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Priority-Based Time Management ~ “Rocks, Pebbles & Sand”

Quick and easy time management hack that change your life- free training & printable.

Have you ever felt like you’ve gotten nothing done all day, even after checking 20 things off your list and you’d been “busy” almost non-stop? This used to happen to me ALL the time, (and there are times when it still does!) Today I’ll solve the mystery for you about why that happens. And guess what? It’s a super simple fix!

First Things First

Let me start by telling you a story. This is one I remember hearing years ago as a teenager, but was powerful enough for me at the time to have stuck with me so many years later.

I’ve been thinking about this story a lot lately since I’ve been working on a new time management course to share with you, and just couldn’t wait to share the story with you because I know you’ll love it too. I hope it resonates with you too, and that you can find ways to apply it to your own life and situation.

I actually didn’t remember where the story came from at first, but since I know that might be important for you to know, I did a little research and found that its original author is unknown, and that it has taken on many different forms and wording through the years. Since I’m an avid Steven Covey fan, I’ll share his version, which he shared in his book: “First Things First.”

I attended a seminar once where the instructor was lecturing on time. At one point, he said, “Okay, it’s time for a quiz.” He reached under the table and pulled out a wide-mouth gallon jar. He set it on the table next to a platter with some fist-sized rocks on it. “How many of these rocks do you think we can get in the jar?” he asked.

After we made our guess, he said, “Okay. Let’s find out.” He set one rock in the jar . . . then another . . . then another. I don’t remember how many he got in, but he got the jar full. Then he asked, “Is that jar full?”

Everybody looked at the rocks and said, “Yes.”

Then he said, “Ahhh.” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He then dumped some gravel in and shook the jar and the gravel went in all the little spaces left by the big rocks. Then he grinned and said once more, “Is the jar full?”

By this time we were on to him. “Probably not,” we said.

“Good!” he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went in all the little spaces left by the rocks and the gravel. Once more he looked at us and said, “Is the jar full?”

“No!” we all roared.

He said, “Good!” and he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in. He got something like a quart of water in that jar. Then he said, “The point is this: if you hadn’t put these big rocks in first, would you ever have gotten any of them in?”

“The Big Rocks of Life”- Dr. Stephen R. Covey, First Things First

Awesome, right?

Let’s break it down bit together, because I want to make sure we fully understand the implications this story is trying to teach us. Watch the short video below, or read the breakdown if you prefer. Either way, don’t forget to download the free printable below to determine the “Rocks, Pebbles and Sand” of your own life, and begin outlining your own tasks and where they might fit most effectively within your day.

Watch It!

Read It!

(Most, if not all, of the information below is included in the above video, but I’ve included it here, in written form, for your convenience.)

So let’s break this concept down.

The Jar

Imagine for a moment, that your day is represented by an empty jar. You can’t get a bigger jar- you’re only allotted the space that fills the single jar. Everything you want to do each day must fit into the jar, or it doesn’t get done.

In the story, the facilitator had three different items that each demonstrated different things that need to be done in the day. Some are large, some are medium and some are small.

The Rocks

The rocks in your life represent the SUPER important things that HAVE to get done or you might face strict consequences for ignoring. Rocks are your most important, highest priority items- the items you NEED to finish during the day. The things that would have the most positive impact in your life.

The tasks or categories of task items that the rocks represent will be different for you than for everyone else, but here are some ideas.

  • Spouse or significant other
  • Your Kids
  • Faith or Religion – activity and personal study
  • Extended family
  • Your Health
  • Critical tasks with deadlines ending today

You get the idea. This is definitely not an exhaustive list. Certainly I left some things off that are most important to you, and maybe some of the ones I included don’t apply to you at all. These are just ideas of the types of “rocks” you might have right now, but your job is to look at your life and determine the things you NEED to accomplish today. These are your Rocks.

Follow along with me by downloading your free printable below, and set your rock type and priority system as we go.

Download the printable!

Determine your own personal priorities using the "Rocks, Pebbles & Sand" Time Management Technique.

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Pebbles

Pebbles are the secondary tasks or life categories- the things that you SHOULD do, but aren’t quite as important as the rocks. Or they could be things you want to do, but are less important than the things you’ve already labeled as Rocks. Some ideas are:

  • Work or School (you can always find a new job or retake a class if you need to, but you can’t get a new family, or a new body, or a new faith.)
  • Social circle (spending time with friends is always fun and even necessary for personal growth and care, but for you, should it come before your health and your family? You decide.)
  • Community projects like volunteering at a shelter or helping out in your kid’s school or church.
  • Other Important tasks that might not need to be completed today, but that you’d like to do if you can.

Like before, you’ll have to look through your list and decide which things are of mid-range importance. Which things, though they could be important, can be pushed or moved to a different day if necessary, or even just abandoned all together (if it came to that?)

Your Grains of Sand

These are the things you do for fun. To “de-stress”. Things that are optional or have less impact on your overall goals. Things that you’ll do if you can get to it, but are simply less important than the “Rocks” or “Pebbles” of your life.

These tasks are small and seemingly unimportant, but we tend to fill our day with them without realizing it, because they’re easy and give fill us with “instant gratification” from completing “quick wins”. They make us feel that just because we’re checking a bunch of stuff off our list, we’re automatically being productive.

These are things that, though we need some fun in our lives, they can essentially be removed without too much impact on our overall goals and dreams. Things like:

  • Watching Netflix for three hours at a time.
  • Social Media
  • Hobbies & Crafts
  • Gaming
  • Small, optional tasks. (Only you can decide what’s optional and what’s not.)

Again, please don’t think I mean that these activities are inherently bad and have no place in our day- All I’m suggesting is that they alone shouldn’t completely fill your “jar”. Setting and maintaining priorities is essential to a happily balanced life.

The Jar of Life

Let’s now return to the Jar in the story, the Jar of Life. As you complete things during the day, you start to fill the jar with different sizes of items that represent the items or tasks on your schedule. Rocks for big tasks; Pebbles for medium ones, and grains of sand for the small, inconsequential ones.

The problem though, is that so many of us fill our day with the “small” stuff first. We do the “easy” things first. The “fun” things. The ones that give us the most instant gratification. I mean who doesn’t like a “quick win”, right?

But here’s the thing: if we put all the sand grains (small tasks) in first and then the pebbles (the medium tasks), the jar is going to be full before you even get to your “rocks” (big/important tasks). Even if you try to cram just a few of those rocks in anyway, everything starts spilling out onto the floor, and the most important things in your life are forgotten, neglected, or abandoned. It’s like suddenly it’s bedtime and you’re now left feeling like you really haven’t done anything important all day.

And here’s the important part:

This is why we’re feeling overwhelmed, guilty, unproductive, inefficient, stressed and lost in our lives. It’s not because we’re lazy or have no internal drive to complete what’s on our list- it’s just that no matter how many grains of sand you place in your jar, they’ll never make up for ignoring the “rocks” in your life.

Here’s the good news:

We get a fresh start everyday. Each day we’re given a brand-new empty jar, and we get to make a new plan on how we’re going to spend our day.

Things didn’t go well yesterday? Tomorrow’s your chance to start again. You’re not stuck repeating ineffective processes over and over. Figure out what you need to change, make the adjustments and never stop re-evaluating. Constant evaluation equals growth.

So let’s see what happens if we do the important stuff first.

If we put the “Rocks” of our life in first, they’ll all fit in easily. (Unless, of course, you’ve got too many rocks. In that case, you’ll have to choose some to reclassify into pebbles or sand. Your whole list can’t be “critically important”, because then nothing is. The value of an object is measured by it’s relation to others it’s next to. If everything holds the same value to you, nothing holds any value.)

Once you’ve got your rocks (your most important, highest quality items) in your jar, you can start to fill it with the NEXT highest prioroty items: your pebbles. The smaller, yet still substancial, though not as substancial as the previous rocks. They should fit in easily around the rocks, and you’ll be suprised how many can fit, even though the jar looks full with the rocks.

And finally comes the sand. Where you thought you wouldn’t find room, sand can always find a way to fit itself into a small space. Tiny little 15 minute bits of time that maybe couldn’t be filled with a rock or even a pebble. And yet… because they’re the “fun” things we look forward to, we still find a way to fit them in.

You see, the difference here is that the pebbles and sand, being smaller, are more flexible and can be moved around within the jar into places the rocks never could. This is why the rocks need to come first. The rocks are rigid, unchanging, unadaptable. Pebbles and sand are not. (Essentially meaning that you shouldn’t be compromising your family’s general safety or happiness in favor of fitting in a couple episodes of your favorite show.)

Keep in Mind

I know some aspects of this “Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand” metaphor can seem confusing or even contradictory. Here are some points of clarification, along with some things I want you to remember:

  • Though the story has many life-applicable teaching ideas, it is, at the end of the day, still an analogy. Please don’t take it too literally and try to sort your list by size (time it might take to complete) or try to stuff 100 things into one day because that’s how many literal rocks, pebbles, and grains of sand might fit into a jar. The items are used metaphorically to demonstrate how we can get more done when we focus on the important things first. It’s likely you won’t finish everything on your list every day, but that’s where the story shines- it teaches you to focus on the MOST important things first, so that IF things don’t fit into your jar, you know which to put in first.
  • You must choose your own tasks, categories, and priorities. Though I’ve given some examples of what works for me, you can’t go by my life completely. Start with my ideas if you’d like, but definitely take the time early on to determine what is most important to YOU. Without doing this homework, all further time-management techniques will be completely ineffective for you, because your life will have no personal progression or plan.
  • On the days you just can’t get all your pebbles and sand in the jar no matter how well you plan, don’t let yourself get frustrated. It’s perfectly ok, and it’s bound to happen more than once. That’s where this concept of the “Jar of Life” helps- the beginning steps of the exercise suggests that you choose your rock type for each item or category based on how important it is that it gets done TODAY. As long as you’ve completed all your “Rocks” each day, everything else is basically just a bonus, right? You can rest easy knowing you’ve done your absolute best within your personal circumstances.

I hope that you’re beginning to see the power this concept can have in your life- once you determine your BIG ROCKS, you’ll be able to see the things that you need to focus on FIRST in your life, setting the other “smaller” things aside until those most important things are tackled.

To help you do that, I’ve created a simple worksheet that you can go through in just a few minutes. It has spaces for you to determine and then record your Rocks, your Pebbles, and your Sand. Then, you’re prompted to make a plan on the changes you can make to ensure you’re filling your jar with your “Rocks” first every day. Download below.

To help you do that, I’ve created a simple worksheet that you can go through in just a few minutes. It has spaces for you to determine and then record your Rocks, your Pebbles, and your Sand. Then, you’re prompted to make a plan on the changes you can make to ensure you’re filling your jar with your “Rocks” first every day. Download below.

Download the printable!

Determine your own personal priorities using the "Rocks, Pebbles & Sand" Time Management Technique.

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Quick and easy time management hack that change your life- free printable.

Stuck? Unfocused? Overwhelmed & Unmotivated? Here’s Your Remedy

How to get unstuck fast when you're feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated- free tutorial and printable.

I’ve been feeling super unmotivated lately. Have you ever felt like that before? I have all these grand intentions to do all these wonderful and ambitious things with my life, but as soon as I get home from work all I want to do is sit on the couch with a bowl of ice-cream and binge episodes of my latest Netflix-obsession. Sound familiar?

Or, the times that I actually DO find the gumption to get up and attempt to be productive, I sit in front of my computer and get lost in the swarm of emails I need to address, projects I want to complete, and files I “still” haven’t completely organized. It seems like my “projects” list grows exponentially everyday, while any attempt to dive into it is thwarted by circumstance or my own self-indulgence.

I’m telling you, this kind of thing happens to us all- motivation seems to come in waves for most people. One day you’re feeling fired up and like you’re about to conquer the world (or at least your own personal dreams!) and the next you’re down in the slums with the rest of us. If your days seem like they’re more often in the latter, please don’t stress- you’re certainly not alone.

So what can we do? Certainly you’re not content with just “waiting it out” until your next good mood, right? Of course not! I highly doubt you’d be here reading this if you were.

Easy Trick When You’re Feeling Unmotivated

I suppose the good news that stems from the knowledge that I’ve lived this pattern so many times before is that I know there’s a simple fix to get back on track. Instead of waiting around for life to “get better” for you in that area (which, let me give you a little hint: it never does!), by doing this one thing, you can begin to take your future plans and life goals into your own hands and YOU decide where you’re headed.

What is it?

It’s a simple thing called “Weekly Goals”, which sounds so mundane, I bet you’re thinking: “That’s it? That’s your magic formula?”

Well it’s certainly no magic formula (unfortunately those don’t exist, but don’t I wish they did!), but it IS something that has helped me immensely when I’m stuck in a slog just like this.

I used to think that lack of motivation stems from laziness or lack of drive or initiative. And yes, sometimes it does. But I’ve found that quite often when I’m feeling my very familiar “avoidant” thoughts, it’s actually more often due to general overwhelm and a lack of clarity of my next steps. So even though I’ve had plenty of “lazy days” recently, I don’t really consider myself a “lazy” person. Once I can address the cause of my stress and overwhelm, I know my work ethic and drive will return- and probably, so will yours.

What does this look like?

Truthfully, it’ll look different for everyone, and rightly so. Everyone’s lives, goals, paths, purposes, missions, and priorities are all different. One person is not going to exactly fit inside the box of another. I’m going to share with you MY process and what it looks like for ME, but I encourage you to adapt it to fit your own needs and lifestyle. There’s no point in living a system if it’s ineffective in helping you become a better version of yourself.

Note: All of the steps below are outlined in the FREE video training “Weekly Goals”, along with printables you can use to complete the steps I outline in the training. Click on the link below to access the free training and printables, and watch your overwhelm & lack of motivation begin to fade.

Step 1: Determine Categories

Click the link above to download the printable. Once you confirm your email and receive your download link, you’ll be able to choose to download either a traditional printable (if you’re a pen and paper girl like myself), or a fillable PDF you can save over and over. (Really you can download them both, in case your needs adjust over time- this is also a common tactic).

Once you have your printable in hand, read the five life categories it lists in the boxes. If any of these categories don’t apply to your life, feel free to use the second page to fill in your own categories. My philosophy is to “make it work for you” – there’s no point investing time into something that won’t bring you closer to where you want to be.

Pick a couple areas of your life that you want to focus on for now. Remember: this choice is not permanent! You only need to live with it for a week. You may be tempted to try and pick a bunch of categories in your life (I’m describing myself here!), but I promise you, doing so will only bring MORE overwhelm and guilt to your life, not less. Instead, just pick a couple areas for now. Yes, I’m fully aware that you have a bajillion things you think you need to work on. But has trying to do them all at once ever worked for you? It definitely hasn’t for me! But starting off with a couple definitely HAS worked for me. This is how.

Step 2: Set Goals

For each category you chose in step 1, think of a small goal you can work on during the week. Don’t make it too big, or you’ll just set yourself up for frustration and guilt- neither of which are motivating, and both of which will make your overwhelm even worse.

Here are some basic goal-setting tips:

  • Your goals should be small and manageable. This should be something you can tackle in a week.
  • Think about how you’ll measure results and progress for your goal. How will you know if/when you’ve achieved it? Think in numbers, lengths of time, etc…
  • Phrasing your goal like a habit is a great way to ensure you can measure your goal and progress over time.
  • Your small weekly goals should be directly related to the larger goals you’re working toward in your life. How will accomplishing this thing help you move forward in your future? How will this make you a better person for yourself or your family?
  • Pick goals that allow you to fail. This isn’t the place for “critical” tasks that MUST be completed this week or you’ll be subjected to dire repercussions. For that type of planning, please reference my daily planner set. These are goals that you’re working toward, but that you’re willing to give yourself grace on if you happen to fall behind. Please don’t ever forget this next tip: Working on your goals is all about PROGRESS, not about results. Sure, seeing fabulous results moving forward regularly is a wonderful thing, but how many of us ever achieve every goal we ever set? Does that mean we should stop setting them? Definitely not! The purpose of goalsetting (and achieving) is to help give us direction on the path we want to walk to help us reach our desired destination. This process takes time, and there will certainly be a whole lot of bumps on the road along the way. But even if it’s just one step forward all week, progress is progress, and you’re further ahead than you were the week before. And THAT is achievement.

Working on your goals is all about PROGRESS, not merely the results.

Step 3: Track Your Progress Through the Week

Keep your weekly goals sheet handy during the week, either in your planner or by your bed at night. You’ll want to check off each day you accomplished your goal, and there’s a space on the bottom of each category box to do that.

It’s perfectly ok to miss some days- don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get it done everyday. Remember: the idea here is to build momentum and progress. To be a little better today than we were yesterday. You probably won’t accomplish every goal everyday, but be sure to celebrate the ones you do.

Step 4: Evaluate, Review, Adjust

At the end of the week, think about your overall progress on your goals and fill out the “evaluation” box under each category you selected. What did you do well at? What can you improve on?

This is actually a weekly pattern for me. Once a week I set some time aside to do a short “weekly review” of my goals and plans- looking back to what I accomplished the week before, as well as looking ahead to what’s coming up next. Analyzing your progress on your goals is an important step of this process, and if you skip it, you’ll lack the information you need when setting your new goals.

Some helpful things to look for during your “Weekly Review” are:

  • Which goals were you most successful in? Least successful?
  • Did the progress you made this week propel you forward in your long-term goals? Are they helping you become who you want to be?
  • What patterns do you see? Maybe you’re great at accomplishment on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but Wednesdays are just too busy for you to think about anything other than your committed tasks and appointments. This could be important information as you modify your goals- maybe Wednesday becomes a “bonus day” of sorts, or a type of “wildcard” feature for you (substituting it for a different day you might miss in the week)? I’ve done that before, and it pushes me to attempt the goal if I can, but allows me to give myself grace if it just doesn’t happen.
  • Are there different categories/areas of your life you’d rather focus on in the coming week? Have your priorities shifted, even temporarily based on the circumstances in front of you this week? (This is completely normal- life priorities will often sway in response to what’s happening in your life. It’s usually temporary, and when the circumstance is addressed, life will return to “normal”.)
  • Do you want to change or alter your goal for the coming week? Think about things like how often you think you can fill the task (more or less often than last week?), or the measurement of the goal (10 pages of reading versus 100?). Changing these numbers based on last week’s progress is recommended to keep yourself both engaged and motivated. Goals that are too easy are uninspiring, and goals that are too challenging become a frustrating chore. Finding the “happy medium” between these two extremes can be difficult, but if you can, you’ll find far more positive success than leaving it at one or the other.

Concluding Thoughts

Setting weekly goals (and then tracking and evaluating them later) is an essential step in your personal progression. It’s also one of the easiest, fastest, and most encouraging steps I know of to give yourself “quick wins” and positive reinforcement. It’s not about berating yourself when you fail or giving up in frustration- it’s about seeing progress in action.

If you go into the process with a positive attitude of “I cannot lose”, you’ll see yourself gain momentum each and every day. Celebrate your successes and evaluate the days you don’t get as much done as you’d like. Track your progress and modify your goals as you go. Set aside time each week to review your progress and make the changes you need to ensure you’re on the path that will get you to where you want to be.

READY TO SET SOME WEEKLY GOALS AND START SEEING SOME REAL PROGRESS IN YOUR LIFE? DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE WEEKLY GOALS PLANNER BELOW AND LET’S GET TO WORK!

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Are You Holding Yourself Back?

Stop allowing your self-limiting beliefs to become your safety net. They’re not actually protecting you- they’re only holding you back.

I have this goal- I’ve had it for several years actually.

Well let me start off with a story.

In my story there’s this girl- let’s call her Jane. Jane loves to learn, but lately she’s been feeling a bit out of touch with the world. She hasn’t been challenging herself to think critically and deeply like she used to. She’s become rather apathetic and stagnant in her own progression and learning. She feels stuck.

To remedy this, Jane has made a goal that she’d like to resurrect a past love of hers. No, I’m not talking about the supernatural- but there is a deep passion of hers that has been pushed away, forgotten. She misses it.

Jane used to love to read. Years past, every spare moment she had was spent with a book in hand. But she hasn’t made time for it in a really long time. Life has gotten in the way. She always had more “pressing” matters to attend to. Technology took the place of her books, and the spare hours she used to relish inside the pages of a book were slowly replaced with distractions like Facebook and Netflix.

In working to “return to her roots”, Jane has set an ambitious goal to read 50 books within a year. One every week- with a little breathing room. She is anxious to feel the joy and excitement that was once commonplace from finishing a good book, and is excited to get started.

But as the days pass, she starts to fall behind. Life is busy. There are always things that need to get done. She’s not dedicating time from her busy schedule like she thought she would. Thoughts begin to fill her mind- ugly thoughts. Thoughts like “I can’t do this. Who am I to think I can actually read an entire book a week? I don’t have the dedication or willpower to do this. I’m not good enough for a goal like this. I’m just a lazy person, and there’s no way I can give my my dependence on my after-work Netflix binge time.”

What do you think happens next? Jane gives up. She throws in the towel, convinced that she’ll never even get close to achieving her goal, and returns to her struggling, apathetic self. She decides that change is too hard, and she’s just not “good enough” to be up to the task.

Can you identify with any part of this story? Maybe it seems a bit extreme, please think about the underlying concepts here.

Jane made an excellent goal. It was specific, measurable, and was deeply rooted in her life passions and priorities. It allowed herself room to grow within the dynamic person she is. It was ambitious, yet reachable.

So where did she go wrong?

When things got difficult, and I promise they always will, Jane gave up. Rather than pushing through the doubts within her mind and trying to find a way to make it work, she listened to that evil voice on her shoulder- the one that gets joy from seeing her fail. When she heard those nasty thoughts in her mind, rather than pushing them away and forging ahead, she gave up and gave in.

Have you ever been guilty of this?

Let me let you in on a secret. (One which you may have already guessed.) Jane is me. For the past three years, I’ve made this same goal, and each time I give into those thoughts that stop me dead in my tracks, giving up on the thing I so desperately want to achieve.

This example is not the only one in my life. I listen to those thoughts far more often than I should (which really should be never), and I’ve been paying the price for it every day since. Imagine the things I could have achieved in the past decade alone, had I listened to the person I want to be, rather than the limits I place on myself?

So what can we do? How can we move past those debilitating thoughts to something empowering and productive?

The first thing I think, would be to define them. Recognize the thoughts for what they really are.

They’re just thoughts!

Ever thought about something that turned out not to be true?

Have you ever heard the term Self-Limiting Belief? That’s what those thoughts are. They’re beliefs you hold about yourself that you think to be true, but they hold no purpose on your future other than to limit yourself and tear you down.

I bet you can relate to having thoughts like these from time to time. Perhaps, if you’re like me, they come regularly. You have big goals for your life, but this super-critical inner monologue tears down all the hope and confidence you’ve built.

You have the potential to accomplish so much good. As a human being, you were literally built for greatness. It is my personal (and spiritual) belief that we were each put on earth to accomplish a special mission. But so many of us fail to achieve it.

So what is keeping us from reaching our potential?

Listening to and focusing on these self-limiting thoughts and beliefs hold us back from becoming the person we were meant to be.

How to Recognize Self-Limiting Beliefs

You may not realize it, but you accept self-limiting beliefs far more often than you think.

These beliefs hold you back from achieving your best self. These beliefs come quietly and are often disguised as humility, but they aren’t aligned with who you are working to become. We’ve spent so much time listening to them that they’re ingrained into our personal beliefs of who we actually are. In order to free ourselves from those restrictions, we need to recognize that it takes time to learn how to recognize and overcome them.

Here are some warning signs that the thoughts in your head might really be self-sabotage:

Self-Limiting Beliefs Are Negative

Self-limiting beliefs are always negative. When you start listing all the reasons you won’t succeed instead of focusing on the potential within you, you’re setting limits on who you may become. You’re not exploring your potential- working toward the greatness within you. Instead, you allow yourself to believe in words like: “Who are you to apply for this? Nobody is interested in what you say. You’re not skilled enough for this. Everyone will think you’re just a big joke if you say that.”

Self-Limiting Beliefs Keep you from Growing

Believing the negative is your brain’s way of avoiding doing new things. Subconsciously you begin telling yourself that if you’re going to fail no matter what you try, there’s no use in even taking a step forward. And staying still, where it’s comfortable, is your mind’s way of sticking to the comfort zone where it’s safe. But you can’t grow if you don’t move forward, right?

Self-Limiting Beliefs Are Selfish

Often, self-limiting beliefs leave you stuck within yourself.

When we think things like “There are far more qualified people out there who can serve” and “I don’t have anything new to share”, we are keeping our light within us instead of allowing it to shine out in the world. We keep our thoughts and experiences to ourselves instead of allowing them to help others.

Maybe you don’t know it all. Maybe there are people out there that have similar experiences and talents. But they aren’t you. And you have a unique perspective that someone needs.

By not sharing, you’re being selfish. You may think it’s humility, but you’re robbing the world of the value you have to offer! When you fiercely guard what’s “yours”, not only does this keep you from growing, it keeps you from developing connections with those around you that you see as potentially “hostile” or “dangerous”.

Self-Limiting Beliefs Victimizes Yourself

Do you know those people that think the whole world is out to get them? That everything is wrong in their lives and everyone hates them and the universe is just seemingly plotting against them? I was one of those people for a long time, so I get it. I do.

The problem though, is that sticking to that mindset only bears fruit of the same. Negativity begets negativity. You’re not just going to wake up one day and be positive. That’s not how the brain works.

You have to choose to think positively. You have to push aside the negative thought and focus on the good. Pick one positive thought in your mind. List one thing you’re grateful for. Trust me, it helps!

When you give in to to the internal limits of your mind, you’re allowing yourself to settle into the “victim mindset.”

What does it look like? Pretty much whenever you’re blaming someone else for the choices you make.

Thoughts like: “My parents didn’t have enough money to send me to college, so I couldn’t get an education. I don’t have it as good as everyone else out there.” or “Everyone in my family is overweight- I never had a chance. I’ll be overweight forever and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Do you see the problem here? When you let everyone else take the blame for things you could actually control if you put your mind to it, you’re giving away all your power. You’re saying that you’re incapable of making changes. You’re convincing yourself that you “can’t” do something.

See those limits rearing their ugly little heads?

We all have agency. We all have our own individual choices in life. We can choose to take a step forward or a step back. But rarely are we allowed to stay in one place.

So what do you choose?

Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs to Grow

Recognizing self-limiting beliefs does take time. When you find yourself focused on a self-limiting belief, there are some things you can do to improve your mindset and self-confidence. If you regularly utilize proper tools to help you refocus the limiting thoughts, eventually you’ll notice a shift in your mindset that will lead to a more positive and empowering you.

Become Aware

Pause and listen to your thoughts throughout the day. Write them down. Analyze them.

Are they positive or negative?

Positive thoughts empower us to be and do more. They help us to grow, and they tell us we are on the right path towards our goals.

Negative thoughts hold us back. They tell us we can’t do things. That we’re not good enough, that what we want won’t happen.

Which thoughts do you think hold more truth? Which thoughts would you rather fill your mind?

Give Yourself Grace

When you discover a self-limiting beliefs, approach it with kindness and love. Don’t make the problem worse by berating yourself for low-self esteem or lack of confidence. Everyone has these beliefs in varying degrees and intensities.

Follow it up with gentle questions. Approach it as if you were talking to a good friend or loved one. Be kind to yourself. Address the fear, but try to help yourself understand that moving forward is the ultimate goal.

This will sound different for every person, but I like to phrase it something like: “I know this is hard. I know it’s uncomfortable. But remember: this is getting us to where we really want to go! Won’t it be worth it when we get there?”

Use Journaling

I can’t tell you enough how much I love journaling. I’ve always had a journal, but it wasn’t until my most recent life struggle that I really came to terms with how therapeutic and enlightening it can be. I can’t sing enough praises for how essential keeping a journal can be for your mental wellness.

In terms of working through your self-limiting beliefs, journaling can be helpful in getting to the root of your thoughts.

Use self-discovery questions like: “Is this belief an echo of what someone has told me or made me feel at some point?” and “Do I have perspective here? What is the worst that can happen?” These help you get to the root of what’s in your mind, rather than just taking each statement at face-value.

Reframe the Belief

Don’t allow self-limiting beliefs to keep you stuck. Challenge them with positive truths and affirmations that help you move forward.

Let’s say you have this thought that you’re restricted to a certain salary or wage in your career. Turn it around in your mind: “I am only limited by my choices. I do good work and I deserve to be well compensated for it.”

Remember that you are in control of your own choices and actions. At what rate do you want to grow?

Take Responsibility

Own your weaknesses. They’re part of who you are. Being unskilled at something or unaware of certain information doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you uniformed- nothing else. If it’s something important to you, make it a priority to improve. If it’s not aligned to your current goals, let it go and focus on what does matter. It’s that simple! Stop making excuses for yourself of why you “can’t” do this or “can’t” do that.

When I was teaching high school, the word “can’t” was a dirty word in my classroom. I didn’t accept it of my students, because I knew it limited their thoughts of what they could do.

Instead, I asked them what they “could” do. Where could they start?

Maybe it’ll be difficult. Maybe it’ll be uncomfortable. But growth stems from discomfort. Stepping out of our comfort zone is what helps us improve. We can’t improve if we don’t push through the unknown.

So stop allowing your self-limiting beliefs to become your safety net. They’re not actually protecting you- they’re only holding you back.

Let’s move forward, shall we?

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10 Fabulous Planning Supplies for Under $10

On the hunt for some great accessories and products to use with your planner, but frustrated because everything seems so expensive? Here are some of my favorite planning supplies under $10 for when you’re on a budget:

On the hunt for some great accessories and products to use with your planner, but frustrated because everything seems so expensive? Here are some of my favorite planning supplies under $10 for when you’re on a budget:

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of my links, I get a small compensation at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Vibrance & Bliss.


Washi Tape

Washi is great for quickly dressing up a plain page with color and personality. It’s really taken off in the past year, and you can find this stuff literally everywhere. I’ve found some great rolls at the Dollar Tree, Target $1 Spot and Michaels especially, but if you keep your eyes peeled I bet you’d find some in other places as well. The beauty is that it comes in all different colors and patterns so you’re bound to find something you love!

I also love this set of skinny washi that can fit almost anywhere on a page. It’s a great way to add a splash of color to a page that doesn’t have a lot of whitespace built-in.


Papermate Inkjoy Gel Pens 0.7

These are by far my favorite pen. I hardly write with anything else anymore! They come in bright, beautiful, vibrant colors, write super smoothly, come in medium or fine point, last a long time (I’ve been using the same set almost every day for several months and they are still going strong!), dry fast, are comfortable to hold, and have a clicker (no caps to lose!)

They also come in sets of basic colors like blue or black if you’re looking for something simpler or more professional.

At under $10 for the set, you have to give these a try!


Frixion Erasable Pens

These pens are amazing. They write smooth and clear, they don’t bleed through paper, they come in gorgeous colors, they’re refillable, and best of all, they’re ERASABLE!! You got that right. And these aren’t those cheap pens you kept throwing away back in the ‘90s. I’ve got a couple of these Frixion pens in every room in my house. Erasable colored gel pens? Yes, please! I really couldn’t sing their praises high enough.

This is the basic set at less than $6 if you want to try them out, but they also come in many other colors & sets, like this one. Though just a tad over $10, it’s my favorite set. You get more pens, more colors (including pink, purple, turquoise & green), and I personally like the clickers better than the standard.

Frixion has also come out with erasable markers, and highlighters, as well as larger erasers.


Ribbon Paperclips

I use these all the time to keep my “daily” page in my planner. You can find these everywhere, but my favorite places are on Etsy for just a couple dollars each. I also love these MAMBI ones in black & gold. There’s a ton of DIY tutorials online if you’re interested in making your own! I haven’t gone that route myself because I’ve got a collection I just love, but if you ever lose your place in your planner, these are great for sticking up at the top and keeping you on track! (Just make sure the ones you pick out leave enough of the clip exposed so it sticks into the page.)


Designed or Patterned File Folders

I love finding cute file folders at Dollar Tree or Target Dollar Spot. They can be used for many things in your planner, but my favorite thing to do is to cut them up and use washi tape to make pocket folders! The whole project takes less than fifteen minutes. I’d definitely skip the plan manilla folders though- there’s so many out there in different designs and patterns- this is a great way to add some color into your planner!


Post-it Tabs

I love these because they’re so versatile! You can practically make any page or dashboard a divider! These also work great if you’ve used file folders as pockets (see above). There are many different kinds here, but theseare my favorites. They’re sturdy, you can write (and re-write) on them, cute colors and removable!


Post-its

What is life without post-its? Ok maybe that was a bit melodramatic, but my entire family knows my addiction to post-its. I use them everywhere, and for everything. If you haven’t been using post-its in your planner, you’re missing out.

Don’t forget to check them out in different sizes and/or shapes!


Filler Paper

Now this one will depend completely on the size planner you have, but I find that having extra paper in my planner allows me to make lists and notes as I need. If you have a punch for your planner you can always print your own pages, but if you’re on a budget and can’t afford a punch, getting some pre-punched filler paper might be your best option to start out with.

Here’s some that fit the following planner systems:

Happy Planner 

Filofax

5.5×8.5 (Mini Binder or Half-Sheet)


Quote Cards

Though maybe not completely functional, I love adding a few of these cards into my planner in places I find myself looking a lot. I love the daily inspiration they can bring, as well as how colorful and adorable they look in my planner. These ones here actually have some space on the back to write down a memory or a thought.

You can also use Project Life cards if you have them available. Or these which come pre-punched for the Happy Planner.


Planner Stickers!! 

Next to Washi, this is the second biggest planner craze right now. It seems like everyone wants to put stickers in their planner. I prefer to stick to functional planning, but I do love adding color and my own personal style to my pages when I can. Stickers is a great way to do this. You can find stickers all over the place: at the Dollar Tree, Target $1 Spot, Etsy, and Craft stores like Michaels & Hobby Lobby. You can also find a slew of free planner sticker printables online and print them at home using sticker paper (this particular item is just a tad over $10, but is a way better deal in terms of value than the alternatives!).


     Honorable Mention:     

 

Decorative Paperclips

Similar to the Ribbon Paperclips I listed above, these are way cuter but admittedly I find them a little fussier to work with. They sorta stick up from the book more than the ribbon ones, which lay completely flat usually, but if that doesn’t bother you, I’d definitely give them a try! I mean look at these- how can you resist?


Planner Discs

Though they’re absolutely essential to my personal planning system, I included them in “honorable mention” for two reasons: 1) If you don’t already have a planner punch, buying just the rings won’t do you any good. 2) I definitely prefer the metallic metal rings to the normal plastic ones, and they run a few dollars over the $10 promised in this post. I have much more to say about planner rings & the disc-bound system, but it’s something that has really transformed my life.


Want to learn more about planners & planning? Sign up for my free beta course called “4 Pillars to Supercharged Productivity” where I’ll spend a whole module helping you set up the perfect planning system for you!

Hopefully, this helped you find a couple new additions for your planner to make it both a functional place to track your goals a plan your time, as well as an uplifting & inspirational record of your life. All these things also make great gifts for your planning/stationary-loving friends!

Your favorite planner inexpensive supply not listed? Tell me below in the comments!

Why We Procrastinate?

We procrastinate for different reasons. Discover why you may be putting things off and recognize when you’re procrastinating, and why. This is the first step to fixing the behaviors and making the best use of your time so that you can accomplish all the things you desire.

Procrastination.

Everyone does it, including you. Some do it more than others, but if you try to say that you’ve never procrastinated, chances are you’re lying to yourself.

What is Procrastination?

Procrastination is putting off until tomorrow the things you just as easily could finish today.  It’s postponing or needlessly delaying accomplishing something because you don’t have the desire or motivation to complete it.

Let’s be clear though- procrastination is not prioritizing more important tasks or choosing the “best” activity each day. If something is honestly more important in a moment, it’s probably the best choice.

Procrastination is putting off the things you need to finish because you don’t want to do them, or you feel unfocused or unmotivated. It’s giving into distraction and pleasure as a way to distance yourself from the unpleasant task, even for a short time.

Are You a Procrastinator?

I know I am. I make a lot of excuses for it- that I work best under pressure, or that I’m “too busy” with other things, but the truth is- typically a task probably won’t get done until about the time it’s due.

I’m trying to do better though. Through the years I’ve picked up a few tricks to help me get ahead of my list so I can be more in control of my schedule, rather than letting it control me.

One thing that helps me minimize procrastination is to recognize when it’s happening, as well as why. Instead of just jumping right into trying to “fix” the problem, this allows me to look at the situation more objectively, so I can repair the cause, rather than just the result. Removing procrastination is more than just “getting down to business.” It’s the symptom of something else. I have to discover the illness first- the reasons my brain doesn’t want to complete the task. This way, the repair is healthier, longer-lasting, and more effective.

Understanding the Consequences

I’m sure you recognize the concept of consequences. The fact that once an action is taken, something else will occur as a result.

Consequences aren’t something we can control. They just happen. Sometimes they’re imposed by the people around us, sometimes they’re just the natural effect of a choice we’ve made. Either way, once we make a decision and act on it, we enact a tier of consequences as a result of that choice.

As a teacher, I’d often share the following Stephen Covey quote with my students: “We are free to choose our actions, . . . but we are not free to choose the consequences of these actions.”

There are many types of consequences. There extrinsic (or external – outside yourself) and intrinsic (or internal – in your mind/body) consequences. Natural (unstoppable consequences that “just happen” within the natural world) and Logical (imposed by others).

Think, for a second, about a student who puts off studying for an exam or writing a paper. The deadline will still come, and they’ll often “pull an all-nighter” or miss out on social activities to get it done. These first consequences are unavoidable and cannot be influenced. But the chain doesn’t stop there – there are other, linked, consequences that follow: missed relationships, lower grade, stress and panic, & harm to health from lack of sleep.

How many times have you been late to an appointment or event because you procrastinated getting ready to leave? Has this hurt a friendship or caused you embarrassment?

Consequences may not be the same for every person, and they may even look different to yourself from one occasion to the next, but there’s no denying the fact that there’s always a consequence to procrastination. Sometimes it manifests itself immediately, sometimes not for awhile, but it always comes. Unnecessary stress, missed deadlines, forgetting commitments, or hurt relationships are just a handful of the possible things that could go wrong with procrastinating.

Why Do We Procrastinate?

So we know that there will be consequences of putting things off, but most of us still do it. And probably far more often than we’d like.

Why? Why do we put off the things that we could technically do today? Why do we ignore the consequences when they’re staring us right in the face?

Even if you’re not a chronic procrastinator (like I am – I admit it!), nearly everyone does it at some point. And there are many possible reasons for it:

  • Fear: Fear is a paralyzing emotion.  It has the power to stop us from taking action. Maybe you fear failure, or that success would be limited and unrepeatable. Perhaps you fear what people will think, or going outside your comfort zone. Or it could be that you’re afraid of being vulnerable or breaking people’s perceived notion of who you are. Whatever it is, if fear is causing you to backtrack and forget the things you dream of doing, work to fix the problem head-on. It’s only holding you back from your amazing potential.
  • Importance: When we procrastinate, it’s very often because we don’t place enough psychological value on the importance of the task, project, or goal. Sure on the surface we may tout its importance, but deep down, we’re putting higher value on other things. My mom used to tell me when I’d forget about things like birthdays or events that “if it was important enough to remember, I would.” As a kid I rejected the possibility of this being true, but I’ve since learned the wisdom in this statement, and I think it works here too. If the task was important enough to you, you’d push yourself to completing it. Even unintentionally, everytime you turn on the TV when there are still items on your MIT list, you’re telling yourself that your “entertainment” is more important than your progression.
  • Need More Information:  Starting a new project or goal often requires additional knowledge or research. Maybe you want to repair the dryer yourself instead of calling it in, or perhaps you’d like to “someday” publish a book you’ve written. You probably can’t just “dive into” these things- you’ll have to gather some information beforehand. So schedule some time to collect the information you need and get started!
  • Higher Priorities: Life is busy.  We have jobs and commitments and activities and tasks and about a hundred things to get to everyday. Commonly we put off things that don’t need to get done today, in favor of other, more important or urgent tasks. This is ok- life is about establishing priorities and making choices. Just be sure that the things you’re doing each day are the most important use of your time.
  • Uncommitted to Task: Maybe you think it’s unfair that the task is assigned to you, or that someone else should be responsible for it. Perhaps you see it as a waste of time and that you’ve got “more important” things to worry about. These are signs of not being fully committed to the task. Truth is, it still needs it get done, and if you can’t delegate it, and you’re still responsible for the outcome, you’ll need to come up with a plan. Remember when you were in school and you were assigned a “partner” activity? Yeah, I hated those too. More times than not, I’d end up carrying more than my fair share of the weight because the consequences for an incomplete assignment were important for me to avoid. So weigh it out for yourself – what happens if you keep pushing it off? Is that worth ensuring that things are “fair?” Sometimes the answer is yes, but only you can make that decision.
  • Laziness: Everyone is faced with jobs in life that they simply just don’t want to do.  They’re either unpleasant, like having to clean dirty toilets, or they’re scary, like fixing the roof or preparing a Speech. Unfortunately, procrastination can reinforce itself. Once we avoid the task we don’t want to do and replace it with something “fun”, it becomes easier and easier to repeat. But how can we overcome this laziness? First thing is to accept it. In most cases, facing the truth about our weaknesses can help us overcome these bad habits and move into action where we otherwise may have failed.  Laziness is also another word for unmotivated. Finding a way to motivate yourself is the key to moving outside of your laziness.
  • Unfocused: Do you sit down to complete something and find yourself pulled into a thousand different directions? You open up Facebook or start checking your email. You go to take out the trash or start filing your paperwork from last week. These tasks, though many of them seem “productive” and important, are pulling you away from the task you’ve committed to. As you see things that need to be done, add them to a list, but don’t jump from one thing to another like a jackrabbit, because then nothing will get done! Remove distractions and work on increasing your mental focus to ensure that once you dedicate a block of time to a task, this is the only place your mind settles.
  • Overcomplicated: This is a major weakness of mine. Naturally, I seem to have the notion that “more is better” and seem to try to create a huge production out of every task on my list- or many of them at least. Working to simplify the things in your life can increase the number of things you accomplish and the results you see, exponentially. Remember: Keep it Simple!  

I hope this has opened your eyes a little to the reality of procrastination. It’s all around us, and often we’re doing it without even realizing. Try to be on the lookout for the times you might be procrastinating and ask yourself: Why?

Download the free printable below to evaluate the possible reasons you might be procrastinating the tasks on your list. Then check back for the second article in the series where I’ll cover tips to overcome procrastination.

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We procrastinate for different reasons. Discover why you may be putting things off and recognize when you’re procrastinating, and why. This is the first step to fixing the behaviors and making the best use of your time so that you can accomplish all the things you desire.

SPAM-Free & opt-out any time!

Why do you procrastinate? Is there something I missed from the list? Share your vices below!

Know Your Productivity Type

Knowing your productivity type can help you prioritize your work so you can achieve the greatest success each day.

Are you the type of task-driven person who cannot stand seeing unchecked boxes on your “to do” list? Or are you driven by deadlines and can’t seem to get started until a hard deadline is looming on your projects? Knowing your productivity type can help you prioritize your work so you can achieve the greatest success each day.

The Four Productivity Styles

In my study, I’ve seen three strong productivity styles that manifest when trying to get things finished. A major personality-test addict myself, I’ve found that knowing the tendencies produced by your personality can often help you understand your own strengths and weaknesses, which can, in turn, help you understand how best you work.

Below are the three Productivity styles I’ve seen, as well as some ideas on how to leverage your personality to achieve the greatest success.

One thing to note: you may find that you don’t fit into a single “type”, and that’s ok. I see a little of each within myself, but I do have a dominant style. One that I relate most to and that most of the characteristics ring true for me. If there are two or more that seem to fit you, pick the one that resonates the strongest, or use tips from both styles.

The Detailer

Detailers are the kings & queens of the to-do list. They have strong goals and know how to achieve the results they’re looking for. They’ll work tirelessly to develop a clear plan of action. They’re the tourist with the 7-page itinerary and walk with a map in their hand- if they haven’t memorized it first.

Strengths:

Detailers thrive on organization, lists and order. They are well aware of upcoming deadlines and will usually have a notebook within arm’s reach, because everything is always written down.

They’re natural “planners” and are spectacular at organizing all the small details that go into a plan. Detailers are goal-driven and always have their life priorities in mind when planning their time.

When a project needs to be planned or organized, the detailer is usually the one to figure it out. Detailers are great at figuring out how to do something, because they understand each individual and separate step.

Weaknesses:

Detailers tend to have a hard time looking at the “big picture” because they get so caught up in the small details. Sometimes perfection-oriented, they’ll tend to waste (er- spend) a lot of time ensuring everything “fits just right”.

They are not very spontaneous, and may struggle with creative thinking or working outside the box. They often have difficulty with flexibility and don’t take change well.

Detailers often prefer to work alone and may find it difficult to contribute in groups because they can struggle with making decisions without adequate time to process the details. They are critical thinkers who analyze each piece before making important decisions, and have a hard time skipping that process.

They can also be hyper-critical of their own thoughts and ideas, analyzing the validity and practicality before fully exploring the possibility.

Tips:

If you’re a detailer, if you stick to your to-do list, you’ll regularly see fantastic results. Dedicate the time necessary to writing out your tasks, goals, and priorities, and the output will be far greater than the time spent. You receive clarity in the process and this will be time well spent.

The Team Player

Team players, also very commonly spectacular leaders, are people that thrive in social situations. They’re outgoing and lively, ambitious and people-oriented. If they were a traveler, they’d much sooner ask every stranger they saw for directions and “secret locations” than read a guidebook or map.

Strengths:

Team Players love working in groups, managing people, and “persuading” others. They work best when surrounded by other people and a fair amount of noise or input.

They are commonly thoughtful and encouraging to others and excel in groups or partnerships. They often make fantastic leaders with their ability to delegate tasks and organize other people and information.

Team Players will quickly take control of a group situation and act as the team cheerleader by encouraging other team members and having a positive attitude about the project at hand.

Weaknesses:

Team Players will cringe at the idea of working alone- they need the personal interaction and thrive in a group setting.

Because of their high social awareness, Team Players can easily get distracted by conversations and can struggle to stay focused on individual tasks.

When not surrounded by people, Team Players will very often find themselves relying on social media for their personal interaction. In small doses this is fine, but if left unchecked, it can very often become a large distraction.

Tips

Listening to a good music playlist can help a Team Player stay focused. It provides the vocal input that they vividly need, while not providing an avenue for conversation or response. It can keep the Team Player engaged in the task in front of them instead of pulling them into all the different directions they’d so love to go.

Social interaction can energize a Team Player. They’ll draw inspiration and motivation from meeting with and talking to others. If you are a Team Player, consider spending some of your working time in a public place such as Starbucks or a Local Park in order to get the most done during the day.

Another great tactic to see positive results is to get others involved. Grab a team (kids, spouse, friends, church group) and as much as you can, delegate every task you don’t need to do yourself. Working alongside others turns the most menial task into a group activity, which is incredibly empowering for a Team Player.

The Visionary

The visionary is a creative soul. They’re motivated by creating, developing their ideas and finding new ways to approach a situation. They are spontaneous and impulsive. When traveling, a visionary will set off for a with no set plan and the attitude of “I’ll figure it out when I’ll get there.”

Strengths & Weaknesses:

A visionary will often be juggling multiple projects at any given time. They will commonly have a hard time keeping interest on only one task at a time, preferring to let their creative mind jump between several things to keep a fresh look on each project.

Visualizers are creative thinkers who welcome change. They are flexible and have no problem adjusting when problems arise.

Visualizers are great at seeing the big picture, and tend to focus on the end result as opposed to the smaller tasks which lead to that end result. If they can work collaboratively with a Detailer, these two can be an unstoppable team, but doing so can prove challenging as they have very different approaches to organizing and task management.

Their workspace (and mind) are seen as cluttered and unorganized, and to someone like a Detailer this can be seen as a major weakness. To the Visionary, it’s a sign of a creative space- a place where “the magic happens”, so to speak. They know what is in each of their “piles” on their desk, and can still find anything they need.

While working with others, Visionaries can let their imaginations run away with them when trying to plan out a project. They’ll have many ideas that the Team Player and Detailers can help formulating into a plan.

Weaknesses:

Though visionaries have a great amount of energy and their creative minds are constantly coming up with new ideas, their fluid nature tends to leave them with a difficulty completing the tasks and projects they start.  

Tips

For Visionaries working alone, batching tasks (doing all repeated tasks at the same time each week) can help balance between keeping a fresh eye and true productivity. Each occurrence will be different enough to still be interesting to the Visionary, but also similar and help establish an efficient workflow.

Next Steps:

The better you understand your productivity type, the more tools you can utilize to maximize your potential and find success in your goals and life desires.

Once you figure out how – and when – you work best, you will be an unstoppable force. You’ll know exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to approach it. You’ll fly through your task list and feel accomplished and empowered!

So what’s your Productivity Style? Download the printable below to take the assessment, then comment below: Is it accurate? Does it give you any ideas on how to leverage your style to get the most done?

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Why Mindfulness is NOT (Just) Meditation

Mindfulness is seeing yourself in the moment for who you are and tracking areas you’d like to improve. It’s focusing on the present and letting go of the things that don’t serve you. Mindfulness allows us to get more done, accomplish more goals, and live a more healthy life.

The Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy at Maharishi University has reported that “Leading medical experts estimate that 90% of disease is caused or complicated by stress.

That is an astounding number. Stress is an epidemic in our country. In a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, 77% of respondents reported “regularly experiencing physical symptoms caused by stress” and 73% “psychological symptoms.”

Are you one of the three-fourths that are plagued with regular stress, overwhelm, exhaustion, burnout or extreme frustration?

I am. Sometimes it feels like an uphill battle that can never be won, but I promise- you do have tools at your disposal. One of my favorites is: Mindfulness.

Now before you start thinking of yoga poses and breathing techniques, let me stop you. Those things CAN be a PART of mindfulness, but it’s not the entire concept. Mindful living is so much more than that!

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS ANYWAY?

I love the definition given at mindful.org: “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”

Does that definition say anything about yoga or meditation? It certainly doesn’t!

Mindfulness is an ability that everyone already possesses. It’s a state of mind. It’s something you can do anywhere, anytime. You can develop and evaluate your mindfulness in different ways (which is what I like to teach about here at V&B), but it’s not a “skill” that only some possess.

Put most simply, mindFULness is really just the opposite of mindLESSness. Having a mind FULL of things that will make you a better person and lead you to a more satisfying life, instead of allowing yourself to make “mindLESS” choices on a whim.

I like to think of it as awareness. Being aware of the things around you so you can act accordingly. Paying attention to the moment at hand. Being intentional with your time, your actions and your thoughts.

It’s about making specific choices based on positive life goals, instead of letting life control your path.

It’s about constantly working toward those goals, while still being kind to your spirit and giving yourself lots of grace. It’s about loving yourself for who you are, but knowing your great potential and pushing yourself to be better. It’s about recognizing the positives you have to offer, but knowing you can be So Much More!

Focus on the Present

We have a tendency to focus on things that occurred in the past and anticipating too strongly the things that might happen. Though joyful memories and excitement for what is to come can be great things, allowing them to take the majority of our mindspace is detrimental to our progress.

Instead, it is far more healthy to focus on the things of the present. Mindfulness is paying attention to what’s happening right now: your actions, your thoughts, your environment. It’s not letting your mind get carried away with thoughts of the past or worries from the present. It’s letting go of anything that doesn’t serve your current goals and refocusing your mind if you get off track. It keeps you grounded in the here and now.

Mindfulness is Internal

Mindfulness focuses on the inner self, rather than the outer.

Being mindful allows us to see into our spirits- to the place that nobody else gets to see. It helps us to dig deep into our soul and pull out the aspects of ourselves that really define us. It’s letting go of how the world sees you, and allowing you to see yourself for who you really are. Your true self.

Being mindful has been huge in my development of self-confidence and self-esteem. It helps me to see that it doesn’t matter what people think if I know the real truth.

Mindfulness is freeing. It’s letting go of what doesn’t serve you and allowing yourself to focus on what does.

Benefits of Being Mindfulness

Mindfulness is not just a “fad” or “new-age trend.”

Incorporating mindfulness into your life has many tangible health benefits, including:

  • Decreased stress and increased capacity to work through life’s challenges
  • Increased clarity, attention, and brain function
  • Lowered anxiety and depression
  • Improved general well-being

Mindful.org explains: “When we’re mindful, we reduce stress, enhance performance, gain insight and awareness through observing our own mind, and increase our attention to other’s well-being.”

It’s so easy to get caught up in the struggles and trials of our everyday lives and miss the wonderfully good things that happen around us. Constant pessimism is like poison to our spirits, but stopping to see the positives can provide us with much needed positive energy, which can be incredibly uplifting.

The beauty of true mindfulness is in the huge impact it brings to our spirits. Being fully aware of your mind and your surroundings can help you to see the good within life’s challenges.

It doesn’t erase the difficulties of life; it simply allows us to work through them calmly and realistically, instead of with fear and negativity. It turns them into opportunities for growth and progression, rather than tragedies and misfortunes.

This is quite a different view of mindfulness than merely relying on meditation and yoga, am I right?

Mindfulness is a Choice

“But how can I just ignore all the bad things in my life?”

You can’t. And doing so wouldn’t be healthy anyway. Those negatives influence who you are. They are a part of your past, but they don’t have to define you.

You get to decide what you focus on. You get to choose what you let matter. It’s your choice where you put your energies.

How do I Practice Mindfulness?

Let me be clear: “being mindful” and “practicing mindfulness” aren’t entirely the same.

While, as stated above, you can be mindful anytime, anywhere, “practicing” mindfulness is an intentional action that you must set aside time for.

It can look different for everyone, but for me, I find that spending time each day (usually at night) physically tracking my mindset is very beneficial. This is the procedure I facilitate at Vibrance & Bliss.

In a specific place in my planner I track things like:

  • my moods
  • gratitude
  • water intake (and other health concerns)
  • goals & progress: daily, weekly etc…
  • intentional routines & schedule
  • choosing the right tasks
  • small (or large!) daily wins, improvements, achievements & successes
  • memories
  • positive choices
  • future goals & improvements
  • daily evaluation

It Can Be A Challenge

So I think at this point we agree that being mindful has its benefits, and we have a basic outline of what it entails and how to put it into practice. But does that mean it’s easy?

Hardly!

Living mindfully can be a very difficult thing to do.

Yes, it is relatively simple in theory, but living mindfully requires you to address some things in your life that may be uncomfortable or upsetting.

Though it’s easier to ignore the challenges we face, it is much healthier to deal with and work through them. That’s where mindfulness can help. It takes you out of the negative headspace and helps you see what positives you can draw from the experience.

How do I stay motivated?

So how do you keep on track if you’re feeling the pressure and challenge of mindfully evaluating your day each night?

Just like any new habit or routine, it will take practice and consistency. Do it every night if possible. If you miss a day, no big deal. Just pick up again and keep going.

But always, ALWAYS be kind to yourself. That’s really the most important part. I like to think of it as “giving myself grace.” Don’t beat yourself up over a missed day or two. You’ll zap away all your motivation to keep trying.

Instead, cut yourself some slack. Don’t give up. Realize that perfection will not ever be possible.

Try changing your routine. Perhaps see if a mindfulness app can help your motivation levels. Whatever you can do to improve your consistency, the better you’ll be. If you can see you’re making progress, you’re more likely to stick to your budding routine.

How Positivity Influences Productivity

So why does all this matter? How does being “mindful” help me to get more done?

Have you ever sat down to complete a task and find yourself flooded by memories of a past negative experience? Or maybe you start to worry about an upcoming deadline you’re not sure you’ll hit?

If you’re anything like me, these thoughts probably continue running through your mind and keep you from completing the task, and twenty minutes later you’re feeling frustrated and defeated and your task is at the exact same place you left it.

Sound familiar? Trust me, I’ve been there.

The human mind loves to wander. We are easily distracted, and have a habit of allowing our minds to run over the place. This is mindlessness. You may be thinking of something, but it is certainly not what is going to further your present goals.

This is where mindfulness really shines! Constant and intentional consideration of your desired goals helps keep you on track as your mind naturally wanders.

Mindfulness IS productivity! It is the driving force that helps you get things done!

It allows you to step away from the negative thoughts that destroy your motivation and focus, and into a peaceful place where you feel positive and energized.

We are so focused on accomplishing our goals and tending to our to-dos, taking the time to contemplate life’s intangibles doesn’t always seem practical. But recognizing the boon to productivity that mindfulness provides tells us it’s well worth the “sacrifice.”

Quick Review

What Mindfulness IS:

  • Staying in the moment
  • Recognizing yourself for who you are, but not being content to staying there
  • Addressing the negatives but choosing to focus on the positives
  • Tracking areas of desired improvement

What it’s NOT:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Yoga poses
  • Ignoring what’s going on around us
  • Obsessing about the past or worrying about the future

HOW DO I DO IT?

Daily tracking the aspects of your life you’d like to see more positive results in: your gratitude, moods, health, energy, goals, routines or

HOW IS MINDFULNESS DIFFERENT FROM MEDITATION?

Whereas meditation is something you DO, mindfulness is a state of mind- an awareness that your life is made up of more than the events in your life. Being mindful is a constant choice, and though meditation can be a great avenue to improve your mental health, it does not define mindfulness.

Why does all this matter? What’s the point?

Mindfulness:

  • Increases your focus
  • Improves motivation
  • Stimulates work ethic

Simply put, mindfulness allows us to get more done, accomplish more goals, and live a more healthy life. And who doesn’t want that?    

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Mindfulness is seeing yourself in the moment for who you are and tracking areas you’d like to improve. It’s focusing on the present and letting go of the things that don’t serve you. Mindfulness allows us to get more done, accomplish more goals, and live a more healthy life.

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Life’s Golden Ticket – Review

Book Review for "Life's Golden Ticket" by Brendon Burchard. Fabulous story about forgiveness, self-empowerment and reinvention. Post includes a free printable and an offer for a downloadable workbook to guide your reading.

I’ve been following Brendon for a good while now, but this is the book that started it for me. I saw a Facebook ad for his book, immediately ordered it, and let it sit on my shelf for a couple of years. I don’t know why exactly- life got in the way? Other priorities taking precedent? In any case, with my new resolve to read more great books, I knew I wanted this book at the top of my list.

I’m so glad I ordered and dove into this book! Brendon has such a passion for helping people. I see it in every course of his I take, every workshop and training. He truly gets fired up every time he speaks about building a positive life. If you haven’t signed up for his updates, you won’t be disappointed.

“Life’s Golden Ticket” is an allegory about a man trying to come to terms with his past, forgive and be forgiven, and make a fresh start. I don’t want to give away any of the story, but here are some of the lessons I pulled from the book. (There are many!)

1. Society’s Lie

Do not fall prey to, or let go of what Brendon calls “Society’s Lie.” As the main character is told on pages 34-36:

“You have been lured into a lie that has controlled your mind and contaminated your life, a lie that has prevented you from being your best, from taking risks, from having the confidence and strength needed to seize the life that you’ve always wanted. It has mesmerized you into believing that you are not good enough and that there is something wrong with you. It has made you secretly feel inadequate, ugly, weak, slow, small, useless, and helpless for far too long. It has been neutralizing your innate desire to stand up for yourself and become the person you were destined to be.”

I absolutely love this passage. Does this sound at all familiar to you? Are you guilty of allowing this horrible lie seep into your thoughts and cause you do doubt your potential? I know I am. Self-doubt is a mean monster, and it doesn’t fight fair. I love how vividly Brendon expresses the damage it does to our spirit, as well as providing us with something way more powerful than this vile lie. (I’m not going to tell you what it is- you have to read the book!) It’s something we’re all able to obtain, and it’s super effective in overpowering “society’s lie.”

In this section of the book, Brendon also gives three steps to defeating the self-doubt. Simple things that although aren’t always easy, are incredibly helpful in putting you on the path to the great things you’re capable of.

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2. Elephant’s Leash

In the story, an analogy is drawn between us and one of the most massive creatures on earth: an elephant. It is explained how from a very young age, elephants are tied by rope to a pole. They struggle, at first, to get free. But soon they come to terms with the fact that they’re just too weak to break the rope. They stop struggling. They give in. As they grow stronger, they never question that rope again. Even as adults, they never stop to realize they have the potential to snap that rope in two with almost no effort. They have resigned themselves to their fate: no question. No trial. No reward.

How many of us are like that? Resigned to our “fate” of accomplishing little, because someone told us we couldn’t? Or because we tried once and failed. Why do we give up? Why do we stop trying?

It is truly a beautiful story, and Brendon’s rendition is so powerfully worded you really should read it first-hand. (If you own or buy the book, it’s on p. 82-84)

3. Positive VS. Negative

This seems to be a major theme running throughout the book. It’s discussed several ways in different places, in different ways. This is something I’ve personally struggled with: keeping a positive outlook. As one character in the book says to another:

“We’re drowning here. In despair, in our own pools of pessimism.” (p.6)

And aren’t we? Isn’t there so much negative around us? On the news? In our communities? In the media?

But wait- that kind of thinking is exactly the kind of negative focus Brendon warns us again in Golden Ticket. Because really, though yes, there is a lot of bad, there is also a lot of good! It’s all around us! But do we focus on that? I, personally, struggle with that quite often. It’s easy to see the bad and blame it for all our troubles. But how often do we express gratitude for the good that also surrounds us?

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4. Miracle Makers

I loved this section so much. I can’t express to you how strongly this section of the book touched me.

“Many of us live our lives desperately seeking to draw attention to ourselves. We live our lives to be noticed, accepted, and adored. We live our lives as if we were in the center ring [of a circus], as if the world should sit around applauding our every move. But there are a small number of people in this world who live their lives to make others smile, to remind others of the magic and hope in the world, to help them discover the possibilities that live within them. Whenever people like this end up in the spotlight, they use their moment to help others through the dark.” (p. 178)

Doesn’t that just give you goosebumps? It did for me! Brendon goes on to call these people “Miracle Makers”, because they make miracles happen for those around them. He explains that these select few have dedicated their lives to making life better for the people they associate with. How beautiful is that?

While reading this section, you can’t help but ask yourself: What am I adding to the world around me? Am I only “taking” from the world? Or what is my contribution? Can I give more? How can I add to the lives of the people in my life?

Powerful stuff right there…

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5. Don’t Settle: Progress

Or as I like to say: “Be who you want to be.”

Another overarching theme of the book, rather than a single section. This is a topic that is mentioned frequently. I counted over fifteen times in the book (all separate, but related, examples, thoughts, or ideas) that this topic was addressed. It seems this was something Brendon really wanted to hit home for us.

One of my favorites:

“Don’t you dare settle for anything other than the life you want to live. Look at your life. Look at every area. See what you need to stop doing and what you need to start, and do it while you still can, no matter how hard it is. Just keep learning and living.” (p.29)

When you look in the mirror, are you satisfied with who you are? What would you like to improve? In what areas would you like to see yourself progress?

There’s a huge difference between self-confidence and no desire for progression. I believe that the purpose of life is to learn, grow and progress. So isn’t there always something we can strive to be better in?

Don’t settle for a mediocre life because you’re afraid to put the work in to improve your life.

“You can be whoever you want to be, and you can do whatever you want to do. It’s time to believe [that] again.” (p.29)

If you could become whoever you wanted, who would that be? What does the “perfect” version of yourself look like? What steps can you take to get there?

Verdict & Next Steps

This book is five-stars for me, hands down. It was a fabulous read. It is pretty short, and only took me a couple days to get through. You can read it story-style (read it like a novel) or pen-in hand ready to make notes and mark your favorite passages. I started with the former, but decided there were far too many fabulous tidbits to miss, so I ended up grabbing my highlighter anyway.

So what now? I’d highly recommend purchasing the book and reading through it if you haven’t already. While you’re waiting for your copy to arrive, be sure to download the free printable: “Top 10 Favorite Quotes” from the book. There are so many more great things in the book I didn’t even address here!

Bonus Time!

If you purchase the book through my affiliate link (or if you already own it, you can purchase any other book through my link and receive the same bonus), send me a copy of your receipt and I’ll send you a printable workbook to accompany your reading. It walks you through many thought-provoking questions as you read the book, helping you digest and apply what you’re reading. (Reminder: My email is: connect@vibranceandbliss.com)

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(Don’t forget to email me your receipt for your bonus workbook!)

Have you read the book? Enjoy one of the passages I shared? Let’s start a discussion! What are your thoughts? Tell me in the comments below!

Don’t forget to download your FREE Quotes printable below!

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What are Your *Most Important* Tasks

When you simply don't have time for everything on your list, decide which tasks hold the most value, and focus on just a few each day.

Have you ever had a day where you worked yourself frazzled only to discover that by the end of the day you really didn’t accomplish much at all, and the things you should have done are still sitting there, staring you in the face?

Buring Ourselves in Busy

Getting things done during the day seems to be a constant struggle for most people I know. “I’m so busy!” or “There aren’t enough hours in the day!” are phrases that I hear so very often. And I get it! I say them myself definitely more often than I should.

So why do we find ourselves “busy” so often? And what does that really mean? How much of what you’re doing every day actually propels you forward toward your goals? Because really, it’s not about how much you’re getting done… it’s about what you’re getting done, and if you’re accomplishing those things that are really going to help you get where you want to be.

If you’re measuring your success based solely on the number of things you accomplish every day without thinking about the actual progress you’re making toward your goals, you might want to take a couple steps back, because you’re overworking yourself for no reason.

Hopefully you understand the valuable nature of time. It’s a limited and oh-so-precious commodity, one that must be safeguarded and respected. And so often, we waste it away like it’s nothing.

We will always hаvе things that will need to get dоnе, but the trick to staying productive is is figuring out what the right things are, and making sure we’re getting the biggest bang for our buck. Establishing your “Top 3” every day and focusing on these tasks first can help boost your productivity and help you get the most out of your limited time.

If you’re tired of wasting it away and want to spend your time the most effective way possible, this is probably the best way I’ve found to help me feel like at the end of the day, I’ve been productive and gotten not just a bunch of things accomplished, but the right things. Sound good? Let’s go!

 

Discovering your MIT

Hеrе are the five ѕіmрlе ѕtерѕ to hеlр уоu establish your “Top 3” and tо gеt thе rіght things done:

1. Brain Dump

Get a piece of paper and write down all the things you think you need to do. If you’ve never done a brain dump, you can find more information about this process here. The idea here is that you’re going to get everything out of your head so you can process it all later on.

2. Establish your Goals & Priorities

If you haven’t done this in awhile, make sure you spend some time thinking about and writing down what you want to achieve in life, as well as what you value most. In order for you to make the best use of your time, you need to know what’s important to you and the direction you most want to head in.

3. Organize

Here you’re going to begin organizing your tasks based on importance, keeping in mind your goals & priorities. Remember: if it doesn’t align with the direction you’re trying to head in, it can possibly be deferred or dumped.

When you simply don't have time for everything on your list, decide which tasks hold the most value, and focus on just a few each day.

4. Schedule

After you’ve narrowed down your list based on what you really need to do, now you can decide the order in which you need to do them. Do any of your tasks have a deadline? Which are the most “urgent” tasks, and which are just there for “someday?”

5. Evaluate

Fight the urge to be tempted away from this important step. Albert Einstein stated that the definition of Insanity is “doing something over and over again and expecting different results.” This is where Evaluation comes in.

Periodically (I like to do this informally every evening or morning)  you need to take a step back and make sure that you’re on the right track. If you’re still not feeling productive at the end of the day, or you’re still feeling guilt over not completing everything on your list, are you really completing your Most Important Tasks? Are there other things that could be a better use of your time, even though they may not be as “fun” or externally rewarding? Or perhaps you need a mindset shift in understanding that you really can’t get every single thing done, but that it doesn’t make you a failure.

Whatever it is that you need to change or do differently at this point, you have to do a periodic evaluation to discover what needs to change and take steps to make it different.

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NEXT STEPS:

I know that was a lot to digest in such a short time, but here’s the good news: if you like this idea of establishing and focusing on your 3 MITs, I go into it in further detail in my FREE course “Transform the Overwhelm: 7 Days to Peaceful Productivity”, which you can sign up for now. Every day for a week you’ll receive detailed instructions, exercises, and support from me as you navigate your own list and work to transform those feelings of overwhelm into true productivity.

Goalsetting: Change Your Life, Not Your Circumstances

Don't set superficial goals- set goals that will stretch you & help you progress. Set goals that are going to change your behavior and your life.

Do you find yourself making the same goals year after year, but not actually accomplishing them? How great would it be to actually see a little of your own personal version of success?

I’ve made a lot of goals over the years, and I’ve learned that if you want to set yourself up for real, lasting success, you need to combine your regular goalsetting practices with behavior-based goalsetting.

What is Behavior-Based Goal Setting?

Think for a moment about how you currently set and track your goals. Are they based on your desire to achieve a specific result? Chances are, the answer is yes.

Goals that are based purely on outcome are called results-based goals, and they usually involve a desire to change our living conditions: A promotion at work, spending less money, a newer car, cooking more healthy foods … all of these are results-based goals because they aim to change our circumstances.

But there is a different type of goal that doesn’t focus on the result at all. Rather than focusing on WHAT we want to achieve, this goal is more concerned with changing our behaviors, which make achieving the results we want easier and far more sustainable. These are called behavior-based goals, and in making positive changes in our habits, (or behaviors), we are in essence creating stepping stones on our way to our ideal outcome.

Don't set superficial goals- set goals that will stretch you & help you progress. Set goals that are going to change your behavior and your life.

Positive & Lasting Improvement

Results-based goals tend to focus on the things you do and the actions you take. Behavior-based, on the other hand, ask you to change how you think and act in certain circumstances. It’s more intrinsically motivating than outwardly rewarding- you have to look at how you’re acting and reacting to your world- not just what comes out of those actions.

On the other hand, because behavior-based goals are so internally based, it makes it really difficult to measure and evaluate, especially while you’re still in the middle of progression. With result-based goals you can count the number of meals you make a week, and you can track the money you spend and if you achieved that desired promotion. “Success” is very black and white. This is why we tend to (more often than not) make results-based goals. After all, we like to see progress add up, don’t we?

Many times, when we set goals, we focus on the negative- what we don’t want rather than what we do want. Behavior-based goals focus more on the behaviors we want to strengthen & grow, rather than the negative actions we want to remove. In strengthening the positive behaviors, we change the way we act- it goes beyond putting a band-aid on the situation that we’ll just have to fix again later.

Let’s say you make a goal to lose 20 lbs. A few months later, you’ve worked hard enough to achieve that goal! (Go, you!) You’re finished now, right? Hard work over?

If only! If you lost that weight using a fad diet or weight-loss product, as soon as you quit using those items, won’t the weight just return? Instead, you need to change your behavior- you need to create healthy habits like eating well and moving your body. You need to create systems in your life that you can live with, permanently, so you don’t fall back into your old ways.

 

Results & Behaviors: Working Together

Results-based goals are not inherently bad, and behavior-based goals aren’t necessarily “better”. They’re both necessary, but I think people tend to only be concerned with the goals that give them quick results. Common goalsetting practices don’t normally include both result & behavior-based goals, which when they work synergistically together, they go beyond the surface and really help you change your life in the most positive, productive way.

When & How to Utilize Behavior-Based Goals

If you’re having trouble meeting a results-based goal you’ve set for yourself before, think about the possibility of changing a habit or behavior in your life instead. For instance, if you set a behavior-based goal to increase your productivity but spend all morning on Facebook looking at cat videos, you’re not really going to accomplish much, are you?  That’s how behavior-based goals can help – your “results-based” goal is valid & honorable- you just need to figure out how to cut the Cat Video Distraction once and for all.

It’s a lot simpler than you think to link your results-based goals with your more intrinsically motivated behavior-based goals.

  1. First just decide what you want to achieve, long-term. These are your traditional results-based goals that you’re probably already used to making.
  2. Then ask yourself: “What positive habits will I need to create in order ensure this goal is not only met, but also sustained?”

Whatever habits you need to make or actions you need to take will become your behavior based goal. See how they work together?

Examples of Behavior-Based Goals

So what kind of goals can you set? Below are some examples of what behavior-based goals can look like, but just know that any goal that helps you look at your attitudes and internal motivations & behaviors will probably work. This list is certainly not exhaustive, but will help you get an idea.

Don't set superficial goals- set goals that will stretch you & help you progress. Set goals that are going to change your behavior and your life.

Hopefully you can see the beauty of combining behavior-based goals with results-based goals. By utilizing them both, your chances of achieving your desired result, and sustaining the positive changes you’ll begin seeing all throughout your life as a result, are much greater than by using just one of them alone.

FINISHING THOUGHTS

Whatever your goals, whether you aim to get more done, get out of debt, make new friends, or lead a healthier life, I hope you’ll try setting a few behavior-based goals of your own and I promise that by carefully developing them, it won’t be hard to see the benefits add up.

Want to evaluate goals of your own? Download the FREE printable below to get started!

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Next Steps:

Interested in more tips to become more productive, manage your time and organize your schedule? Sign up for my FREE course: “Transform the Overwhelm: 7 Days to Peaceful Productivity”