Your Freedom Is In Danger!

Do you consider yourself a free person? Ok, let me ask you a different question then. Have you ever thought about bonds and chains that might hold you back? What prevents you from moving forward and growing? What keeps you from reaching your goals? What limits your freedom?

ElephantsYou know, a few days ago I read a story about elephants who were standing in a row waiting on their trainer. These huge animals were held only by a small rope tied to their front leg. A passing-by man was astonished by this fact and asked for an explanation. The trainer told him that those elephants had been held by the same rope since they were little. It had been enough for them then. As they grew up, they were conditioned to believe they couldn’t break away. So, they never even tried.

Sometimes, we have the same ropes. They are tiny. They are weak and almost invisible, but we allow them to hold us and we never even try to break free.

The first thing we need to do is to admit there are such ropes. Self-awareness is always the key. Let’s look at a few examples, and maybe you will find your own chains and ropes.

  • Fears
  • Doubts
  • Grudges
  • Busyness
  • Idols
  • Addictions
  • Pride
  • Arrogance
  • Frustrations
  • Anger
  • Worry
  • Anxiety
  • Greed

These are only a few possible chains. There might be many more. So, what are we going to do with them?

Being aware of such bonds is the first step. Next, you should try to take notice every time this feeling, emotion or a thought appears and tries to take charge. Giving it place and letting it control your actions and your life is the clear way to lose freedom.

After you notice the emotion and prevent it from controlling you several times in a row, it will lose power over you. It’s like forming a good habit or getting rid of a bad habit. The first step – take notice. The next step – take action by confronting it. The third step – repeat and remember to condition yourself for future behavior.

Of course, there’s more to be said on the topic of forming good habits, but I will just refer you to an awesome Neuroplasticity course on Udemy by Gregory Caremans. He explains it in very much detail and with a lot of exercises.

So, what chains are you trying to break these days? Share in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!

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How to Use Your Superpowers (Yes, You Have Them)

pexels-photo-346796Let me ask you one of my favorite questions: If you were a superhero, which superpower do you wish you had? Is it flying or mind reading? Telekenisis or teleportation? Traveling in time or freezing time?
There’s something extremely important I want to tell you. You do have superpowers. They are called gifts and talents, strengths and abilities. Don’t get all skeptical or negative. Remember to have an open mind and great things will start happening to you.

Find Your Superpowers

Quit thinking that talents are only about singing, painting or anything else connected with art. There’s so much more to this topic, than meets the eye. If you’d like to learn a little more about yourself, to increase your self-awareness, take the Gallup Strengthsfinder test. Its pretty substantial with 180 questions which will reveal your 5 talents or strengths.
However, even if you’re not a big fan of tests, there are other ways to figure out what gifts you possess. Here are a few ideas:
  • Ask your friends and family, people who know you well. They will tell you, what you’re really great at.
  • Ask yourself a question – what am I most passsionate about?
  • There might be something you always secretly wanted to do and kind of thought you may be good at it. What is it? It could be one of your strengths.
  • Remember what people usually thank you for. Which of your actions do they praise most of the time?
  • What do you love doing so much that you lose track of time while being immersed into the activity?

Now, analyse all your answers and make a list of your strengths and talents. Here are some examples to help you with ideas: empathy, strategic thinking, sense of humor, helpfulness, analytical skills, discipline, organizer, encourager, design, cooking, gardening, problem solving, etc.

Use Your Superpowers

As soon as you have your list, it’s time to put it to action.

Choose one strength which you would like to focus on now. It could be something you really need in your current or future job. At the same time, it might be a talent which you always wanted to develop but never had time for it.

After choosing one strength to work on, make an action plan with specific, measurable and time-oriented steps which will help you take this strength on another level. You may want to make a little research. Look for books, podcasts, courses and videos on your topic. Learn as much as possible.

One of the best ways to develop your strength is to actually use it. Seek possibilities to apply your talent at work. Go to your boss and offer to participate in a project which complements your gifts. Start a project of your own on the side. Start a business.

Finally, I got an advice for you. Marcus Buckingham wrote a very practical book on this topic called ‘Put Your Strengths to Work’. It gives you several specific steps and tools on how to focus on your talents and start using them in life more. Check it out.

Now, I’d like to hear from you. Please, share one or two of your strengths and tell us how you apply them in your life and work.

Is Personal Growth a Luxury or a Necessity?

What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase ‘personal growth’ or ‘personal development’? Does it make you cringe because you heard it too often? Or does it make you feel proud and hopeful because that’s what you’re working on constantly?

One morning I was running near the lake listening to a great audiobook recommended to me by my friend. It was ‘When Breath Becomes Air’ by Paul Kalanithi. The book is autobiographical depicting Paul’s struggles to fight cancer.  He was a talented neurosurgeon and an aspiring writer. Most of his life he was studying to be a neurosurgeon or working as one but always dreaming to one day become a writer. And only by the end of his life when he knew he didn’t have much left he decided to write his first and last book.

I vividly remember the very place I was running by when I heard this quote. It was right by the benches near the lake when the narrator said:  “Darwin and Nietzsche agreed on one thing: the defining characteristic of the living organism is striving.”

As a matter of fact, I am not a big fan of both Darwin and Nietzsche. I do respect their intelligence but absolutely disagree with their beliefs. However, this quote became an inspiring metaphor for me. It showed that each living being is characterised by striving. Striving to survive. Striving to grow. Striving to succeed.

Tony Robbins once said: “When we stop growing, we stop living.” Somebody else might have said it before him, but that’s not the point. The main idea is to continually develop, grow and learn.

Gregory Caremans, the founder of the Brain Academy, in his Udemy Neuroplasticity course explains very clearly why our brain must have new experiences on a regular basis and must constantly learn something new.

So, to sum up, let me give you 5 reasons why I think personal growth is an absolute necessity for each human being.

  1. It helps our brain grow constantly and keeps it from shrinking.
  2. It prevents such diseases as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
  3. It gives us more confidence and more opportunities.
  4. It helps us stay alive and at the top of the game.
  5. Life is just more fun with it.

So, continue growing, developing, learning, acquiring new skills and habits. Life will present you more opportunities to grow as soon as you show interest in it. There’s always a chance to read another book.

What are your favorite ways of growing personally?

Stop Burying Your Talents

Have you ever seen a superhero movie? Wouldn’t you want to possess at least one of those superpowers?

I’m a big sci-fi fan and love all kinds of movies about non-existent universes and people with supernatural abilities. It fascinates me to see what human beings can do when we get in touch with our talents and strengths.

There’s one more important fact you’ve got to know about me – I’m a strong believer in the power of human potential. I believe we all have incredible God-given potential which is not realized to the fullest. We might not even know we have it and just live our life from day to day in total ignorance about our hidden ‘superpowers’.

What makes me really sad is that the majority of people don’t use their gifts and don’t work in the areas of their strengths. Can you imagine the world where all people realize their talents and develop their strengths? Just think how happy everyone would be! It’s an amazing feeling when you know you’re using your gifts.

What a beautiful world it would be!

I want to challenge you to think about your own talents, gifts and strengths. If you don’t know, ask your closest friends and family. People around you might help you uncover those gifts. As soon as you find out your strengths, start using them for the greater good, for improving the level of your own life and the life of people around you.

Let’s make this world a better place where everyone is using his or her potential to the fullest!

Should You Train Your Body to Need Less Sleep?

pexels-photo-271897Why do you think the topic of sleep is so popular nowadays? There are books and researches, articles and blog posts, infographics and videos on this topic. Everybody is ready to offer an opinion. Everyone seems to know so much about it.

I’ve been experimenting with my sleep for several years now. About two years ago it became particularly crucial for me to have more hours in a day. I’m a full-time missionary who is also teaching English on the side and owns her own business. Three full-time jobs demand a lot of time, that’s why training my body to sleep less became a new challenge.

What To Remember

If you think you can just decide to sleep less and start your new life easily, you’re in for a big surprise. Unless you’re one of very few people with gene called hDEC2, it will be pretty hard to retrain your body. You may function pretty normally one or two days, but soon sleep deprivation will kick in.

Also, there’s one very important fact to remember – we all need at least 7 hours of sleep. Every source I’ve read shouts loud and clear that 6 hours of sleep or less is not enough for our body to function normally during the day. Therefore, if you normally sleep more than 8 hours, it’s probably a good idea to train your body to sleep less. Otherwise, learn how to be more efficient during the day, and make sure you get your 7 magical hours.

Sacrificing your sleep won’t help you to be more productive. Your brain won’t generate creative ideas or solve intellectual problems on the level you want it to. Your body will lose its strength, so you won’t perform serious physical tasks as well as before.

pexels-photo-359989What To Do

Here’re a few tips I can give you based on my own experience:

  • When reading various books and articles, listening to other people’s advise, always keep in mind that we’re all different. If something worked for one person, it doesn’t mean it will work for you.
  • Increase self-awareness by understanding your personal sleep-cycles, best night and morning routines and the amount of sleep you need.
  • Experiment with the number of hours you need to feel rested. Allow yourself to wake up without an alarm clock a few nights in a row.  Keep record of the time you went to bed and woke up to learn how many hours of sleep are ideal for you.
  • Don’t stay in bed after you wake up. Majority of people are lazy by nature, that’s why we may allow ourselves to keep sleeping when our body doesn’t need it anymore.
  • Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. It’s more natural for our bodies to prepare for the night after it’s getting dark outside. On the other hand, the sunlight helps us wake up naturally. A lot of processes in our body are connected with the amount of sunlight we receive during the day.

 

Conclusion

So, the answer to our big question ‘Should you train your body to need less sleep?’ would depend on the amount of hours you sleep now. If it’s more than 7-8 hours, definitely try to retrain your body. Too much sleep can be as dangerous as too little of it. There’re only 20% of people who need more than 8 hours of sleep according to BBC.

At the same time, if you sleep 7-8 hours every night, enjoy it and learn how to use the rest of the day more efficiently.

 

 

 

Isn’t It Time to Change Something in Your Life?

notes-macbook-study-conferenceA great man once said: “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” Yesterday I reached the point when something new had to be done for the situation to change.

As it happened, it was Saturday and nobody else was in the office. We have a huge whiteboard on the wall which is perfect for brainstorming. We usually use it for seminars, planning sessions and meetings. ‘Why don’t I take advantage of it now, and try to brainstorm with myself?’, I thought. Nobody was disturbing me, I had the whole office for myself and enough time for such an activity.

My mind has been in stress lately, trying to figure out everything I have to accomplish, all the deadlines and all the challenges. First of all, I needed to clear my mind and organize my thoughts. The best way to do that is mind-mapping.

If you’re not familiar with the technique, check it out here: https://litemind.com/what-is-mind-mapping/

I wrote the main challenge in the middle and started connecting it with potential solutions and ideas how to reach my goal. At first those words and phrases didn’t seem particularly new or special, but soon they started to shape into a good plan.

Here’s what I came up with after about half an hour of brainstorming.

Mind-mapping Aug 29

My Tips for Mind-mapping

If you’d like to try this very effective technique, here are a few tips:

  1. Find a place and time when nobody can disturb you.
  2. If you can use any kind of board, it would be great. You can use a white, green or black board, a flip chart or a pin board.
  3. After writing a few goals take a short break, walk away from the board to let your mind get distracted. It will help your brain move from focused into diffused mode and come up with new ideas.
  4. While thinking and writing, stand close to the board, and then walk away to look at it from the distance. It will help you see new angles and new perspectives of your challenge.
  5. Take notice of those items that get the most connections. They are the ones that deserve your most attentions. In my case those were ‘discipline’ and ‘absence of distractions’.
  6. After you finish, write an action plan based on all your goals and connections.

Based on my new discoveries, I wrote a new schedule for myself and have already started putting it into life. I hope this example and these tips will be helpful for you and will inspire you to take action too. Want changes in your life? Start doing something you’ve never done before.

For more information on creativity development check out my FREE 7-Step Guide to Finding Ideas and Solutions

So, let me know in the comments how you like to brainstorm and organize your thoughts.

Stay positive and enjoy your life!

How to Be More Productive

P18A9498Do you remember your most productive day? What helped you stay focused and achieve your goals? I am sure you have several amazing tricks of your own. However, let me share with you my struggles and ideas first.

10 days ago I declared my personal war with procrastination and self-indulgence. There are only 24 hours in a day. Each minute is a gift, each second is precious. How dare we waste the moments of our life that we’ll never get back? Each moment is lived only once. I will never be 39 years 4 months 22 days old again. Ever!

My last several months have been a brutal struggle with procrastination. One day is amazingly productive, yet another one is a complete disaster. It exhausted me, annoyed me and ignited a burning desire to conquer this beast. That’s why my natural feistiness inspired me to start this personal war and invite others to keep me accountable.

So, here are a few things that usually help me stay productive throughout the day. These are not new ideas, although I need to remind myself of their importance regularly.

1.  Momentum

I am sure you’ve heard this physics term used in the area of business, achieving goals and success. When you start working on a task and suddenly find yourself engrossed in it, forgetting about time, that’s your momentum. You should catch it like a wave and ride it as far as possible.

Sometimes I would start writing a blog, preparing a lesson, working on a course, and the world around me ceases to exist. The work flows easily and without distractions, ideas come fast, and the process is enjoyable. This is momentum. I always have to remind myself to take the most of it and not waste this precious moment of inspiration.

2.  Focus

My biggest challenge and most important goal these days is focus. Momentum definitely helps to stay focused, but it doesn’t come first, it’s the result of a focused mind. Eliminate distractions, stay on a task without switching to another one, let the ideas flow and let the momentum kick in.

However, in my life focus is more than just working without interruptions. There are so many passions I want to pursue, so many causes my heart aches for! At the same time, my business, work and ministry throw numerous responsibilities at me. As a result, it’s getting harder, but also more crucial to stay focused.

3.  Pressure

All people are different. Perhaps, for somebody the pressure of a deadline is stressful and overwhelming. For me, a chronicle procrastinator, it’s a safe boat. I set deadlines for myself if nobody does it for me, and then, it’s up to pressure to play the role of a motivator.

In conclusion, let’s look at all three points. What’s your favorite? Mine is number one – momentum. It’s the most enjoyable one!

What are your techniques and methods to stay productive? Please share in the comments and help me in my war with procrastination. You can keep me accountable following my Instagram account – natasha_baz.