Why You Need To Start Thinking More About Yourself Than You Do About Others.

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A recent comment from a student of mine pointed out that an exercise I have students perform in my Ultimate Goal Planning Course helped him to realise that he was spending far too much time thinking about what other people wanted and not enough time about what he wanted.

I must confess that the exercise was not necessarily designed to elicit this response, but I realised he was right. We do spend far too much time thinking about what other people want.

Where did this come from?

Where this comes from I can only guess. It probably comes from when we are growing up and we are told that to think about ourselves too much is wrong and that we should always put the comforts and convenience of others first. And on the whole, when talking about good manners this is good advice. But for discovering what we want and what we want to achieve in life this advice is wrong. It is wrong to study medicine because your parents want you to. It is wrong to go to law school because your teachers told you that would be a good profession for you. These are wrong choices if none of those professions is what you want to do. These are right choices if these are the professions you want to go in to.

If you are going to build a life for yourself and create a life you will love, flourish and grow in, then you need to put yourself first. It does not matter what your parents, grandparents or friends want you to do. That’s what they want you to do. It is their desire. It is not necessarily your desire. If you do follow the path your parents want you to follow, sure you will make them happy, but you will not make you happy, and your happiness must always come first.

The only way to a life of joy and happiness is to build your own path.

The truth is if you want to lead of life of true happiness, joy and passion you must create your own path. You must decide for yourself what you want to achieve and you must decide for yourself what you want to do. Taking advice from parents, friends, teachers and professors is fine — I would say advisable — but in the end, the choice must be yours and yours alone.

I was very lucky growing up. My parents’ attitude was they would provide me with the education I needed and support me in higher education if I wanted support, but after that what I did was my choice. They never pushed their opinions on me and whenever I talked to them about what I wanted to do, they listened, asked questions, but never offered any opinions about what I should do, unless I asked for it. I had the freedom to make my own choices, but with that freedom came responsibility for my own life. Which on its own was a great life lesson. My life, my responsibility.

Your life. Your responsibility.

And that is the way it should be. Your life. Your responsibility. Just one look at the business pioneers in the last twenty years and the two top people; Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were both given the freedom to make their own decisions about their future. Of course, they made a few mistakes, took a few risks (dropping out of university might be considered a big risk) but they had the freedom to make their own choices and make their own mistakes and learn from those in a way that meant they had to accept full responsibility for those mistakes. There was no else to blame.

Until you are prepared to accept full responsibility for your own life, you are always going to be following in the footsteps of others. The problem here is what others want you to do might not be in your own best interests. I’ve seen so many people take positions in their companies that were not positions they really wanted to do but were told by their superiors that this position would suit them. Their superior’s motives were usually because that position needed filling and they were the only person available to take the position. Not only is this bad for your future career, it is also allowing others to dictate the direction your life goes in.

Saying “no” is hard but…

I know it is hard to say “no” to other people, but saying no is often in your own best interests. I know, you are risking disappointing other people, but when it comes to the direction your life goes in, that is far more important than you disappointing a few people. Their disappointment may last a couple of days, your “yes”, on the other hand, could cause a lifetime of disappointment and misery for you. When put that way, the decision you have to make is easy.

What are your fifty things?

To help you decide what is important to you, take some time to write out the fifty things you want to do in the next ten years. Make sure they are the things you want to do, and not things other people want you to do. This list is all about you and nobody else. Think about the places you want to visit, the work you want to do, the cars you want to buy and places you want to live. Everything you want to buy, want to visit or want to experience. Get them written down and start making them happen for you. You will find the first fifteen to twenty things are easy to write. After that things become more difficult because you have to go really deep inside yourself to really know what you want. This exercise will be the start of you building the life you want to live.

Your life, your responsibility

If you want to build a life for yourself, a life you can be proud of, a life of achievement and success on your own terms, then you are going to have to take responsibility for your life. Once you make the decision to break free from the voices of the people around you and start making choices about your future for yourself, you lose the opportunity to blame others when things go wrong, but you gain the freedom to build a life worth living on your terms.

If you want to know more about my Ultimate Guide To Goal Planning, you can get more information from the information page here.


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Are You Getting Your Most Important Work Done?

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It is very easy to get sucked into a never ending cycle of unimportant busy-work tasks that make you feel exhausted and leave you with a feeling of overwhelm and dissatisfaction. This can be more so if you use a task management system where you have a lot of busy-work tasks to complete each day and very few important tasks.

Because our brains like the dopamine hit we get every time we check a task off our todo lists, we add more and more tasks to this list without much thought. Very quickly we find ourselves with thirty or forty tasks on our list, ninety percent of which are non-important tasks such as “clean out the paper coffee cups from the car” or “check to see if my toothbrush needs replacing”. These tasks do not need to be on your todo list. The trigger for these tasks is when you try to get in your car and find you cannot because of the mountain of empty Starbucks coffee cups, or when you brush your teeth and find the bristles on your brush are standing like they’ve been out on a night of copious beer drinking.

I do use my todo list manager as a reminder of the tasks that, while not important, do need doing. But I do not put any pressure on myself to get them done every single day. As an example, I have a task “update FES admin sheets”. This task comes up every day and means I should update the income report and class cancellations sheet. It’s a five-minute job if done every day, it’s an hour of work if done weekly. However, some days I have other, much more important tasks to do, so I simply push off the admin work to the next day. While this task is important, from an administration point of view, it is not important from a personal growth and life goals perspective. Those tasks always take priority.

What you need to do is make sure you are focused on the important tasks. The tasks that really drive you forward, moves you closer towards completing an important project or take you closer towards your long-term goals. These are the tasks you need to be focused on. You should be looking at your routine non-essential tasks as tasks you do only if you have time to do them.

Real Life Example

Last Friday, I scheduled the recording and editing of my new course, Time and Life Mastery. This was my only focus for the day. I still had all my, busy-work, recurring routine tasks to do, but these were secondary to the recording and editing of the course. I was in the studio at 8:00 am and did not finish recording until 3 pm. Once the recording was finished, I returned home, took a little rest for an hour or so and then began the editing. I never once looked at my todo list manager during that time, because the single, most important task for the day was the recording and editing of the course. It was only when I was halfway through editing the videos did I finally open up my todo list manager to check if there were any tasks that needed to be done. There were a couple of emails that needed sending, so I did those and returned to my editing. I finished the editing around 11 pm and only then did I look at my routine tasks for the day. I spent thirty minutes doing what I could and pushed off the rest. In all, I managed to complete around ten of my routine tasks and pushed off another ten.

By the time I shut off everything for the day, I felt incredibly fulfilled. I had managed to do the most important task for the day — the recording and editing of the course — and had completed some of my regular, routine tasks. Of course, I could have completed twenty or so routine tasks and only done around fifty percent of the editing. But had I done that, I would have felt disappointed, having spent a large portion of the evening completing busy-work tasks and not the important, life improving tasks.

And this is where you need to be looking. Of course, you might feel you are getting a lot done if you spend all day doing your routine tasks, but the truth is you are not doing very much to move forward in your career or your life. You need to be spending your time on the big things, the things that will improve your life and help you to achieve your goals. Schedule days where all you do is focus on the big things and ignore the little, routine things. You can always schedule a catch-up admin day for another day.

This is why your daily, mini review is such an important part of your day. It allows you to see where you are spending the majority of your time and it allows you to make sure you are spending the majority of your time on things that really matter to your future. Those, little daily routine, busy-work tasks do not do that.

You will never achieve very much if all you do is spend your time on the mundane, routine tasks in life. Yes, they need doing, but if you want to achieve your goals, make a difference in the world and feel fulfilled and happy, then you should be spending more of your time on the big projects and your goals. Your todo list manager tells you what should be done, your brain needs to be making decisions on what you will do. That is how you make sure you are getting your life-improving, life-changing stuff done.


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Just a quick heads up — My Time And Life Mastery course is live. You can get yourself an early bird discount of 25% if you enrol now. This offer is limited in number (the first 1,000 students) and in time — offer ends 17th September 2017. To enrol at the 25% off price use this link

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I am a personal development and productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. I work with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more successful, productive and creative.

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