5 Ways to Beat Proscrastination

beat procrastination 5 Ways to Beat ProscrastinationDo you put off doing the things that matter most?

Procrastination paralyzes good people.

It is a self-induced distraction where we crazily waste precious time while opportunity slips through our fingers.

The good news is there are several simple, yet effective, strategies we can use to beat procrastination.

If you want to learn effective ways to overcome this debilitating habit so you can accomplish more, then please read on.

Simple Ways to Conquer Procrastination

Let’s face it, we all procrastinate from time-to-time.  We put off doing the things we need to get done.

We stall.  We avoid.  We postpone.  We defer.  We daydream.  We rationalize.

We do everything except what we should be doing.

Unfortunately, while we squander our time, life passes us by.

The next time you find yourself procrastinating, try one of these techniques to free yourself from the chains that bind.

1.  Eat That Frog

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

~ Mark Twain

The idea here is to do the task you dread most first thing in the morning before you have a chance to build it up in your mind.

Plus, you’ll get a boost from knowing that you knocked out a difficult task.  This is empowering.

Once you’ve completed your toughest task for the day – you’ve eaten your frog – everything else you have to do will seem easy.

2.  Stop Worrying About the Finish Line

“The best way to get something done is to begin.” 

~Author Unknown

Often we fail to start because we don’t think we’ll have time to finish.  This kills productivity.

Stop worrying about the finish line.  You’ll never reach it unless you cross the starting line first.

You can accomplish more than you think in 15 minutes or sometimes even just 5 minutes.

Get started and do as much as you can without concern for finishing.  I promise, you’ll be amazed at how much more you’ll get done by following this simple guideline.

3.  Give Yourself Permission to Be Crappy

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people.”

~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Sometimes we procrastinate because we fear our results will be crappy.  To avoid crappy results, we tell ourselves things like, “I don’t even know where to start.”

As David Kadavy, author of Design for Hackers, says, “It’s okay to suck, it’s necessary to suck.”

We all learn as we go.  You had to crawl before you could walk and when you did start walking, you were pretty crappy at it.  However, I bet you’ve gotten a lot better now because you never stopped trying.

Give yourself permission to be crappy at first.  It eliminates a big obstacle to getting started.

4.  Change Your Internal Self-Talk

“Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strengths.”

~ Charles Spurgeon

You cannot bully yourself into getting important tasks done.  When you pressure yourself, you increase your anxiety and anxiety empties you of your strength.

I’ve realized, from my own struggles with procrastination, words have power.  When I use words like, “should”, “need to”, and “have to” to try to force myself to do tasks, my internal resistance increases.

To combat this, give yourself some room and monitor your internal self-talk.  Instead of saying, “I have to get this done,” say, “I want to do this.”  It really does make a difference.

5.  Realize Not All Procrastination Is Bad

“The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.”

~ Jessica Hische

I’ve come to realize that procrastination is not all bad.  Therefore, one way to beat it is to just give in to it.

In some instances, it is better to put off a task until you truly feel up to it.

In the meantime, engage in something where you can learn, grow and be creative.  You may generate some of your most brilliant ideas while you are distracting yourself from what you “should” be doing.

Stop Struggling With Procrastination

“The really happy people are those who have broken the chains of procrastination, those who find satisfaction in doing the job at hand. They’re full of eagerness, zest, productivity. You can be, too.”

~ Norman Vincent Peale

Habitual procrastination is debilitating.  However, it can be overcome.  The tips above will help you become a happier, more productive person.

You cannot afford to put this off any longer!

Is Fear Suffocating Your Dreams?

Fear vs Dreams Is Fear Suffocating Your Dreams?This is a guest post by Todd.

Fear can propel you forward or suffocate you.

It is a powerful motivator.

You want to listen to it when it’s warning you of danger, but sometimes you still need to turn down the volume.

Risk is dangerous, and if you want to propel yourself forward, you’re going to have to take risks.

Decide If Fear Is Holding You Back

Is it possible that fear is suffocating your dreams?

Here’s a quiz to evaluate if fear is holding you back from the realization of your dreams:

  1. Do you fear failure?
  2. Do you fear what people think (or looking stupid)?
  3. Do you fear moving forward due to financial concerns?
  4. Does thinking about attacking the tasks to start your dream make you feel tired, depressed, or defeated?
  5. Do you enjoy the comfort of “playing it safe”?

Of course, my quiz isn’t scientific. We’ve all felt these fears. On some level, most of us face fears 1 and 2 on an almost daily basis.

If you answered yes to most of the questions above, fear is probably suffocating your dreams.

How To Overcome Your Fear and Realize Your Dream

Here’s what you can do to overcome your fear:

1. Identify the Fear

Dig down to specifically what you’re afraid of. Is it the disapproval of a particular person? (Will they truly care anyhow?)

Is it the self-criticism that comes from within?

Is it a fear of falling flat on your face?

2. Evaluate If It’s Real

Take a long hard look at your fear. Is it external or internal to you?

For example, fearing the loss of money or of injury is valid and real. You’ve got to take a look and decide if what you want to try is something you’re prepared for.

Is what you fear internal? Self-fabricated? These feelings and thoughts aren’t invalid or unreal. You certainly are experiencing them. But if they aren’t external to you, they don’t pose a real threat except to control you from taking a stab at your dream.

“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.”

~ Japanese Proverb

3. Exposure

In order to give your fear a knock-out kick to the face, you can’t run from it. You must face and it and expose yourself to it.

People who are afraid of public speaking will need to expose themselves to it. People who are afraid of flying have to get in an airplane. Sure, there are other steps along the way, but never attempting, never facing something will never afford you the opportunity to fully process out what you fear.

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”

~ Francis Chan

4. Make a Plan

People that have the utmost confidence of fulfilling their dreams are those that meticulously plan and prepare.

When you face fears, it’s easy to run. That’s usually more comfortable than staring them in the face.

However, often, that’s what we must do.

You don’t scream. You don’t shout. You think. You prepare. And you plan. If you want to face and overcome fear, this is what you have to do.

“The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist.”

~ Steven Pressfield

About the Author

This is a guest post written by Todd. He’s the co-founder and content manager at Fearless Men, a men’s blog on Manliness that inspires men to grow strong, get fit, be wise, kick fear in the face and become a better man. Check out what else he’s written on Overcoming Fear.

Photo by: Nicholas Hammond

10 Happiness Hacks That Really Work

happiness hacks 10 Happiness Hacks That Really WorkThis is a guest post by Jessica Ruane.

Contentment cannot be achieved through a paycheck or a weight loss supplement.

Genuine happiness is a conscious mindset that everyone must create for themselves.

Fortunately, cultivating a sense of serenity and happiness might be easier than you think.

Happiness Hacks You Can Use for Instant Joy

Next time you’re feeling down, try one of these easy, instant, mood-lifting tricks.

They really work!

1) Get Dressed Up

That tired old cliché, “When you look good, you feel good,” is actually true. If you wake up feeling kind of down for no particular reason, putting on your favorite outfit can help you walk out the door feeling a lot more confident. Plus, the people in your life who see you on a daily basis will surely take notice and let you know how great you look. It’s hard to stay in a bad mood when you’re receiving compliments all day!

2) Stretch and Breathe

I’m certainly a true believer in the healing power of yoga. But you don’t have to be in a studio to receive the feel-good effects of a stretching session. Anytime you want to calm your nerves and get a boost of endorphins, all you have to do is take a moment to stretch and breathe deeply for at least five minutes. You will feel calmer, centered, and ready to take on the world. It definitely works!

3) Make a Gratitude List

When you start feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, and overcome with the feeling that your life is completely unfair, an easy way to regain perspective is to make a list of everything you’re grateful for. The list can include basic freedoms, small luxuries, and of course, the people who matter most to you. It may sound like a cheesy personal growth exercise, but it forces your mind out of the negative and into the positive.

4) Smell Something Wonderful

This may feel like a silly parlor trick, but the sense of smell is a powerful way to tap into your positive memories. When I’m exposed to something that smells like my mom’s cooking, or my dad’s cologne, I’m immediately transported back to how I felt as a little girl—happy, and carefree. A pleasant smell is enough to take you out of the present moment, and sometimes that’s all you need.

5) Indulge in a Little Escape

Occasionally, you just need a minute to yourself. When life gets overwhelming, step away, and shut your mind down. I always like to have places that I can go to unwind for a minute. Sometimes it’s a power nap in the car. Other times, it’s the empty coffee shop down the street. Don’t feel like you have to suit up and show up for every minute of the day. Allow yourself time to slip away, relax, and recharge. Then, you can turn a rested mind back to your duties.

6) Call Someone Who Makes You Feel Safe

Connecting with someone who you truly feel comfortable with can certainly boost your mood if you’re feeling down. Just a quick pep talk from a special someone you trust can dramatically improve any situation. Chose the most supportive person you can think of. It could be your mom, a close friend, or a significant other. Conversely, make sure to stay away from toxic people when you’re feeling vulnerable. Not everyone is a healer. Know in advance who you can turn to in a crisis.

7) Get Some Sun

When sunlight hits your skin, it triggers the production of Vitamin D. Some scientists speculate that a percentage of the population depends on Vitamin D to stay emotionally balanced. Several studies have shown that a deficient amount of Vitamin D is directly related to a dip in mood for certain people. So slap on some sunscreen and catch some healing rays for an instant boost of energy! If spending time in the sun is not an option, you can always give light therapy a try! Just sitting under a full-spectrum light for an hour a day has been shown to relieve symptoms of depression in some studies.

8) Eat a Healthy Snack

It’s no secret that the food you eat affects how you feel. Although most people might crave junk food when they’re feeling low or stressed out, a healthier option (like an orange) can make you feel better in the long run.

P.S. If you just can’t fight the craving for something sweet, opt for a piece of dark chocolate. This delicious dessert is high in magnesium, a mineral that reduces anxiety. Dark chocolate also has tryptophan, which can help reduce symptoms of depression.

9) Hang With a Furry Friend

Petting an animal releases all sorts of feel-good hormones like serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, and lowers the stress hormone cortisol. Even if you don’t own a pet yourself, you can always go for walk in your neighborhood dog park. Exercise + dogs= total happiness.

Even better, volunteer at your local shelter. Volunteering is another great proven path to happiness. According to Mark Snyder, a psychologist and head of the Center for the Study of the Individual and Society at the University of Minnesota. “People who volunteer tend to have higher self-esteem, psychological well-being, and happiness.” This is especially true for folks that volunteer with animals.

10) Listen to Your Favorite Song

Step away for a minute with your iPod and put your favorite song on. When you need a quick way to space out and shed some stress, going back to basics is sometimes your best bet. Having a go-to song that you listen to when you need a quick burst of energy is a great asset to your happy vault. Putting on your favorite song does more for your mind than you might think. Listening to your favorite melodies and harmonies can trigger the brain to release large amounts of dopamine, a chemical that sends “feel good” signals to the rest of the body and plays a role in both motivation and addiction.

Use a Happiness Hack When You Need a Boost

You don’t have to be a victim of stressful circumstances. These are ten simple happiness hacks you can use virtually anywhere, at anytime. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on a spa day, or take a vacation on the beach to unwind. You have the power to change your mood whenever you want. You would be amazed at how something so simple can have such a dramatic impact on your mind.

What do YOU do when you need a quick pick-me-up?

Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

Jessica Ruane is a personal growth teacher and blogger in San Diego. When she’s not lecturing students, she writes for her company blog.

How to Stay Positive While Trying to Lose Weight

positive weight loss How to Stay Positive While Trying to Lose WeightThis is a guest post by Jessica Velasco.

Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows there is no easy way to make it happen.

There is no magic pill or miracle product.  You just need to put in the time and do the work.

However, there is a secret weapon many people are ignorant of.  This secret can work miracles and produce amazing results.

Want to know what the secret is?  I’ll tell you; it’s a positive attitude.

Change how you think about food, the progress of your weight loss journey, and your outward appearance.  You’ll see shocking results in no time at all.

Change How You Think About Food

Many weight loss hopefuls come to hate food and the strict diet they must adhere to.  Having a positive outlook on the food you are eating and the effect it is has on your body is the first change you must make.

Eat when you are hungry.  No diet should require you to go into starvation mode.  If you allow yourself to become super hungry, you’re bound to eventually cave to your desires and totally overindulge.  Instead, reach for a healthy snack when hunger pangs strike.  Just make sure you are eating out of hunger, not boredom.  Keep portions in check and stop eating when your hunger has been satisfied.

Eat the foods you crave.  Again, total deprivation is a bad thing.  If you cut your favorite foods from your life, they will start to dominate your thoughts.  You’ll long for those goodies until you can no longer control yourself.  Binges are a dieter’s worst enemy.  Go ahead and allow yourself a treat every once in a while.  Just make sure you keep everything in moderation and be very conscious of the calories you are consuming.

Acknowledge the good things food does for your body.  You may despise every crunch of that carrot.  You may long to mask its bland taste with fattening dips or sauces.  Instead of focusing on the things you don’t like about certain foods, why not think about all the good they are doing?  Carrots can help improve your vision, prevent cancer, battle the appearance of premature aging, prevent infection, restore beautiful skin, prevent heart disease, nourish your teeth and gums, and reduce the chance of stroke.  They aren’t looking too bad now, are they?!

Change How You Evaluate Your Progress

Weight loss is more than just a number on the scale.  It is about looking and feeling better too.  Look for other methods of critiquing your weight loss journey.

Be patient.  Losing weight in a safe, long-lasting, and healthy way is going to take time.

Set attainable goals.  Your big-picture plan – losing weight – is admirable.  However, it is awfully difficult to evaluate such an ambiguous goal.  Set smaller, measurable goals that will get you from one day to the next.  Sit down and map out your plan.  Know where you want to go and how you will accomplish it.

Once you have reached a goal, reward yourself.  Don’t turn to unhealthy foods for your treat though.  Reward yourself with things that will help you reach your next goal.  That might mean a new pair of running shoes or a day at the spa to rejuvenate.

Don’t doubt your efforts.  There are a wide variety of weight loss plans and products on the market these days.  Not all plans are created equally and not all products have the same effect on everyone.  What worked for one person might not work for you.  Don’t measure your success against someone else.

Likewise, try not to jump from one plan to another.  If you try lipotropic injections for one week, Atkins the next, Jenny Craig for a month, and adhere to The South Beach Diet for a few days, you’ll never give any of these options a chance to work.  Pick a plan and give it some time.

Be honest and realistic.  Take a good long look at what you are doing and why you are doing it.  Are your goals realistic?  Have you set your sights too high?  Are you doing more harm than good?  Make sure your goals are attainable; don’t set yourself up for failure.

Do you really want to lose weight right now?  Are you truly committed to this plan?  You might find the reality is you aren’t ready to lose weight or commit to the effort it requires.  Adult beverages with friends and leisurely strolls on the golf course might be more important than low-calorie foods and intense workout sessions.

Be accountable to yourself.  No one else is responsible for your success or failure.  Keep yourself accountable for the foods you eat and how often you exercise.

Likewise, don’t make excuses.  Finding ways to justify your behavior isn’t going to change the outcome.  Accept the fact that you will slip up on occasion.  Learn from those mistakes instead of brushing them under the rug.

Surround yourself with positive people.  Let your friends and family spur you on to your goal.  Stay away from people who have bad habits and will likely encourage you to join them.  If you find a loved one isn’t supportive of your weight loss efforts, have a conversation with them.  See if you can get to the root of the problem.  Likewise, avoid places and situations that will make it more difficult to adhere to your weight loss goals.

Change How You Think About Your Appearance

Everyone is beautiful – no matter what their weight.  Focus your attention on how you feel.  You may not have reached your goal yet, but know that you are making strides to get there.  Appreciate how far you’ve come.

Use your imagination.  Visualize your body and the life you really want.  You might even want to find a motivational photograph if the mental image isn’t enough to sustain you.  Find a picture of yourself from your glory days or look to someone else for inspiration.  Let that be an encouragement, not an obsession.  Don’t worry, you’ll get there eventually!

Set a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you think you are overweight or unhealthy, you will stay that way.  There are zero benefits of negative thinking.  Instead, tell yourself you are attractive and making great strides towards your goal.

Take pride in you appearance.  Throw the sweats in the hamper.  Take the time to freshen up, fix your hair, and shave.  Put on your favorite outfit.  If you look good, you’ll feel good.  If you feel good, you’re much more likely to put in the effort necessary to make yourself look even better.

Staying Positive Will Help You Lose Weight

Losing weight, eating healthy, and getting fit are admirable goals.  You definitely won’t have an easy time making it happen though.  However, you can greatly increase the likelihood of reaching your goal if you have a positive attitude.  Shed all your negative thoughts right along with those unwanted pounds.

 About the Author

Jessica Velasco is a health and fitness writer.  She often has to remind herself to be positive about her own fitness efforts.  Staying in shape is difficult when you spend half the day in front of the computer!

Have a Great Life Right Where You Are

dreamer Have a Great Life Right Where You AreWant an amazing life?

“Let every man or woman here, if you never hear me again, remember this, that if you wish to be great at all, you must begin where you are and with what you are, in Philadelphia, now.”

The words above were offered by Russell Conwell in his classic lecture called Acres of Diamonds.

We think to have a great life, we need to uproot our lives.

We tend toward the old adage, “The grass is always greener on the other side.”

This traps us in a quagmire of inaction. The hill of change is too great so we cave.

We remain stuck living a life of mediocrity because we think a truly great life can only be found in a new place with new people doing a new thing.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Get the Great Life Right Where You Are

Stop just dreaming about a great life.  You are wasting valuable time that you can’t get back.

The timing, the circumstances, the plan will never be perfect.  If you keep waiting for the stars to align or for your opportunity to suddenly ripen to perfection, you will forever be stuck in a life of quiet desperation.

Conwell’s message is that you shouldn’t fall for the trap that all great success is found somewhere else.  He challenges you to realize that there are acres of diamonds in your own backyard.

In other words, you can be successful, prosperous and happy right where you are – in your present circumstances.

You just have to quit overlooking all the opportunity that is right before you.

Begin where you are, with what you have and with who you are.  The good fortune before you is just waiting for you to see it and make something of it.

The Key to Success Right Where You Are

“He that can be a blessing to the community in which he lives tonight will be great anywhere, but he who cannot be a blessing where he now lives will never be great anywhere on the face of God’s earth.”

~ Russell H. Conwell, Acres of Diamonds

The level of success you enjoy is directly related to your ability to find a way to serve the needs of others.

Those that are highly successful understand this.

They find a way – right where they are – to serve and be a blessing.

When you are a blessing, when you serve a useful purpose, people become willing to give you money.  The money they give could be in the form of a salary, a donation or possibly to purchase your product or services.

The greater your service, the greater they give.

I don’t want you to miss what Conwell says in the quote above.  Those that are great, discover a way to serve right where they are, in the community they live in tonight.

That little phrase, “in the community they live in tonight,” implies a lot.  It says that those that create a great life for themselves find a way to be great beginning right where they are, with what they have and with who they are.

How do you do this?

I think you begin by embracing this attitude:

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” 

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Find a way to be a blessing and do that thing with the utmost of excellence.

People spend too much time in our culture today trying to be clever.

In reality, greatness is found by starting right where you are and delivering astounding service.  It is a simple recipe, but one that works and that is available to everyone.

The path to greatness lies directly in front of you.  There are acres of diamonds before you.  Do you see them?

Once you do, you will be on your way to an amazing life!

A Case Against Multitasking and What to Do Instead

multitask A Case Against Multitasking and What to Do InsteadThis is a guest post by Hilary Overcash.

Do you want more focus in your life?

To multitask or not to multitask…that seems to be the question.

As a chronic multitasker myself, I have always looked up to those that are able to juggle multiple tasks with ease.

However, I have discovered, over the years, that as a result of jumping from one thing to another not only do I fail to develop a complete skill set in one area; I’m also not giving tasks the attention they deserve.

In the long run, I have found that small bouts of concentrated effort and focus have a greater impact and spare my brain chaos.

The Case Against Multitasking

Could multitasking actually be causing a drop in productivity?

Multitasking can make it much more difficult to tune out distractions. According to some research, productivity is decreased by as much as 40% when one tries to do more than one thing at a time.

Performing multiple tasks or even constantly switching back and forth between tasks may actually slow cognitive processing.

Bosco Tjan, Associate Professor of Psychology put it this way:

“Most of the time multitasking is an illusion. You think you are multitasking, but in reality you’re actually wasting time switching from one task to another.”

But, all hope is not lost!

How to Recover from a Multitasking Addiction

Here are some ways to kick the habit of multitasking, focus in, and get more done…

Schedule Tasks

An excellent way to improve focus is to decide on a schedule or time slot for each task and stick to it. Now, I’m not talking about having to sit down and do a major overhaul of your schedule. I’m talking about deciding how long a task will take and breaking it down into chunks.

You may want to give yourself just 20 minutes to check emails and social media sites. 50-minute increments are a good rule of thumb for longer tasks. Larger projects that will take hours to complete can be broken down into 45-50 minute segments with a 10-15 minute break in between segments.

Try these suggestions and find the time frames that work best for you.  Your goal is to work in small spurts where you can achieve laser focus.

Commit to working on only the task at hand during the segment. Let everyone know ahead of time, if need be, that you have set the time aside free of distractions. This way you can avoid being interrupted aside from emergencies.

Try using a timer like the Pomodora App that gives you 25 minutes to work on a task at a time. This way you are not distracted by looking at a clock.

Take Breaks

Earlier, I mentioned taking 10-15 minute breaks for every 50 minutes of work. This may sound like a waste of time, but improves focus and productivity in the long run.

“Mental concentration is similar to a muscle,” says John P. Trougakos, an assistant management professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough and the Rotman School of Management.  “It becomes fatigued after sustained use and needs a rest period before it can recover – much as a weight lifter needs rest before doing a second round of repetitions at the gym,” he explains.  (via New York Times 6/17/2012)

Something as simple as taking a walk can make all the difference in your concentration. Stepping away from the computer screen and catching some fresh air, revives the brain. If you cannot get outside, just doing something different for a few minutes can help. Stretch your muscles, doodle on a notepad, get up and circle your desk, anything to give yourself a break.

Be In The Moment

Learning to be in the moment, to feel what you feel and experience all you can experience, takes practice.

All the moments in our lives have significance all their own. When we are constantly bouncing between tasks we miss out on the little moments that are making up our lives. Think about it, have your ever had a “light bulb” moment that changed the way you thought or lived your life in an instant?

When we live in the here and now, we give our hearts and minds a chance to speak to us. We open ourselves to special experiences that might otherwise be missed.

Take time to just stop and focus in on your surroundings. Close your eyes and be still. What sounds do you hear? The patter of feet, the ticking of a clock, the rush of traffic in the distance…

What do you feel? Is the room warm or cool? Do you have any sensations in your body? Do you feel tense, relaxed, happy, or sad? Don’t judge what you feel, just be present with it for a moment.

As you learn to do this, your heartbeat slows and mind calms. You learn to let go and be fully present with yourself. You train your brain to focus on what you choose. With this your heart and mind will thank you. There is no time but the present.

Stop Multitasking and Start Being Productive

Schedule your tasks, take breaks, and be in the moment as you watch your productivity soar!

About the Author

Hilary Overcash is a blue eyed, brunette living at the equator with a passion for helping people live their best lives! As a proud member of the Empower community my blog can be found here at http://www.empowernetwork.com/hilaryen/.  I invite you to pay it a visit.

12 Realities We Need to Face for Peak Performance

peak performance 12 Realities We Need to Face for Peak Performance
This is a guest post by Michael Keiser.

Do you want to be a peak performer?

I’m never sure if it’s a good idea or not to start an article off with a confession.

While I would like you to believe that I’m an expert in my field, I feel compelled to confess that most of my expertise is born out of messing things up. Well, more than messing things up, I would describe it more like trying to wish away reality. That pesky word…reality.

I think there’s even a psychological term for the stress we feel from the gap that exists between how we think the world should be and how it really is; how we think people should behave versus how they really do, etc.

I can’t remember what that term is right now. And if there isn’t such a term, there probably should be.

The Reality Gap that Weakens Our Performance

But I digress. We all feel it to varying degrees and at different times. But we all feel it nonetheless.

If you ever say any of these following things to yourself, then you too suffer from this unnamed condition:

“I wish you could count on people to keep their word.”

“My work/life balance is so blurry.”

“I hope the future becomes a little more secure.”

“We need to put less pressure on ourselves.”

“Corporate America is so unfair.”

Or just plug in the word “unfair” in a number of different scenarios.

You get the idea.

I’m describing those times when you simply feel frustrated, upset, or stressed out at reality. Not reality exactly but that gap between reality and how we wish things were.

Embrace Reality to Achieve Peak Performance

In my experience, this is one of the most insidious conditions that keeps us from performing at our best, from being our best.

We use a tremendous amount of mental energy wishing things were different.

This is energy that could be used working on ourselves, acquiring new skills, building relationships, or enjoying our lives. But no, we insist on wasting it.

I would have to say that learning to embrace reality had a more dramatic impact on my own performance than anything else I’ve done. It actually lead to the creation of our business philosophy, which is “optimistic realism”.

The great entrepreneur, Ray Dalio, wrote an eBook called Principles. It’s his 160 (or so) principles for success. Guess what #1 is? Be hyper-real.

So, I’ve compiled what I believe are 12 of the most important realities to embrace if you want to reach your best.

1. We Need to Learn More Skills

Too many of us haven’t really updated our skills or attitudes since school. We somehow create this weird illusion that we know enough, that we don’t need to always be learning. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. As we progress, there are new complexities and demands. There are new situations. The knowledge that got us “here” won’t get us “there”. The most successful people I know are life long learners.

2. Acknowledge Fear and Uncertainty Exist

I know a lot of people that wish they didn’t have to experience fear and doubt as regularly as they do. But the truth is, if you’re not experiencing any doubt or anxiety, you’re not really up to anything important. Our brain is hardwired to look for everything that could go wrong, that is, fear. That doesn’t mean we should ever allow fear to consume us or halt our progress. We simply need to face the reality that sometimes feeling fear is part of the human experience.

3. You Need a Plan

The world is changing so dramatically that planning and prioritizing with so many unknowns is difficult. But this is what makes the need for a plan to improve your life all the more important. Going through each day by the seat of our pants never leads to peak performance. It leads to “more of the same”.

4. There Is More Pressure to Perform

Paying lip service to performance will no longer do (especially if you’re a small business owner). Customers and employers have become more demanding about the level of quality that they’ll accept. Information is easier to come by. People can buy things almost anywhere. Word travels fast through social media. We need to be operating at our best and not just saying we’re the best.

5. Work/Life Balance Is Somewhat a Myth

Yes, I said “somewhat” a myth. What I mean by this is there is a definite need to balance out work, family, and personal time. We require all of these. But sometimes one thing takes priority over another thing. Those of you who are business owners know that for sure. You’ve worked some 80 hour weeks in your day. Let’s not get bent out of shape if, on occasion, you need to miss the rerun of Gilligan’s Island to get some work done. That’s how it goes. It will all balance out in the end.

6. Being a Good Communicator Is the Key to Success

I understand that you’re successful because of your brilliant idea, your flawless execution, your unmatched business acumen, and your unwavering rightness. But, for the rest of us, our success is mostly based on our ability to get other people to buy-in to what we’re doing. We need the support, ideas, friendship, and expertise of other people in order to perform at our best. Being an excellent communicator is a major step in getting that support.

7. There Is No Such Thing as Job Security

At the risk of sounding a bit harsh, career security is a thing of the past. We need to create our own security, which generally means striving to be the best at what we do. Getting to a point where people just can’t live without us is real security.

8. Manage Your Mind, Manage Your Life

One of the biggest areas I’ve seen people neglect in their quest to become a peak performer is mind management. Throughout our day-to-day lives, we are working with a mind that essentially has no desire to be managed. Our ego thinks it’s got it all under control. The truth of the matter is that we spend most of our time trapped in our stories and perceptions and “believe” everything we think. In order to perform at our best, we need to have more control over our thoughts, emotions, and actions.

9. Vision Will Set you Free

I know, you’re way too busy to think about what it is you REALLY want. After all, you have a demanding job, bills to pay, mouths to feed, etc. Vision is for those new-age people with waaaay too much time on their hands, right? Well…no. Not that your vision needs to be extremely grandiose like saving the world or curing cancer (but it doesn’t hurt). What I’m more referring to is making sure that you are engaged in things that have real meaning to you, not just to make a buck. Of all the entrepreneurs I’ve worked with, the ones that are the most clear about what they want out of life achieve the most success. Vision is never a whimsical afterthought. It is the foundation upon which peak performers build.

10. You Need to Be a Producer

Wealth creation in the United States has stalled because we have become more consumers and less producers. I think we need to wake up and create something everyday for our business, our life, our family, our community, or our world. We need to focus more attention on execution and innovation. Peak performers are always searching for a better way. They’re never satisfied with the status-quo. Keep your productive juices flowing at all times.

11. Talent and Confidence Matter

I had an amazing conversation recently with a highly successful Division 1 college basketball coach. I asked her what the single biggest factor was that would tell her if a player was going to be good or not. She said, “that’s easy, it’s confidence”. She said that our own belief in ourselves is the biggest factor in performing well. So, it begs the question, how does one gain confidence? By gaining talent and skill. By working hard and practicing our craft all the time. By actually being better than most others in our field. It becomes a cycle that feeds off of itself. Confidence leads to practice, which leads to skill, which leads to more confidence, and so forth. If you lack belief in yourself, its imperative you find a way to get it.

12. You Need to Keep Score

In order to perform at our best, we need to be working against metrics and measurables, or what I refer to as “performance based measurements”. It’s always amazing to me how many people don’t really know at any given moment how they are performing. Where do you stand in regard to goals? Are you financially where you need to be? Is your career progressing the way it should? I know it’s an obvious question but how can you get any better if you don’t really know how you’re doing in the first place? Keeping score makes us accountable as well. It’s a major component in being a peak performer.

Let’s not be afraid of reality. Let’s embrace it. Let’s accept it. And let’s whip that reality into submission as we become our best selves. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

About the Author

Mike Keiser has been a business owner since 1997 and uses his business knowledge and experience to assist clients in building profitable and valuable companies.  You can reach Mike via his website at Mental Compass: Influencing Peak Performance, Growth, and Productivity.