If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
These words, which always enchant me, no matter how many times I read them, are from the poem “If” by Joseph Rudyard Kipling a Victorian journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. You would certainly know his work of fiction, “The Jungle Book”. In 1907, at the age of 42, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English-language writer to receive the prize, and its youngest recipient to date.
The very first step in your journey towards transforming yourself cannot be exaggerated…
Use Every Minute Productively
It is our life, and no part of it should be wasted aimlessly. Every minute should be spent just exactly on what you would want to do in your best and highest interests. Why would you waste your energy on activities that do not bring you any benefits? Even a holiday is useful only when it can rejuvenate you and give you that much needed break.
Beginning today, stop and ask yourself – why are you doing a particular thing and what benefit do you derive from it? Then ask yourself if there is a better substitute for that activity. For example, instead of mindlessly surfing the internet or TV channels, you may wish to look at specific DIY videos on YouTube. You may choose to read instead of watching TV.
Each one of us has the same 24 hours per day and it is almost entirely our own choice how we choose to utilize our energy. Prioritizing and accomplishing tasks which are in your best and highest interests are paramount, you can then choose to do the unimportant – presuming there are still some that can be called that.
Day dreaming is a wasteful activity, visualization is most certainly not!
There could always be distractions and demands on your time, schedule a part of your day for unplanned activities too.
Live in the present
If you haven’t yet read Eckhart Tolle’s “Power of Now”, do yourself a favour and pick up this book – one of the most comprehensive treatises on living fully in the present moment. Of course, none of us can master this overnight or in a few days, but over time, we get better and better at it, provided you begin right now.
The past and future are illusions, they don't exist or rather they exist only in your mind, should you choose to draw your attention to it. Pain, sorrow, grief, hate, etc. exist only in the past. Worry and anxiety exist only in the future.
In our journey towards transformation, this is a very important activity that we all need to master over time. Here is the least we can do. Fully appreciate the moments of today. Forgive past hurts, it is a burden that only we carry. Visualize a positive future in the NOW, but work towards it today. Harmonize behavior with results. Stop worrying about the future, it keeps you occupied but going nowhere. Be careful about applying yesterday’s solutions to today’s problems.
Unitask, don’t Multitask
Research shows that multitasking is not just not as efficient as it is portrayed to be, but it can also be harmful to your health. Multitasking is a myth, what you really do is task-switching, except for purely automatic actions like chewing gum, walking, etc. Your conscious mind is fully efficient, only when it is focused on one single task.
Moving back and forth between several tasks actually leads to lower productivity. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking doesn’t save time. In fact, it will probably take you longer to finish two projects when you’re jumping back and forth than it would to finish each one separately.
Experts state that switching between tasks can not only cause a greater chance for errors, but also cause a 40% loss in productivity. This is especially true when one or both tasks are related to the critical thinking faculty of your conscious mind. Remember, most accidents are also caused during multitasking.
To get the best out of yourself and to deliver the best results, concentrate fully on only one activity at a time. Never mind the excuses, it can be done 90% of the time in your professional life, by refusing to succumb to the tyranny of the urgent. People around you may sometimes get upset, but you are moreimportant, aren’t you?
Give one task all your energy, instead of dividing the available energy between multiple activities – switching tasks consume energy too.
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
You are constantly thinking on 6 levels at once, but only at the conscious level, are you aware of your thoughts and ideas. We have the ability to use our mind like a flashlight and this has enormous consequences. The great Spanish philosopher and writer, Jose Ortega y Gasset said “tell me what to pay attention and I'll tell you who you are”. There are three Universal Laws to understand how the mind processes suggestions into your belief system, which you would have read and digested.
The first step is always to observe your own thoughts. Only then will you notice and realize how many thoughts are negative and just how many are repeated every single day. Just by turning your attention inward, you will slowly inculcate the habit of observing your own thoughts. For instance, each time you get angry, check what makes you angry, how many times you get angry, how easily you get angry and what are your subsequent actions.
Once you notice which thoughts work against your best interests, you will then be capable of emotionally dis-engaging yourself from it and view it as if on a TV screen in front of you. You will also realize how our monkey mind simply keeps jumping from one thought to another. Once you realize this, you can work towards taming your monkey mind. Nothing changes overnight, especially when it is a habit formed over decades; but slowly and surely, your days will become more peaceful and positive.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
When we fail to plan, we plan to fail! Stress is empirically proven to be highest when one lives in a disorganized, unplanned and unstructured manner. Look around you and you will see that people who are structured and organized are more productive and less stressed. Time Management is a myth perpetrated on the corporate world, manage yourself instead.
Plan each day in advance in as detailed a manner as you can. Plan each week in a less detailed but yet comprehensive manner. Plan each month not arbitrarily even if superficially. Plan your year, plan your life. If the unforeseen happens, alter the plan, not your life!
If you are mentally tidy, chances are that you will physically be tidy too and perhaps your home would reflect this state of mind. I am yet to meet anyone who is untidy and tardy professionally, but the opposite personally. Have you?
When you plan, you forge a purpose. When you achieve your purpose, you feel satisfied and accomplished. If you do not know where to go, how do you propose to get there?
In conclusion -
There are of course so many other activities that you can include in your daily schedule when you embark on a self-improvement exercise, but the five mentioned above are perhaps the most important steps to begin with – everything else will slowly but surely fall into place. The hyperlinks in this article will help you to read other related articles. Take care, stay blessed!
The author, Rajesh Seshadri, is an internationally recognized Certified Leadership Coach, Certified Success Coach and Certified Life Coach. He is also a NLP Master Practitioner, facilitator and therapist. The basket of therapies is holistic and integrative adopting techniques from Psychotherapy, NLP, Silva, Gestalt, Hypnosis and Silva UltraMind. Additionally, he is a seasoned corporate professional who continues to serve as a whole-time Director and Board Member