, there will always be a choice to be made. So, how do we make the right or the best choice? Three things to control when faced with a tough choice.
1. Fear – Fear can dominate our choices. Fear can cause us to react before we think. However, all fear is not bad but needs to be separated with proper thoughts. Emotional fear and factual fear are the two that need to be separated. When we are emotionally fearful it could mean that we don’t fully understand what’s before us and need to gain more knowledge or understanding. When we are fearful due to facts means that we have an understanding of what the choice entails and the possible outcomes that are associated. Factual fear is what we should base our choices on.
Gather the facts and be in control over your emotional fears. When fears are controlled, your choices can be solid and sure even if the outcome is not favorable. You know you have made the best choice possible. Experiencing failure after making a wise choice is an opportunity to grow and learn from your mistakes. Push daily to make better choices than the ones you made yesterday.
2. Thinking – Making controlled choices takes place in our minds first. There we often struggle with over-thinking and over-complicating our problems. Clarity must be made between an ‘over-analysis’ and a ‘useful analysis. Let's work to make our thoughts useful.
Restrict repetitive thoughts that are not producing actions. Over-analyzing’ can be detrimental to having a productive decision. Make your thoughts useful and productive with set standards and goals. These will help you in making the best choice possible.
3. Balance - Being balanced is key to making the proper choices in every situation. An unbalanced life can teeter one of two ways: 1) allowing our feelings to rule without facts or 2) being ruled by just the facts without our feelings. Either one is not a position for success. To have the success we so desperately need we must find a balance between the two.
When working to have a balance between feelings and facts, look for a moment to contemplate. With a little time and quietness, you should be able to feel your gut instincts (feelings) and think through or research the facts. A balanced choice requires asking yourself a pro-active question: “Will the choice I’m about to make benefit everyone involved in the long run, especially me and my goals?” Be balanced in all your choices.
Summary – You can control your choices to reflect who you desire to be. Control your fears by running them through the facts, don't over-think but put your thoughts into action steps towards your goals, and balance your gut feelings and the facts to be real but solid. Make controlled choices!
An anonymous writer said, "Opportunity knocks only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell." Temptations are those inner cravings to do something that we know we shouldn't. It's a combination of our emotions, behaviors, and desires in conflict with our overarching goals and values. We are not weak or bad because we face temptations; they are a part of life. However, the problem comes when we compromise our values and believes in temporary feelings. Here are a few things to help us be successful with our temptations.
1. Prepared - We don’t overcome temptations by disregarding their existence or thinking we are too strong to yield. We overcome them by identifying them and executing a prepared plan of equal or better options. Successful soldiers are always devising a plan for the enemy. But the plans are no good without being able to properly implement them at the right time in the right way. So before they are face to face with the enemy they go through simulators to give them controlled experiences of executing the plan. We must mentally prepare ourselves for the enemy - the daily temptations we face.
Giving in to temptations is your enemy. Being prepared is necessary for overcoming your temptations. Know the details of what tempts you and then create a game plan to resist. If you give in once or twice to the temptation, don't stop trying. Learn from your mess ups. Adjust your plan and try again. It is said, "Nothing beats a failure but a try." Keep on trying. Because with each try, you are gaining strength. Know that your temptation doesn't have to be your downfall.
2. Perceptive - Normally temptations don’t just jump out of the air. Usually, they creep up on us like a virus looking for a vulnerable spot to get in. If we're not perceptive and prepared temptations willfully infected us and take us down. We must always be on the alert!
When you find yourself saying “It’s not that bad!", or "Just this once!", or "I’m not going all the way!". These are "bribe statements" that can draw you further from your goals. Yielding to temptations can take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and can cost you more than you want to pay. Overcome approaching temptations by perceiving their long-term effects in the present. Be perceptive!
3. Avoid - Tim Daniels, states that, “an effective way to overcome some temptations is not to fight but to avoid them." Temptations can get stronger when trying to fight them head-on. For example, A married man is tempted by a younger woman, who is not his wife, in the store. In this case, his best option would be to avoid the entire situation if possible. It has been said many times in the medical field that, "Prevention is the best policy!" I think that would work for dealing with temptations too.
Developing an "avoidance plan" should be your number one go to when dealing with temptations. Don't be afraid to run away from temptations that can be avoided. Be in charge of you! Don’t allow your temptations to define and make you do things that you really don’t want in your future. Learn to avoid the people, places, and things that are obvious downfalls to your goals.
Summary - Overcoming your temptations is important to improve. Work on being prepared to the best of your ability. Be perceptive by being on the alert for temptations that are out to destroy you. Go the other way when a temptation is optional. It's best to miss a little something and succeed than to get it all and fail. Combat your temptations by being pro-active in every way.
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."