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Are Your Habits Helping or Hurting You?

A habit is described as something you do over and over again, automatically, without thinking about it. We’re all profoundly affected by the habits in our lives. At times, we mindlessly repeat behaviors related to our home lives, work personas, and relationships. When a certain situation occurs, you do the familiar behavior.

Since your life is largely made up of habits, it makes sense those habits can be supportive of your personal wants, values, and relationships. They can also thwart your efforts to live the life of your dreams. Do your habits help or hurt you?

Ponder these points to determine whether your habits support or sabotage you>/h2>
1. Link your habits to your goals. When you establish ways of behaving that are aligned with your goals, then your habits are helpful.

* For example, you floss daily and brush your teeth three times a day with an electric toothbrush because your goal is to have the prettiest smile possible.

2. Keep track of a new routine to help make it a habit. For example, maybe you’ve decided you’d like to lose twenty pounds and have fitter body tone. So, you plan to walk thirty minutes five days a week and do twenty push-ups or twenty crunches three days a week. How can you keep track of your habits from day to day?

* To ensure you’re working on your fitness goals, write a “W” on your calendar when you walk and place an “X” on the days you do calisthenics. Then, once a week, weigh yourself and jot down your weight on the calendar.

* Visuals help establish good habits. In this case, one glance at your calendar keeps you up to date on your progress toward your goal.

3. Figure out why you have certain habits. Maybe you eat a doughnut or other high-fat snack when you’re at work. You see the treat, pick it up, and eat it. You rarely pay attention to the motivation behind this habit.

* Are you hungry? Maybe you skipped breakfast. Perhaps you’re snacking simply because the co-worker you’re taking a break with is snacking. Maybe it’s because you rarely keep unhealthy snacks at home so when you see them, you grab one.

* If one of your habits isn’t doing anything positive for you, consider that it’s sabotaging you in some way.

4. Eliminate habits that are making you feel embarrassed or angry. If feelings of negativity surround one of your habits, it’s likely hurting you. To illustrate, consider the habit of smoking. As much as you’re driven to do it, you recognize that it isn’t positive or helpful.

* Do you feel ashamed and frustrated with yourself because you engage in the behavior? If this is the case, investigate your habit further. How do you really feel about it? Would you like to disengage from the behavior and stop it?

* An automatic behavior that leaves you feeling negatively about yourself is interfering with your efforts to live a happy life.

5. Replace one habit with another. Rather than trying to stop a negative habit, it may be easier to replace it with a positive habit. Ask yourself how you can change or replace the targeted behavior.

* Referring back to the smoking example, think about what else you could do instead. You could have a piece of sugarless gum or candy. Maybe you want to try nicotine patches to curb your desire to smoke.

When you become more conscious of your habits, you can decide whether they’re helping you or keeping you from moving forward and living a healthy, prosperous life. Make the decision to fill your life with as many positive habits as possible, so you can move closer to achieving the life you deserve.

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How to Make Important Changes in Your Life

One thing you can depend on in life is that there will be change. Change, although usually seen as stressful, can actually help you get over some hurdles and move ahead with your life. Yet, instituting change can be quite challenging. How can you go about bringing a much-desired change to your life?

Use these strategies when you wish to alter your existence

1. Ensure you have a clear understanding of what you’d like to change about your life. Is it your job? Initiating or ending a relationship? Moving to a place that fits you better? Write down in a sentence or two what change you seek. Be specific.

2. Know why you want the change. Being aware of your reasons for change will deepen your understanding of yourself and what you wish for your future. It can also help you tweak what it is you truly wish to accomplish. Having clarity now pays off later.

3. Explore realistic options for how to bring on the change. What do you need to do to make it happen?

* Making a desired change often involves a step-by-step process rather than one big “jump.”

4. Focus on making one change at a time. Concentrate your energies on only one task. This will increase your chances of being successful. When you see that you can achieve one change, you’ll gain confidence in making other changes.

5. Find your confidence. When was the last time you did something you were really proud of? Gather your self-assurance and ignite your efforts to begin making changes.

6. Use positive self-talk. Tell yourself that you know you can create the life you want – one step at a time.

7. Discuss your wishes with your significant other. It’s important that you discuss your desired changes with your partner and that both of you devise an agreeable plan to move forward together.

8. Refuse to let anyone or anything stop you. When it comes to making an important life change, those around you might disagree with your decision to alter your life.

* Listen carefully to the opinions of your loved ones. Then, proceed ahead on your well-planned course, taking their ideas into consideration if you found them useful.

9. Garner support. Surround yourself with supportive people who will provide encouragement to you in your quest for change. Join a support group or club with members who are interested in the change you’re working on. Group support can be incredibly powerful.

10. Find a great mentor. When you consult with others who have already achieved what you’re hoping to accomplish, it will galvanize you in your efforts to change. It’s wonderful to have direct contact with someone who’s done what you’re striving to do.

* For the fastest results, communicate with your mentor by e-mail or telephone.

Making changes in life can be taxing, yet very rewarding. When you discover that you can create the life you deserve by making some adjustments here and there, you can move closer toward your goals in life with greater passion and confidence.

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Managing Your Time to Achieve Success

Living in the 21st century can be overwhelming. Your job is busier than ever, your kids are involved in several after-school activities, and you’re busy keeping up with everything else around the house. Yet, you long to do other things that require a time commitment. Will you ever be able to juggle everything and still do the things you enjoy?

Institute these changes today so you can achieve the success you crave:
1. Obtain a calendar and use it. If you’re trying to juggle too many things, it’s imperative that you have a calendar. A calendar will help you schedule events, keep track of where you need to be, and figure out how much time is left over.

* Buy a pocket calendar at your local office supply store and keep it in your purse or briefcase.

* Alternatively, use the scheduling program in your smartphone.

* Use your calendar as a way to keep track of all the important events in your life.

2. Write everything down. You can be more realistic about what you can accomplish when you write down everything you have to do. This will help keep you focused and on-task.

* You deserve to have a restful mind. Avoid having chaos in your head by keeping a written record.

3. Be realistic about the timelines you establish. Can you really get ready for the neighborhood yard sale in 3 days? Gauge how much time you’ll need to be fully prepared and create a reasonable timeline for big projects.

4. Learn to say “no.” It’s unrealistic to think you’ll be able to attend every event at your kids’ school. And there are only so many hours you can devote to your volunteer work.

* You’re only one person and sometimes you’ll have to say “no.”

5. Recognize the trouble spots during the week. Maybe Thursdays after school are tough because your son has to go to football practice and your daughter has gymnastics at the same time. Plus, that’s the day you and your mom get together for dinner. So, if Thursdays are your trouble spot, look at your schedule and think about what you can move.

* Maybe you and your mom can do dinner on Tuesdays instead. Perhaps your husband can take care of football and you can focus on gymnastics.

6. Be flexible when you can. Some things aren’t etched in stone and there will be times when more important things come up unexpectedly. You’re likely to feel calmer if you can be flexible and switch things around in your schedule.

7. Be clear about your priorities. Your family will most likely be your first priority. But if the occasional work project has to temporarily come first, that might work for you too. When you clearly acknowledge your priorities, decisions about managing your time become easier.

8. Limit the time you spend in meetings. Many meetings lack productivity and take too much time. If you have the power to excuse yourself from meetings, do it.

* If you happen to be responsible for holding and leading meetings, ensure they’re short, to-the-point, and productive.

* Some time management experts have even suggested meetings be limited to 30 minutes and that everyone stands up during the meeting. By doing this, everyone will be brief and the necessary topics will be covered quickly.

9. Schedule fun activities and “me” time. If you fail to place time in your schedule to have fun, then it likely won’t happen.

* During those scheduled times you can choose what to do. Carve out the free time you deserve.

Manage your time in a way that works for you. To achieve your life goals, set priorities, make a schedule, establish realistic timelines, and keep a written record. If you can implement these suggestions, you’ll be on the path to success.

Become an expert at managing time and your life!

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Ways To Make Exercise A Habit

Everyone knows they need to exercise, but most of us haven’t been able to turn exercise into a regular habit. Maybe you want to build some muscle. Or perhaps you’d like to lose some fat. Either way, you want to feel better, be healthier, and be more proud of your body.

Maybe you joined a gym or found a friend that would walk or play tennis with you on a regular basis. But driving to the gym became too much of a hassle, or your friend bailed on you. Eventually, most of us just quit.

What’s the secret of those that exercise religiously? You might think it’s a matter of willpower, but willpower is only a short-term solution.

Try these strategies to develop an exercise habit

1. Set a goal. You must know where you’re headed. Do you want to gain or lose weight? Are you trying to become faster and stronger? It’s important to do one thing at a time. Maybe you want to gain 20 lbs of muscle and lose 30 lbs of fat. Lose the fat first and then focus on gaining that muscle.

* Ensure your goal has a deadline. A deadline creates a sense of urgency. A good deadline should be challenging, but realistic.

* Put your goal and deadline on your nightstand. Review them both every night and every morning.

2. Determine a time that works for you. If you exercise first thing in the morning, your evening will be free and you know you’ll get your exercise done. However, most of us struggle to get up on time already. Consider using your lunch break for a little exercise. The evening has its advantages, too. Think about what will work for you.

3. Create a plan. Your plan should be based upon your goal and deadline. Consider including a schedule, the exercises you’ll perform, and the number of sets or repetitions.

* Your plan, like your deadline, should be reasonable. Avoid setting yourself up for failure.

4. Find an experienced training partner. Finding a committed and experienced workout partner is a key to your success. If your partner quits, you’re much more likely to quit, too. So find someone that is as serious about working out as you would like be about working out. Approach them and see if you can train along with them.

5. Stay consistent. There will be days that you don’t feel like exercising, but those can be your best workout days. When it’s time to exercise, it’s time to exercise. The more you do your exercise, the stronger the habit becomes. Work your plan.

* Remember that your plan is your path to success.

6. Work on your inner game. Having a goal and a plan will strengthen your confidence. Seeing positive changes in your performance and appearance helps too!

* Know that it’s all science. If you do the right things every day, success is inevitable!

Think about all the wonderful benefits you’ll gain by developing a strong exercise habit. Keep that picture in your mind when the going gets tough. Having success in this area of your life can translate into other successes too.

The great thing about exercising is that you’re not really dependent on anyone else. All the variables are under your control. It’s a great way to test how much control you have over yourself.

In 30 days, you can have a strong exercise habit that will be resistant to change. Put your best efforts into this first month to create your habit, and you’ll find smooth sailing after that.

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Planning Your Gap Year

You’ve probably heard of teenagers taking a gap year, where they take a short break between high school and college to sort out their future plans. But now, a growing number of adults are taking a strategic break and putting their careers on hold for a gap year.

Many recent graduates are taking longer to land their first job. Older professionals who have been laid off are facing retirement earlier than they expected. For others, it’s an intentional search for new adventures.

Whatever your motivation, these suggestions can help guide you through your gap year from planning to reentry.

Planning a Gap Year

1. Finance your dreams. The biggest question for most people is how to afford a year off. Build up your savings or plan to work while you’re away. You may even be able raise funds through crowdsourcing and other methods if you’re doing something like nursing in an orphanage.

2. Get your family on board. Depending on your destination, you may want to take your family along. Changing schools is a big step for your children, but they may learn things they would’ve missed by staying home.

3. Talk with your boss. Figure out the odds for returning to your old job if that’s your plan. Depart on good terms with your employer, so you can at least count on a positive reference.

4. Learn from the experience of others. Reach out to those who’ve gone before you. Look for people who share your individual interests. If you’re traveling to a major city out of the country, ask for suggestions on how to get connected with the local expatriate community to help you find your way around.

Managing the Logistics

1. Set your own schedule. Your break can be shorter or longer than 12 months. Decide how much time makes sense for you.

2. Travel light. Pack only the bare essentials. You’ll get through airports more quickly.

3. Find accommodations. Explore all your options. You may be able to rent your condo out or find a house swapping arrangement. If you have a mortgage, remember to check with your lender to see if you meet the requirements or have to complete any necessary forms.

4. Protect your health. Talk with your doctor. You may need to get certain vaccinations or stock up on your prescription medications.

Enjoying the Experience

1. Do volunteer work. Browse through the many agencies that sponsor international volunteer services. Work on a farm or get involved with conservation work in the Amazon. These organizations may help you with living arrangements as well.

2. Pursue spiritual development. Retreats and pilgrimages are a major part of many faith traditions. Join a group trip or design your own itinerary.

3. Study abroad. Take drama classes in London or enroll in a Spanish architecture class in Madrid. Pick up new languages at every stop you make. Contact your alma mater or other universities about their foreign study programs.

Engineering Your Reentry

1. Make a permanent transition. You may enjoy your gap year so much that you want it to last for the rest of your life. You may be surprised to find how much you change.

2. Simplify everything. Whatever path you decide to take, prevent clutter and distractions from building up again. That way you’ll stay energized and ready to take off on your next adventure.

3. Ease back into old routines. Give yourself time to readjust. High speed traffic and crowded stores may feel overwhelming at first if you’ve been exploring the countryside all year.

It takes courage and a willingness to accept risk when leaving your life behind and traveling down a new path. If you believe a gap year is a good choice for you, go ahead and give it a try. It could turn out to be the start of a whole new life.

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