Category Archives: Praxis

Why taking action is important to change and self improvement

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It is safe to say that the environment most of us live in is not auspicious for change, which is key to self discovery and improvement. The western world has propelled most of its inhabitants towards aspirational, moral and spiritual confusion.

Whereas the world around us is in perpetual movement, our inner dynamics seem to face many obstacles which keep us from evolving. Many people experience a certain degree of frustration and meaninglessness and a strong desire to change their lives; however, they find themselves trapped in a never-ending cycle of daily routines and often avoid taking decisive action. In their struggle to change their existence, they often stumble upon the following obstacles:

Fear and low self-confidence

Perhaps the common denominator in all cases of people avoiding to take action towards self improvement is fear - mainly fear of self-disillusionment and of other people's reactions, of not being able to cope with a new lifestyle and so forth. It is also very common for people to fear having to live with failure if their plan does not succeed. Mainly due to a lack of emotional support in one's upbringing but also other external factors, they gradually develop complexes and end up having a low level of self-confidence, which makes them think they are more likely to fail than others. That is why they often set unrealistic goals and give up on them fairly quickly, scared by their sheer magnitude. The only solution is thorough self analysis and the planning of a feasible change, which can actually be accomplished and is not likely to result in disappointment.

Procrastination and lethargy

Procrastination is a notion used in psychology to describe the compulsive postponing of an action, most commonly a task, out of nervousness related to one's ability to perform it. The same principle applies to lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, starting to exercise, looking for a new job and so forth. It can eventually lead to lethargy, which is a loss of motivation and can in turn lead to depression.

Moral relativity 

Since times immemorial, people have developed their personality on a solid moral foundation, which could differ radically from one individual to another and could change over the years; however, at any moment in time, a person had well defined moral values which helped maintain a direction in life, a stronger sense of identity and a healthy mental tonus. Today, the growing tendency of embracing moral relativity results in a difficulty of analysing the world around us, which often leads to depression. The way to overcome this perpetual confusion is by carefully analysing the sources of information which shape your perceptions and deciding on a core system of moral values to base your life upon. This will lead to a stronger sense of self and implicitly more self-confidence. A well defined moral code is also pivotal in overcoming addictions, such as alcohol, tobacco or stronger drugs.

Escapism

Escapism is a very common method of running from one's problems and from reality in general. It basically consists of evading to a space of psychological comfort, albeit false. Today it is more prevalent due to its diversification - people are surrounded by entertainment, video games and are more predisposed to the use of alcohol and drugs in order to achieve partial or complete temporary dissociation from reality. Although this method provides relief momentarily, it is a major obstacle in the way of actual changes and can even destroy lives.

In order to overcome these common hurdles, self motivation is essential - however, these issues (particularly escapism) can be an impediment in the way of self motivation as well. Below are a few useful tips towards taking control of your life.

Positive thinking

Psychology has proved, along with the experiences of many, that positive changes can seldom (if ever) be fuelled by negative energy. Therefore, any decision to drastically change which is rooted in self hatred or other people's belittling attitudes has little chance of succeeding. A relevant example is that of people who decide to change their appearance by any means, yet instead of accomplishing their goal gradually, engage in unhealthy behaviors, experiencing disappointment and even despair when they fail. Maintaining a positive and balanced attitude, by accepting errors and falls as inherent parts of life, is the key to succeeding.

Realistic expectations

The surest road towards accomplishing your goal is one which has been carefully mapped out and analysed in order to determine its feasibility. The desire to overachieve can prove just as destructive as lethargy or procrastination and eventually lead to the same lack of enthusiasm and feeling of being overpowered. While maintaining a positive attitude, an efficient plan and the knowledge you can actually accomplish it will give you the energy you need in order to start your self improvement journey.

Taking control of your time

Time can be assessed as a person's most valuable and irreplaceable life resource. When trying to live a more fulfilling, meaningful life, it is essential for people to liberate themselves from time-consuming routines, which are often sustained by group participation (for instance watching television). Many people have an inner sense of meaninglessness when they go through the motions of fruitless activities, yet participate out of habit or in order to follow suit. Activities which do not contribute to one's inner betterment and maintain them in a state of stagnation (or even cause regression, which can certainly be said about television) should be avoided or reduced in order to reach true fulfilment.

Individuality

In past historical eras, conventionalism was used towards maintaining order and stability. However, conventionalism is as good as the values promoted by that society at a certain point in time. In a society which largely promotes harmful behaviors as well as mediocrity, cynicism, indolence, promiscuity, undeserved fame, lack of empathy, gossip and so forth, an individual has every right to intellectually detach from the group and refuse to take part in activities which stimulate the taste for the above-mentioned anti-values. People often have to overcome their fear of disapproval and rejection and reclaim their right to free thought, which is the only way towards genuine change and self improvement.

Goals, plans and change

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Everyday life can become more than just monotonous….it can become downright dull and beyond boring. The very things that we dislike doing, such as a dead-end job, laundry, yard work, can become the very things that hold us back from doing the things that have the power to enhance our lives.

Instead of letting our lives become stagnant pools of emptiness while we yearn for something more, a plan of action is needed. This plan should not be the answer itself, but rather a tool to be integrated into your life that can manifest a positive zest for life deep into your life that eventually becomes part of who you are.

This wonderful little tool needs to include a few very important items. First and foremost, it needs to be realistic. If it is set beyond reasoning, then you are setting yourself up for failure which is what we are trying to avoid. The plan needs to revolve around your inner most desires that are going to provide motivation for you to want to spring into action in order to achieve your goals. And, of course, the plan needs to include a set of goals.

A set of goals can be a short, or sometimes long, list of action items that need to be firmly established. The key here is to stick with these goals and not be deterred. When you stop actively pursuing your goals is when you fall back into that dull and monotonous routine of nothingness. So keep motivated and continue trying to meet each of those goals.

Setting your goals is often the easy part. It is the road that must be traveled in order to accomplish those goals that can be difficult. Set down some strict guidelines on what is required to meet that particular goal. Outline every single little step if that makes it easier. Once you can visual the action that you need to take, it will be easier to actually make yourself take that action.

Try not to become discouraged. Every day can bring new challenges and obstacles. Do not become overwhelmed that these obstacles are permanent. Remember, if there is a will – there is a way. If those obstructions cannot be removed from your life, then your life can find a way around them.

Stay focused on what you want. Distractions are great as stress relievers from time to time, but they cannot be allowed to be the main focus of your life. Remain consistent with the steps it will take to meet your goals and stay motivated. Keep your eyes on the prize, and the prize will be yours in the end.

Welcome change. Do not resist it when something in your life begins to change. Change can be uncomfortable for us because it jerks us out of our comfort zone and into uncharted territory. No one wants to fall and get hurt. However, if you do not try then you will never know how well you could succeed.

 

Strategy For Success

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In the quest towards achieving success and accomplishment in our lives, a systematic plan of action is needed. Without a plan even the greatest of efforts will be ineffective, eventually degenerating into frustration and wasted time. A guided plan allows one to utilize his/her talents and competencies to the fullest, by focusing them in a coordinated and strategic manner upon a specific outcome.

In the quest towards achieving success and accomplishment in our lives, a systematic plan of action is needed. Without a plan even the greatest of efforts will be ineffective, eventually degenerating into frustration and wasted time. A guided plan allows one to utilize his/her talents and competencies to the fullest, by focusing them in a coordinated and strategic manner upon a specific outcome. The power of concentrated effort should never be underestimated. A strategy that one should immulate from the world of sports, is that in competition one should always seek to "play his/her game". One should never be forced into the position of trying to be successful by operating under conditions strategically benificial to the opposing team. In other words, in seeking to achieve success in today's competitive environment, a professional should design an action plan around his/her personal strengths and competencies. Play to your strengths and not to your weakness.

There is always more than one way to the mountain top; a striving professional should ensure that the path he/she chooses, is the one which utilizes his/her talents and skill sets to the fullest.

The acronym A.I.D.E can be used as a tool for the striving professional, in the drafting of a personal action plan. A.I.D.E stands for: Analyze, Identify, Design and Evaluate. A professional should first analyze his/her situation. What are one's professional aspirations and goals? What stage of his/her career is the professional currently in? What are the future prospects of current and prospective career paths? It is important to fully know the landscape before any journey can be undertaken. Before embarking upon the adventure of a lifetime one should take time to learn the terrain.

The next step in action planning is to identify those skill sets and core competencies one wishes to utilize. For example if a person possesses excellent analytical and mathematic skills one should seek opportunities which require these proficiencies, such as engineering or systems analyst. The identification stage involves much soul searching and should be undertaken in a deliberate and patient manner.

The design stage of the planning processes puts the "gears into the dream". The design phase is the actual creation of one's plan of action. During this period the professional determines the specific factors that will be utilized in the action plan:
 Activities
 Time Frames
 Outcomes
 Methods

The final stage of the A.I.D.E process is the evaluation phase. During the evaluation phase the striving professional reviews and monitors the progress that has been made. This stage of the action plan is very important, for it allows for the rethinking of strategies and the ability to capitalize upon immediate opportunity.

The courage to boldly go, to undiscovered realms of your potential should be rewarded with that which your heart desires. Ensure success by effectively planning for it. Your plan will work, if you work your plan.

-Make it Happen!

 

What Stops You?

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Have you ever had a terrific idea which you didn't act on? Of course you have. I don't mean anything fancy either. Nothing earth-shattering. Just a plain old-fashioned good idea which would have made you more money. But you didn't get moving on it.

Oh well.

I have a friend I'll call James. James is an independent management consultant and a deep, creative thinker. I have great respect for his abilities to understand his clients and develop unique solutions for them. But he isn't very successful. His business is ok, but hardly booming--and certainly not where he says he'd like it to be. He works with interesting people--just never enough of them. And aside from soliciting referrals, he does nothing to increase his overall practice.

The funny thing is, this guy has more brilliant ideas about how to build his business than anyone I know. The problem is he doesn't implement any of them. James is just one of those people who stops before he ever gets started.

So much for James. What about you?

Do you have more ideas than action steps? Why don't you just get going?

I encounter this issue often with people who have tons of great ideas about what to do next, that never get implemented. And they want to know why.

Have you thought about what stops you from acting on ideas or programs which could bring rich rewards?

I have, and I think there are several simple reasons.

1. Lack of an inspiring, motivating purpose

Why should we do anything? Why indeed! That missing why is called purpose. Without a strong purpose the urgent things take over. The ringing telephone takes over. "You've Got Mail" takes over. The knock at the door takes over. Inertia takes over.

In physics we learn that it takes additional energy to break free of inertia. A powerful purpose adds that energy. Energy that organizes your actions, and brings the important things to the fore. To break free of the inertia of your current routine, you need an inspiring purpose.

2. No clear vision

Imagine yourself at a six-way intersection in a fog so thick you can't see a single landmark. You can't even read the road signs. Which way will you go? If you do pick a direction, will you be confident about setting out, or will you proceed slowly, hoping for the fog to clear a bit before you pick up the pace?

Everybody wants to go somewhere--at least everybody in business does. But without a clear vision you can't see where you want to go. And if you don't see it, you won't proceed aggressively and confidently on a course toward it-- whatever it is--will you? So even if you craft a plan--to take you...somewhere, you aren't likely to execute it. At least not anytime soon.

3. Not willing to make sacrifices or do the work

You already have more than enough to do, and whatever else you take on means something has to be set aside. Sacrifice means giving up something of value for something of even greater value. Which means there is something more valuable to sacrifice for. And you haven't clarified what that 'something' is. Or maybe you aren't sure that it is worth it.

In this same category I put: giving up free time, relaxation time, play time, or whatever. But it always comes down to sacrifice, and the big question is, is it worth it. (By the way, I plead guilty to this one. There are times when I feel I have something important to accomplish, I just don't feel it's important enough to get off the couch for. What gets me moving is reciting the litany of purpose: "Why did I feel it was important? And what will happen because of that? And why is THAT important? And so on.)

4. Lack of belief

If you are certain something will work, there is no risk and you will likely take action. On the other hand, if you are uncertain--and most things are uncertain to some degree--you wonder if it the risk is worth it.

So what do you believe? Do you believe your actions will pay off or not? If you aren't sure, how much effort will you put into it? Will you hesitate? Postpone? Procrastinate? Go at half-speed?

Or maybe 'it' will work, in someone's hands, but you don't believe it will work in yours. In other words, you lack of confidence that you can get it done, and the risk is too great.

Each of these issues can be addressed by having a powerful purpose--and an inspiring set goals to achieve. When these are strong enough, they make the potential reward that much bigger and alter the risk-reward ratio in favor of action.

5. Fear

Sometimes it comes down to fear. You have a vision and a purpose, and you think the risks are acceptable. But what if it doesn't work out. Then what? That's fear. It won't work out the way you want it to. What will you be left with then? Or even worse, not only will it not work out, but something bad will come as a result of it.

6. Everything else

You just have other things to do. Like what? Like the day- to-day stuff of running your business or doing your job. You can't just keep piling it on, can you? No, you can't. The question is, are the things you are already doing all worth while? Should some of it be delegated? Should some of it be dumped, or put on the back burner?

Once again, you must weight what you are already doing against your purpose and goals. If your existing action set is effectively driving you towards your goals, there's no need to do more. But if you aren't moving sure-footedly in that direction, then you need to shift things around and make room for what will.

You may have to realign your priorities, and reevaluate your options so that your available time and energy is dedicated to moving you in the right direction.

What about you?

What stops you? Any one of these six things can hold you back, or it may be a combination of things. Once you identify what stops you, it is much easier to address and get moving. Now you can transform your ideas into an action plan.

 

Top 5 Things Wellness Seekers Know

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At a certain point our lives don't change much. We're moving around on automatic pilot and don't notice the sameness that has taken over-sometimes for many years. We've gotten used to very little occurring in our lives beyond our daily routine, and many people become comfortable with that, or just accept it. Somewhere along the way our lives got stale. We're stuck in a rut. But don't despair; being in control of your own life is being in control of your wellness!

More and more people are regaining control of their lives and changing their futures. They're setting goals and reaching them, they're feeling better, being happier, getting healthier and spending more time and energy on what matters to them. Their outlook on life has improved dramatically.

As you know, the concept of wellness covers a broad range-with different definitions depending on where you look. But for starters, let's use the following-wellness is the belief that improvement is possible throughout our lives. We're continuously seeking information on how we can improve. We're choosing options and making decisions that support our best interests. Everything we think, feel and believe impacts our whole being. You are in command of all aspects of your life-physical, career, relationships, finances, spiritual, environment, and emotional well-being, and so on. You can break free and take charge of your life. Try these simple ways to discover how you can start moving towards taking control of your life and wellness.

1. Turn lack of time into more time.
"I don't have the time," that's what John, a corporate attorney, constantly told himself and others. He knew he wasn't alone. Lack of time was a concern for nearly every person he knew. John really wanted to be happier and healthier, but he just didn't have free time to date, visit family, exercise, or any of the other things that made him happy. When John decided he had to take control of his wellness, the first thing he did was regain ownership of his time. He examined how he spent his time on an average day. By jotting down his daily activities and realigning his priorities, John found opportunities to include the things he really cared about in his daily life.

2. Reclaim your energy.
Megan, a wife, mom and marketing executive, was always tired. She had no energy to meet the demands of her job, do housework, run errands, cook, take care of her children, or the other priorities that made up her day. Megan desperately needed to reclaim her energy-but instead, she let people drain it, steal it and suck it away. To begin, Megan examined the areas of her life that needed more attention and focus. She also drew new boundaries to protect herself, by declaring what she would and wouldn't allow. Instead of working 12 hours, Megan cut her workday to no more than nine hours. She stuck to her plan, reclaimed her energy, and is there for her family and job with a new, revitalized energy.

3. Make lasting changes.
"Our resistance to making lasting changes is innate," says Jeff, a mortgage loan officer. "It's such a big challenge for everybody." He constantly told himself that his inner resistance to making changes would stay with him forever. Jeff's first step was to recognize that resistance is always the initial barrier to making changes. For example, losing the 70 pounds his doctor recommended would offset having to take daily medication for his Type II diabetes. Jeff started by being open to seeing the positive side of change-i.e., first making a decision to change, and then enlisting help in doing so. He joined the YMCA, and now participates in Tai Chi and walks five days a week. He's also met with a nutritionist who has helped him gain a better understanding of what to eat in order to maintain his overall health and well-being. Jeff has lost 30 pounds and continues to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

4. Set boundaries around your life.
What's one of the shortest words-yet so difficult for many people to utter? If you guessed "No," you're right on the money. Sidney, a customer service supervisor was so afraid of saying no that when someone asked her to do something, she felt queasy inside because she wanted to say no, but felt uncomfortable actually doing it. The first thing she needed to do was learn her limits. She realized that learning to say no to the things that she didn't want to do would help her reduce the stress of excessive demands on her time and energy. Sidney could say no in a way that was comfortable to her, yet respectful to the other person. Many people believe when someone makes a request of you, you must say yes, but saying no isn't that horrible! When Sidney began saying no, it changed her whole life; she found her "to do" list shrinking. She recognized that it was her choice to either overload her schedule or only accept requests to do something when she wanted to.

5. Take excellent care of yourself.
Eden, an emergency room specialist, wanted to improve her quality of life. She was bored with her daily routine, and her social life was nonexistent. Eden began making changes for the better by putting her needs first. She focused on what she wanted, instead of others' desires. She began scheduling two social activities on her calendar each month, in order to create a social life. Eden never really enjoyed living in the suburbs, but she was close to her job. She put together an action plan for re-inventing her life. The first thing she did was sell her house in the suburbs and move to a more urban environment in which she always dreamed.

 

The Secret to Making Lasting Changes

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Think you can't change? Many of us already know that we need to improve our state of well-being in order to extend our lives as we age. Making changes are traditionally difficult, but the good news is that it's never too late to make changes for the better. The first step is to understand what's important to you, and then determine the choices and decisions that represent where you want to be. Maybe you want to start a new career, lose weight, stop smoking or start exercising. Whatever the change is, be sure you understand why you want to make the change.

Take a moment to think about a time in your life when you made a successful change or developed a new habit. What was your motivation for the change? What was your attitude at the time? What obstacles or barriers did you have to overcome? Your level of readiness to change will determine how successful you are, and how much time it will take. Once you make the decision to change, you must practice that new behavior one day at a time until it becomes a habit - a lasting change.

What allows some people to change, while others don't? According to Dr. James Prochaska, developer of the "Stages of Change Model," people cycle through a very distinct set of stages when making changes in their lives - from not being interested in making any changes, all the way through to maintaining a change after it's already been made. This is the real challenge for everyone, because resistance is always the initial response to making a change. Sometimes people don't see the positive side of change until it's shown to them (or until they are forced to realize it on their own). Change is a choice. It's something we decide to do. The same goes for wellness - it's a choice, and once you have decided to change, you'll feel better.

Embracing the concept of change is a big thing, because interestingly, many people think they don't have a choice when it comes to change. Why? For some it's fear, guilt, love, pain, time management or even a court order. What motivates one person may not be the same thing that gets another person to act. Everyone reacts differently to changes weather voluntary or mandatory.

To start making a change, let go of certain assumptions or ways of doing things, to make room for new ideas. Work on this one day at a time until you feel comfortable.

To make a lasting change, you start wherever you are and stretch a tiny bit more each time. If you fall off the wagon, or experience resistance, identify the cause or circumstances- who you were with, where you were, or your emotional state. The key is to get up and get back on the path again. You may go back and forward a few times because making a lasting change is hard. Your level of readiness to change will determine how successful you are, and how much time it will take. But you need to be ready, able and willing to make change happen.