How to Change Habits: 5 Proven Tips

Note: This post is written by Gabriel Smith

Almost half of the decisions you make are simply based on habits.

According to a paper published by Duke University, habits are neurological shorthand that frees our minds from the stress of decision making. This behavioral shorthand gives us more bandwidth to focus on unique tasks of our lives.

Most of us form habits unconsciously, wiring our brains into life-sucking routines that are seemingly impossible to short circuit. Quitting bad habits can be hard, but new research shows you can make a permanent change with the right tools.

Here are five tips on how to change habits.

1. Recognize Your Triggers

Recent research in neurobiology has changed how researchers think about habits. Past research focused on changing the routine of the habit, not on which cue triggers it. By studying triggers and rewards, researchers have gained more insight into how habits really form.

Habits are routines triggered by cues, like a time of day, and reinforced with a reward, like food or socialization. In order to change the routine, you need to become aware of the cues that create a habit and what reward you gain out of it.

Charles Duhigg, the author of “The Power Habits,” summarizes this research well:

“Scientists have explained that every habit is made up of a cue, a routine, and a reward. The cue is a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine — the behavior itself — which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular habit is worth remembering for the future. Over time, this loop — cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward — becomes more automatic as the cue and reward become neurologically intertwined.”

So, the first step to change a habit is to recognize in what context your habit is triggered. For example, is your desire to smoke increased by being around certain people, a certain place, or after a meal? Gaining consciousness of these subconscious cues empowers you to take the next step for change.

2. Rewire Your Routine

Once you are aware of what triggers your habit, the next step is to either create a plan that hijacks these old cues with a new routine and reward or find a new cue to create a routine and reward around.

After you have created a plan for the new habit you want to cultivate, you are on your way to creating your new routine. Once you are able to identify how your habits work, you have the tools to override your “bad” habits with new ones.

3. Reward Yourself

When evaluating what habit you want to change, you also have to recognize the benefit that habit provides and replicate that reward in the new habit you are creating. Choose a reward that you truly enjoy. For example, if you want to start exercising, your reward could be a small piece of chocolate.

Depriving yourself of a genuinely satisfying reward and relying on “willpower” to create a new habit goes against how your brain creates new neural pathways and habits. Or as Jocelyn Glei, author of “Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distraction, and Get Real Work Done,” puts it:

“If you want to get rid of a bad habit, you have to find out how to implement a healthier routine to yield the same reward.”

4. Sleep and Eat Appropriately

A good night’s sleep rests our brain as well as our body. A well-rested brain handles the stresses of decision making better than a sleep-deprived one. If you are sleep-deprived, your brain is tired and stressed, reducing your ability to make decisions that are not habitual. A tired brain slips into old habits quicker than a well-rested one.

Dr. Sujay Kansagra, director of Duke University’s Pediatric Neurology Sleep Medicine Program and a sleep expert for Mattress Firm, recommends, “For adults, a full night’s sleep is typically between seven and nine hours, but everyone is different. So, how do you figure out how much sleep is best for you? If you don’t have any other sleep problems (e.g. sleep apnea), you should wake up feeling refreshed in the morning after a full night of sleep.”

Low blood sugar also stresses out your body and brain. If you don’t eat good food every couple of hours, your blood sugar drops, causing you to be cranky and crave carbs. This state of mind and body inhibits your ability to make rational decisions.

To avoid a drop in your blood sugar, and thus your decision-making ability, it is recommended that you eat a snack or meal every three to five hours.

5. Forgive Relapses and Keep Going

Changing a habit is hard because you are creating new neural pathways or rewiring your brain. You are going to fall back into old habits once in a while—especially in times of stress. Don’t let a relapse discourage you. The best thing to do if you fail is to keep trying.

Remember, once you know how your habit works, you have the power to change it.

“What we know from lab studies is that it’s never too late to break a habit. Habits are malleable throughout your entire life. But we also know that the best way to change a habit is to understand its structure — that once you tell people about the cue and the reward and you force them to recognize what those factors are in a behavior, it becomes much, much easier to change,” said Charles Duhigg in an NPR interview.

– About the Writer –

Gabriel Smith is an ex-business student turned writer and health and wellness expert, finding motivation from his former life as a competitive athlete and trainer. He regularly shares insight on self improvement, self sufficiency, and how humans can better their lives.

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10 Essential Productivity Tips for Freelancers

Note: This post is written by Danny Donchev

Working as a freelancer offers a lot of freedom, but that freedom can also lead us down a highly unproductive path. One minute you’re sipping that first delicious cup of freshly brewed coffee as you log into your computer, the next thing you know two hours have gone by while you were watching hilarious YouTube videos.

It happens to the best of us. Being a freelancer requires a strong will and dedication, but with social media a tap of the finger or a click of the mouse away it can be hard to stay focused. Productivity is the name of the game and the only way to success. If you’re falling victim to the various distractions around you, get your time management back on track with these productivity tips for freelancers.

1. Create a Schedule

Freelancing allows us to break away from the traditional nine to five working mold, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need a schedule to accomplish your tasks. The best part is that you tell yourself when it’s time to get down to business and when you can relax.

Your schedule might change from week to week or even day to day, but sticking to the time frames you’ve created to get your work done is a sure-fire way to boost productivity.

2. Do One Thing at a Time

Multitasking is a useful ability in almost every facet of life, but it will kill your productivity. Everything you are doing besides the task at hand is stopping you from completing it, plain and simple.

While sticking to your schedule, make sure that your time spent on working is just that. Turn off your phone if you can’t resist the urge to hop on social media, clear your workspace of distractions, and get rid of anything that keeps you from getting the job done.

It isn’t easy at first, but the more you practice “single-tasking,” the more work you will get done.

3. Prioritize Your Work

When it comes to productivity tips for freelancers, this one seems as though it should be common knowledge. However, simply working on the next item with the closest deadline doesn’t always work out as planned. Here’s what to do.

Put Common Tasks Together

Answering emails and calls are part of the trade, but jumping to answer either in the middle of your workload can severely impede your productivity. Setting a specified time in your schedule to answer emails or make calls will allow you to reach out to your clients without interrupting your creative flow.

Do the Undesirable

If there’s a task you’re dreading, do it first. Eliminate having that weight looming over your head all day and snub procrastination in one fell swoop. Everything will be easier once that pain in the rear is over with.

Get the Small Stuff Out of the Way

After dealing with the hardest part of the day, tackle the little things. Whether that’s resizing images, putting documents together for a presentation, or creating an email list, accomplishing those smaller tasks first will help the rest of your day to run smoothly.

Set the Order of Importance

Once you knock out those first three, figure out what needs to be done next. That might mean completing an assignment due today or finding social media influencers to help promote a product. Make a list of what needs to be done today.

When the work day is done, make another list of what will need to be done tomorrow to help you stay on task.

4. Avoid ‘All Work and No Play’

Breaks are an essential aspect of productivity for freelancers. Your schedule should allow for a few minutes away from your computer screen every hour or so. During that time you should stretch, get a glass of water, or just step outside to take a breath of fresh air.

Don’t forget to schedule longer breaks so you can eat. Pro tip: Skip the Hot Pocket and make yourself a dish that will provide sustained energy.

5. Do It All in Intervals

Ever try to power through a term paper in one night? How did that turn out for you? Working straight through for an extended period of time like that can amp up the stress and destroy your motivation along with your creativity.

Take a hint from LiveOps, a telecommuting company that hires freelancers, and section your schedule into thirty-minute increments. This will help to make large tasks seem smaller while setting aside dedicated working hours (no phone, social media, etc.).

As a bonus, it makes scheduling work times around life obligations a whole lot easier.

6. Challenge Yourself

To make serious money freelancing you have to work fast and efficient. Unfortunately, there aren’t any coworkers to compete with. So, where does your healthy competition come from?

Jump back to sectioning off your workload into thirty-minute segments, then make it a game. Set a timer and review how far you’ve progressed with your current task. Keep trying to outdo yourself each time for one week and you’ll be surprised at how much you can get done in just a half hour.

7. Add an Incentive

Challenging yourself can be a fun exercise to boost your productivity, but the end goal is always sweetened with a little incentive. The faster you work, the more assignments you can take on, which means you’re making more money.

Set a few goals for yourself with rewards for reaching them. For instance, if you can turn one week’s worth of assignments into three days then treat yourself to a nice dinner. As your income and speed increases then make the reward greater, a dream vacation.

It won’t happen overnight, but adding incentive certainly increases your motivation to get the job done.

8. Equate Your Time with Your Expenses

We all know that ‘time equals money’, but that doesn’t stop us from procrastinating. Expand on that age-old piece of wisdom by equating your time with your expenses. Before you can think about that dream vacation, you need to think about paying the bills and buying groceries, right?

Break down your assignments into what their pay will be going towards. Look at those next two articles as the money it takes to fill your fridge, that presentation as your car payment, or another hour answering calls as a night out with friends. Aside from easy budgeting, it helps to create the motivation you’ll need to get the job done.

9. Make Time to Market

Marketing may not seem like it belongs on a list of productivity tips for freelancers, but making time to land the next gig is important. Try to fit this in at the end of the day to avoid making it another fateful part of procrastination.

The reason marketing yourself is important comes from the motivation more jobs creates. It adds a little pressure to get the tasks at hand done so you can move on to the next. At the same time, more assignments mean more money and we can all agree that is one amazing motivator.

10. Relax

There’s nothing wrong with working under pressure. In fact, some of us are ten times more productive that way. However, an unnecessary load of stress does nothing to help your productivity.

Before you even start the day, create a ritual that gets you ready to tackle any assignment. For some that might be a morning run, for others it could be coffee and a cigarette on the front porch or a little quiet meditation. Whatever helps you to relax, do it.

Stressing out over your workload makes it something you want to avoid. Instead, clear your head and get ready to do what you do best. That’s why you’re a freelancer because you have the skills to take on these assignments and produce quality work from the comfort of your home.

Final Words

Some days our willpower is stronger than others. It happens to the best of us, but staying productive is the only way to make a comfortable living when you work from home. Adding the ten tips above to your daily work routine will help you stay on top of your workload and see yourself succeed in this industry.

– About the Writer –

Danny Donchev is a marketing manager of AdaptRM, a revolutionary time-tracking tool. Danny writes more posts about productivity and efficiency on the AdaptRM blog.

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The Benefits of Sleep: 5 Ways Sleep Can Help You Reclaim Your Chill

Note: This post is written by Sarah Jones

Tiredness a is part of life for many of us. Children, work, unexpected surprises and circumstances as well as unwanted stress and anxiety can all rob us of one of the most important things we need in our lives: sleep.

Sleep has more benefits than you may realize, so before you binge watch a new series on Netflix tonight, remember that sleep can benefit you more and in many ways.

Here are five benefits of sleep.

1. Sleep Boosts Your Memory

Getting adequate amounts of sleep each night helps improve memory. According to Dr. Rapoport, a professor at NYU Langone Medical Center, people receive information better and faster after receiving the amount of sleep one needs.

Performance increases with proper sleep, so if you’re trying to complete an assignment or learn something new, getting some shut-eye will help your brain retain and process the information easier.

2. Sleep Promotes Positivity

Sleep can help you see that the glass is half full. Many of us get the grumpies without enough sleep because the lack of rest affects our outlook and our mood.

During the phases of rest at night, both our minds and our bodies recuperate and can relax without stress or activity. Getting sleep at night, and good, restful sleep improves our outlook on life and increases our positivity because we feel refreshed.

Dr. Rapoport also mentions that not only does it improve our outlook, but it also gives us more energy throughout the day for both mind and body. Studies show that people who receive anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of rest every night are also less likely to develop depression.

3. Sleep Helps You to Relax and Rejuvenate

Rest also helps us be calmer, which many of us need after a hard day. During an evening’s rest, our heart rates stabilize, and our blood pressure drops as our body relaxes and focuses on system recovery.

Lack of sleep doesn’t allow our heart to take a much-needed break which can lead to complications such as diabetes, inflammation, and heart disease. During this nightly rest, our bodies produce white blood cells because the body has time to recuperate and do a system check and repair. Give your heart a break tonight and let it relax too.

4. Sleep Reduces Anxiety

Feeling stressed? You need more sleep! Sleep helps lower anxiety and stress levels which feed off each other.

Dr. Jean states that our health and lack of sleep accompany each other. Resting your mind can ease the stress and lower anxiety levels, and in the morning, many of us are aware of a noticeable difference in both anxiety and stress because resting is the ultimate cure for both.

5. Sleep Unclutters the Mind

Sleep can also help us relax by removing unnecessary data from our busy minds. During the day, our brains work full-tilt acquiring and sorting new or existing data.   At night, our brains take a break and during the resting process, removes all unnecessary or useless data you do not need to remember for tomorrow.

This helps clear space in our minds during a sort of “uncluttering” process. Resting our minds at night also helps with prioritization, so you don’t choose what’s for lunch over finishing an important assignment the next day.

***

Sleep has a slew of other benefits including making a tough decision easier to make, increasing our energy levels, which most of us need, and even plays a role in decreasing appetite which can benefit both your metabolism and weight. It also makes under-eye puffiness vanish while improving our mood. Doctors around the globe encourage getting 7 to 9 hours a night to see the ultimate benefits.

Would you like to be smarter, pleasant, energized and healthy? The answer to all of these is one thing: sleep. We are busy creatures jetting from chore to chore, from work to home, or to after school activities and much more in our busy schedules.

Our bodies and minds need a break, and they receive this rest during our time in our cozy beds at night. Skimping on sleep can negatively affect your health, your heart, and your mood, causing fatigue and reducing our awareness and creativity levels.

For less stress and a happier and healthier you, don’t skip out on some precious sleep time tonight.

– About the Writer –

Sarah is the Editor of Sleepy Deep. Feeling the repercussions of being an irregular sleeper for too long, she decided to do something about it. She learned why sleep is so important, how to maximize it, and now helps others who are struggling to find their right sleep routine.

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10 Key Ideas from The Truth About Cancer

I don’t read many books on health. A while back, however, I came across The Truth About Cancer and decided to read it. I was interested in it because cancer is one of the top killers in the modern age. More personally, my mom passed away because of cancer. I also have two friends who passed away because of cancer at the young age of 32 and 33.

I’m glad I read the book. Honestly, the content of the book is not what I expected. I expected a positive attitude toward popular cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. But the book is actually against them. It’s eye-opening for me.

You might want to read the complete book yourself, but here are ten key ideas from the book:

1. Cancer is widespread.

Cancer is now one of the top killers in the world. About 40 percent of the general population will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives.

The most common type of cancer for a woman is breast cancer. For a man, it’s prostate cancer.

2. The standard treatments do more harm than good.

The standard treatments for cancer are chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Unfortunately, they often do more harm than good.

Chemotherapy, for instance, has a low success rate. Only about 2 percent of patients survived for more than five years after undergoing chemotheraphy. Chemotherapy is literal poison to the body that harms both bad and good cells.

3. Money is the main reason behind the standard treatments.

If they aren’t effective, then why are those treatments still used widely? The short answer is money. There is a lot of money to be made through them, and the industry just won’t let it go.

4. Beware of the screening movement.

There is now a widespread screening movement that encourages people to do regular checkups for cancer. Unfortunately, the standard screening procedures also do more harm than good. Mammography, for instance, could actually cause cancer.

5. There are better ways for early detection.

If the standard screening procedures are not recommended, then what should we use? Fortunately, there are good alternatives.

For mammography, a good alternative is thermography. For many other types of cancer, a good alternative is a combination of AMAS test and ONCOblot test.

6. “Alternative” treatments are often more effective than the standard ones.

Similar to the case of early detection, there are good alternatives to the standard treatments. Some of them are oxidative therapy, virotherapy, and metabolic theraphy.

7. The best way to handle cancer is to prevent it.

Prevention requires you to adopt a holistic, anticancer lifestyle which includes your mind, body, and spirit.

8. The most important aspect of prevention is nutrition.

Nutrition is the “fuel” that your body uses. That’s why it’s the most important aspect of cancer prevention.

For this, keep in mind that there are only two types of food: cancer-fueling and cancer-fighting. In general, processed food falls under the cancer-fueling category while organic food falls under the cancer-fighting category.

9. Regular exercise is essential.

In addition to nutrition, you need to make sure that you have regular exercise. Exercise causes your body to sweat which helps your body eliminate toxins. An especially good form of exercise is rebounding.

10. Have enough sleep and stay hydrated.

Having enough sleep and staying hydrated reduce your cancer risk.

***

I hope you find these nuggets of information useful. Stay healthy and live your life to the full!

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5 Habits Every Family Needs to Adopt to Start Saving Some Extra Money

Note: This post is written by Gabriel Fishbein

Having a family is one of the most fulfilling accomplishments; it’s a whole new chapter of life. Whether you have one child or more, you probably know that as rewarding as being a parent is, it can also be tough sometimes.

Saving for holidays, a new house, or even a car can be a challenge when you’re no longer just thinking about yourself. That’s where some money-saving advice could help you to reach your financial goals, so you can enjoy your next family trip to the Bahamas, or tucking your kids into their new bed.

Here are five money-saving habits every family needs to adopt.

1. Cut Down on Junk Food and Processed Food

People usually have the assumption that to cut down on your food bill you need to buy less food. This isn’t really the case. Instead of cutting down on everything, simply learn to say no.

Instead of buying a packet of cookies and a bottle of soda, stick to fruit and veg. By cutting out processed foods that have no nutrients, you’ll notice how your grocery bill decreases.

Cut down, or eliminate fast food and takeouts altogether and opt for cooking at home instead. Just think that every weekly takeout that costs around $20, could add up to around $100 by the end of the month.

2. Spend Less on Clothes and Shoes

If you have growing children, then you know how tricky it can be when you’re trying to buy them clothes that fit and they won’t grow out of too quickly.

One of the best ways to get them everything they need is to make a list for autumn/winter and again in spring/summer. Make a note of everything they need for the season, such as a winter coat and boots.

By getting them everything season by season, you will avoid shopping constantly week to week and spending excessive amounts on clothes your child may never wear.

3. Cut Down on Toys and Make Memories Instead

Next time you’re in a store with your kids and they try and guilt trip you into buying toys, say no. Instead of accumulating useless things that they’ll get bored of after a few days, plan experiences or family bonding time instead, which is free, or could cost significantly less than the latest video game.

Take your kids to the park for a picnic or a game of football, as opposed to indulging them with the latest toy or gadget that they’ve seen advertised on TV.

4. Reuse as a Household

One way your kids will learn the value of money is by understanding that throwaway culture is not good for your wallet or the environment.  So instead of buying new clothes, keep a few good-quality pieces so that you can pass them down to your next child.

This will save you money in the long term and the same rule applies to toys and games. Reuse them by passing them down, rather than hoarding toys and constantly buying new ones.

When it comes to household items, you’ll be surprised at how much you can save by using reusable tea clothes and dust clothes, rather than buying kitchen paper and wipes every week.

If you’re thinking of redecorating or want to add a few things to your house, then as an alternative to buying more pieces of furniture, have a look at vintage and antique stores. You’ll be able to find treasures for bargain prices.

5. Teach Your Kids to Decrease Their Carbon Footprint

Show your kids the importance of turning off light switches and appliances that they’re not using, and they should know not to leave electronics on charge.

After your whole family becomes energy smart, you’ll not only have taught your kids a valuable life lesson but you’ll also notice your electric, water and gas bill decrease.

***

With a few simple household changes, you’ll see the difference in your savings account and your kids will eventually appreciate the fun memories, tasty home cooked meals and their pre-loved and quirky furniture.

By making a few little changes you could be on your way to a more financially stable future as a family.

– About the Writer –

Gabriel Fishbein is the lead content marketer at GiftCardio. He graduated with two degrees in Marketing and Information Systems from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at University of Maryland. He is persuasive, logical, and deliberate but not lackadaisical when making decisions.

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The 3 Undeniable Laws Of Success

Note: This post is written by Zak Khan

It is an unfortunate reality that most schools don’t teach learners how to succeed at life in a realistic and practical manner.

Sure, an elaborate understanding of Mathematics and Science can open many doors but when challenged with real life problems, most of us crumble and fall into stagnancy.

Over the last 7 years since finishing school, I’ve been through quite a few ordeals. Overcoming a life-changing disease was just one of the battles I won and you can read about that in a previous post I wrote for Life Optimizer (3 Ways to Overcome Adversity).

What I care to share with you today are the laws of success that often go overlooked. These are the laws that celebrities and entrepreneurs obsess over on a daily basis which brings about ridiculous success and rewards. If you’re sick and tired of being stuck in a loop of failure and mediocrity, this post is for you!

Without further ado, here are the 3 undeniable laws of success.

1. You Have to Show Up Daily

Part of why some people achieve the impossible whilst others look on in disbelief is because they show up every single day despite every reason not to.

Look, you’ve seen it happen time and time again. Someone who wouldn’t strike you as special comes along and does what everyone didn’t even bother attempting. You brush it off as luck and move on with life. But, guess what? It wasn’t luck! It was deliberate.

Despite all the negative thoughts and opinions surrounding a particular objective, the people who show up in an attempt to succeed are the ones who usually succeed.

You can chalk it down to pure luck or chance but the fact of the matter is that for as long as you show up each and every day, the possibility of success immediately changes from impossible to possible.

For as long as you don’t try, impossibility is a reality. This form of impossibility has nothing to do with circumstances preventing a goal or dream from being realized but from self-imposed limitations.

You can only get better at something or unlock rewards by being present. When the opportunity arises to accomplish the impossible, you’ll be the one reaping the rewards because you showed up when everyone else didn’t.

Success doesn’t chase you, you chase success.”

2. Hard Work Is Non-Negotiable

Once you show up and an opportunity arises, what do you do? Getting by on the bare minimum will only generate the bare minimum results. The best results in life require the best effort you have to give.

Are you familiar with the notorious fighter Conor McGregor? He’s the first man to hold two championships at the same time in the UFC. Not only has he accomplished something nobody else has but he’s made millions of dollars at the same time.

Many people attribute his success to luck or talent but in reality, it all boils down to hard work. If you don’t believe me, listen to what he had to say in an interview, “If you put in the work to become number 1, you will become number 1. If you put in the work to become the runner up, you will become the runner-up. I put in the work to finish first!

If a millionaire, record-breaking and double champion attributes his success to being a workhorse, shouldn’t we take that at face value and adopt his attitude to success?

What this means is that despite a lack of natural born gifts and talent, someone who is willing to work harder than anyone and everyone else has a fighting chance at being the best in the world!

Look beyond the bare minimum. When I was in high school, all I wanted to do was have fun. So, when it came time to prepare for examinations, I aimed for a passing grade. Most of my results were a reflection of my intention.

I worked for average results and I attained average results. However, when I entered University and started studying Law, things changed. A desire to achieve great results wrapped itself around me and I attempted to do something I never did before – work hard.

Rather than aim for simply passing, I set my sights on those 80 – 90% grades. I hit those grades in quite a few of my modules! The ones that weren’t in that percentage category were often in the 65 – 79% category.

I went from 50’s during my high school years to 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. This growth can be attributed to the following 4 fundamental changes:

  1. An attitude and mindset adjustment.
  2. Higher minimum requirements.
  3. Maximum effort at studying.
  4. Daily sacrifice.

I showed up every day, set ‘my minimum passing grade’ to be much higher than the average passing grade, put in the work and most importantly, I sacrificed time-wasting activities that were once fun for hard work and success.

In the end, it paid off when I was on stage accepting my Bachelor of Laws degree this past April. If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that hard work, even in the face of obstacles, can overcome all adversities in life.

3. Momentum Trumps Motivation

There will come a time in every new venture when motivation depletes and the only thing that keeps you marching forward is momentum.

Unlike fleeting emotions like motivation and inspiration, momentum relies solely on movement and/or progress.

If you’re familiar with the cumulative effect, you would know that by simply taking action over and over again, you accrue small but significant results that add up to create a big reward over time. Similarly, when you take action on a daily basis, the movement or progress you make from previous attempts carries you forward day after day.

After some time, it feels second nature to partake in the activity you’ve been consistent at. Ask anyone who has exercised for longer than 4 weeks, they can attest to the principle of momentum.

The first few days of starting an exercise regimen are physically, emotionally and mentally brutal. If you were to stop after the first day, all the soreness and cramps last for many days, even weeks. However, if you exercise the next day even though you feel sore, mid-way through the workout all of that clears up.

By the next day, you wake up feeling less sore and less exhausted. The more you do it, the stronger you become and the less noticeable is the pain and suffering.

Momentum brings about this wonderful phenomenon. Do something for long enough and the results accumulate. During this accumulation of results, the side effects reduce drastically until it’s mostly invisible.

Rather than relying on erratic emotions, engage in motion and movement to truly accrue results and success. While everyone else is waiting for the perfect moment to get started, you’ll be the one achieving your goals and dreams.

When I was tasked with studying thousand-page-long books on Law, many times I felt overwhelmed and challenged. Time was never on my side and I could never find the perfect moment to get started. I could have waited until it was too late but I quickly realized that hard work will never feel easy.

I couldn’t rely on emotions because their erratic nature left my future up in the air. The only thing that guaranteed progress was sitting down at my desk, opening those textbooks and working through one page at a time.

The more pages I worked through, the less overwhelmed I felt because progress was visible. What seemed impossible no longer did.

If I Can, So Can You

The most pivotal message you can take away from this article is that if someone with autoimmune diseases and a lack of talent can achieve his goals and succeed in his ventures, so can you. There’s no excuse for why you can’t be successful at meaningful objectives in your life.

Everyone has problems and circumstances that make achieving success difficult. You merely have to work around those circumstances and rely on brute force to achieve your greatest desires.

Excuses are for quitters. Ditch them and embrace these 3 undeniable laws of success. If you do, there’s no telling what you’ll be able to accomplish in the near future!

– About the Writer –

Zak Khan is a full-time writer and author who shares his insights on productivity, self-development and writing over at Zakwrites.com and his journey to health and wellness on Servedhealthy.com

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The Role of Spirituality in Optimizing Life

If you want to live your life to the fullest, there are five aspects of life that you need to balance: work, health, learning, social, and spiritual. Out of the five, here I’d like to take a closer look at the role of spirituality in optimizing life.

Spirituality plays an important role in our lives. In fact, I believe that it’s the most important aspect of the five. It’s the foundation upon which all the other aspects are built.

There are at least four reasons why spirituality is important:

1. It Gives You Meaning

You can only live a full life if you find meaning in what you do. Spirituality helps you find that meaning. Why? Because spirituality helps you see the big picture. It helps you see things beyond yourself.

Instead of just living for yourself, now you live for something bigger. You find your place in the world and do things with a sense of purpose.

2. It Gives You Hope

Like it or not, there are times when we have to go through difficult times. Spirituality gives you hope in such a time. That’s because spirituality builds your faith. You know that you are not alone. You believe that Someone is in control. This belief gives you the strength to keep going.

3. It Gives You Inner Peace

Spirituality gives you peace in your heart. Even in challenging situations, you can find comfort and calmness. Now you can face your challenges with a clear mind.

4. It Balances Your Life

Spirituality teaches that many things in this world are temporary. Money and fame, for instance, wouldn’t last. Instead, there are things that are more valuable in the long term such as your family and relationships. This perspective will help you live a balanced life.

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As you can see, spirituality is important: it helps you live a meaningful life, it gives you hope, it gives you inner peace, and it helps you live a balanced life. For these reasons, I believe that building your spirituality should become a priority.

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Ask the Readers: What Are the Best Books That You Have Read Recently?

As you might know, I’m a big believer in self-education. I believe that everyone should embrace lifelong learning and that it’s important to have a knowledge advantage.

A big part of self-education is reading books. For that reason, I’m always eager to know what good books are out there.

So here is my question for you:

What are the best nonfiction books that you have read recently and why?

Please share your answer in the comments so that everyone can read it. Thanks!

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The Unmistakable Sign of Having the Right Career

Do you want to know whether you are in the right career? Do you want to know whether you are at a place where you can be your best?

I have been following many successful people over the years. These are people who have overcome great challenges to thrive in their fields. These are people who have made an impact on the world.

They come from different backgrounds, but somehow they give similar advice when it comes to career. It’s as if there is a key to success that these people have found.

In essence, this is what they say is the unmistakable sign of having the right career:

You are having fun doing it.

Yes, you are having fun doing it. And the fun doesn’t come from the money or the reputation you get but from the work itself.

This is the way Warren Buffett puts it:

“I had fun when I was in my twenties, my thirties, and now I am 86 and I am having fun.”

That’s a great way to live, isn’t it? That’s how our career should be!

Now, how can we find such a career? Here is Buffett’s advice:

“I advise students, as much as possible, look for the job that you would take if you didn’t need a job.”

Let’s pause and think about that for a moment: what job would you take if you didn’t need a job?

When you look at the way Warren Buffett works, it’s obvious that he is having fun. How else can you explain reading 500 pages a day for years? Remember, he is his own boss. Nobody forces him to do it. I can’t think of any other explanation of his intensity except that he enjoys doing it.

There is a good reason why having fun is essential for career success: it makes you go further at it than other people. What may feel like a chore to someone else is a joy to you, so you will do more of it.

Here is how Stephen King puts it:

If there’s no joy in it, it’s just no good. It’s best to go on to some other area, where… the fun quotient higher.

Again, similar advice, and there is a useful term here: fun quotient. I think that’s a good way to measure how good a career is for you: how high is the fun quotient?

Mark Cuban puts it this way:

It’s really easy to know if you are in the right job. If it matters how much you get paid, you are not in a job you really love.

I can give you more examples, but you get the point.

There is something you should be careful about, though. You could start what you do for the fun of it, but over time you could lose the fun and it would just become a job.

I know this because it happens to me. I started this website because of the fun of doing it, but over the years there were times when I worked on it simply because it’s my business. It’s no longer the fun that motivated me, but what I would get out of it. Needless to say, this isn’t good. Realizing this pushes me to get the fun factor back.

So here are two questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Do you do your job because of the fun of it or because of an external reward (like money)?
  2. If you used to have fun at what you do but not anymore, how can you get the fun back?

Take time to answer these questions. They can help you have a great career.

Recommended Book Summaries

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A Guide to Developing the Self-Discipline Habit

By Leo Babauta

One of the most important life skills to develop, for those just starting out in life (and everyone else!), is the skill of self-discipline.

It’s like a superpower: when I developed some self-discipline, I started exercising and eating healthier and meditating and writing more, I quit smoking and ran marathons, I started a blog and wrote books, I read more and work earlier, I decluttered and transformed my finances. I’m far from perfect, but I’ve learned a lot.

But if you don’t develop self-discipline, it causes problems: health problems, distraction, procrastination, financial problems, clutter, things piling up and overwhelming you, and much more.

So it’s such an important skill to develop, but most people don’t know where to start. This guide is aimed at helping you get started.

I’m writing it for my kids, and for anyone else who would like to develop a superpower.

Finding Motivation

The first question is, how do you even get motivated to start? Most of us don’t want to think about our lack of discipline, let alone take a bunch of actions.

For me, the motivation came from realizing that what I was doing wasn’t working. Ignoring the problems only made things worse. Trying to be disciplined but doing it half-assedly only resulted in me feeling bad about myself. Being wholly undisciplined was causing myself a bunch of pain.

Once you realize that you’re causing yourself pain … you might develop a whole-hearted intention to stop hurting yourself. You might say, “OK, that’s enough with making my life worse. Let’s try to make it less worse.”

With that in mind, you can tell yourself that you are going to:

  • Start taking small actions to make things better
  • Do the things that hurt you less
  • Push yourself into discomfort a little bit, so you can get better at this over time
  • Get good at self-discipline with some practice

Keep these things in mind as you practice, as you get the urge to not practice, and as you make mistakes and then want to give up.

There are other good motivations as well:

  1. Wanting to help others — if you get better at exercise or healthy eating, for example, you can help your aging parents who need to get better at these things. If you get better at not procrastinating on your life’s work, you can help more people with that meaningful work. More on this below, in the “Focus on Others” section.
  2. Appreciating life — we have a short time here on Earth, and the life we have is a gift. When we procrastinate and give in to endless distraction, and don’t make the most of our time, we are not fully appreciating the gift we have. Instead, we can appreciate it by being present, being grateful, and being purposeful about how we spend our time.

With these motivations — or whatever motivations move you the most — we can start to practice.

Small Actions

One of the most important things you can do to get better at self-discipline is to take small actions. It can seem overwhelming to tackle huge, intimidating projects … so don’t. Instead, tackle easy actions, things so small you can’t say no.

Have some taxes to do? Just do 5 minutes. Want to run? Just run for 10 minutes. Have a report to work on? Just do the first few paragraphs. Want to declutter? Just find 5 things to declutter.

You’ll get better at self-discipline if you focus on small tasks, and break bigger projects into small tasks. Read more.

Discomfort Training

One of the reasons we don’t have self-discipline is because we run from the hard, uncomfortable things. We would rather do the easy, comfortable, familiar things.

So instead of facing our hard, uncomfortable projects or finances, we run to distractions, videos, games. This running from discomfort is ruining our lives.

What you can tell yourself is that you’re done running. You are going to push into discomfort, a little at a time, and get good at being uncomfortable. This is another of your superpowers. When others run, you’re OK (even if it’s not always fun).

One small task at a time, push yourself into discomfort. See how it feels. See that it’s not the end of the world. See that you are awesome enough to handle discomfort, and that the results are well worth it.

Mindfulness with Urges

You’ll have the urge to quit doing something hard, or to put it off for now. Those urges don’t serve you well.

Instead, develop mindfulness around those urges, and see that you don’t have to follow them.

A good way to do that is to set a time for yourself where you can do nothing but X. For example, for the next 10 minutes, you can do nothing but write your book chapter (or exercise, meditate, etc.). When you have the urge to procrastinate or run to distractions, you’ll easily see it, because you’re either writing the book, or you’re not. When you have the urge, tell yourself you can’t follow it, you have to either write your book chapter or sit there and do nothing.

Raymond Chandler used that as his simple writing system: “Write or nothing. I find it works. Two very simple rules, a. you don’t have to write. b. you can’t do anything else.”

The reason it works is that you are setting up a time where you do nothing else but that one specified task, and you can see your urges to run away. Use this to learn to be mindful of your urges, and see that you don’t have to follow them.

Interval Training

If you combine the above items into a system of bursts, or intervals, you can train yourself using interval training:

  1. Set your intention to practice self-discipline and not hurt yourself anymore.
  2. Set a task to focus on (writing, drawing, strength training, meditating, etc).
  3. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Five minutes is also fine if 10 is too long. Don’t go longer until you get good at 10 minutes, then increase to 12 and eventually 15. I don’t find I need to go beyond 15-20 minutes even when I’m kicking butt.
  4. Do nothing but sit there and watch your urges, or push into your discomfort by doing the task.
  5. When the timer goes off, give yourself a 5-minute break.
  6. Repeat.

You can train for several intervals, or potentially for an hour or two. Then take a longer break, and do another set of intervals after that.

This kind of interval training is fantastic, because it’s not that hard, you really train yourself in discomfort and watching urges, and you can get a lot done this way.

A Focus on Others

When you find yourself struggling, dig into deeper motivation: doing your work/exercise/meditation etc. not for yourself, but for others.

For example:

  • I’m writing this article to help my kids, and anyone else who might benefit.
  • I work out to be healthy, not only for myself but as an example for my kids and others who might benefit.
  • I meditate not only for my own peace and sanity, but so that I can help others find their own peace and sanity.
  • You might draw or write or play music to inspire others.

In each example, you might benefit … but you’re also doing it to benefit others. And this benefit to others is much more motivating than doing something just for yourself.

Try it … try doing a difficult task for someone else. Tell them you’re going to do it for them beforehand, then keep them in mind as you do it. See if you feel more motivated.

Victories in Success & Failure

A huge mistake that a lot of people make is that they mess up, and get discouraged by this. They feel bad about messing up. This causes them to give up and not want to think about developing self-discipline.

Here’s the thing: failure is actually a victory.

Failure means you tried. So it’s a victory from the start.

But it also means you learned something — you now know that what you tried didn’t quite work. Next time, you can try something a bit different. Add more accountability, try it at a different time, unplug your wireless router, get a workout partner, anything. Because of your failure, you have new information. You’ve learned, and that helps you get better.

Failure is a victory. Success is also a victory. No matter what your result, you can see it as an opportunity to learn, to grow, to get better.

Drop any ideas of being perfect at this, and just keep trying.

The next time you fail at whatever you’re trying, instead of letting it get you discouraged, see it as a victory. Then keep going, no matter what, because giving up is only going to hurt you some more.

Getting Support

You’re not in this alone. You have family, friends, online strangers who can help you. Form a support team by reaching out to the people around you, and asking for their help.

Lots of people skip this because they are embarrassed by their lack of discipline. They feel that the way they behave is shameful. That’s not true. Actually, we all act like this, but we’re just afraid to show that side to each other. But the truth is, if you show your “dark” side to people, they actually love you more, trust you more, relate to you more. So don’t be afraid to connect with others in a vulnerable way.

Find the courage to ask for help. Then let yourself be supported as you work on pushing yourself into discomfort and hurting yourself less.

If you need help from me, try my 44 Training Program – Turning Uncertainty & Discomfort into Mindful Openness.

You can do this.

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