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?
You 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.
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!
Have you ever heard the word ‘chazown’? Probably not, unless you read Craig Groeschel’s incredible book about finding your vision. He reveals to us that ‘chazown’ is actually the Hebrew word for vision.
You know, in the recent years I’ve been meeting more and more people who don’t know their purpose, their vision in life. At the same time they would desperately want to find out what God had in mind when He created them. Are you one of those people? What is your vision? What is your calling?
There are three powerful steps that will help you find your chazown. According to Craig Groeschel, the first step you need to take is define your core values.
What do you value the most in your life? What stirs up righteous anger inside of you? What drives you when you make your most important decisions? It can be your family, freedom, faith, discipline, success, humility, patience, justice, kindness, relationships, giving, etc.
Make a list of your 5-7 values and set it aside. We will come back to it.
Your next step will be to identify your gifts and talents.
Gifts and Talents
Think about your strengths. What are you really good at? What are you passionate about and enjoy doing the most? When you’re engaged in this activity, you sometimes lose track of time. Try to remember the last time other people were saying you’re really good at something. Take a note of that skill.
Is there anything you secretly believe you can do, but you’ve never tried? You might even dream of doing it one day, but for some reason you have doubts and fears. What do you do that seems to have the most effect on other people?
The answers to all these questions and hints will help you make a list of your gifts and talents. You can call them your strengths as well.
Finally, we’re coming to the third step. Think of the main events in your life, negative and positive, which influenced you the most. These experiences shaped you into who you are today. Usually, these are emotionally strong episodes which left a noticeable trace in your memory.
After you remembered the events (it helps to draw a timeline with milestones), think what they all have in common. How are you different inwardly because of what you enjoyed and endured?
Got the list of past experiences? Now you’re ready to bring it all together and write a one-sentence purpose statement that describes your vision or ‘chazown’.
Bringing it all together
The final step in this process will include some drawing. Are you up for it? You’ll need to draw three circles on a piece of paper like you see on the picture.
Locate the part where all three circles overlap. This red part is your ‘chazown’. Ok, this is just a graphic representation of your vision. Now, let’s get to the purpose statement itself.
Put all three lists in front of you: your core values, gifts and talents and your past experiences. What do they have in common? Write down all similarities and let them inspire to answer the following questions: Is there something specific God is calling you to do starting now or sometime in the future? What possible title could be for the next chapter of your life?
Think of one action-focused sentence and let it motivate you to move forward in your life. May it serve you and many other people around you!
Please, share your purpose statements in the comments below to inspire others. I will look forward to hearing from you.
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.
- It helps our brain grow constantly and keeps it from shrinking.
- It prevents such diseases as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- It gives us more confidence and more opportunities.
- It helps us stay alive and at the top of the game.
- 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?
Why 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.
What 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.
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.
A 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.
My Tips for Mind-mapping
If you’d like to try this very effective technique, here are a few tips:
- Find a place and time when nobody can disturb you.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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’.
- 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!
Do 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.
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.
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.
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.