Anti-procrastination sign

Avoiding the “Someday” Trap

Procrastination Leading to Regret

Facing a new year reminds me of all the things I want to do someday and all the things I wanted to do but haven’t done.

The procrastination sets in; someday never seems to be today.

Someday May Never Come

For me, the concept of someday becoming a daydreaming and dangerous word.  We live our lives thinking there’s always more time.

Someday assumes a distant future with possibilities, this can be a distraction from what’s happening here and now.  Someday makes me lose focus on my goals as I work towards my personal vision.

Thinking about things I haven't done
Waiting for Someday

Don’t Think, Just Do

So in this new year, I want to remove the word someday and take those somedays and incorporate them into my personal vision. To make measurable goals out of them and make them happen.

Final Thoughts

Why wait for a future that is not guaranteed?  I don’t want to have a collection of somedays laying around as a form of regret.

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.
― Oscar Wilde

Row of doors facing the viewer

How to Redefine Better – Thoughts on Perspective

Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.
― Ernest HemingwayThe Old Man and the Sea

Better is Perspective

I think an important aspect of knowing what “better” means comes down to a matter of perspective.  When I was younger (compared to when I was older? – never mind), I thought it was the more expensive or bigger or faster object, regardless of what I really needed.

I purchased a Mustang and thought it was better because it was new, it was fast, it was better than my previous car, until winter came.  Then I learned that better was situational and a Mustang would be worthless (and dangerous) in the snow.

As I grow older, my perspective on this changes.  Today, I think “better” is what’s most cost-effective for the quality.  It doesn’t have to be the best of the best but it as to be right for the purpose intended.

I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.
― Maya Angelou

Better is Individual

“Better” is an individual preference for our needs.  We don’t all have the same requirements for lives or for our goals.  Yet, developing our own vision and goals will tell us what is “better”.

A personal example would be my choice to get into Pharmacy School.  My heart really wasn’t into Pharmacy but it could have provided the credentials that could get me into better employment opportunities.

After the first semester I knew it wasn’t right for me.  I wasn’t doing well in 1 class and my motivation was only not to fail. For me, Pharmacy School wasn’t “better”.

Perspective is can change over time
Better is a matter of perspective

Final Thoughts

This is a point I’ve repeated in this post and others, we’ll know what’s better when we know where we want to go in life.  It doesn’t have to be some big and elaborate plan to be the next big thing. The little things add up.

Having a personal vision, something specific to you is what matters.  After that, things will slowly fall into place.  This is what’s going to take you where you want to go because we can make goals around this vision.

If we want to look for “better”, we need to look inward first.

 

Frustration at work

How to Overcome Frustration in the Face of Failure

When figuring out what to do after failing Pharmacy School, I became frustrated with myself.  Out of this frustration came disorganization and inaction.  So I developed a plan to address frustration so I can keep myself dedicated to enacting my personal vision.

Facing Frustration

Frustration happens to us all. I describe it as annoying, demoralizing, and mentally exhausting.  A great combination for going nowhere.

Frustration, when not properly managed, can be the enemy of your time and ultimately, your personal vision.  Frustration can end up taking valuable time when it becomes a distraction and time is a commodity, once lost, can never be regained.

Sometimes I find myself going in circles then I just feel like giving up. Time passes and I’m stuck. This causes a chain reaction to slowing my journey as I work on my goals.

An important strategy I’m starting to use so to turn that negative frustration into a positive.  It takes time and practice but frustration can be used as a key to how we understand or misunderstand of an idea or action.

When I get frustrated, I take a minute to think about what I’m frustrated about. Then I try to think of this challenge from a different angle or I reach out to others for their perspectives.

Changing your perspective can change how you see a problem
Seeing a different perspective

Challenging Frustration

Return to the Here and Now

I feel as if I were a piece in a game of chess, when my opponent says of it: That piece cannot be moved.
― Søren Kierkegaard

When I get frustrated, I feel as if my thoughts go to a future where I’m stuck in the same situation, with the same task and nothing gets done or accomplished. Sometimes my thoughts go to a place to think about what would happen if I just gave up or didn’t finish the task.  Or, I start thinking about past failures and it decreases my motivation and creates doubt in myself.

When I find myself going down this mindless path of decreasing or zero productivity, I have to snap out of it.  This is the time when I have to remind myself to get back to the here and now.

I take a moment to clear my mind, sometimes I leave the work area to get a new perspective on things.  Or, I’ll look out the window and try to clear my mind. I find going for a short walk helps me clear my mind and resets my thoughts.

I find that I have to have patience in myself and the process for getting things done, to break the cycle of frustration.  There is no quick way to build patience, it comes over time as it builds on itself.  Start with a little patience and keep it going and eventually you’ll have more than when you started.

Review what was accomplished

When I get back to my work area I briefly go review what I’ve accomplished up to the stopping point.

It helps me keep motivated by seeing there is progress. Sometimes it helps to see the problem from this perspective because maybe something happened earlier that could be changed to cover come the issue.

Getting back to the challenge

Now that I’m refreshed and ready to go, I have to get back to the challenge at hand. I think about small incremental steps that I can take to advance the process.  I think about resources available or past event that may be similar enough to provide guidance on what to do next.

This helps reduce frustration. I try to keep in mind that there are multiple paths to a destination.

Keeping a positive attitude

I have the challenge back in front of me; I’m refreshed and found resources to guide me forward now is the time to keep a positive attitude.

Keeping positive is found to reduce stress and increase positive health outcomes.  What good can come from being negative? Nothing. It can only result in mental fatigue and stress, and you’re back where you started and the only thing you’ve done is lost time.

Keeping a positive mental outlook is important to move forward in anything you do.

Final Thoughts

Frustration can be both demoralizing and demotivating if you let it.

A strategy I use is to take a step back, take stock of achievements so far, try to think of alternatives (reaching out to others when needed), and keep a positive mental outlook. This helps me keep focused and dedicated to my goals and personal vision.

Let’s see what you can do to fight frustration using these simple tools.

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning do to do afterward.
― Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

 

Motivation

How to Get Motivated in the Face of Failure

Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Lag in Motivation

It’s hard to keep motivated in the face of failure.  On some days I wake up ready to go and other days I don’t feel like doing anything. Sometimes I have self-doubt and that creates a lag on my motivation.

Easy Motivation Strategies

In my many, many, many decades of life, I’ve used different strategies to get myself back into action.  Now, these strategies aren’t difficult but they require persistence and dedication.  Here’s a list of strategies that might be helpful.

The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
― Arthur C. Clarke

Get Started

I’m going to borrow the Nike slogan but it’s true, you just have to do it.  Getting started is most of the battle, once you get started you can use your momentum to keep going.  I start with being consistent, having a daily routine and adding to the routine in small increments.

After a while, it gets easier to do things, like going to the gym, because I make it a routine and started with an easy workout.  The motivation is carried by the habit.

Start Small

Procrastination, my old friend. Such a comfortable friend. Until the deadline comes and there’s no more time.  I’ve been guilty of procrastination, it happened in Pharmacy School as well.

One way to battle procrastination is to start small.  Breaking things down to smaller parts is a good way of learning and project management.  It also helps when tracking progress.

If small steps doesn’t work, I make the steps smaller.  I might have over estimated the sizes and need to readjust. The important thing for me is that I keep moving forward, even if it’s slow, patience is important.

Put Down the Smartphone

Distraction is a motivation killer.  Nothing passes the time like looking into the warm glow of a smartphone. Breaking smartphone use can help increase motivation by removing an unproductive distraction.  Turning off notifications and putting the smartphone on silent is a good way to reduce this distraction.

Smartphones aren’t the only distraction. When you have easily accessible distractions all around you then it becomes hard to focus. One thing I would do is close the office door, of if not in an office find a conference room to sit and concentrate.

Get Feedback

There are two ways I get feedback: keep a log or personal feedback.  Keeping a log or journal to track your progress is a great way to keep motivation.  I use workout apps to track my progress and it keeps me going because I see how i’m doing over time.

Using a journal helps me track my progress with goals in support of my vision. This isn’t an every day journal though it can be.  It can be used two or three times a week to track my progress and it’s nice to look back and see progress.

I also keep personal accountability through the people in my life.  I say what I want to do and I’m kept on track. It helps keep you honest with yourself when someone reminds you of things you want to do.

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Removing the Negative

I try to be positive but one thing I try to do is keep positive people around me.  Negative people are an emotional drain.  Some people are negative and always look at the dark or apathetic side of things. It’s hard to be motivated when dealing with negativity so I stay away from it.

Keeping Positive

Now that I try to get negative influences away, I have to let in the positive influences.  I’m not into motivational books but I do like TED talk podcasts that talk about overcoming adversity or people creating new challenges for themselves.  This always creates a positive feeling for me and increases my motivation.

I also try to find something positive in a negative situation. What can I learn from the event? What opportunities are there from this event?

When I failed out of Pharmacy School, I was really hard on myself.  It was bad. One thing I’ve learned from that is that you have to be kind to yourself when you fail.

It’s easy to fall into the cycle of beating yourself when you fail. How does this help? It doesn’t. It only takes up useful time and energy and kills motivation.  I have to use failure as a fuel for my motivation.

Remember the Why

In the Get Feedback section above I mentioned keeping a journal.  This is a great location to keep notes on why I’m doing things and why I have these goals. It’s a great reminder to myself to look back when I’m feeling unmotivated and don’t have the energy to keep going.

Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re doing something but this can help as a reminder.  Another way to to keep sticky notes, have them at your desk or on a monitor as a daily reminder.

Have Gratitude

In the holiday season we are reminded to be grateful for what we have.  Coming out of the holiday season shouldn’t be different.  When I’m feeling unmotivated or start to think negatively, I think about the things I’m grateful for. This helps put things into a postive perspective and keeps motivation from declining.

Monotony is a Motivation Killer

In the Get Started section above, I talk about getting into a routine.  This doesn’t mean living on autopilot.  Mixing things up by adding or taking away from a routine can help maintain motivation.  For example, if a daily routine involves something like making sandwiches or shaving in the morning, add music or a podcast.

Little changes like this makes a difference when you add tasks to your routine.  Listening to podcasts related to goals is even a better way to keep motivation.

Clean Your Work Space / Living Area

Working in squalor is a motivation killer.  Having to walk into a cluttered work area or cluttered living area is one way to kill motivation. It take only a few minutes a day to keep an area uncluttered and it’s worth it.  Plus it decreases the chances of distraction.  Start small, clean the desk area or a small room and keep it clean. Then work outward from there.

Pick Your Head Up

Taking a short break once in a while isn’t a bad thing. It’ll keep your mind fresh and your work productive. This means you’ll have motivation to keep going.

I take a 2 minute “meditation” break. When my mind gets tired or I feel overloaded, looking outside for 2 minutes lets me take the opportunity to rest my mind.  All I do is look at nature or the sky and let my mind relax. This helps me refresh my motivation to keep going.

Life is a marathon not a sprint.

Final Thoughts

There are many ways of keeping motivated, you have to find the right combination of methods.  Also, the combinations may be different for different goals.  Give yourself some credit for the goals accomplished, have a realistic time frame for doing things, and track your progress and you’re on the right path for keeping motivated.

%d bloggers like this: