Listing Your Way To Success

A list is a tremendous tool in the assisting of increased productivity. It is no uncommon to see someone walking around aimlessly because he or she does not know what to do next. How much time do you think is lost because a person of this ilk has no clue what the next step is? Estimates certainly will conclude that tens of thousands of man hours are lost annually because of this simple concept.

Writing up a list helps in a few different ways. When done before hand, it helps to clarify one's thinking and instill in him or her what needs to be accomplished. At the same time, one gets a visual representation of the actions that require attention. While there are many different ways of going about this, the important factor is to have an idea throughout the day of you are going to do.

Procrastination is something that many people battle. People can naturally fall into the mindset of not doing anything. A list assists helps combat this because the next action is plain to see. Of course, one might still put it off but the likelihood is diminished if it is written down. Trust me when I tell you that it is easy to ignore something that is an abstract idea somewhere.

One final note about list: many experts will state that it is best to write all actions on a piece of paper and then number them in order of importance. This ensures that one focuses his or her attention on what provides the most benefit. I agree with this in theory. However, since most people have a problem with taking any action at all, I find that simply writing the actions down and starting on them is helpful. The crucial idea is to get moving. Altering the order things are done in can be implemented at a later date.

If you are suffering from inertia and have difficulty taking action, here is an exercise to help you get started. Pull out a piece of paper and make a list of 5 simple actions you need to take. Write them down without thought to how important they are. The idea is to create a list of things that can be completed rather easily. Once you have the 5 actions, go do them. Do the first and do not stop until it is crossed off. After that, do the same thing with the second. Follow this until you complete the entire list. You will notice how this simple exercise enabled you to increase your productivity dramatically.

It is amazing the power we have when we focus.
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Applying What You Know

I am always astonished whenever I see a doctor smoking cigarettes. If there is one profession you would think should have a 0% smoking rate, it would be the physicians. These people are intimately knowledgeable about the dangers of smoking. They deal personally with the disorders that this habit creates. Yet, there is a percentage of them that still engages in it.

The same is true for people in the medical community who are overweight. We all know that hypertension, diabetes, and other ailments are directly linked to excessive weight. Again, we have an entire profession who sees the results on a daily basis. However, there is a large percentage of the individuals in this fields who are heavy. In short, they are putting themselves at risk.

My intention is not to pick on the medical community as much as to emphasize how people do not do what they know. The application of knowledge is what leads to success. Long term good health is a result of a series of steps taken over a long period of time. Proper diet, exercise, and the elimination of bad habits (such as smoking or excessive drinking) are fundamentals in achieving this end. The medical community is well aware of this yet many fail to apply it to their lives. Instead, they make up excuses or ignore the problem altogether. Either way, the end result is the same.

This idea is expanded to all areas of life. How many times have you read a book about a particular subject and thought "these are some good ideas, I will have to try them". Did you? If you are like most, months or years later, that book is collecting dust on a shelf with the knowledge wasted through lack of application. Here we know something yet refuse to do it.

The situation gets worse when we have first hand experience about the benefits of something but fail to continue to do it. We see this in the business world where people followed a particular set of steps to create success then stop doing it. For example, many people have an investment plan that generates above average returns. However, instead of following this path, the person decides to do something different in hopes of achieving more. While this can be a good thing if more knowledge was attained, in many instances it is simply a case of the person ceasing the application of what is known.

So, my challenge to you is to apply all you know to your life. If you are over the age of 30, you acquired a great deal of experience. Live is a wonderful teacher is we are willing to apply the lessons it offers. In every area of life, you can find a blueprint for success. Decide what you want, get the blueprint, and apply the knowledge garnered from that research. It is that simple. As you can see, the first two steps are worthless unless you follow it up with the application of knowledge.

Many have said that the difference is in the actions we take. I agree. Those who succeed take actions that are in stark contrast to those who do not. Success is nothing more than finding out what needs to be done and doing it. This is why life needs to be a continual learning experience. If we are to attain great heights, we must apply the knowledge that is in our heads for our benefit. Do not allow fear, laziness, or insecurity to hinder you. Just do what you know and you will be a whole lot better off.
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The Mental Side of Success

What is the most important aspect of your life? When you look at the different areas, mental, emotional, physical, and financial, what strikes you as being at the top of the list in terms of importance? While the answers will vary, the truth is health is the most crucial thing in your life. Without your health, everything else is lessened. For example, many pursue money throughout their lives only to find, when their physical condition deteriorates, that they wish they had taken "better care of themselves". At the same time, many find that even the greatest riches in the world cannot buy one more time. Steve Jobs is an example. He might have been worth $3 billion but he is still dead in his early 50s. All the financial success meant little at the end since he lost decades due to illness.

That being said, when we look at success, what do you think is most important? Obviously, if you read the title, you know that the mental side of things is the answer. Everything else stems from this. Life is first created in the mind and then manifested in the physical world. In other words, everything starts with an idea.

When we look at the world around us, we see many people who are weak. When it comes to their mental conditioning, their ability to excel is seriously hindered. Alcoholism, drug abuse, hours spent watching television, lack of common sense, and emotional chaos are all signs that people have not conquered their mind. In fact, they allow it to run free without a single restraint. Left to its own devices, the mind will completely destroy a person's life. No success will ever result.

I will offer up an example that really drives home how forceful mental strength is. Stories written by prisoners of war exemplify the tools necessary for success in this environment. Here is a situation where people were malnourished to the point where they were nothing more than skin on bones. At the same time, in many instances, they suffered extreme physical and psychological abuse. In short, everything was taken away from them. So, why did some survive while others perished. Certainly the abuse of the captors did have an impact in many instances. However, there are numerous stories about people who "decided" they were going to survive the ordeal (Victor Frankl is one such person). Their success was derived first by their mental state.

When we discuss factors for success, we often cover topics such as determination, persistence, focus, and commitment. Notice where all these activities occur: in the mind. They are mental states which one is free to choose to adopt or not. Being disciplined is nothing more than a mental state where one decides to do what is required at that moment. Nothing happens until the proper state is achieved in the mind.

Consider the way people approach weight loss. We live in an obese society. Today there are more overweight people as a percentage of the population than at any other time in our history. One does not have to travel far to find someone who is "on a diet". How many people do you know who have said they were going to lose weight only to remain the same (or worse lose it only to gain it back). Each of us knows multiple people who fit into this category.

So, the question arises why did they not experience success in this area? It is simple: they chose not to. Their mind allowed them to fail. They did not adopt and maintain the mental state to succeed. Somewhere along the line, the urge hit to "cheat" on their program for weight loss. As you can see, this is a mental decision. At the same time, the option to skip a workout resides in the same place. Everything that is done, or not done, is decided upon mentally. It is these decisions that allow failure to occur.

Tony Robbins has stated that a true decision is nothing more than cutting off any other possibility. This means, in this example, that if one decides to lose 50 pounds, there is no other possible outcome. Everything will be done because the person has mentally determined this is how it will be. All action will align with this mindset to, eventually, produce the result. If Victor Frankl, among others, can use this technique to survive hellish conditions, then one can apply it to everyday situations which are not life and death. Success is a result of mental deciding to succeed.

The world rewards those who are mentally conditioned to succeed. Even those who excel utilizing their bodies are mental giants. Take athletes as an example. Many will say they succeed because of superior natural talent. Sure, that is part of it. However, do not overlook all the hours put into training to get their bodies in that shape. It takes mental discipline to exercise and eat properly to operate at a world class level (anyone on the yoyo diet plan understands how tough it is). These people face the same challenges as everyone else. The idea of cheesecake or potato chips is just as appealing to them. Yet they pass on them because it is not part of their curriculum for success.

Therefore, to succeed, you need to take control of your mind. Too many of us allow fear to run our daily lives while operating in a haphazard undisciplined way. Success is really a simple thing to achieve. Today, we have blueprints in all areas of life. If you want to be physically fit, there are thousands of websites packed with valuable plans how to achieve it. Financial success is the same way. We can learn how to excel in any area of life if we follow the steps. Sales is a prime example of a field where success is a step-by-step process. So is the stock market, real estate, and another other business endeavor. If you want to bake a cake, it is best to follow the instructions. Life is that way also. Everything always breaks down to the basics. So why don't most people succeed? In my estimation it is because they simply fail to decide to.

Consider this premise as you go throughout your day. How are you allowing your mind to take control in a negative way? Are there things you should be doing yet you are focusing you attention elsewhere (i.e. ignoring)? Is this a mark of a disciplined, mentally strong person? Remember, everything is first created in the mind. Success occurs here...everything else is just rote action repeated until the desired outcome is achieved.
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Pure Concentration

Here is a simple exercise that will increase the results you get drastically. The next activity you do, whatever it may be, give it 110% pure concentration. No matter how simple or complex the task, focus your attention solely on the activity that is in front of you. Do not allow yourself to be distracted. If you can develop this habit, you will be ahead of 95% of the people out there.

We live in a world where distractions are an ever present part of our day. Decades ago, when one was working, for example, the only way to be interrupted was if someone walked in or if the phone rang. Today, that is no longer the case. We have phones that not only ring, but there are text messages, mobile instant messaging programs, and internet access. At the same time, computers have a variety of things that can steal our focus away from what we are doing. How many times were you writing something only to have the automatic update window pop open on you? We all experienced that more than we care to remember.

People today are in the habit of allowing themselves to be easily distracted. It is a habit that we seamlessly fell into. As technologies become more prevalent, we are seeing this situation worsen. However, this goes in direct opposition to a basic component of success. To be truly successful in most endeavors, our complete attention is required. A wandering mind cannot tap into the natural power that exists when it is scattered. This is something we prove repeatedly. Consider the amount of time that is wasted in the average person's life because he or she does not know what to do next. We see this situation worsened when one has to go back and fix an error that was caused by lack of attention.

The mind cannot focus upon two things at one time. Many buy into the myth of multi-tasking. Productivity studies have proven that multi-tasking only serves to decrease output. It is simple to understand when you ponder how the mind works. Since we can only focus upon one thing at a time, trying to do two things simultaneously means that one task is not getting the proper attention. Which brings me back to the original point in this post: it is crucial that we develop the habit of focusing exclusively upon what we are doing at any given moment. This simple (but not easy) act will increase your productivity instantly.

For centuries people have written about the power of living in the present moment. While many associate this with spirituality, I find that this is where we find life. Nothing is occurring but what is taking place right now. The past is memory and the future is but a dream. Our existence is right here. However, while we find it natural for our bodies to be here, the mind operates differently. It is not bound by physical laws. Therefore, we must instill the discipline to concentrate on the present.

Try this simple exercise and see how you do with it. If you are like most, you will find it impossible to do. Pure concentration is a skill that most lack. It can be developed but does not come naturally. Therefore, use a simple activity like washing the dinner or cleaning the counter. Notice how often your mind wanders while doing these activities. While it might seem counterproductive to focus upon a task that is so simple, the benefit comes from the habit you create. Remember, the process of focusing exclusively on the dishes is the same as you apply to a report for work. And, if you are distracted while doing the dishes, bet the ranch the same will occur when you are writing your report. Remember, habits of the mind do not change with the situation. They remain the same until we consciously decide to change them.
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