Posts Tagged ‘time’

Perception is reality

August 6, 2013
Life is a highway ...

Life is a highway …

We often hear that perception is reality. And perception is based on interpretation. And many times the things we do or say can be interpreted in different ways.

A recent experience made me realise that we interpret words to match what’s already in our heads. Then we respond accordingly. And often what happens backs up our interpretation.

If we’re stressed, we hear everything as an accusation. We think that what’s going on in our heads is actually what’s happening in the world. We don’t realise that there’s a difference.

A few weeks ago week in Europe, some colleagues and I were on the autobahn and the traffic came to an unexpected stop. We were on a road without speed limits, doing zero. We waited for ten minutes and still the traffic didn’t move.

We got out of the bus. I was interested to see what was wrong. Had someone broken down? Had there been an accident? I walked up to the truck ahead of us and asked the driver what the problem was. I thought as a regular commuter he may have some local knowledge.

He started waving his arms angrily and said ‘Where the hell am I’m going to go, you tell me what the hell can I do?’ He pointed ahead and said ‘Can you drive a fu*king truck?’

All he heard was people blowing their horns. He was clearly frustrated and stressed; perhaps he had a deadline to meet. He didn’t hear my question, he heard an accusation: ‘Get on with it, get moving, we’re behind you’, because that reinforced his reality.

We do this every day. We create a reality. Then misinterpret and reinforce it. Perception may not be reality and this can get us into trouble.

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New Year’s resolve

January 18, 2013
The time to start is now ...

The time to start is now …

Didn’t last year go quickly?

How often do we say that?

Usually we say it because there’s things we wanted to do but haven’t and there’s only a few months left. Does that mean we have the same goals for next year? What will we tell ourselves when New Year’s Eve rolls around?

On New Year’s Eve we look to the future. It’s often with a sense of relief that we turn from the retrospect of the last days of the old year and greet the New Year with enthusiasm. Turn the page; things will be different this year!

For some it can be a time of great celebration for a year well lived with progress and achievement. For others, it’s a time of regret for what we didn’t quite get around to during the year.

Was it a great year, or just a waste of time?

It’s rarely that black or white. However, the end of the year brings our progress, or lack thereof, into sharp report. It’s the one time of year when most hold themselves accountable for the slippage of time and the things that may have been. We’re one year older and, for many, a slice of the dream has crumbled away from the big picture life plan. And it comes back to time.

A year’s an appropriate length of time to mark our journey through the world. Our age is readily linked to our progress and used as a comparison point against others. A year is long enough to achieve many things but short enough to quickly pass beneath us as we get caught up in the daily activity of living.

‘I just don’t know where this year has gone’ is a familiar cry as the year draws to a close. ‘It will be different next year’ … but it rarely is. We’re already half way through January. There’s never a better time to start/continue/do something than right now. What are you waiting for?

Time for life

October 30, 2012

Do you have time for life?

The gift of time brings a sense of opportunity but its value depends on how we use it.  We recognise that time is exceedingly precious. Yet our preoccupation with recapturing good times past or dreaming of the future detracts from living fully in the now.

In ten years many of us would give almost anything to be back here, again, to live the decade over. To do the things we promised ourselves we would.  Time is one thing that even the wealthiest can’t buy; time is provided to all in equal measure.

Most of the world’s great religions and philosophers focus deeply on an awareness of life’s brevity. Those who regard life as only a stage in an endless existence, and those who don’t look to prolong its significance beyond death, agree on recognising time’s immense worth.

In our lives deadlines are often set by others and carry consequences for non-achievement.  We feel the pressure of time and our priorities shift to meet it. It’s difficult to apply the same pressure to ourselves, even when the achievement of our personal goals is fundamental to our self-worth, feelings of success and happiness.

Time ceases to exist for those who fail to use it wisely. It slips past the listless, the distracted or those who simply react to what life throws up to them. These people believe they’ve got no time because they don’t account for the time they waste.

There are those that through idleness spend their days ‘killing time’. They look for opportunity to be handed to them, frequently missing the chance through distraction, ignorance or laziness.  Those that use time well must apply it to a definite purpose and harness the effort required for attaining great goals.

Can you ‘make time’ for your life’s purpose? Do you focus on the urgent rather than the important?  Does your life get in the way of you living? Can you set some time aside for those things that make you happiest? What will you do about it today?

Are you having a successful year?

October 22, 2012

Are you heading towards your goals or taking a detour?

Isn’t this year going quickly?

How often do we say that?

Usually we say it because there’s things we wanted to do but haven’t and there’s only a few months left. Does that mean we have the same goals for next year? What will we tell ourselves when New Year’s Eve rolls around?

On New Year’s Eve we look to the future. It’s often with a sense of relief that we turn from the retrospect of the last days of the old year and greet the New Year with enthusiasm. Turn the page; things will be different next year!

For some it can be a time of great celebration for a year well lived with progress and achievement. For others, it’s a time of regret for what we didn’t quite get around to during the year.

Was it a great year, or just a waste of time?

It’s rarely that black or white. However, the end of the year brings our progress, or lack thereof, into sharp report. It’s the one time of year when most hold themselves accountable for the slippage of time and the things that may have been. We’re one year older and, for many, a slice of the dream has crumbled away from the big picture life plan. And it comes back to time.

A year’s an appropriate length of time to mark our journey through the world.  Our age is readily linked to our progress and used as a comparison point against others. A year is long enough to achieve many things but short enough to quickly pass beneath us as we get caught up in the daily activity of living.

‘I just don’t know where this year has gone’ is a familiar cry as the year draws to a close. ‘It will be different next year’ … but it rarely is. There’s never a better time to start/continue/do something than right now. What are you waiting for?

Consciously successful

August 15, 2012

… consciously and with purpose

In our last post we discussed the importance of positive thinking and how it clears the pathway to success. The next key is to use will power and continuous activity to reach success. Every outward manifestation is the result of applying your will, but this is not always used consciously.

Mechanical will allows us to function within our comfort zone, responding to the familiar and supporting the status quo. Conscious will is used to enact change; it’s ‘swimming upstream’ and requires determination and effort. Just ask anyone who’s tried to lose weight or give up smoking.

Conscious effort is going against your programmed habitual response. This is what’s required for change; saying no to your favourite food, going for a walk rather than relaxing on the couch or reading rather than watching TV. It takes action. We don’t set goals for things we do every day; it’s the things we wish to change that require conscious effort. The source of your success is volition.

Conscious willpower is a vital force accompanying determination and effort. This is the source of your personal power. Apply it to your goals by selecting something you currently can’t do. Select something small to start; as your confidence grows you can set the bar higher.

Set something that is realistic, achievable and important to you. Refuse to submit to failure and devote your energy to achieving one thing at a time. Do not divide your focus or energy and don’t leave something half done to begin something new.

Decide. When you decide, you make a commitment and cut off any other outcome as acceptable. Don’t say ‘I will try to’ or ‘I would like to’ or ‘I will start to’ because this is not a commitment. Say ‘I will do this’, and it works best when you add ‘by this date’.

What can you commit to do today to take your first step towards your goal? And when will it be done by?  If those questions makes you nervous, good – this is the first step outside your comfort zone. Will you follow through? That depends on how important the goal is to you and whether you’re really ready to change. So are you?

Stop procrastinating

June 11, 2012

‘Action’ is not always the easiest path to follow

The best time to stop procrastinating is now!

For the final post on the topic we review action plans so you can make a start … today!

Start by making a list of the important things that you have put off, the calls you should’ve made, the writing you should ‘ve done, the exercise plan you should’ve started, the education program you want to do, the list of books you want to read and the things you want to do with your family.

It may be a long list, but that’s OK, remember you can’t do everything at once; read the list of reasons we procrastinate and see if any of those affect the items on your list.  Have a go at prioritising the list. If you have quite a few items perhaps put an A, B or C next to them. ‘A’ is the most important.

The ‘A’s tend to be the biggest and most difficult tasks and carry with them the most baggage. If they didn’t, there would be a fair chance you would have already done them. Now select an item from each part of your list. If your ‘A’ list contains all the big ones perhaps select one from here and easier ones from B and C.

It’s also a good idea to select items from different parts of your life. You may have: start a part-time business at home to create a $5,000 per month passive income stream (A); take the family on a holiday (B); and lose 5 kg and get fitter (C). That’s a business, family and health mix.

You could also select career – work towards a promotion by doing further education, sport – start playing tennis again one evening per week, personal achievement/social – start a breakfast club to meet monthly,  financial – start a savings and investment plan, or any other area that’s important to you. I believe that three is the right number but you may choose to focus only on one depending on your circumstances.

Now, right now today, do one single thing for each of your three choices. Be happy to start small. Spend 10 minutes researching your business idea on the internet and make half a page of notes. Talk to your family about where they would like to go on a holiday or visit a travel agent to get some brochures. Put out that cigarette and walk to the end of the street and back. Even better, walk to the travel agent while thinking about your options for starting a business!

Now you’ve made a start in three important areas of your life. You’ve overcome your procrastination and created some momentum, and now you need to keep it going and follow through. Remember: procrastination can hit at any time on the journey so you need to be strong and keep on moving. Don’t try to do it all at once. Progress is good so allow yourself to feel happy that you’re on your way.

Internalising procrastination

June 5, 2012

Sometimes we must take action or we’ll get slammed!

In this second last post in this series, we look at the internal factors that can add to the mayhem and cause us to procrastinate. Sometimes the reasons for procrastination can stem from our own fears and doubts. Here’s five ways to complete the list of the top ten reasons for procrastination that we started in the last post.

Confusion. People procrastinate because they’re unsure what to do, how to start or where to look for help. They feel overwhelmed by the size or complexity of the task so they delay and hope it will somehow get easier or someone will assist them. Confusion leads to an inability to see the forest for trees. Approaching deadlines intensify the anxiety.

Perfectionism. People will delay performing a task until they believe they can do it perfectly. They often take on many tasks at once without finishing anything. They can’t ever get it all perfect and if they don’t finish they can’t be criticised for failing. It’s always a work in progress.

Boredom. This is the way a person reacts to having to do something they consider monotonous, uninteresting, forced upon them or of little benefit. Bored people take little interest in what they’re doing and become weary and dissatisfied.

Anxiety and fear. Anxious people can be confused about reality and their ability to deal with it. They get anxious about the consequences of their actions, usually about the chance of criticism or being seen as a failure, so they procrastinate.  The longer they put things off the greater the anxiety this creates because they know the task must be done. Some will face their fear and others will attempt to escape in the hope that it will go away or someone else will attend to it.

Fatigue. Physical and metal fatigue is a major cause of procrastination. Sometimes people will have the desire to complete a task but don’tbecause they lack the energy or mental space to do so. Getting home after a full day’s work to launch into establishing a part-time business, exercising or studying can be a daunting task. Sometimes you may need to create the space in your life or attempt to do fewer things so you can approach them with a clear and focused mind.

This is not a definitive list by any means. There is a common theme of failing to take action for fear of the consequences and how that will make you feel or be seen by others. Sometimes you may not have the physical or mental skills to achieve the results you desire. Perhaps you’ve set the bar too high so no amount of effort or determination will get you there. If you think this may be the case, perhaps you need to reassess your goals and set smaller steps of achievement that you can learn from and celebrate along the way.

Why we put things off

May 24, 2012

Why don’t we?

This post, the next in the series on beating procrastination, explores why we put things off when we know we shouldn’t.

It’s easy to postpone the things you should be doing and fill your time with easier and less important activities. And it’s often a difficult task that you know is there but can’t quite get to it.

Procrastination causes stress – it’s that line on your to do list that never gets crossed. It nags away at you causing tension, anxiety and fatigue. It can also keep you from reaching your goals, the ones you say you’d do anything to achieve. It stifles personal growth and can keep you from living a happy, healthy and prosperous life.

So why do we do it? There are lots of reasons. You can be afraid of failure or success, feel insecure, feel unable to cope with things that are difficult or simply be put off by effort and concentration that you can’t or won’t apply now.  Sometimes the dream is better than the reality, and if you never try you can’t fail.

When it comes down to it, there is a cost for everything; time to write a book, application to gain a qualification, pain and exertion to lose weight and money to start investing. Often the cost of doing something is perceived to be higher than the benefit. I really want to lose weight but I just love food so much and I’m too tired to exercise. Then sometimes the rules of the game change. You have a mild heart attack and suddenly eating those foods and not exercising has a much higher cost.

Then the benefit, living, is more important than the cost and you find the time to make the changes in your life. Deadlines can do the same thing. You can put things off until the price of not doing it – failing or being reprimanded – is higher than the pain of doing it – so it gets done at the last possible moment. Unfortunately that is rarely a recipe for the best possible outcome.

Clearing your inbox of 30 urgent but not important messages may provide a sense of satisfaction but it doesn’t achieve anything meaningful. Tackling the difficult task is more difficult, requires sustained activity and has consequences if not done properly. So we stick to the easy, the quick and the unimportant in the illusion of productivity.

But no one thanks you for that. And you aren’t getting closer to achieving your goals. So you’re stuck in a rut feeling bad about yourself. What’s your priority for the rest of today? Will you waste the day on irrelevancies?

Are you a procrastinator?

May 14, 2012

Think big, start small

Do you procrastinate?

Don’t worry, it’s not like admitting some dirty little secret – but it is recognising the reality and demands of modern life.

Most of us procrastinate from time to time but we don’t want to make it a habit; we want to be more effective and find it frustrating when we’re not.  Often the reasons for our procrastination are pushed into the background mayhem, leaving us feeling less than fulfilled.

Admitting that you procrastinate is the first step to being more productive, and you could end up making some significant positive changes in your life. Procrastination isn’t laziness, although if you’re lazy this certainly won’t help, and it doesn’t mean doing something the second you think of it. We all have to prioritise and it makes sense to let an idea develop before launching headlong into a new project.

We all know people who get so excited about their latest idea that they drop everything and jump right in. These people tend to have several projects ‘on the go’ and rarely finish anything before chasing the next big thing (their next sure fire plan to instant success and fortune). They get an ‘A+’ for excitement and enthusiasm but an ‘F’ for follow-through.

Yet they also jump to the next thing while procrastinating on the first thing they started. Or sometimes the idea is there but the action isn’t. The four Ps – Preparation, purpose, planning and persistence – will beat procrastination.

We need to find a middle ground, where ideas, effort and execution come together in a meaningful way. There’s a great prize for those that find it. The hardest part is starting, and by reading this post you have started!  In the next post we’ll look why we procrastinate at all.

Beating procrastination

May 7, 2012

No time like the present

I’ve been meaning to write a post on procrastination for a while but I just haven’t got around to it. I’ve procrastinated as much as anyone and knowing I’m doing it is very frustrating. It’s easy to fill your time with useless activity achieving very little. I’ve let a lot of life go by unattended.

Then there are times when I’ve felt unstoppable and got so much done. So I learnt how to get things done when I had to. And I remembered what I’d learned. So each time I have to complete an important task I know what I need to do.

Still, sometimes I feel the pull to waste time and do a succession of easier but less important tasks. It comes down to accepting what needs to be done, focusing on the important over the urgent and resisting the urge to check email and phone messages.

Sometimes the most important thing you can do is be with your family, free of invasive distractions. At other times it’s the important tasks at work or that personal project that demand your attention. The trick is to know when to focus on each.