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If, every morning when you woke up, you were given £86,400.00 to spend in the day with the one condition that you cannot keep any of it, and any remaining balance will be removed before another £86,400.00 was given to you to spend the next day, what would you do with it???I am sure you would do your very best to make damn sure that you spent as much of it as possible wouldn’t you?

But how much time do you waste each day? You see, you wake up each morning with 86,400 seconds to spend each day, no role-over, no refund, no ability to accumulate. How many of us plan our day to make sure we spend as much of that as possible without wasting it (even when we are asleep we need to make sure we get the best possible sleep). How many of us design our day to be how we want it to be, to spend that 86,400 wisely?

Here are just a few tips to help you get started Designing your Day…

State

Like everything in NLP, we start with state. For 2 reasons:

1) State dictates behaviour: The “better” (or maybe the more appropriate) your state the better you will act, you will make better decisions, interact and communicate more meaningfully and focus more on what you want.

2) Really, if you think about it, state is all there is. The things we choose to do are things we decide (consciously or unconsciously) will either move us away from a bad state, or move us towards a good state. Often the things we choose are wrong, but that is something we can only learn from experience and tuning in more fully.
Before you do anything else, decide what state you want or need to be in.

Gratitude

One of my favourite ways to start the day the right way and get in a good state from the get go, is to a little bit of a “Gratitude List”.

Those of you that are familiar with the Law of Attraction or have seen “The Secret” will know about these I am sure. They maintain that to “manifest” what you want, you need to be accepting of what you have.

Even if you don’t like the idea of the LOA or the Secret and find a bit “New Age” or just downright nonsense, and are put of the idea of doing a “Gratitude List” because of it, then know that the actor Bradley Cooper does one every morning. And if it is good enough for him, it is good enough for me.

All you need to do for a “Gratitude List” is think of a list of things you a grateful for right now. Keep it simple, to help, ask yourself these 2 questions: What would I really miss if it was taken away, not sort of be inconvenienced by, but really miss? And, what, if I was handed my dream life right now, wouldn’t I change?

Give it a go for a couple of days and see how that changes your state.

There is Only Now

I have been interested in meditation and Buddhism and the concept of “present moment awareness” for nearly 20 years. I knew, on an intellectual level that there is only now, the past has happened and the future may never be, but it wasn’t on the meditation cushion that I suddenly grasped this concept emotionally, intellectually and fully, but driving the car one day.

It was one of those lovely early spring days, the sun was low and bright and I could feel the heat through the window, the daffodils were out and the cherry blossom on the trees. I was listening to a song on the radio (I can’t recall which one) and eating a cheese roll. Then idea suddenly struck me that if I died in that very instant it wouldn’t be so bad, I was feeling really good. That may sound a bit morbid I know, but bear with me. It struck me that everything that happened in the past was irrelevant, it was just a memory, a story I tell myself from time to time and any plans I have for the future are simply to continue to feel this good. It is all going to come to an end at some point and if I felt this good when it does at least I will go out on a high.

Since then I have resolved to “feel as good as I can in the present moment”. This is not an excuse for hedonism or shirking responsibilities, in fact totally the opposite; even though the future is not guaranteed it is probable, so you have to take into account how you will feel after this moment. With time, I have found I am less likely to indulge in excess with anything. Spontaneity, it turns out, requires adequate preparation. To feel as good as you can you have to plan ahead.

Most Important Tasks First

On a practical level of organising your time more effectively, one of the most ubiquitous lessons for GTD (Getting Things Done by David Allen) is that you do the most important tasks (MIT’s) first, before getting bogged down in more mundane and time consuming tasks of lesser (or worse, no) importance. Of course, what “important” is depends purely on your own interpretation of the word and, I find, changes on a regular basis. Never be afraid to junk something you thought was important once you start it because you find it just isn’t any more (or at that current moment). The more you focus on getting the MIT’s done the more you will find that the lesser tasks, the “make work” and the things you used to think were of some sort of importance will drop by the wayside. You will be doing less, but getting more done.

The problem with much self help or self improvement is it’s focus on goal setting. The problem with that approach is you spend your entire life future facing. And life doesn’t happen in the future, it happens in the now.  By focusing on designing your day, your still getting things done, but training yourself to focus on the here and now.

Well, it has just gone Easter, traditionally time for rebirth (although if you live in the UK, you would be forgiven for thinking that we have bypassed spring and summer and ended up back in autumn), it is also 3 months since the start of the year and an ideal time to check in on those resolutions you made. I bet, if you are anything like me, January 1st  seems a long, long time ago and yesterday all at the same time (isn’t time weird like that? But that is a topic for a different blog).

Be honest, how are you getting on? Follow the below steps to assess how you are doing and, if necessary, reinvigorate yourself.

1. Start by Restating the Outcome/Direction

Remember to make it well formed and in verb (action) form, has it changed? These things often can. How will you know when you are doing what you want? How will it look, sound like, feel like?

2. Now Assess Where You Are in Relationship To It

Start with what you have achieved, no matter how small. That puts you in a good state to start with! Then look at what stops you and what you still need to do.

3. Then Assess What You Have…

What resources do you have at your disposal? Even if it is only the motivation to get going/carry on and the ability to find the resources you need.

4. …And What You Need

What extra do you need to achieve the goal? How can you go about finding that extra resource? What stands in the way of you getting this done? How can you get passed that?

5. Finally, What is the Very Next Thing You Need To Do?

What is the vey next step? Just the very next step, that is all, not what might get in the way, or some excuses about why you can’t do it, just the very next step. Now do it!

If you didn’t make any New Years Resolutions now is an ideal time to consider making some changes. Some could argue it is even better to make changes now, as it is the time of change and rebirth, rather than in January. So if you didn’t make any (or they have fallen by the wayside), it is never too late…

Hello and Welcome to 2012.

The news is grim, with continued reports of the collapse of the worlds finances, talks of a returning recession, massive unemployment, companies going bust left right and centre… and here in the UK the New Year has started with sever storms (I hope that isn’t an omen)!

Now, more than ever, we need to carry out a revolution, a personal revolution in the way we think, act and behave. Ignore the glum and the doom and gloom and make 2012 your best year yet!

why do most people fail to achieve their goals?

One of the reasons I have discovered as to why people tend to fail in their resolutions is they look back at the previous year, convince themselves they didn’t achieve any of the resolutions they wanted to do that year and either give in in a big fat sulk or rush to try and do everything they wanted to do immediately, there by overwhelming themselves and giving up (in a big fat sulk).

If this sounds familiar then It is often a good idea to look back over, and assess the year just gone. But in a very specific way.

To achieve goals and outcomes you need to gather the appropriate resources, and to get the appropriate resources you need to ask the appropriate questions.

looking back

So before you start your plan of attack for this year ask yourself the following questions.

Lets start with something positive:

What went really well in 2011?

It can anything, no matter how small. Make a list. As you think about them, make the effort to really re-live the experience, pay attention to what you are seeing, hearing and in particular how you feel. Take a moment to be grateful and appreciate that you did them.

Ask yourself “how did I achieve these things that went really well, what did I think about and feel as I was working towards them?”

Now you have got yourself in a positive state and focused on some successes in 2011 you can approach the trickier area:

What didn’t go well in 2011? What were your biggest failures? Disappointments? Frustrations?

Write them all down and then ask yourself.

What did I learn from that experience?

Because, even if it was not the result you wanted, you still got a result or outcome and as we NLPer’s (sometimes annoyingly!) say “there is no failure, only feedback” so what can you learn from the results you got?

As you think about that, focus in on answering the following questions:

What do I need to do differently?

What do I need to do more of?

What do I need to stop doing altogether? Look at the goals or “resolutions” you did nothing with in 2011. Are they really what you want to achieve? One the most powerful lessons we can learn is to let go.

Once you have answers to all those questions you will have better resources to plan and achieve your goals for 2012. And be in a better frame of mind.

(I posted a video blog about this here, just the other day).

looking forward

Now, start thinking about the things you want to achieve in 2012 (bear in mind the “stop doing” list above!). List them in priority of what you want to achieve first. The biggest mistake people make with changes in their lives is to try and do everything all at once. Don’t. List them in priority order. You may not get round to even starting something on this list until much later in your year. That is fine.

When prioritising choose the following to do first:

  1. Look at the quick gains, what easy goals can you achieve that will set you up for succeeding (quitting is a dangerous habit).
  2. Look at the things that will make the biggest impact on your life right now.

If in doubt. Do less. Ask yourself what are the 3 key priorities. Can you get it down to just one? If you could only make one resolution this year, what would make the biggest impact?

Now you have your resolutions, ask this one simple question:

How will my life be better when I have achieved this goal/result?

Focus on what you see, hear and, most importantly, feel. If you cannot strongly imagine how these achievements will change your life (for the better) do you really need to do them? The secret here is to fall in love with the end result and make it so captivating for you that you are utterly compelled to take action. You don’t want it feel like it is a chore, or something you have to hype yourself up to do, it has to feel like something that you have to force yourself to stop doing. Make sense?

january coaching sale!

Do you need a little extra help in focusing on what you want to achieve?

In the spirit of New Years Resolutions and January Sales, I am offering a package of 6 one to one Skype coaching sessions for just £400 (usual price £600).

Click here to book your first session or call me on 07711 204013.

Wishing you a great 2012!

Matt

My last post, I have to admit, was a tad negative, so to balance that out I thought I would give you this simple process to succeed at pretty much anything. Whether it is learning to juggle or setting up a multimillion pound business (or anything in between), follow these simple steps to improve your chances of success.

1. Define Your Desired Outcome

This is so simple it seems obvious, but so few people I work with actually have a well-formed, defined and developed outcome (maybe because it seems so obvious?). No wonder they fail, they don’t know what they want to succeed at!

What you focus on you tend to get more of (this is not a “Secret”, Law of Attraction thing, it is basic psychology), so you need a clear, compelling representation of what it is you want and focus on it.

2. Review Regularly

It is all well and good having a clear and powerful outcome, to know exactly where you want to go and then steam off into action but, to steal an analogy from Anthony Robbins, you may have a desired outcome to see the sun rise, but if you keep facing west are you going to see it? No. You need some sort of feedback mechanism that you can use regularly to check whether you are going in the right direction. This feedback may be obvious, or it may be a little more subtle. Feedback works best when you break the larger goal down into smaller steps or objectives and check regularly you are succeeding in them.

3. Reward Yourself

When you reach a “waypoint”, when you succeed in one of the smaller objectives on your way to reaching your BIG outcome, reward yourself. It can be anything that you want; ice cream, cake, those shoes (as long as you can afford them). This will keep you focused and motivated (see step 6). There is no point doing this if you don’t enjoy the journey. Imagine slogging your guts out, hating every minute of what you are doing and just as your goal is in reach, you get hit by a bus. Was all that pain and stress worth it? Enjoy the process (I am not saying it won’t be tough along the way though…)

4. “A Talented Artist is a Talented Thief”

The great thing is that anything you want to achieve, there is probability somebody out there who has already done it, or done something similar. Hunt that person down and find out how they did it (in NLP we often pretentiously call that “modelling”, because it sounds better than “stealing”) then copy it, or adapt it to your own needs.

5. Become Obsessed With It

There are no shortcuts (ignore anyone who tells you there is, they are probably trying to sell you something). To succeed you need to put the hours in, in his book “Outliers: The Story of Success” Malcolm Gladwell suggests you need to spend at  least 10,000 hours on something to become successful at it, you may not need that long (depending on your outcome or desired level of competency), but it give you an idea of the level of commitment. You need to immerse yourself in it, become slightly nerdy about it, bordering on the obsessive. You want to be doing it as often as possible, and when you are not practicing it or working on it, you need to be thinking about, researching it, reading about it or dreaming about it.

6. Be Tenacious

You will lose the plot, get distracted, get bored, want to give it all up, but you need to keep going. People who succeed over those that fail, more often than not, are not the ones with more ability, they are the ones with more tenacity.

7. Take Utter Responsibility

If you want to succeed, you have to utterly accept that it is totally up to you, no one else is going to help you and you are on your own. Well, maybe not that extreme, but you have to accept that the successes and failures you have along the way are yours, no one else’s. Learn from both and move on. If you start blaming things outside of yourself then you will probably not succeed. Sure, things outside of your control will affect your progress (the biggest recession since the 1930’s has somewhat stalled a lot of peoples progress…), but you need to accept it and, if possible, use it.

As you can see, these steps are not complicated, there isn’t really any “secret” to success, just focus and hard work.

Best of luck in everything you choose to succeed at.

Matt