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Archive for the 'Transforming habits' Category

The Life-Changing Benefits of Unplugging

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

“Setting aside protected time each day for direct interaction with people—or for solitude and meditation without the interruption of a Facebook feed or a stream of texts—instinctively feels like a good thing.”
~ John Swartzberg, M.D.

“We’re suffering a sleep crisis,” warns Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post and author of The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time. The chronic need to be “plugged in” is hurting our health, productivity, relationships, and happiness.
Are you suffering from information overwhelm? Are you permanently attached to your device? Does the thought of unplugging send your anxiety spiraling? What if you miss something? What if….what if…

What if you shut it all down and stepped away for a day, a week, a month or more? Consider taking time out to unplug, take a step back, forget about what is expected, forget about what you may be missing, and think about you may be gaining.

Like any addiction, unplugging can be a struggle at first, but the benefits are worth it. Besides the main benefit of being able to enjoy much more hassle-free, uninterrupted time, here are seven other wonderful and lesser-known upsides you’ll notice from making the decision to unplug regularly:

Increased awareness. When was the last time you were fully aware of the beauty that surrounds you? When you unplug you blitz major distractions. You begin to notice small details in people, things, and places that you never really noticed before.

Clarity. Unplugging reduced brain overload. Technological over stimulation overwhelms your mind, reducing your cognitive reasoning skills.

Improved memory retention and mood. Even just detoxing from technology for a day once a week is enough to give your brain a reboot, which can improve your memory and lift your mood.

More brain power. Spending less time being a slave to technological stimulation, provides more time to focus on doing activities that can grow your brain cells—such as indulging in an enjoyable hobby, learning a new skill, visiting a new place, having new experiences, going for a relaxing walk.

Enhanced relationships. Disconnecting from your perpetual tether to iPhones and laptops can do all kinds of great things for your real-world connections with families and friends.This is a no-brainer, but one so many people seem to miss. Putting your device away and giving the people you are with, rather than your device, your undivided attention tells people they’re important to you.

Enhanced productivity. Do you really need constant access to your social notifications, Facebook updates, your email inbox, a bunch of tabs open in your web browser and all sorts of other things to feel in touch and in control? Accumulating interruptions steals peace of mind and minimises your ability to get things done. Any time you’re interrupted from a work-related task by something from your phone or computer, it can take as long as 45 minutes for your brain to refocus.

Mindfulness. When something interesting starts happening, what’s your first reaction? Do you whip out your phone, start snapping photos and begin sharing on social media? Or do you savor the moment and delight in being in the moment? When you unplug, you force yourself to be more present.

“A natural side effect of unplugging is that you stop missing out on what you should be enjoying for yourself, rather than trying to tell everyone on social media about it,” says author Elise Moreau.

Are screens the problem or a symptom?

“It’s become part of our culture to think that being too plugged in’ and too dependent on our devices is the root of our problems, rather than a manifestation of other problems,” says John Swartzberg, M.D.

“Is constantly checking your phone during dinner with your family causing you to be less close to them? Or are you constantly checking your phone because it’s a convenient way to avoid conversations? Are you anxious and having trouble sleeping because you’re spending too much time online? Or are you spending lots of time online to try to tune out your anxiety?” Swartzberg asks.

None of this is to say that Swartzberg thinks it’s a good thing that so many of us are so constantly connected to our devices. “If we spend too much time staring at a screen, the life that is happening right in front of us—our kids’ childhoods, conversations with our partners, work that we can do to help make the world better—may just pass us by.”

Call to Action

Get to the heart of why you’re spending so much time connected to technology. Isolate the benefits and issues, and then make a call whether you need to schedule the time to unplug.
Learn polymath Tim Ferris’s 4 steps to lifestyle design: definition, elimination, automation, and liberation. Watch it here: http://bit.ly/1nTs7jq

 

 

This is an edited extract from Stress Less. Love Life More: How to Stop Worrying, Reduce Anxiety, Eliminate Negative Thinking and Find Happiness

by Cassandra Gaisford. To purchase your copy and learn how to stress less and love life more, click here to go to your online bookshop.

How ambition and Leonardo da Vinci can fuel your success

Friday, April 21st, 2017

I wish to work miracles

~ Leonardo da Vinci
 
Many people struggle to achieve because they’re not ambitious. Being ambitious may stir your fears—fear of success, failure, regret, disappointment, or loss.
 
Or it may trigger a fear of standing out. You may associate ambition with negative traits, like aggression.
 
As Leonardo once said, “I want to create miracles.” If that’s not ambitious I don’t know what is. He wasn’t hard and aggressive—he was focused and he kept his vision fixed on success.
 
Your Challenge
 
Reframe ambition and look to your heroes and heroines.
 
When you think of someone ambitious that you admire who comes to mind?
What qualities do they possess? How could you copy-cat or borrow these qualities and apply them to help you succeed?
 
Keep your ambition a secret—avoid the critics and those who may knock your confidence. When you start to flap your ambition wings other people may feel threatened or jealous
 
It’s cool to be ambitious. People want to hang out with ambitious, successful people. Pursue your big audacious goals! Do the things you think you can’t. Achieve the impossible
 
“The world is in perpetual motion, and we must invent the things of tomorrow. One must go before others, be determined and exacting, and let your intelligence direct your life. Act with audacity.” ~ Madame Veuve Cliquot, businesswoman.
 
Sometimes we need a mentor to encourage us to follow a more creative path. Leonardo da Vinci shares how creativity can improve your happiness, health and success in The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life by Cassandra Gaisford.
 
To read a free excerpt or purchase your copy and learn more from Leonardo Navigate to here: getBook.at/TheArtofSuccess

Do it scared – how to charge forward with new confidence and follow your passion to prosperity!

Monday, February 6th, 2017
Do it scared—most of the successful people I know started and continued to create despite their doubts, fears and anxieties. If this is a challenge for you Scott Allan’s new book (aptly titled, “Do It Scared“) comes to your rescue. One of the many memorable things you’ll learn is the importance of mastering your mind. You may have heard this before and know it to be true, but it’s easy to forget and often hard to put into practice.
Stay vigilant, the author warns, stay strong—don’t let self-doubt rob you of your mind mastery. “What do we fear most?” Allen asks, “Confronting problems.”
But herein lies one of the many cures contained with this brilliant book. “Do It Scared” shares proven strategies and powerful formulas to help you transform problems into solutions. The advice is challenging and compassionate – Allen knows how you feel…he’s been there. He’s hit rock bottom and he’s hauled himself out. Now through the honest of his truths and the generosity of his spirit he’s sharing the lessons he’s learned to help you forge a confident identity, master your life, do the things that scare you most and achieve greater personal power.
I really liked the tone and presentation throughout this book. The summaries, or “key takeaways” reinforce key messages and learning at end of each chapter helps consolidate these truths. I particularly enjoyed the strong and evocative words the author uses. Words like “manipulate forge, confront and charge forward.” Softly, softly, fluffy fluffy doesn’t work. You need to don your armour, sharpen your sabre and attack your doubt demons.
One of the sections that really resonated with me was the one on habits and the five steps for breaking bad ones. Allan’s advice to recognize disempowering routines and replace them with winning ones is pure gold! For me one of the triggers that creates a failure habit is being assaulted by energy attacks (negative people, outbursts from others, their drama etc.). As a result of reading “Do It Scared rather then run, withdraw or retreat I’m going to be a rock (not literally!) – people can storm all around me and I’m not going to take it personally. I’m not going to try and fix them either. They can vibrate how they want. What counts is my new habit of maintaining my positive, winning vibration.
Thank you Scott! Thank you also for your section on the lifesavers practices – Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, and Reading to improve my thoughts for the day etc. As a result of reading this book I am tooled up with weaponry to defeat the doubt demons and charge forward with new confidence to follow your passion to prosperity!
5.0 out of 5 stars! An excellent book that inspires you to succeed beyond your fears.
A DEFINITE READ FOR CREATING THE ULTIMATE MINDSET! Available from Amazon here http://amzn.to/2kbwNkp
Five things I’ve “done scared,” to follow my passion to prosperity.
1.) I completed this painting of my grandmother, Molly and entered in a portraiture competition.  It was the first portrait I’d ever painted and the first time I’d experimented with painting with oils. My painting was selected as a finalist in The Adam Portrait Award and Exhibition, Wellington Feb 2008. I was so excited!
2.) I entered another competition with a mixed media triptych  (again a first) and won! “Love Stain” was the Supreme Winner Wai Art Awards May 2008.  When I got the call telling me that I had won  I didn’t believe it.  never expected to one. My only goal was to do it scared and put my art out there DESPITE the fear of judgement. “That can’t be right. You must have made a mistake, ” I recall saying. “That other on—the realistic one of Leda and the Swan was far better than mine.” They assured me the painting had won. “Why?” I asked – still disbelieving. “Because it was different,” they replied.
3.)  I commissioned and had built an architecturally designed home, and subdivided my existing property—despite being a single parent with no savings!
4.)  I moved away from my home town of 50 years,  and brought a 10 acre lifestyle property with my partner going unconditional without selling our properties first.That was scary – but exhilarating now that the terror has passed!
5.) I completed my psychology degree, after a then-year study break, at the age of 47—completing four 300 level papers in less then 10 weeks.
6.)  I opened myself up to love again after having my heart broken.  That was scarier than anything ever done. And also the most fulfilling.
7.)  I rescued my daughter from a violent attacker – and did so in a loving, empowered way—even though ever bone in my body was terrified. But I refused to fight terror with terror.
 Looking back on my life there are so many things I’ve done scared—and I wouldn’t have done it any other way!

How to create a new life – harness the power of one and achieve your goals

Friday, January 1st, 2016

one thought,
one feeling,
one intention,
one desire,
one challenge

A very warm greeting to you on this most auspicious day  the first day of the first month – the beginning of a wonderful new year.

One has become my favourite number. I love its simplicity. In an era where overwhelm threatens the peace and equilibrium of so many, ‘one’ makes things easy.

My one goal last year was to overcome my own self-doubt and follow my passion for writing. I love writing. It’s what I was born to do. If I don’t have a pen in my hand, a notebook at the ready, I feel lost, anxious, irritable, Writing soothes my soul. Writing allows me to connect with others and to express the things I care deeply about.

And so with this in mind, I made one promise to myself in 2015 – to publish one book. And then another in my Mid-Life Career Rescue series. Books which would share my own mid-life journey to career nirvana, and the journey of other seekers too.

And in turn, my hope was that sharing these stories would inspire you.

So it’s been exciting to read the reviews and hear from people who have read my first books in the Mid-Life Career Rescue series. People like Hillary who said, “This is the perfect gentle nudge needed to move me forward and make those scary life changes.

I was scared last year too. I wondered how my books would be received. I wondered if anyone would like them. I feared public rejection, bad reviews, losing the time and money I had invested – all those things. But my desire was stronger. I didn’t want to wonder, ‘what if.” What if I had taken a risk and published my book. I took the risk, and it’s been worth it. I chose to change my focus  – to create in my minds eye everything I that dreamed of and saw in my mind’s eye, that I wanted to become ‘true.’

Going to bed last night on New Year’s Eve after celebrating the last day of 2015, to find Mid-Life Career Rescue: (What Make You Happy) twas #1 on the best-seller list on Amazon was amazing. And waking up today on the first day of 2016 and finding it was still #1 was fun!

So if there’s one thing I would encourage you to do this year it would be this – feel the fear and follow your passion anyway. Be curious, be playful, be adventurous and see where these feelings take you.

If you know anyone who needs a gentle nudge this year to make a change for the better the link is here http://amzn.to/1JmGq5C

What’s one intention you could make this year that, when followed through, would make a tremendous difference to your life? Please let me know on in the comments section of this blog

In the meantime I leave with you with this inspirational sculpture created by renown New Zealand Sculptor Chris Booth. My partner commissioned it for my 50th birthday last year. Together the three of us named it Viewfinder, which I love given my passion for photography. Of course, a viewfinder is the tool that enables you to find your point of focus. The viewfinder is the single most important user interface on any camera. And your viewfinder – your point of focus, the thing that captures your interest, your attention, your passion, is the most important tool in creating your best life in 2016. Set your focus, capture your desires and allow them to motivate and guide you throughout the hours, weeks, and months which follow.

Viewfinder Chris Booth web

I wish you a very happy new year. May 2016 bring you continued happiness and joy.

Three days to train a horse. Three days to change a habit.

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

IMG_2846Golden Dream, one of the pregnant mares we’ve been babysitting, started eating the fences while we were away for three days. My partner said, ‘Something has got to change, either the horses changed their behaviour or they have to go.’

You may be wondering, what does this have to do with writing or any act of creativity? I didn’t want the horses to go, just like I don’t want to give up my dream of being published in fiction.

Over the years I’ve heard a lot of talk that it takes 21 days to change a habit, but where’s the evidence? Why 21 days? What if the truth was it only takes three days to change a habit? That would be cool.  Three days is manageable, easier to chew and simpler digest. Then add three more days, and three more, until voilà you have achieved seven sets of three and a new habit is ingrained. Of course it can’t stop there. A new habit has to continue to be effective.

I proved my horse theory of behavioural change today. Day three and the horses are retrained, I’m still working on training myself to change unhelpful behaviours, including procrastination, but here’s a few things I’ve learned recently from other pro’s:

Don’t be discouraged by the size of the task

Don’t be discouraged by the size of the task. Robert McKee, story guru to the stars, including Peter Jackson and many other high achieving creatives, says it takes 10 years before you can master the craft of writing. Joanna Penn, New York Times and USA Today best-selling novelist and author of one of the top 10 blogs for self-publishers, wrote recently of author Blake Crouch’s 10 year journey through different forms of publishing – his Wayward Pines series is now a TV show. 10 seems to be a magic number, just like 3.

 

Think like a pro and be prepared to learn

Think and act and feel like a pro. No one achieves pro status without some sort of apprenticeship. Like any apprentice you have tasks to learn from other experts on the journey to craft mastery.  Joanna Penn, for example attends workshops and learns from other successful people in her field. Other pro’s do the same.

“Excellence of any kind is based upon knowledge,” says Robert McKee. “You have to do research, you have to know what it is you are trying to do. The more you understand what you are trying to do the better you will be at it. The notion you can rely in instinct is foolishness.”

 

Do the work

“Show up, show up and soon the muse shows up too”, says author Isabel Allende. Show up, put your bum on the seat, and put your pen in hand and do the work.  “You can’t actually make a living from writing if you’re not actually writing, ” says Joanna Penn – very wisely! Some authors suggest writing at a set time every day, others advocate for a more flexible approach. Know what works for you and stick to it. Determine the goals you want to achieve. Whether it’s a quota, a set amount of time to write, or a defined task to conquer, determine what you are going to do and stay at work until your done.

 

Write faster

Prolific Amazon best-selling author Steve Windsor, warns against over thinking. Write faster, he says. This is a great way to minimise the internal critic and the perfectionist. They can come out to play later, the main thing is to get down the bones, at least then you’ll have something to work with. If you have no words you have nothing to go back and edit later. Steve Windsor speaks from experience – with nine books out in eight months he knows how to be a writing machine.

 

Practice habit creep

Changing human behaviour is often considered to be one of the hardest things to do in business and in life, writes James Clear.  James studies successful people across a wide range of disciplines — entrepreneurs, artists, athletes, and more — to uncover the habits and routines that make these people the best at what they do.

What if,  he asks in a recent newsletter, we trusted that becoming more successful  came as a natural side effect of improving our normal routines? It makes absolute sense that as our normal habits improve so will our successes – whether this is because our daily word count goes up, or we churn out more books over a year, or what ever else we want to achieve.

James Clear has coined the phrase ‘habit creep’  to describe the idea of ‘slightly adjusting your habits until behaviours and results that were once out of reach become your new normal‘.

He advocates two primary ways to change long-term behaviours and improve performance for good:

  1. Increase your performance by a little bit each day. Most people take this to the extreme, he’s says.
  2. Change your environment to remove small distractions and barriers. Most people never think about this.

 

I’ve been implementing many of these strategies to increasing success. I’m breaking the task of finishing a book of fiction into manageable tasks. I’m practising habit creep and writing fast by working in 40 minute intervals of timed writing bursts, followed by 10 minutes of cardio!It’s so important as a writer not to be sedentary.

I’ve also changing location, moving out of the house and into the garden to minimise the distraction created by unlimited WIFI and interruptions at home. Look, even Golden Dream is cheer-leading me on as I write!

Watching podcasts by writing professionals, and joining writing forums and communities of writers with similar aspirations has been fabulous too, tuning up my mindset and providing me with ‘my tribe’ and a sense of belonging.

It’s day one of making these changes in my writing life, but having trained the horses to stop eating the fence in three days by making slow, incremental adjustments to their routine, I’m optimistic that I can create new habits that lasts a lifetime too.

 

Everyone gets obsessed with achieving their very best day—pulling the best score on their test, running their fastest race ever, making the most sales in the department. I say forget that stuff. Just improve your normal day and the results will take care of themselves. We naturally make long-term changes in our lives by slowly and slightly adjusting our normal everyday habits and behaviours.” ~ James Clear

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