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I can’t do that!: What you say when you say you can’t

How often do you hear someone (or yourself) say that they can’t do something? You will hear this most often from a child. But it isn’t so uncommon to hear this phrase from adults too. We are so used to hearing this phrase that it is accepted as a matter of fact. What are you saying when you say that you can’t?

You have probably heard people say that they can’t live without a certain level of income, cant lose weight, cant make friends, or cant learn a new language. Think about that for a minute. Really? It really cant be done?

Sometimes I will say that I can’t take the dog out in the morning because I don’t have time. What I am really saying is that I was not willing to get up early enough to make sure I had time to take the dog out before I leave. This is very popular at my house.

I have also said “I can’t” on bigger things. I said that, I can’t relocate my family to another city in another state (after growing up almost my entire life in one city). What I was really saying is that I am not willing to consider what it would take and what it would be like to move. That didnt last long. We love living in Richmond, Virginia now.

When I say “I can’t” it becomes an easy way to accept that am not willing to do the work.

To avoid accepting “I can’t”:

  • Recognize when you say that you can’t. Unlike other things that I say to myself that are true, most of the time saying “can’t” just is not true. Try to eliminate “can’t” from your vocabulary.
  • Replace can’t with the truth. Its okay to say that you are not willing but don’t lie to yourself and others by saying that you can’t. Find what you are really saying. Determine what it would take to do it. For example, I need to get up a little earlier so that I can take the dog out.
  • Make the difficult choice. Once you replace “can’t” with the truth, decide what you can do? You may decide that you are not willing and that is okay if it is true. However, in some cases you may decide that you could do something else, so why not do it? You may need to choose to turn down that job offer and go in a different career direction. You may need to reprioritize something in your life by giving up one thing so that you can spend more time doing another.

What are you telling yourself right now that you can’t do? If you tell the truth, what are you really saying? Write a comment here.

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Keeping Momentum

Sir Isaac Newton’s first law generally tells us that a moving object continues to move in the same direction with little additional effort. If the object is stopped, it tends to remain stopped. I am reminded of this when I go kayaking. Getting started takes a lot of energy but as long as I keep paddling each stroke become easier than the last because I am already moving forward. The same is true when you want to start something. Whether it is a task, project, regular exercise routine, eating right, reading, starting a business, selling, or waking up. Getting started is the hardest step to take.

This is an especially important concept for procrastinators (like me) to accept. A key to ending procrastination is to start doing something . . . anything. Even if it is committing to writing just one sentence for your research project or picking up one item to start cleaning your house. Once you start something it will be easier to keep going.

I exercise fairly regularly. When I am in the habit of exercising it is easy to motivate myself to exercise next time. I don’t want to lose the progress I have gained. When I get sick or if I let life get in my way and miss a few workouts, I tend to continue to find excuses to postpone exercising one more day, then one more day. Once I stop it is very hard start again.

To get started again:

  • Determine the smallest action necessary to get started. Make a commitment to yourself take that small action. Sometimes my small action is to pack my gym bag with exercise clothes. Now I can’t use the excuse that I don’t have my clothes packed.
  • Schedule small actions on your calendar. It may seem silly to schedule small tasks. Commit to taking that small action at the time you have scheduled it. Ninety five percent of the time I will accomplish a lot more than that.
  • When you have finally started, don’t stop. Determine the next small step. Dont expect to accomplish the entire task in one sitting. If you only accomplish that small task, just determine the next small step and schedule it for later. You may find yourself accomplishing several small steps in one sitting but when it is time to stop for now, determine that next small step. Zig Ziggler said, “People who never take step 1 never take step 2.”

What are you putting off right now? What is the smallest action to get started?

Right now I haven’t gotten started organizing my finances for the week and I haven’t determined my next blogging milestones. To get started, I will commit to scheduling time to at least download my bank transactions and listing some blogging milestones.

What are you having a hard time starting right now? What small action can you do to get started? If you are willing to share, add them to the comments below.

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Why do I blog?

Bloggers will often write about why they blog. All bloggers have their own reasons. My blogging is a means to and end in several different ways.

I was teased and made fun of a lot growing up. As an early teen I had low self esteem. I have a learning disability and really struggled through school. I was a slow reader (still am but I still read). Because of this, I didnt like school or do well in school. I was never expected to go to college (although I have a bachelors degree now). I started to believe I wasn’t going to do much with my life.

I began to get out of that rut and started to become more than what people thought I would be. I looked for ways that I could be efficient.

I decided to start reading. I found a way to enjoy reading. I remain a slow reader but have improved my reading speed and comprehension. I read what motivates me. Through reading I have learned a lot about finding inspiration, creating systems that make me better organized, and accessing motivation through other people’s examples. If you can relate, then this blog is intended for you.

Have you ever said, “If I knew then what I know now . . . “? I blog to share my experiences. I am driven to help people like me so that they can find inspiration to make a difference in their lives and the lives of other people.

I like sharing resources that I have found and have helped me. Most of these resources are very simple and easy to implement. It is diligence and persistence that is hard. Its hard to make the time to find these tools. This blog is to put that information in one place that is easy to find and use.

The topics you find here will not be perfect. I expect to have spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. You may be an English teacher or think that it ruins the credibility of the blog to have mistakes. I am writing to people who can see past that. I believe it is the content that is even more important than having it perfect. I will make corrections and edits as readers like you let me know (and I appreciate every correction).

Thank you for reading and especially for your comments.

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Are you following the crowd? Make a difference with your own path.

Our culture expects you to follow the traditional path. It’s sometimes “easier” to follow what everyone expects you to do. You go to school, go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, work until you can retire, retire and eventually die. Following this path is what everyone else does.

Following the traditional path will make it difficult to discover what makes you unique. Following your path (and not someone else’s) is how you will find your passion and purpose in life. People who simply follow the traditional path are not seeking their purpose. Determining  your path and then following it will get you to your destination quicker.

Everyone has a unique combination of skills that were given to you. This combination is like a recipe except this recipe can’t be made again. The combined flavor of the recipe that makes you tastes like nothing else in this world because you are the chef. You determine what ingredients will make the recipe better. It will take time, but you need to understand the unique combination of ingredients that make you you. Knowing your unique skills and talents will help you determine what you become. Follow your own path.

What is your heart telling you to do? It is up to you do decide which influences are good for you and relinquish influences that are not considering your best interests. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didnt do than by the ones you did do. So throw off your bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Mark Twain

What are some unique ingredients make you unique? What do you do that no one else does? Leave a comment here.

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Pay to play: Change your life by paying for it

You probably want to become better at something. If not, you should. We were designed to be better than the day before. My high school band director always said, “just be better than you were yesterday”. What motivates you to fully commit to being better? What prevents you from breaking through to the next level?

Sometimes a new commitment is necessary to break through. To make a significant jump will require you to pay a price (money, time, energy, public announcement). It needs to be something that causes a bit of pain or risk (aka sacrifice). Without sacrifice, you will not commit to make the change.

When I was deciding what platform to use for this blog, I could have gotten a free blog from Google. I choose instead to pay for this blog through WordPress. Of course I benefit with a paid platform with better features. What I also get for paying is that I am more committed to blogging now. It was a little painful to part with that money. This pain is worth it because it is one more component that keeps me motivated.

The pain you feel makes overcoming that pain more satisfying. To get a college degree, you have to commit to several years of hard work and a chunk of money to get the degree. To have a great marriage, you must commit to work through conflict, make compromises, and sacrifice your personal time. To become a great athlete, you must commit to countless practices in bad weather, time away from friends, and sore muscles.

To make a true change in your life you must pay for it.

  • Determine what you want to change in your life. Don’t think about how you will do it, just determine what you want to change. Write it down with as much detail as possible.
  • Make a plan. Write out what you will need to do to accomplish your goal. Organize your list by putting it in order by what needs to be done first through completion.
  • What will it take to change? What price will you have to pay to achieve your goal? List everything you know you will have to “pay” to achieve your goal.
  • Pay the price.If you need to buy something buy it. If you need to carve out time schedule it. If you need to announce it tell everyone.
  • Do it. Commit to doing it. You may not make meaningful progress every day. “Just be better than you were yesterday.”
  • Appreciate the pain. When you are in pain, not having fun, wishing you were doing something else, remember that this pain is what will get you to your goal. Celebrate the pain because that is the only thing that will help you achieve your goal. The more pain, the more satisfying your result will be when you accomplish your goals.

What change do you want to make in your life? What have you been putting off because you want to avoid the pain? Read other people’s comments or write your own here.

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But why . . . ?

When we ask someone to do something it can be frustrating why they didn’t do it the way we wanted. It’s as if they deliberately did it their way instead of your way. You can explain everything but until the other person understands why the results will struggle to meet your expectations.

I have been on the receiving end of this scenario. When I was a boy, my brother and I stayed with relatives who lived on a farm. One day my aunt told us we were going on a hike through the woods on their property and that we should wear our swimming suit under our jeans. As a boy, that didn’t make any sense to me. I understood that we should wear jeans so we didn’t get our legs scraped up through the brush. It was a hot day and I didn’t want to be even hotter with a swim suit under my jeans, so I just wore the jeans. During our hike we came to a creek and my aunt said, “take off your jeans and go swimming boys!”

When we ask someone to do something, we usually have it all figured out in our mind. We need to remember that who we ask doesn’t know what we know. The other person will either consciously or sub-consciously try to figure out the purpose.

When you ask someone to do something for you:

  • Start by explaining the purpose. Put yourself in their shoes. It takes time and energy for the other person to figure out the purpose of your task. Make it clear what you want to accomplish.
  • Offer ideas. Your plan may not be the best plan. Many times you have an idea about how to accomplish the task. Offer suggestions about how the other person might accomplish the result you are looking for.
  • Allow the other person to do it their way. We often think the way we think something should be done is the best way. I’ve found that most of the time my way is not best. If the other person understands what you want to accomplish they will figure it out their way. You may be surprised how much better they will do.
  • Shut up and stay out of their way. Don’t go checking in to make sure they are doing it right. Trust that they will accomplish the result and accept that if they don’t it is probably because you didn’t explain “why” well enough.

That hot summer day I w

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Focus on the task at hand

There are so many opportunities to make choices in just about every moment of every day. We can choose to watch television, play games, read, surf the internet (including Facebook/Twitter), text, spend time outside, . . . the list goes on. When you have a task to do, git-er-done (as a famous comedian would say). It can be so easy to jump from one thing to another, especially when you have a task that you don’t want to do.

When you allow distractions to get in the way of completing a task, it prolongs the task. Think about that for a minute. If there is a task that you need to do but you jump to a “fun” distraction, it only prolongs the task.

I struggle with this every day. If I need to wash the dishes. While washing dishes I will have the television on (lying to myself that I can do both at the same time). I get distracted and end up stopping for a few minutes to watch what is happening on television. In reality it takes me at least twice as long to do the dishes vs. keeping the television off.

To discipline yourself to get the task done:

  • Focus on task at hand. Recognize that you want to do something else. I no longer watch television when I do dishes. I will turn on music rather than television because I know music doesn’t won’t slow me down. It actually motivates me (except when I dance).
  • Reward yourself. Once you complete the task(s), reward yourself with a “fun” activity that would normally distract you. Limit the fun activity to a short period of time so that you can move on to the next task. When using my computer, I will want to jump to surfing the internet. It is now my reward after getting important tasks done.

It was Helen Keller who said, Do not persist in folly. It is not a badge of character to continue down the wrong road.

What distracts you? How to do you combat distractions? Leave a comment here.