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How to Attain Self-Realization (a Guide to Become a Better You)

15. March 2018 - 13:00

Chances are, you’re busy hustling between the 40 hours a week you need to work, the family you need to provide for, and the bills that need to be paid.

As the years pass by, you’ve begun to feel the burnout from all the needs and expectations required of you. You don’t feel like you are in control over your own life. In fact, it feels like the circumstances in your life are controlling you.

What if there was a way for you to be able to have better control of your life and create all the positive changes you’ve been aching for?

This can be done through self-realization.

You’ve probably heard of this concept before, but you’re not really sure what it really is or how it can help you.

I’m going to dive into what exactly self-realization is and the exact steps you can take to attain it for yourself. Read on if you want to learn how to unlock your potential and find a way to decrease your stress and anxiety, and gain crystal clear clarity about who you are and what you’re capable of.

What self-realization really is

Self-realization has a few big definitions.

In the Western world, it’s generally defined as the activation of one’s full potential of talents and abilities.

How psychologists see self-realization

Humanistic psychology also follows a similar train of thought about self-realization.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow has named people he considered to have reached self-realization such as Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt to name a few. His famous hierarchy of needs theory states in order to achieve self-realization (or in this case, Maslow uses the term “self-actualization”),[1] one needs to have a certain set of needs met before achieving it:[2]

For example, self-realization cannot be achieved if you are struggling financially and too caught up in worrying about how to pay for the rent and provide food for your family. Unfortunately, this is usually the case for many people, which leaves little opportunity for them to maximize their abilities.

How religions see self-realization

In religions, the concept of self-realization is taken from a different perspective altogether. Connecting with your truest self has a lot to do with transcending your own mind and body. This self is often considered as an eternal being that is not confined to the physical space that your mind and body take up. Many recognize this part of yourself as the soul.

To put all of these definitions together, self-realization is ultimately learning the answer to the foundational question, “Who am I?”

The answer lies from understanding that you are not your emotions or your thoughts. Who you really are is not even your body or your mind. These are all things you as a self experience, but they are not you.

And when you are too caught up in these things that are not yours, that’s when you fall victim to and get stuck in your negative experiences such as stress, anxiety and fear.

While your thoughts, feelings, and physical body always changes, you do not.

I know this concept can be a bit confusing to understand, so here’s a great video that explores who you really are explained by Prince EA. It was a video made in response to a bizarre interview session with Comedian Jim Carrey at the red carpet interview at the 2017 New York Fashion Week.

Here’s the video:

Why self-realization matters to you

How often are you distracted, lost in your thoughts, or overwhelmed by difficult emotions?

Being in the present is more difficult than ever with the technology today. People are often buried in their smartphones or laptops while others around are craving their attention.

Most people spend so little time in the present. They’re usually either hurt and having trouble letting go of their past, or busy worrying about their futures:[3]

“People spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, and this mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy.”

Here are some amazing benefits to self-realization:

  • The ability to monitor your emotions. Rather than being controlled by your emotions, you can now use your observations about them during the experience to learn how to effectively handle things like fear, anxiety and stress. Self-realizations helps you do this by giving you the skill of letting go of debilitating feelings and taking hold of the empowering ones instead.
  • Improved focus and concentration. Guided by your own inner goals and values, self-realization helps you easily identify when you are entering into distractions and eliminate them. By getting rid of the meaningless things in your life, you stay committed to what matters most and you begin to see real results as you reach your fullest potential.
  • Increased confidence, self-awareness and self-esteem. By being connected deeply to your truest self, self-realization frees you from any insecurities, worries, and low sense of self worth that you feel tangled up in by helping you really grasp the truth that you are not defined by them.
  • Becoming more accepting of yourself and of other people. You are able to be more authentic and express emotions freely and clearly. As a result, you are able to form deeper relationships and spend more time connecting with people rather than trying to impress them.

When people don’t have a strong sense of their own self, they get easily swayed to live life the way other people tell them to live it.

The truth of this has been shown through Bronnie Ware’s famous work, which has shown that one of the top regrets of people who are dying was:[4]

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

There can be tons of pressure whether it’s from work, society, and even friends and family for you to be a certain way. Maybe your rough upbringing instilled a strong need for other’s approval in you so you do what others expect of you. Maybe you’ve stopped trusting people because of your struggles with letting go of the thoughts and experiences that hurt you.

Whatever the situation, self-realization gives you the safe space you need to heal and grow.

How to achieve self realization (the easier way)

Start meditating regularly. Aside from all the scientific evidence that shows the health benefits of meditation, it is also a prime way to achieve self-realization.

One of my favorite apps that guide you through meditation is Headspace.

I particularly love this app because it is very straightforward without all the woo-woo types of things you normally associate with meditation. It does a great job of demystifying what meditation really is and how it can benefit you to achieving self-realization.

Here’s a great explanation of what meditation does for you:

You can get the basic meditation guidance for free or pay for a premium version for access to more specific meditations that improve things like self esteem, creativity and relationships.

In case you don’t want to download the app, here is the simple meditation practice you can do right now:

  1. Sit comfortably on a chair.
  2. Start by leaving your eyes open with a relaxed soft focus.
  3. Take about a minute to take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  4. After a few deep breaths, gently close your eyes while you are breathing out.
  5. Resume normal breathing.
  6. Take a moment to pause and enjoy being present in the moment with having nothing to do, nowhere to go, nothing to check.
  7. Take a moment to feel the pressure of your body on the chair beneath you, the feet on the floor and the hands and the arms just resting on the legs.
  8. Gently bring the focus back to your breathing.
  9. As you sit there beginning to notice the breath and the body with its rising and falling sensation, don’t try and stop your thoughts. Simply allow them to just come and go.
  10. At this point, the only thing you need to do is when you’ve realized your mind has wandered, gently bring the focus back to your breath again.
  11. Gently bring the attention back to your body, back to that feeling of contact to your chair and the space around you and when ready, gently open your eyes again.

Even if it’s only 5-10 minutes a day, learning to train your mind to be present is so important to your journey towards self-realization. You need to take a step back from the craziness of life and recompose yourself to be present for the things that matter most.

Another great method that can be used to achieve self-realization that involves a bit more body strength is yoga. While there are many variations of yoga and has also become a very popular form of exercise in western culture, its original purpose served as a meditative practice to achieve the higher level of consciousness that comes from self-realization.

You can access plenty of free Yoga channels on Youtube or join a gym to get started.

How to make time for self-realization every day

I know what you’re thinking.

“I don’t have time for this!”

I beg to differ.

About 40 percent of the things you do in a day don’t involve you actively making a decision. Instead, it is actually a habit.

Out of all of your habits, there are probably a handful of bad ones. If you can observe your daily routines, there is a simple way to change a bad habit into a good one, which is to start making changes to your environment to make it easier for you to change your habits.

The idea is rather than trying to squeeze in more time to do something, simply alter a daily habit you have into something else.

For example, let’s say you start your morning by brewing your coffee and sitting down on the dining table for 20 minutes to browse the internet to catch up on the news.

The news is usually full of negative information, so why not spend those 20 minutes in meditation instead?

One easy way to make this change is to change your environment up by keeping your laptop and phone in a different room so you don’t have immediate access to it when you sit down on the dining table. You make it easier on yourself to spend time meditating rather than staring at a screen.

Want some more great tips on breaking bad habits? You can try out Lifehack CEO’s secret Control Alternate Delete method, which was the method he used to break 3 bad habits in less than 2 months.

Self-realization doesn’t happen overnight. It will take some time and practice, but if you turn the practices into a habit, you’ll be guaranteed to get there. Once you do, you’ll finally feel like you are in more control over your life and be able to get yourself to the next level.

Now that you have a better understanding of the importance and benefits of self-realization, why not take a moment to put everything down and give it a try?

Reference [1] ^ Sprouts: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs [2] ^ Loomi: Deeper understanding of the self: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, wifI and battery life [3] ^ The Harvard Gazette, “Wandering mind not a happy mind” [4] ^ Bronnie Ware: Regrets of the dying function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

14. March 2018 - 13:00

Today is your lucky day, as I’m going to reveal to you how I helped my team get more things done in less time through the power of correct prioritization.

A few minutes spent reading this article could literally save you thousands of hours over the long term. So, let’s get started.

Everyone of my team members has a bucketload of tasks that they need to deal with every working day. On top of that, most of their tasks are related to creativity as we’re a content publisher.

Despite having loads of tasks to handle, our team is consistently able to stay creative and work towards our goals.

How do we manage that? Through the Scales Method – a productivity method I created several years ago.

How to prioritize and work 10X faster with the Scales Method

One of our new editors came to me the other day and told me how she was struggling to keep up with the many tasks she needed to handle and the deadlines she constantly needed to stick to.

At the end of each day, she felt like she had done a lot of things but often failed to come up with creative ideas and to get articles successfully published. From what she told me, it was obvious that she felt overwhelmed and was growing increasingly frustrated about failing to achieve her targets despite putting in extra hours most days.

After she listened to my advice – and I introduced her to the Scales Method – she immediately experienced a dramatic rise in productivity, which looked like this:

  • She could produce three times more creative ideas for blog articles
  • She could publish all her articles on time
  • And she could finish all her work on time every day (no more overtime!)

Curious to find out how she did it? Read on for the step-by-step guide:

1. Set aside 10 minutes for planning

When it comes to tackling productivity issues, it makes sense to plan before taking action. However, don’t become so involved in planning that you become trapped in it and never move beyond first base.

My recommendation is to give yourself a specific time period for planning – but keep it short. Ideally, 10 or 15 minutes. This should be adequate to think about your plan.

Use this time to:

  • Look at the big picture.
  • Think about the current goal and target that you need/want to achieve.
  • Lay out all the tasks you need to do.
2. Align your tasks with your goal

This is the core component that makes the Scales Method effective.

It works like this:

Take a look at all the tasks you’re doing, and review the importance of each of them. Specifically, measure a task’s importance by its cost and benefit.

By cost, I am referring to the effort needed per task (including time, money and other resources). The benefit is how closely the task can contribute to your goal.

To make this easier for you, I’ve listed below four combinations that will enable you to quickly and easily determine the priority of each of your tasks:

Low cost + High benefit

Do these tasks first because they’re the simple ones to complete, yet help you get closer to your goal.

Approving artwork created for a sales brochure would likely fit this category. You could easily decide on whether you liked the artwork/layout, but your decision to approve would trigger the production of the leaflet and the subsequent sales benefits of sending it out to potential customers.

High cost + High benefit

Break the high cost task down into smaller ones. In other words, break the big task into mini ones that take less than an hour to complete. And then re-evaluate these small tasks and set their correct priority level.

Imagine if you were asked to write a product launch plan for a new diary-free protein powder supplement. Instead of trying to write the plan in one sitting – aim to write the different sections at different times (e.g., spend 30 minutes writing the introduction, one hour writing the body text, and 30 minutes writing the conclusion).

Low cost + Low benefit

This combination should be your lowest priority. Either give yourself 10-15 minutes to handle this task, or put these kind of tasks in between valuable tasks as a useful break.

These are probably necessary tasks (e.g., routine tasks like checking emails) but they don’t contribute much towards reaching your desired goal. Keep them way down your priority list.

High cost + Low benefit

Review if these tasks are really necessary. Think of ways to reduce the cost if you decide that the completion of the task is required.

For instance, can any tools or systems help to speed up doing the task? In this category, you’re likely to find things like checking and updating sales contacts spreadsheets. This can be a fiddly and time-consuming thing to do without making mistakes. However, there are plenty of apps out there they can make this process instant and seamless.

Now, coming back to the editor who I referred to earlier, let’s take a look at her typical daily task list:

After listening to my advice, she broke down the High cost+ High benefit task into smaller ones. Her tasks then looked like this (in order of priority):

And for the task about promoting articles to different platforms, after reviewing its benefits, we decided to focus on the most effective platform only – thereby significantly lowering the associated time cost.

3. BONUS TIP: Tackling tasks with deadlines

Once you’ve evaluated your tasks, you’ll know the importance of each of them. This will immediately give you a crystal-clear picture on which tasks would help you to achieve more (in terms of achieving your goals). Sometimes, however, you won’t be able to decide every task’s priority because there’ll be deadlines set by external parties such as managers and agencies.

What to do in these cases?

Well, I suggest that after considering the importance and values of your current tasks, align the list with the deadlines and adjust the priorities accordingly.

For example, let’s dip into the editor’s world again.

Some of the articles she edited needed to be published by specific dates. The Scales Method allows for this, and in this case, her amended task list would look something like this:

Hopefully, you can now see how easy it is to evaluate the importance of tasks and how to order them in lists of priority.

The Scales Method is different from anything else you’ve tried

By adopting the Scales Method, you’ll begin to correctly prioritize your work, and most importantly – boost your productivity by up to 10 times!

And unlike other methods that don’t really explain how to decide the importance of a task, my method will help you break down each of your tasks into two parts: cost and benefits. My method will also help you to take follow-up action based on different cost and benefits combinations.

Start right now by spending 10 minutes to evaluate your common daily tasks and how they align with your goal(s). Once you have this information, it’ll be super-easy to put your tasks into a priority list. All that remains, is that you kick off your next working day by following your new list.

Trust me, once you begin using the Scales Method – you’ll never want to go back to your old ways of working.

Featured photo credit: Vector Stock via

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How Traveling Can Drastically Improve Your Interpersonal Skills

13. March 2018 - 14:00

Inherently, the seasoned traveler doubles as a social butterfly. They can strike up a conversation on a whim and somehow manage to find common ground with individuals from all walks of life.

Traveling on its own can be incredibly eye opening and enriching, but it will also equip us with skills that are necessary to be successful. Communication and interpersonal skills are attributes that can be learned and honed. These skills are applicable in everyday life and can be translated into professional environments.

We are inherently closed off

For my first lone traveling experience, I had just arrived to San Francisco for an externship. There was an issue with our train and we had to switch to a new train at the next platform. A gentleman who had been making polite conversation decided that it was now his mission to help me move my stuff to the next train.

Although well intentioned, I was appalled. I was not accustomed to the kindness of strangers, in fact I thought that he was trying to rob me or worse. Kindness is somewhat regional. And growing up in the tristate area, I had been conditioned to be extremely skeptical. Interaction with strangers seemed incredibly taboo.

It’s shameful to admit, but social skills have fallen by the wayside. We’ve forgotten how to speak to one another. The idea of striking up a conversation with a stranger is borderline terrifying. But more terrifying still, the lack of effective communication will ultimately lead to a lonely life.

Keeping the passion alive

A very wise man once said that before fully committing to someone, take them on a trip. This wise man is Bill Murray- and he speaks the truth. Traveling can be a very vulnerable time for many, often times it can bring out the worst in people.

But if you are able to overcome the inevitable hurdles that will arise during your trip, traveling has been proven to strengthen relationships.[1] It gives yourself and your partner an opportunity to share in a common goal.

Just being in a different environment[2], free of all of your day to day obligations that tend to get in the way will help to reignite romance and intimacy. It will give you both the chance to revisit some issues that would normally initiate an argument- in a safe, romantic setting.

Couples who regularly travel together have reported having more effective communication with one another than those who don’t. [3]

You will never see the world the same

The greatest epiphany one can experience as they submerge themselves into the travel lifestyle is the realization that not everyone thinks the way that you do. Not everyone lives the same way that you do. Different cultures harbor different philosophies and priorities.

Breathe, relax, enjoy

Growing up in a place where results are expected instantaneously, I didn’t take well to the idea of waiting. I mean, what’s the hold up? I placed my order and I want it now. Clearly impatience was smeared all over my face. The server who took my order asked me ever so innocently, “Why do you look upset? You have a few extra moments to just enjoy life before you receive your food.” He was so right. Why was I getting upset? I didn’t have anywhere to be. So I took his advice. I drew in a deep breath, taking in all of the beauty that surrounded me.

Patience is a virtue. And when you’re traveling, you have no choice but to be patient.

Learn to roll with the punches

Not everything works out as planned, things are bound to go wrong. When you are traveling, you are exceptionally vulnerable to these mishaps, with very little security if things happen to not go your way. This can be incredibly unnerving the first few times around. This can even deter some from deciding to continue. But if you can hack it and take the hits as they come, you will ultimately develop the patience of the Saint. Bad things are going to happen; let them. You’ll find another way.

When things don’t work out, not only do you have to be patient, but adaptable as well[4]. You must be able to recollect and strategize, or at least accept the situation at hand and roll with it.

It’s not the situation- it’s your reaction

In a landslide of positive effects, your increase in patience and adaptability will in turn make you a kinder, less skeptical person. Because at this point, you get it. We’re all human, doing our best to get by. So just stay cool.

Conflicts are going to arise, and how you choose to handle them will determine the outcome.

Alternate forms of communication

Everything that is new and unfamiliar can seem terrifying. Especially when you are traveling abroad, specifically if you are traveling alone.

If you’re anything like me, you relish in the somewhat abrasive blow of culture shock. Everything is so foreign, so unbelievably different.

This can make communication difficult. I literally don’t speak their language. Chances are, I’m not going to become fluent overnight or anywhere in the near future. But I can still ease my struggle by learning a few key phrases in the language of where I am visiting in order to get by in daily life.

More likely than not, I will butcher the pronunciation. The average person will get the gist of what I am trying to say and appreciate the effort-regardless of the poor execution.

Non-verbal communication will become your saving grace. You will develop the ability to convey your meaning without words. Without realizing, you may start to mirror the behavior of those around you to establish a foundation of common ground.

Just in this short time, you are evolving. You’ve picked up new mannerisms that will channel into your existing personality and habits.

This experience literally becomes a part of you, altering how you think and how you behave.

Featured photo credit: VideoHive via

Reference [1] ^ Landlopers: A Few Ways Travel Improves Our Relationships [2] ^ Metador network: How travel can improve every relationship in your life [3] ^ US Travel Association:Travel Strengthens Relationships and Ignites Romance [4] ^ Forbes: How Traveling More Can Help Hone The Skills Needed To Be A Successful Entrepreneur function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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How to Be More Confident (the Definitive Step-By-Step Guide)

13. March 2018 - 13:00

Confidence. It’s a powerful word and an even more powerful feeling. Can you remember a time in your life when you felt confident? A time when you felt unstoppable… on top of the world? Now imagine you could feel that way more often. What impact would that have on your health and well-being, your career, your relationships?

Not only does being confident feel good, it helps you seize potential opportunities, take more chances and make that big change or take the next step in your life and career. Life is crazy, busy and beautiful. Figuring out how to be more confident is just part of the journey.

The great news is, there are steps to building confidence that you can take wherever – and whenever you feel you’re lacking it. Often, it’s already within you and you just need a few strategies to uncover it – and I’m going to reveal these strategies to you.

Why some people lack confidence

Lack of confidence can stem from many places.

Perhaps, growing up, your parents said a certain career was outside your reach and you could ‘never do that’. Or maybe you have a belief system that says ‘I could never start my own business, I’m not entrepreneurial’.

Perhaps you had a bad experience which opened the door for self-doubt to creep in. Or maybe your inner self-critic is telling you ‘you can’t’ or ‘you’re not good enough’. Maybe (ok, likely) you’re comparing yourself to someone else – a friend, colleague or spouse.

Or perhaps you feel there is something missing in your life – a relationship, the dream job, kids, a degree or title.

In my work with thousands of clients, it seems most (if not all) of us struggle with confidence in some area, or at some point in our lives. Whether that be confidence in our appearance, abilities, relationships, careers, decision making, and social situations.

We all have crises of confidence. Times we are self-conscious and moments of self-doubt. And, if your lack of confidence is keeping you in a bad job or poor relationship — or keeping you from moving forward in your life or career, you’re not alone.

What makes confident people different from others

Confident people believe in themselves and have a positive mindset. People lack confidence feel insecure about themselves and their decisions.

Let’s take a look at this infographic which illustrates the differences between a confident person and an insecure person:

How to be more confident (a step-by-step guide)

So, how can you be more confident? Here’s your complete, step-by-step guide:

1. Be specific

First things first, let’s get specific.

In order to tame the demon, you’ve got to name the demon. Where do you lack confidence? When do you feel self-doubt creeping in? Where do you feel your skills or abilities are limiting you? Where would you like to have more confidence?

Once you get specific, it won’t feel so overwhelming as you’ll have something tangible to tackle.

Maybe you want the confidence to go out on your own and start a new business? Or maybe you’d like to go back to school to get the degree you’ve always wanted? Perhaps you’d like the confidence to go on an adventure or take a trip you’ve been thinking about for some time.

Take a moment now, identify and put into a complete statement: Where do you specifically want to have more confidence?

2. Uncover what gives you confidence

This is personal, so it will vary from person to person. There’s no one size fits all approach to confidence and what works for one, won’t always work for another.

How can you figure out what gives you confidence? Think about a couple times in your life when you felt most confident.

Now, think about what was it about those times that made you feel so empowered.

Was it the environment you were in? Something you were doing? A feeling you had? The more you get clear about this for yourself, the easier it will be to tap into when you need it.

3. Be true to you

One of the surest ways to lose confidence is try to be someone else. One of the best ways to build your confidence? Be true to yourself.

When you’re trying to be someone you’re not, every part of you resists it. You are not everyone else. You are you. And the more you can understand who you are and what you value the stronger you will be.

When you stray away from who you are, you lose confidence because it’s ‘just not you’.

Think about what makes you, uniquely you. Write it down. Think about what you value and what’s important to you. Write that down, too.

4. Remember, you are 100% smart

When one of my daughters was in 4th grade, her teacher gave an assignment called 100% smart. In this activity, the kids had to make a pie chart and identify what percentage smart they were in each of the following areas; people, self, body, math, word, music, art.

For example, my daughter was 25% body smart, but only 5% art smart. This was such an insightful exercise for her and something I have shared with many clients over the years. She realized that even though she lacked confidence in art, there were so many other areas where she excelled.

This is true for everyone. So, maybe you’re not the best public speaker, but are you a great parent, smart with your money, or creative?

Too many people spend way too much time trying to improve, change, be more of this or less of that. Instead, what if you spent more time acknowledging your talents, skills and successes?

Try this for one week: at the end of each day, write down at least 3 things that you did well, felt good about, or were proud of yourself for. Know your strengths, know your talents and know you’re 100% smart.

5. Stop comparing yourself

Nothing zaps your confidence more than comparing yourself to others. Especially now, with social media and the wonderful opportunity to judge yourself against so many others! Lack of confidence comes from a gap in where you see yourself and where you think you should be.

Imagine you are preparing to give a big presentation or speech. So you do your research, which includes watching some of the best speakers in the world doing their Ted Talks. Of course you are going to feel inferior.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Just stop. If you still feel a compelling need to compare – compare yourself to yourself. Measure how far you’ve come. See how much improvement you’ve made. Acknowledge your wins and successes.

6. Realize you are enough

This may sound a little bit corny, but try it. This positive affirmation will resonate at a deep level and have a powerful effect on your subconscious.

Every day for the next 21 days repeat this mantra. “I am enough”. Don’t just say it, but feel it, deeply, at the core of who you are.

Want to get more specific? Replace ‘enough’ with whatever word you’d like to ‘be’. What would give you the most confidence? I am brave. I am strong. I am smart. I am beautiful. I am confident. I got this.

7. Acquire new skills

Since confidence is often directly linked to abilities, one of the best ways to build your confidence is to get new skills or experience.

Growing your skills will in turn grow your confidence. And please, as you work on building your skills and expertise, don’t mistake a lack of perfection for a lack of ability. No one is perfect. But if you’ve got a perfectionist bone in your body (like I do), it can make you think that just because you’re not the best, that you’re not good at all.

Make sure to check yourself – am I really not good at this, or am I not good as I want to be just yet?

Ask yourself: Is there a specific area where you are lacking confidence? How can you expand your expertise in this area?

8. Change your state

Changing your physical and mental ‘state’ is one of the quickest ways to access a feeling of confidence. To do this, you need to know what the state of ‘confidence’ looks, feels and sounds like for you.

Here are a few strategies you can use to access that:

  • Remember – Think of a specific time, associated with feeling confident. Sink into that feeling deeply and moment by moment relive every detail.
  • Imagine – Imagine how you would feel if you were confident. How would you act? Feel? Be?
  • Modelling – Think about someone you know who exudes confidence. Imagine what that person would do.
9. Find yourself a cheerleader

Yes, while I understand confidence is a state from within, you can also boost your confidence by the people you choose to spend your time with.

Make a concerted effort to surround yourself with others who provide encouragement, positivity, and inspiration. Spend more time with people who ‘get you’ and see all of your greatness – and less time with those that zap your confidence or cause you to feel self-doubt.

10. Just do it

When Nike came up with this slogan in the late 80’s, they knew just how to get the general population off their butts and moving. Turns out, this is a great strategy for being more confident too.

When you stand at the edge of the water; waiting, wondering, worrying if you can do something, you lose confidence. Your fears creep in and you begin to doubt yourself. But when you take a leap of faith, jump in and get started, your confidence immediately builds.

Action builds confidence and each step you take builds it further.

Think of one step you could take right now that would get you moving in the right direction. Then Just Do It and see what happens. An incredible thing about human brain is that once it realizes something is working, it will keep that momentum going!

Being more confident starts with one thing — YOU.

YOU making the decision to take action. And when all else fails, YOU can make a choice.

YOU can choose to be confident. YOU can choose confidence over fear and self-doubt.

Your mind believes what you tell it. If you continue to tell yourself the story that you are not confident, you will believe it and your self-doubt will continue. But if you tell yourself you can do it, that you got this, your mind will believe that too.

Remember, fostering a strong sense of confidence is critical to experiencing overall levels of health, happiness and success.

And once you get started you’ll be unstoppable. Be brave. Be confident. You got this.

Featured photo credit: pixabay via

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How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. March 2018 - 13:00

Until you know how to focus, you’ll never be able to think clearly, solve problems, make decisions, or remember things. Being focused is important but staying on a task is becoming harder and harder. A symphony of notifications can draw you out of whatever you’re doing at a moment’s notice.

Every time your mind wanders from your work, you have to waste time and energy getting back on track. A recent study from the University of California calculated that it took people an average of 25 minutes and 26 seconds to get back to work after an interruption.[1] This means that every time something takes your attention off your work, you lose nearly half an hour of your precious time.

Interruptions are bound to happen, but when they happen several times per day, you’ll waste lots of time and energy. In this guide, you’ll learn more about why it’s so hard to stay focused and what you can do to reduce distractions, be more productive, and increase your focus.

What makes staying focused difficult Physically unfit

Everything is more difficult when you feel sick or tired. If you haven’t been getting enough sleep, your mind is bound to wander.

Human bodies are meant to be in motion, many of us lead sedentary lifestyles. Not getting enough exercise is another common reason you might lose focus quickly. Exercised helps your body regulate hormones and process insulin. It also alleviates symptoms of depression and anxiety.[2] A British study found that people’s work performance were better on the days they exercised:

What you eat and drink can play a major role in your ability to settle into your work, too. Start by staying properly hydrated. About 60% of your body is water. If you’re dehydrated you’re going to feel sluggish, and your brain won’t be able to work as well.

Digestive upsets and imbalanced gut bacteria are disruptive no matter what you’re doing. An upset digestive system is uncomfortable, but it also prevents you from making use of all the nutrients in your food. This means that even if you are eating well, you may not be getting the nutrition that helps you focus.

For example, B Vitamins are essential for digestion and we deplete them rapidly when exposed to stress. A lack of B Vitamins will almost certainly leave you feeling foggy-headed.[3]

An emotional brain

You know how hard it can be to focus when you’re worried about something else. Your limbic system, the epicenter for all your emotions and memories, attaches feelings to everything. Based on a study conducted by Bond University professor of management Cynthia Fisher, there are some common emotions at work shown to shape performance:[4]

The way you feel about your work can destroy your productivity and focus if you have a negative point of view. It’s worthwhile to take some time to get to know yourself so that you can figure out what triggers emotional reactions and loss of focus.

One of the best things you can do is infuse your life with positivity. When your work triggers positive emotions, you’ll be more interested in what you’re doing, and it’ll be easier to stay on task.[5]

Too many distractions

We’re fortunate to have so much technology at our fingertips, but these advances are a double-edged sword. As you work, phone calls, text messages, emails, and social media notifications threaten to derail your focus.

A 2012 study from the McKinsey Global Institute found that people spend around 13 hours or 28% of their workweek managing emails.[6] That’s not to say that all time spent on technology is non-productive. It’s just that most of us have a hard time compartmentalizing our inboxes and notifications so that they don’t pull us from other tasks. As mentioned, it takes a whopping 25 minutes and 26 seconds to regain focus on average. Distractions are costly.

Multitasking through the day

You may think you’re being more efficient when you multitask, but only about 2% of the population can effectively multitask.[7] James Clear’s illustration has best described the myth of multitasking:

For the other 98%, they mutitask in three different ways:[8]

  • Do two things at the same time.
  • Switch to a new task without completing the original thing we were working on.
  • Rapidly cycle back and forth between tasks, which gives us the illusion that we are among the 2% of effective multitaskers.

Human brains aren’t designed to do that kind of cognitive shuffling. People end up with a nasty build up of “attention residue” when they switch between tasks.[9]

If you’ve ever been distracted by thinking about something else you have to do while you’re working on another project, you’ve experienced the effects of attention residue. Constantly shifting between tasks can cost you about 40% or 16 hours of your workweek. That’s like tossing two days out of every workweek in the trash. [10]

Multitasking can cause you to perform as though you’ve lost 10-15 points on your IQ score. No matter how smart you are, that’s a significant drop in your effectiveness. A study from the University of London likened this to missing an entire night of sleep.[11]

You’ll thrive if you can learn how to focus and carve out time for deep work. You’ll need to create windows of time that are completely free of distractions like emails if you want to be most effective.[12]

How to find focus in a distracted world Tricks to tackle distractions 1. Block out time for uninterrupted work

Make sure you schedule important time for yourself where you can focus on your tasks in uninterrupted silence. Let people know that you won’t be responding unless absolutely necessary. Think of this as scheduling a meeting with yourself and treat it the same as you would when scheduling a meeting with others.

Put your status as “busy” on your messaging apps and shared calendars. Wear headphones (even if you aren’t listening to anything) to make yourself appear that you’re focusing on your work. Intentionally carving out this block of time will help you focus and cause others to be more hesitant about distracting you.

2. Email batching

Emails can come into our inbox continuously through the day and it’s tempting to respond to them as and when we receive them. Similar to blocking out specific time for focus, carve out time to deal with emails in one go.

Doing this will create more productivity and keep you in the flow of dealing with emails one after the other. If you find you still get distracted easily by every new email, you can install a Chrome extension called Block Site which allows you to stop Gmail notifications coming through at specific times.

3. Turn technology from distraction to a useful tool

These days, many people feel controlled by technology and their phones to some extent so make use of the disabling options it gives you. Turn off email alerts, app notifications, set your phone to go straight to voicemail and even create auto-responses to incoming text messages.

There are also some really cool apps that encourage you to be more productive and less distracted by your phone. Forrest is an app that rewards you each time you focus well, motivating you in a fun way and encourages you to leave your phone well alone.

4. Schedule a distraction time

Just as important as scheduling focus time is scheduling distraction time.

A study conducted by the social networking company Draugiem Group, found that regular breaks was the key to productivity. More specifically, the most productive employees spent 52 minutes working followed by a 17 minute break each time.

This is down to the brain’s ability to stay motivated – it just can’t sustain long periods of focus and concentration. The average attention span for an adult is between 15 and 40 minutes. After this, distractions become more powerful and we become less motivated. So while taking a mental break might seem unproductive, in the long run it makes the brain more efficient towards a task.

Techniques to train a more focused mind 5. Anticipate your internal needs

You may think it’s the outside physical distractions that cause us to be unproductive but actually 44 percent of distractions are also internal. Think about it – hunger, boredom, stress and lack of sleep have probably played a part in your demotivation many times.

The good news is, you can control these factors by understanding your patterns and planning ahead. Do you always feel sleepy late-afternoon? Does the hunger set in around 11am? Do you start to get bored towards the end of the day? Taking note of these patterns and counteracting them is a brilliant way to become less distracted by them.

Mix up your tasks so you alternate the boring and interesting ones more frequently. Keep a snack close when you know your stomach starts to rumble. Go for a quick run up and down the stairs to perk you up.

6. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness trains your mind to identify thoughts that arise throughout your day. When it comes to distraction, understanding and noticing these moments can help you deal with them more quickly and increase your attention span.

Meditation and mindfulness practice can be done at any time. While you eat your food, notice the taste, texture and how it looks and feels. When reading, really take in every word or while out walking notice how your body feels and the details of your surroundings. Doing this on a regular basis will eventually train your mind when it comes to other areas where distracting thoughts pop up like a work task.

Watch this 20-minute guided mindfulness exercise guide if you want to learn how to practice mindfulness:

7. Exercise regularly

Not only is exercise good for the body but it’s also good for the brain. Physical exercise fires up the neurons in the brain making you more alert and willing to concentrate. This means it increases your ability to ignore distractions and get on with the task at hand.

You can do an exercise routine in the morning and head straight into work making sure your block of focus time is carved out first thing. You’ll be surprised at how much motivation you have and how much you get done. If you think you’re too busy to do any exercises, here’s how to find time for exercises.

8. Create a willpower workout

Just like your muscles need a workout, so does your willpower in order to build up its strength.

Setting daily self-control habits can train our mind in the art of control in many other areas. In the book Willpower  by John Tierny and Roy Baumeister, Tierny cites a study in which students were asked to watch their posture for a week. At the end of that week, these students performed better on self-control tasks (tasks that were unrelated to sitting up straight) than another group who weren’t asked to be mindful of their posture.

A good willpower practice is to watch the way you speak. Make an effort not to use contractions i.e. try saying ‘I am’ instead of ‘I’m’. Speak in complete sentences and refrain from saying ‘nah’ instead of ‘no’ or ‘yeah’ instead of ‘yes’.

Alternatively, try using your opposite hand in tasks. The aim is to get your brain used to mental effort and the more it uses mental effort, the more it builds up your willpower muscle. Find out more ways to help you increase your willpower here: 10 Simple But Powerful Tricks to Boost Willpower

A solid routine to stay focused

You don’t have to wonder how to focus if you set a routine. Having excellent habits leads to a productive routine that saves you tons of time and helps you focus.

Finding and adopting the right daily routine will help you regain wasted time. Your mind and body will thank you for the decreased anxiety and your productivity will be super-boosted.

If you’re looking for inspiration about habits you should incorporate into your day, check out my post about how to create your own powerful routine:

A Powerful Daily Routine that Will Upgrade Your Life (With Exact Steps to Follow)

Now you know why it’s hard to stay focused and what steps you can take to stay on-task.

Start by addressing your physical health and emotional needs. Identify what’s distracting you and compartmentalize tasks like managing email to specific times in your day. If you’re a chronic multi-tasker, it’s time to hang up that hat and focus on one thing at a time.

Above all, develop productive habits that lead to efficient routines so that deep focus becomes the norm for you. You have all the tools you need to figure out how to focus on the things that matter most to you. It’s time to give your work your undivided attention.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via

Reference [1] ^ PAPERS: Take a Number, Stand in Line (Interruptions & Attention 1): No Task Left Behind: Examining the Nature of Fragmented Work [2] ^ Wise Bread: 12 Reasons You Can’t Focus — And How to Fix It Now [3] ^ Entrepreneur: Here’s Why You Can’t Stay Focused [4] ^ Leaderonomics: Understanding The Impact Of Emotions On You And Others At Work [5] ^ Fast Company: 5 Reasons you can’t focus and what to do about it [6] ^ McKinsey Global Institute: The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies [7] ^ Wrike: The High Cost of Multitasking: 40% of Productivity Lost by Task Switching [8] ^ Inc.: Multitasking Is Killing Your Brain [9] ^ Fast Company: These Are The Long-Term Effects Of Multitasking [10] ^ Wrike: The High Cost of Multitasking: 40% of Productivity Lost by Task Switching [11] ^ Fast Company: These Are The Long-Term Effects Of Multitasking [12] ^ LinkedIn: Emails are Distracting, a Crutch, and are Killing Us function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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The Secrets That Fitness Figures on Instagram Don't Want You to Know

9. March 2018 - 14:00

I used to compare myself with people on Instagram and I’ve seen how the social media site works. My page used to have more than 10,000 followers.

On Instagram you see fitness models that apparently have a sixpack year round, yet still party every weekend. You see people that are able to bench press twice their body weight effortlessly, with a one-digit body fat percentage.

When asked how these people have achieved these feats, they usually point out basic things: training and genetics. Yet the answer is much simpler: the truth is that steroid use, photoshop and fake weights are far more common than you think.

In this article I want to show you all of the former, so you know that you aren’t setting unrealistic standards for yourself.

Why fitness figures on Instagram can’t be trusted

Apparently Ben Affleck gained more than 30 pounds of lean muscle for his role in Batman vs. Superman. While such feats of human recomposition are awesome, they’re most likely a huge exaggeration. Yet the old saying holds true: sensationalism sells.

You’re far more likely to talk about the guy that has bench pressed 450 pounds with ease, than the one guy struggling with 225 pounds. For most fitness professionals, Instagram is a great marketing tool to sell their services. Instagram is part of their business model.

The Instagram marketplace is extremely crowded, to elevate yourself from the crowd you need to be extraordinary. Yet the truth is, most people are average. To still get your own share of social media fame, which can be translated to money, you will need to use: fake weights, steroids or Photoshop.

The use of fake weights

I’ve always asked myself why people with the same height and weight as me can be so enormously strong on Instagram. While factors such as genetics and lean body mass play a huge role in strength development, more often than not people simply use fake weights.

The use of fake weights has risen in popularity over the last 6 months. You can buy weights starting at 60 dollars.

While fake weights are used pretty often on the social media, a person that has been called out publicly for using fake weights is Brad Castleberry.[1] The strongman on Instagram is apparently squatting 800+ pounds here with ease.

The use of steroids

After finishing a course in fitness training about one year ago, a friend of mine, also a fitness coach, and I rode the train home together. He told me that he’s looking to burn extra body fat this summer. He casually remarked that he’s losing the body fat using a substance called ephedrine. Ephedrine is a prohibited stimulant, according to the World Anti Doping Agency.[2] My friend just casually remarked to me that he’s doping.

After discussing with him the severity of his decision, he wasn’t faced at all. He simply stated that he wants to try out doping itself and that everyone is doing it anyway. He got a point. Plenty of trainers that I know are on gear or have used it before in their lifetime.

While steroids are a daily staple in most professional athletes, there are certain individuals that push it to the extremes:

The need of Photoshop

I had a professional photoshoot for my website After my designer showed me the final results, he added that he replaced the head of one of my cover pictures. With the help of Photoshop, he cut my head off in another picture, and added it to the picture that he found most suited for my website. This way my cover picture had the best of both worlds: a good head and a good body.

After having a good laugh with my website designer, I realized that Photoshop is a necessity nowadays. Photographers heavily depend on using Photoshop to sell their pictures. Companies depend on photoshop to sell their products.

The picture-editing is common in fitness figures on Instagram. The more your body stands out, the more you’re able to sell your products. One person that got caught photoshopping his pictures was Devin Zimmerman, aka devinphysique.[3] His Online Coaching company made nonetheless, according to his assistant, over 1.000.000$ in 2016.

The aim of this article should not be to publicly shame any individuals. I published this article because I’m aware of the frustration that I’ve felt when I’ve compared myself to people on Instagram.

If Instagram is inspiring you, I’m the last one to tell you that you should stop checking it regularly. More than 90% of the stuff that you see on Instagram, is fake. If Instagram is a source of frustration for you, you should know that fake weights, photoshop and steroids are more common than you might think.

Featured photo credit: finda via

Reference [1] ^ PhillyVoice: Instagram weightlifting star accused of ‘fake plates,’ ‘fake butt’ [2] ^ World Anti Doping Agency: 2018 LIST OF PROHIBITED SUBSTANCES AND METHODS [3] ^ SPOTMEBRO: Devin Physique Exposed As A Scam Artist function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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Sibling Rivalry: The 10 Best Tips to Prevent this Parenting Nemesis

8. March 2018 - 13:00

The parental headache of sibling rivalry begins in childhood. It can carry far beyond those formative years and into adulthood with all kinds of problems years down the road, such as who gets to spend family holidays with the parents each year, family wars over parental estates and decades of competition over who is more successful.

The way to combat against sibling rivalry is to deal with it head on before your second child is even born. You head off the issue before it even begins, by helping them form loving and supportive relationships rather than competitive based relationships.

Helping children forage relationships that are unstoppable rivers of love and support is possible. Every parent dreams of their children having life long lasting relationships that are the greatest support system for one another. The reality is that this can happen, but parents must help facilitate these relationships early on and help the children build love, support, and comradery that can last for a lifetime.

Here are the top 10 tips on thwarting sibling rivalry and instead create loving sibling relationships.

1. Create a positive relationship before the second child is even born

If you had a pet before your first child was born, you probably recall worrying about how your pet would react to the baby. You may have even googled how to best help your dog or cat prepare for the baby to come.

We owned two dogs before our first child was born. I actually bought a book on how to prepare the pet for the new baby. I recall one tip was to have a blanket that the baby used at the hospital to be brought home for the dog to sniff and lay it in the dog’s bed, so the dog can become familiar with the new scent. We actually did this.

Parents go through great measures to make sure that even their pets get along with the new baby and take measures to help facilitate a good start in their relationships, so the family can be harmonious and happy. The same should apply with other children in the home.

When a new sibling is on the way, we need to do more than simply wish and hope that they love the new baby and don’t develop a jealousy complex. Deal with the issue before it even begins. There are some practical ways that you can help your child prepare for their new sibling so that they feel they are part of the process. You want the current child to welcome the new baby so warmly that they feel that the baby is theirs in a way that makes them want to be protective and caring for the new life that is coming into your home soon.

Here are some of those practical tips:

Help the child feel a part ownership of the new baby, much like you do as parents

Refer to baby as “our baby” or even “your baby”. We did this with our daughter when we were expecting our twins. She wasn’t quite two years old when they were born and now at six years old she still refers to the twins as hers. It was quite effective in helping her accept them from the start, because they were her babies, not just Mommy or Daddy’s babies.

Include the child in the physical process

Let your child touch your belly to feel the baby inside you. Also allow the child to go to ultrasounds where they can see the baby on a screen. It becomes more real and you can create excitement in this experience you have together.

Get some siblings books

Go to the library or shop for children’s books on the topic of babies and having a new sibling. These can help the child learn more about what Mommy is experiencing, as well as an explanation of what it will be like to have a new baby in the home after they are born.

Allow them to get involved in choosing names

If they’re old enough, ask for their suggestions, talk about the names you are narrowing it down to, and discuss these things as a family. What a powerful thing for a child to have been a part of the process of naming their new brother or sister! Again, it helps create a sense of ownership with their new sibling on the way.

Get them involved in preparing stuff for the baby

Allow the child to be a part of creating the nursery, or picking out toys and clothes for the new baby. The more you include them in this process, the more they are going to feel that they are a part of this baby’s new life and feel an ownership or responsibility toward the baby.

Talk with them about their feelings

It is normal to feel some apprehension or even jealousy. The parental attention is shifting. Babies require a lot of attention. This is why you want to include them in on everything as much as possible. That way they aren’t feel left out and ignored. Their feelings should be expressed in a healthy manner, so having a conversation on their eye level and allowing them to say what they are feeling is very important.

Make the child a helper and a part of everyday activities when the baby arrives

This way they are not separated from the baby and the new experiences that Mom and Dad are having. Instead they are “Second Mommy” as my daughter referred to herself after our twins were born. They were “her twins”, so she wanted to help change them, feed them, rock them, and entertain them.

Of course when young kids are trying to help, their “help” can create more work for the parents at times, but that’s ok. You are supporting good helper attitudes and behaviors that facilitate them connecting with the baby and the activity surrounding the baby all day long.

This will also foster a positive start to their sibling relationship, as they learn early that they are supposed to help one another. Baby can’t help just yet, but will eventually become old enough to some day help older siblings too and you can remind your child of this fact as well.

2. Treat children equitably

This does not mean that you do things same for every child in the home. Each child is different and will want different things, but will also need different treatment at times. The key is to maintain a balance of fairness so that the level of attention and monetary spending in equal among all of the children over time. The term for this is equitable. The dictionary defines equitable as:

Characterized by equity or fairness; just and right; fair; reasonable: equitable treatment of all citizens.

Our children need to be treated fairly, reasonably, and in a manner that provides for each of their needs and wants individual; without giving favor to one child over another. Kids don’t need the same gifts for holidays. Instead get the items that each child wants, but spending the same amount on each child. That way children know that even if the items are different, they are being treated fairly, as equals in the family.

There will be times when one child gets to do special things with a parent, the other children in the family may become jealous, so be prepared to explain in advance that their time will come too for this special time. Make sure you follow through and provide that special time for the other children, otherwise resentments can begin to form.

A good example of equitable treatment is bedtime. Children at different ages often require different bedtimes. You enforce the bedtimes equally and the bedtimes are fair for each of their ages. The times are however different because they need to be different for their ages and sleep needs. It is treating them the same even though their times are different.

Children understand fairness. It is innate to them. Keep things fair and you will be less likely to create growing resentments between kids when things aren’t equal. As long as each child is being treated fairly, they will respect your decisions in the long right. Maybe not right away, but over time they will. Fairness is wired into their brains, so try to be as fair as possible to prevent sibling rivalry.

3. Don’t play the favorites game

Don’t ever allow your children to think that you have a favorite. I know that many parents think it is sometimes humorous to joke about these things because you do have one child that is perhaps more compliant or certainly easier to parent than the other children.

However, you can’t allow yourself to ever say that you have a favorite because this term is interpreted as love. You child will think “because Daddy said that Charlotte is his favorite today, he loves her more.” That is sad to think your child will feel that they are less loved because of favoritism, but this is simply how they think.

Use the phrase “you are all my favorite” and stick to it permanently. Let them know that they are all loved equally and that your love for each of them is huge.

4. Celebrate individuality and differences

Minimize comparisons between your children. Each child is unique and special and they should be celebrated for their individuality. Don’t compare the children to one another, because they are simply too different for comparison.

I have twins, and even they can be as different as night and day. One is tender, empathic, and sensitive. The other one is affectionate physically and loves to give me hugs and cuddle. It’s great that they are different and show love and affection differently. I praise them for each of their individual attributes and abilities. It doesn’t make one more special over the other. They are simply different and each of their differences are praised.

Your girl may be the jock and your boy may be the theatre lover. That’s ok. Don’t try to make them something that they are not. They will only resent you for trying to make them something they are not. They will become resentful of their siblings if you try to compare them to their sibling and his/her abilities, passions, or talents.

The sooner you accept your child for who they are and can come alongside them to celebrate their uniqueness the sooner the sibling will also join in with celebrating and supporting their sibling in their interests, hobbies, and passions. The goal is to facilitate support within the family and it begins with the parents as examples first and foremost.

5. Foster encouragement and not competition

Help your children become each other’s greatest support and cheerleaders. If you have kids that compete in different sports and activities, then make the time to go as a family with the other sibling(s) who are not participating so that you can collectively support each child.

Teach them to support their sibling by encouraging them to say things to their sibling such as “I hope you play great today” or “I am cheering for you to score today”. These things can make such a difference in their lasting relationships when done consistently over time.

It may not come naturally to every child, which is why you may need to be prompting them with ways to help encourage and phrases to say. They will pick it up after a few times (or more) and will begin to encourage because they see that it’s well received by their sibling and it makes you happy as a parent. What you are creating is something even bigger; which is a relationship that is built on support and encouragement.

Friendly competition in the home is a good thing, but keep at just that: friendly. When games are played in the family, children need to be taught to congratulate one another and be of encouragement and not gloating when they are winning and their sibling is on the losing end. Keep reminding them, especially when little, that not everyone can win all the time, so we want to be good sports while winning and losing. When this message is constant in your household, your children will internalize it.

Be sure your children are internalizing the right messages, the ones that draw them into closer and more supportive relationships with their siblings instead of tearing them apart because they are tearing one another down.

6. Talk about their future relationships

I like to remind my kids that I have sisters and brothers that I grew up with and they are now my kids’ aunts and uncles. I talk about the good relationships we had as kids and how we supported one another, like my sister Rachel and I helping one another prepare and compete in scholarship pageants. We were one another’s greatest supporters. I let them know that I grew up with Rachel as my best friend and that she is still my best friend because we had such a good childhood relationship. I then talk to them about how they are so lucky to have one another. Some kids don’t get siblings. They are lucky that they get one another as siblings and best friends for life.

You may call it brainwashing. I call it good parenting. Indoctrinating them with the philosophy that their siblings will be with them to love and support from cradle to grave to love is a blessing over their life.

7. Teach them to apologize and forgive

In our household, apologies are not just “I’m sorry”. The offender needs to say why they are sorry. They need to go to the child they have hurt, say why they are sorry, ask forgiveness, and then give their sibling a hug. On top of that, after the other sibling says “I forgive you,” I make them both say to one another “you are my best friend”. Again, this is a helpful reminder to each or them that they more than just siblings, they are to be life long friends.

Apologizing for the small things as kids teaches them to be more willing to apologize and forgive when much bigger offenses occur when they are grown. If they don’t learn to willingly apologize as children, they won’t be good at apologies as adults. Teaching them this valuable skill will help them be able to mend their relationships when follies between siblings happen as adults.

8. Teach them to be there for one another

Parents do not need to be the ones providing all the help, direction, and guidance in the home. Older siblings can help younger siblings. There will be times when the younger siblings can pitch in and help with the older siblings as well.

Teach children to become more dependent on one another instead of running to Mom or Dad every time they need help. This habit of helping one another, when properly instilled in children, can carry forward into adulthood.

The next time one of your littles needs their laces tied or help with putting on their jacket, ask your older child to help the younger. Make it a habit of them helping one another, so eventually it becomes instinctual to them. If Mom or Dad isn’t within view, they will begin to look to their siblings for help.

Be sure to praise your children when they help one another. Letting them know that this is the way that things should be done in the household will help encourage them to continue with this helping behavior.

Make it a positive experience instead of a demand or something they despise. Use pleasant tones when asking them to help their sibling and overly praise them for their help when they first begin. They will come to find satisfaction in helping and the reward of knowing they are doing something good and meaningful for someone else in the household will keep them helping in the future. It will also give them a sense of confidence in their ability to help and a greater sense of belongingness in the family as they are needed by others.

9. Zero tolerance for hate language

Words can hurt to the core. They can do more damage than physical harm. Do not allow your children to get in the habit of calling one another names or picking on one another. It should be household rules that no warning is even needed when this rule is not followed. If a parent hears language that is hateful or tears down another in the family, there is immediate consequence. They will learn quickly that mean words are not tolerated in the home.

Start this policy when they are young, because the older they get the meaner and smarter they can get. Prevent it from escalating in the future to bigger, meaner, and more targeted hateful talk.

Teach them to talk to one another with positive and uplifting words. If they have a habit of saying mean things, then turn it around. Make dinner time an opportunity for everyone to go around the table and say a compliment about the person on their left and then to the person on their right. It helps to create kinder hearts and minds when positive words are spoken aloud to one another.

Make it happen, even if it has to be done as a planned activity around the dinner table or during a car ride. It will create a lasting effect on their heart to hear positive words from their siblings.

10. Teach them to resolve their own conflicts

If your kids come to you for every tiny infraction they inflict on one another, then they are not actively resolving their own conflicts. Teach them how to think about how they want to solve their problems with one another. They can learn to negotiate their sides and come to a fair resolution.

It won’t happen overnight, but with some parental help in getting them started in this process of conflict resolution thinking, they will soon learn to do it on their own. There are times when it is a safety issue and parental intervention is needed, but over time you will come to find that many of the small fights and arguments that your kids have all day long can be handled amongst themselves if they are properly instructed how to handle these situations.

Give them some practice help by providing options of two good ways to handle the situation and let them chose how to handle it between the two good options. This gives them the opportunity to think about the consequences and what resolution works best. For example, if my son comes to me and says his brother took his toy I can say, “how would you like to resolve the situation? Should we put the toy up for the rest of the day or should you take turns playing with the toy?”

Allowing them to decide the resolution will help prepare them for the next step which is thinking of their own possible solutions, which they can negotiate amongst themselves. It is a process of empowering your children to solve their conflicts with one another, so that you don’t have to be the go-between on every trivial matter in the household.

Someday you will be thankful you taught them to work things out for themselves, so that you aren’t getting calls to intervene in adult arguments because they don’t know how to deal with one another as adults because they never learned as kids.

Love is the key

Above all, teach your kids to love one another. Teach by example by showing love to everyone in the household.

Love is about respect, fairness, kindness, care, and commitment to being there for one another.

Teaching them to love one another before the second child is even born will create an environment of care and affection that can last a lifetime. It is never too late to start, so start these habits today to help facilitate lasting loving relationships between your kids.

Featured photo credit: pixabay via

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The Ultimate Exercise Routine (for Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced Level)

7. March 2018 - 13:00

Do you find it difficult sticking with an exercise routine? Do you love the idea of creating a routine, yet still lack the motivation to apply your creation? If so, you are not alone. If you have not heard of my 24 Hour Workout, let me introduce you to the ultimate exercise routine hack.

Let’s examine the routine by splitting it into three levels as my routine can seem a little intimidating at times.

Why you need an exercise routine

The ultimate exercise routine identified here is different than most routines in that it requires no gym membership and can be done anywhere at any time. The benefits of exercise (and maintaining an exercise routine) will lead to an overall healthy life.

Simply adopting this exercise routine will completely change your life. Let’s examine 11 Benefits of Exercise provided by Dr. Axe:[1]

  1. Boost happiness levels
  2. Learn to set and achieve goals
  3. Reduce risk of heart disease
  4. Improved sleep
  5. Boost in overall energy
  6. Increased strength and flexibility
  7. Improved memory
  8. Increased self-confidence
  9. Perform better at work
  10. Less susceptible to disease
  11. You will live longer

An exercise routine (combined with a morning routine) is the ultimate lifehack. Not only will it provide you a way to think, look, and feel great, but it will also boost your productivity, increase your energy level and intelligence, improve your memory, and increase your overall quality of life.

Equally important, you can begin an exercise routine at any stage in your life.

The 3 levels of exercise routine

Let’s examine three different levels using the American Council on Exercise (ACE) Health-Fitness-Performance (HFP) Continuum as a guide.

Beginner Level

It is easy to imagine starting an exercise routine, yet it is very difficult to begin doing the actual work. That’s why it is actually the hardest level.

The following is a beginner’s exercise routine:

1. Exercise hourly or High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

When: Monday, Wednesday, Friday

  • Where: Anywhere and Everywhere
  • How long: 2 months

Option A – Exercise hourly (if possible)

Using a version of the Pomodoro Technique, use a timer and set it for every 60 minutes. Once the timer goes off, do the following:

Power Push-up. Start with 10 push-ups and do these five times a day. Watch the following video:

Plank. Hold the plank for at least 30 seconds (five times a day). Watch the following video:

Option B – High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts for beginners at Home (morning or evening)

Before beginning the following workout, make sure you warm up for 3 minutes (jumping jacks, quick jog, etc.). After you have completed the workout, rest for at least 1 minute and stretch.

The HIIT Workout for Beginners at Home by outlines the perfect alternative to my 24 Workout.[2] Follow Circuits 1-4 in the image below:

2. Cardio workout exercises of your interest (works with Option A or B)
  • When: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
  • Where: Anywhere and Everywhere
  • How long: 2 months

Do some form of cardio (i.e. jogging, elliptical, stair climber, jumping rope, swimming, cycling, etc.) for at least 20 minutes.

Before you do any cardio exercises, do this 5-minute warmup routine to prevent injuries:

Exercise hacks for the beginner level
  • Stand while you work. This simple change will improve posture, reduce lower back pain, and prevent neck strain.
  • Drink more water as it will increase your energy, relieve fatigue, promote weight loss, and flush out toxins.
  • Take a cold shower to wake up.
Intermediate Level

After 2 months you will want to step it up. At this point you should start seeing some of the benefits of your new exercise routine. The following is an intermediate guide:

1. Exercise hourly or 10-minute home fat burning workout
  • When: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday
  • Where: Anywhere and Everywhere
  • How long: 4 months

Option A – Exercise hourly (if possible)

Using a version of the Pomodoro Technique, use a timer and set it for every 60 minutes. Once the timer goes off, do the following:

Power Push-up. Do 20 push-ups (five times a day).

Plank. Hold the plank for at least 50 seconds (five times a day).

Option B – 10 minute home fat burning workout (morning or evening)

Before beginning the following workout, make sure you warm up for 3 minutes (jumping jacks, quick jog, etc.). After you have completed the workout, rest for at least 1 minute and stretch.

ATHLEAN-X provides a fantastic (and killer) workout you can perform in the morning or evening if you are not able to exercise hourly.[3]

Watch and follow along with the following video:

2. Cardio workout exercises of your interest (works with Option A or B)
  • When: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
  • Where: Anywhere and Everywhere
  • How long: 4 months

Do some form of cardio (i.e. jogging, elliptical, stair climber, jumping rope, swimming, cycling, etc.) for (at a minimum) 30 minutes.

Don’t forget to do this warmup routine to prevent injuries:

Exercise hacks for the intermediate level
  • Stand while you work. This simple change will improve posture, reduce lower back pain, and prevent neck strain.
  • Drink more water as it will increase your energy, relieve fatigue, promote weight loss, and flush out toxins.
  • Take a cold shower to wake up.
Advanced Level

After 6 months you should start to think, look, and feel really good. It’s now time to enter into beast mode! The following is an advanced guide:

1. Exercise hourly, or Bodyweight only HIIT workout
  • When: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday
  • Where: Anywhere and Everywhere (try it in an airport!)
  • How long: the rest of your life!

Option A – Exercise hourly (if possible)

Using a version of the Pomodoro Technique, use a timer and set it for every 45-60 minutes. Once the timer goes off, do the following:

Power Push-up. Do them until they hurt (ten times a day).

Plank. Hold the plank until it hurts (ten times a day).

Bicep curls with a resistance band (as many as you can ten times a day – can be done anywhere and everywhere). Learn how to do it with this video:

Pull-ups (as many as you can 5 times a day). Watch this video to do it right:

Option B – Insane HIIT Challenge – Bodyweight Only HIIT Workout (morning or evening)

Before beginning the following workout, make sure you warm up for 3 minutes (jumping jacks, quick jog, etc.). After you have completed the workout, rest for at least 1 minute and stretch. provides an insane HIIT workout and I recommend it as an alternative to my 24 Hour Workout if you are unable to exercise hourly. [4] Watch and follow along with the following video:

2. Cardio workout exercises of your interest (works with Option A or B)
  • When: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
  • Where: Anywhere and Everywhere
  • How long: the rest of your life!

Do some form of cardio (i.e. jogging, elliptical, stair climber, jumping rope, swimming, cycling, etc.) for (at a minimum) 30 minutes. Bump it up to 60 minutes or more when training for an event (i.e. a marathon).

Always remember, warming up your body before any exercises is important:

Exercise hacks for the advanced level
  • Stand while you work. This simple change will improve posture, reduce lower back pain, and prevent neck strain.
  • Take a Vitamin B-12 to increase energy and improve cardiovascular support.
  • Take a Nootropic. Known as “Smart Drugs” will boost your memory, increase focus, and can provide mood enhancing benefits.[5]
  • Drink more water as it will increase your energy, relieve fatigue, promote weight loss, and flush out toxins.
  • Take a cold shower to wake up.
  • Listen to audiobooks while you exercise.
  • Read a book while you plank.
  • Sign up for an event (i.e. a marathon).

Adopting an exercise routine is a life-changing experience. I guarantee, if you adopt the exercise routine discussed here, you will see significant improvements in your life. You will find that your “happy” chemicals in your body will receive a boost, your stress levels will reduce, your ability to cope with stress will get better, your self-confidence will increase, and your mental capacity will improve.

Essentially, you will think – look – and feel better than ever!

Featured photo credit: pixabay via

Reference [1] ^ Dr. Axe: 11 Benefits of Exercise — Start Working Out Today! [2] ^ HIIT Workouts Beginners Home [3] ^ ATHLEAN-X: 10 Minute Home Fat Burning Workout [4] ^ Insane HIIT Challenge [5] ^ Supplements to Boost Your Brain function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: How to Sleep Better and Wake Up Smarter

6. March 2018 - 13:00

I’m sure you’ve come across ‘morning routines’ being talked about as something very important if you want to be healthy and successful. However, I’m guessing you haven’t heard of ‘night routines’ being talked about so much.

Night routines are not popular, as sticking to a healthy routine isn’t easy, especially at night after a whole day of work. Let’s be honest, all we’d really like to do after work is relax. Routines? Not so much!

I understand your feelings about this issue as I used to think this way too. But after reading this article, I’m confident you’ll change your mind – as you’ll learn about the fantastic benefits of a night routine (e.g. no more sleep issues, a smoother morning and a more energetic day).

I’m going to provide you with some great tips (and some exact steps) to make the perfect night routine.

Why a night routine matters?

A night routine is the things you do immediately prior to going to bed. For example, it may be your habit to have a hot drink before going to bed, or perhaps you like to read a book in bed before going to sleep.

Of course, you might have no specific night time routine whatsoever and just take each evening and night as it comes. While it might seem that having a flexible and easygoing night routine is the best thing, I would caution you, and ask you to think about the following:

Your nighttime routine is as important as your morning routine.

By creating a routine for the morning, you don’t have to put much effort into thinking about what you need to do to get ready before leaving your home for work. Clearly, having a morning routine is beneficial. And guess what? Having a night routine is beneficial too.

Here are some three benefits of having a decent night routine:[1]

  • You’ll have a more restful and higher-quality sleep.
  • You’ll be able to tackle the morning in a smoother and more productive way.
  • Your brain will be sharper throughout the next day.

So, what are the ideal components of a night routine? I’ll reveal these now.

The ultimate night routine (with exact steps to follow) Before you head home…

1. Get rid of caffeine after 4:00pm

Your night routine begins well before your head hits the pillow. If you work a 9 to 5, you need to think about how everything you do after 4:00pm affects your sleep.

For example caffeine stays in your system for up to six hours. If you’re accustomed to having a cup of tea in the evening, make sure it’s an herbal, caffeine free tea. Otherwise, you might be jittery until 10:00pm or later.

2. Stay hydrated

Dehydration can make you feel sluggish and tired when you want to be awake. You can’t go wrong with having some good old-fashioned H2O throughout the evening.[2]

3. Decide when the work day ends

To have a solid night routine, you must decide when you’re leaving work. It’s easy to lose track of time and stay too late. Establish a cut off time for work-related emails and phone calls as well.

If you don’t set boundaries, it’s hard to enjoy life and get a good night of sleep.

Immediately after work…

4. Avoid alcohol

If you’re heading out with friends, be mindful of your alcohol intake. Alcohol may make you drowsy, but the sleep you get won’t be restful. Skip the booze altogether, or stop consuming it at least two hours before bed.[3]

5. Have a healthy dinner

Aim to have your dinner a few hours before you go to bed. Overeating or having heavy or rich meals around bedtime may lead to discomfort and indigestion. When you need a snack closer to bedtime, reach for something light and healthy.

The time immediately after dinner is a great opportunity to pack lunch for the next day. Pull items from the freezer and package leftovers from dinner into individual servings.

Check out here for 20 Quick and Healthy Dinner Recipes For You To Choose.

6. Take time to tidy

Being in an organized environment will help you feel relaxed and in control. Cleaning dishes and counter tops after dinner is an absolute must.

You can also take some time to put things away if you’ve used them during the day.[4] Be mindful of clutter in your bedroom. Waking up in an orderly space will work wonders for your mood.

7. Prepare for tomorrow

Get out tomorrow’s outfit and gym clothes as you tidy. Clear unnecessary items out of your bag and set out everything you need to take with you. Taking these steps means you’re less likely to derail your day by forgetting something, and you’ll prevent decision fatigue from setting in early tomorrow.

When you don’t have a million things to do upon waking, it’s easier to fall asleep. Waking up won’t seem like a chore if you set yourself up for success.

8. Take time for yourself

Perhaps you watch an episode of your favorite show or play video games. Set a time limit for these activities. It’s too easy to binge-watch TV or stay up late playing games if you aren’t mindful of the time.

One hour before bed…

9. Step away from the screens

Cut off all screens at least 30 minutes before bed. The blue light from electronics interferes with the production of melatonin, a hormone necessary for restful sleep.[5]

10. Read a book

A better alternative to looking at your phone is to read a book. Six minutes of reading can ease the tension of stress in the human body and calm your nerves.[6]

Not sure what to read before going to bed? The Oyster Review has picked 21 best books for bedtime reading, check them out here.

11. Reflect on your day

Consider what worked and didn’t work today. This helps you appreciate your accomplishments, and shape a better tomorrow.[7]

Start by acknowledging one or two things you wish had gone better. End your reflection by thinking of a few wins you had. Even if you had a bad day, make an effort to end by thinking about something good that happened.

Write lingering thoughts or reflections in your journal. This keeps you from going to bed with a head full of worries. Find out how you can start journaling here.

12. Plot out tomorrow’s schedule

Write top priorities for tomorrow in a planner or notebook.[8] When you get to work, you’ll already know what to do.

13. Give some gratitude

Write down at least one thing you’re thankful for each day. Making gratitude a part of your routine can help you lead a healthy and happy life. Here’re 60 things to be thankful for if you want more ideas.

You can try to mark down your mood everyday and you may find yourself having plenty to be happy about. Mood apps like Mr. Mood is nice to help you keep track of your emotions.

Ending the day on a positive note sets you up for a restful slumber.

Right before going to sleep…

14. Take care of hygiene rituals

Besides brushing your teeth and washing your face, take a warm bath, or hot shower, before bed.

The optimal body temperature for sleep should be between 60 and 67 degrees.[9] As soon as you step out of the bath or shower, your body temperature drops rapidly to re-regulate with the temperature of the room. That quick change physiologically can cause sleepiness.

15. Practice bedtime yoga

Bedtime yoga activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which triggers relaxation. Here’re 3 simple bedtime yoga poses you can try tonight:

16. Go to sleep at the same time every night

As an adult, you’re recommended to sleep for 6 to 10 hours every day.[10] If you have to wake up at 7am the next day, it’s better to go to sleep around 11pm.

Find a time that is suitable for you and stick to that sleeping time. You can set an alarm one hour before going to bed to remind you to start your bedtime ritual.

How to stick to a night routine (the easy way)

When I just started my night routine, I started off with a positive mindset, and thought that it would be easy to stick to my new night routine.

I was wrong.

On the first few nights, I experienced multiple issues while attempting to stick to my routine. These included avoiding caffeine after 4pm because I liked drinking coke, stepping away from the screens as I was still reading some articles online, and going to bed on time.

But I was determined to get on track with my night routine because I wanted to sleep better and wake up more energetic and productive the next day. By the fourth day, I was making genuine progress. I stopped consuming coke and started to drink more water instead. I reflected on my day and kept track of my progress on what I had followed and missed in the routine. I started to go to bed on time and could sleep a lot better.

By the end of the week, I had successfully overcome many problems I had when I started out, and was able to continue to stick to my night routine.

Sticking to a night routine was really a ‘mind game’. In other words, our minds are so full of daily stuff that we find it hard to wind down at the end of a day – especially at a specific time. But with effort, this could be overcome, and a new, healthy routine put in place.

It can be hard to stick to a new routine but here are three things that you can do to make the adoption process easier:

1. Have a clear plan

Think about what you want to include in your night routine, and then write it down.

Make it as clear and simple as possible, so you’ll have the best chance of following it. And the best part? Once you’ve followed your night routine long enough, you’ll no longer need to refer to your plan – as it will have become a habit.

2. Create reminders and alarms

When you first start to implement your night routine, it would be foolish to rely 100% on your mind and willpower. Instead, use digital alarms to remind you of things like when to go to bed.

You can also be creative with this. If you like to have a herbal tea before retiring to bed, then set up another alarm to prompt you to make the tea 30 minutes before bedtime. And as with point No. 1 above, after a month or so, you probably won’t need the alarms, as your night routine will have become a positive habit.

3. Start small, make it so easy that you can’t say no

If you set too big a goal, you’ll be lining yourself up for failure. It’s far better to choose smaller, easier to complete goals that will give you a sense of achievement.

Look at your current night routine (or lack of one), and then start building a picture in your mind – or on paper – of how you would like your night routine to be. Then start planning on how to introduce these changes into your life.

If it makes it easier for you, implement your desired changes over a few days or weeks. For example, the first change to your night routine could be started straight away – by having a glass of water just before you go to bed. Other changes you could phase into your routine. However, try to make sure your night routine is fully in place within 30 days.

It could be easy to fall back to doing the bad habits, so I recommend you to try my Control Alternate Delete Method to take back control of your life. This is the secret method I used to break 3 bad habits in less than 2 months!

Before reading this article, night routines may have seemed alien to you. However, I’m confident that you can now see the tangible benefits of them. And once you begin implementing your own night routine, you’ll see the benefits start to materialize in your own life.

Featured photo credit: Vecteezy via

Reference [1] ^ The Strength of She: The Importance of a Nighttime Routine [2] ^ Business Insider: What your nightly routine should look like, according to science [3] ^ Pick the Brain, Grow Yourself: The Best Night Routine for a Productive Day [4] ^ Little Might: Nightly Routines and how to sleep hack your way to a productive morning [5] ^ Mark’s Daily Apple: Primal Starter: Is Your Night Routine Encouraging Fat Storage? [6] ^ Cosmopolitan: Six minutes of reading before bed will help you sleep, dream and live better [7] ^ Zapier: 12 Morning and Evening Routines That Will Set Up Each Day for Success [8] ^ The Muse: 5 Bedtime Routines That Will Make Your Mornings So Much Easier [9] ^ Pick the Brain, Grow Yourself: The Best Night Routine for a Productive Day [10] ^ National Sleep Foundation: Recommends New Sleep Times function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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A Powerful Daily Routine that Will Upgrade Your Life (With Exact Steps to Follow)

5. March 2018 - 13:00

We all have habits. Big or small, healthy or unhealthy, our habits combine to form routines that play out every day for us. Most of this is done without us even having to think. That’s why even though we understand the importance of having good habits, sometimes it’s tough to stick to a healthy daily routine.

Today, you’ll learn more about why setting a routine can be a challenge. By understanding the root causes for your behaviors, you’ll learn how to make changes and stick with them. You’ll also discover some positive daily routines that can lead you to a healthier and happier life.

Finding and adopting the right daily routine will re-energize you and help you regain wasted time. Your mind and body will thank you for the decreased anxiety and extra care you’ve given it. Here’s to a healthier, calmer, and higher-achieving you.

How a daily routine saves you tons of time

Your daily routine consists of all of your habits. These actions structure your day and make the difference between operating at peak efficiency and struggling to make it through a poorly-planned day.

You can have energizing, time-saving routines, or you can adopt draining, inefficient routines. The choice is up to you. Don’t feel bad if you know that some unhealthy habits have crept into your day. The important thing is to recognize them so that you can make a change.

An excellent daily routine sets you up for success. If you make just one change that saves you 10 minutes per day, you can regain 60 hours of your precious time back each year.[1]

Having a daily routine not only makes you more efficient, it also eliminates your need to waste time deciding what to do next.[2] It’ll help you build good habits and break bad ones.[3] It seems counter-intuitive, but adding some structure to your life can set you free.

Daily routines for a healthier, calmer, and higher-achieving you

It takes time to become the best version of yourself but I’ll help you to make it easier by getting you a few healthy daily routines to follow directly:

  • Daily routine for better health and more energy
  • Daily routine for an organized life
  • Daily routine for more productive work
  • Daily routine for a stronger relationship

Pick one routine to stick to first, and then gradually combine one more routine to fit into your life each week. In less than 2 months, you will be living a healthy and successful lifestyle in autopilot.

Daily routine for better health and more energy


1. Start your day with a glass of lemon water

Simply add the juice of half a lemon to your glass and drink it to enjoy a refreshing start to the day.

Lemon juice reduces your body’s acidity levels, which in turn protects you against inflammatory diseases such as fungal infections and osteoporosis.[4]

2. Exercise

Working out early in the morning improves your energy levels, improves your circulation, and encourages good lymphatic function. Just 20 minutes every day can make a difference! Mix up cardio and weights throughout the week for all-over toning and general health.

Getting on the scale each morning is also an effective way to monitor your weight. Don’t go weeks without weighing yourself, because this allows you to remain in denial about any weight gain![5]

3. Eat a good breakfast

Fuel yourself with a healthy mix of protein, slow-release carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Sensible options include yogurt with nuts and berries, a vegetable omelette, and low-sugar granola bars with a piece of fruit.

4. Stay hydrated and snack smart

Did you know that becoming even slightly dehydrated can lead to lowered mood and decreased concentration? Keep water or other low-sugar drinks on hand to sip throughout the day.[6]

When it comes to snacking, pick foods that will give you a slow release of energy. Pairing a protein with a complex carbohydrate is a smart choice. For example, try half an apple spread with peanut butter. Check out for more healthy snack ideas here.


5. Get a healthy lunch

Even the busiest of us can grab a healthy lunch. You just need to think ahead!

For lunch ideas you can make in advance and take with you to work, check out this post: Healthy Lunch Ideas for Work

Avoid too much fat at lunch time, as it promotes afternoon lethargy, which isn’t going to help you get through a busy day![7] If you are watching your weight, track everything you eat using an app like MyFitnessPal.

6. Take some mid-afternoon exercise

Most of us have a mid-afternoon “slump” somewhere between 2 p.m and 4 p.m, but you can keep yourself going through the day by choosing a healthy lunch and taking some moderate exercise in the afternoon. This doesn’t have to strenuous. Just a 10-minute walk and a few stretches at your desk can work wonders. Check out this list of 29 exercises you can do at (or near) your desk.

At night…

7. Dinner

With a plethora of meal planning apps out there, getting a quick but healthy dinner on the table has never been easier! Use an app like Mealime to help you organize your grocery list so that you always have the right ingredients to hand. Be realistic – choose something that doesn’t require a lot of time or effort to throw together, otherwise you may resort to takeout.

Green vegetables are always a great choice, as they are packed with antioxidants and have an alkalinizing effect. Choose plant-based proteins such as tofu or seitan or, if you prefer animal protein, pick fish and lamb rather than beef or chicken to minimize acidity levels in the body.[8]

Avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and evening, because it will prevent you sleeping soundly at night.

8. Take time to relax

It’s normal to feel stressed from time to time, but high stress levels leave you vulnerable to a number of health conditions and problems including depression and elevated blood pressure.

Find a healthy activity that relaxes you, then set aside some time every day to do it! This could be journaling, reading an inspiring book, spending time with a pet, meditating, or simply taking a few minutes to remind yourself of everything that is going well in your life.

9. Take vitamin C supplement before going to sleep

Take half a teaspoon of buffered vitamin C powder in a glass of water before turning in for the night.

This is a quick, effective means of reducing the acidity in your body. It will also ensure that you go to bed well-hydrated, which will help you wake up with a clear head.

10. Go to sleep at a reasonable hour.

It sounds obvious, but if you want to feel your best then you must get enough sleep. Most experts recommend that we get between 6-10 hours of sleep per night.[9] Some of us can get by on six hours, but be honest with yourself – if you feel better having had more sleep, bear it in mind when setting your alarm clock.

Turn off your phone and computer at least an hour before bed, and avoid vigorous exercise in the late evening. These measures will help you wind down when it’s time for sleep.

Daily routine for an organized life

Before work…

1. Make your bed in the morning

Start the day off right by making your bed. It’s a quick chore that will put you in a productive, organized frame of mind.[10]

2. Have your workout equipment and clothing ready the night before

If you like to work out, the morning is the best time to do it! It will leave you feeling full of energy and will give you a sense of accomplishment before you leave the house. Whether you like to go for a walk, take a gym class or do yoga in your bedroom, make sure that you have all the equipment and clothing you need laid out and ready the night before.

3. Spray down and wipe the largest surfaces in the bathroom

After your morning shower, spray down and wipe the largest surfaces in your bathroom. It’s much easier and more fun to do mini-cleans throughout the week than wait until the weekend![11]

4. Put everything back where you found it after breakfast

When you’ve made your breakfast, put everything back exactly where you found it – this makes everything easier the morning after. If you notice that you are running low on a grocery item, add it to a list you can take with you next time you pass the grocery store.

5. Run through a list of your essential items before you leave the house

Before you leave the house, run through a list of your essential items such as your wallet, employee badge, water bottle, and so on. Keep a list of these items near your front door so that you can quickly check your purse or bag before heading out the door. Don’t try to de-clutter or re-organize a room before work, as this will just add to your stress levels!

When you arrive at work…

6. Prioritize your tasks

Make a list of tasks and decide whether they are important, urgent, both, or neither. Start with important and urgent tasks, move onto the important and non-urgent tasks, then tackle the unimportant but urgent jobs. Writing a task list gives you a sense of control.

7. Prioritize your emails

Before you start your day, spend 10 minutes prioritizing your e-mails. We all receive so many messages each day that we can’t hope to reply to them all! Get into the habit of deciding which ones need your urgent attention, which are important, which are both, and which are neither.

Check your e-mails every couple of hours rather than every few minutes, because frequent interruptions will impair your concentration and productivity.

During your coffee break…

8. Keep your finances on track

Take a couple of minutes to keep your finances on track. Check your bank balance, and make sure that you’re sticking to your budget! You can also use apps to help you manage your money, including Mint.

9. Think about what you are going to have for dinner

Do you need to pick anything up from the grocery store on the way home? Do you need to look up a recipe? This only takes a few minutes, but a bit of planning can save a lot of time later. Why not use a meal planning app such as Mealime?

At lunchtime…

10. Make personal calls or send personal emails (when necessary)

This is the perfect opportunity to make any personal calls or send personal e-mails. For example, you could schedule that dental appointment you’ve been putting off, or finally reply to that e-mail from your aunt. These little chores can seem overwhelming when you get home from work and just want to relax, so do them at lunch.

11. Clear your desk before you leave your desk

Take five minutes to clear your work desk before you leave for your break. It will help you feel more organized when you return.


12. Quickly review your to-do list

If you aren’t making as much progress as you hoped, it’s time to rewrite it!

13. Carry out mundane and easy tasks

If possible, carry out mundane and easy tasks such as replying to simple e-mails a couple of hours after lunch, when your energy will naturally hit a slump. In general, as the day goes on, we lose the capacity to make lots of high-level decisions.

Try to schedule your more complex tasks for the morning. On the other hand, important and urgent tasks must always take priority.

14. Neat your desk before you leave the office

Spend the last 10 minutes of your workday neatening your desk and your computer desktop. This will help you stay organized the following morning.


15. Put everything you’ve worn on that day the same place you took from

Always put your coat, purse, and other possessions away in the same place the moment you get in the door. Otherwise, they might go missing!

16. Do the dishes immediately after dinner

Otherwise, you might be tempted to sit down in front of the TV and get distracted.[12]

17. After dinner, spend 10 minutes doing a quick de-clutter.

Set a timer, choose an area of your home, and get busy! It’s an easy way to see quick results, and will make you feel more in control of your possessions.

Before bedtime…

18. Lay out your clothes and accessories for the next day

This ensures that you don’t have to think about what to wear the next morning.[13] You can even lay out your breakfast dishes![14]

19. Do a “brain dump” of all your ideas and tasks for tomorrow.

This is helpful if you tend to lie awake worrying about what you need to do the next day. Once you have written them down, you can go to sleep knowing that you can refer to the list when you wake up.

Daily routine for more productive work

Before work…

1. Plan for the upcoming work the night before

Some of the most effective and productive people get started on their daily routine the night before.

Think of this as the planning stage, at this time you might find it useful to plot out your day in blocks of time, with a specific activity planned for each. This is commonly known as the time blocking method.

Using this method ensures that you don’t end up multitasking which can have a negative impact on your productivity. As the president, Barack Obama often got ready for his day the night before by reviewing what he needed to accomplish.[15]

2. Wake up at a time that works for you (and sticks to it every day)

This may sound counter intuitive, it is often imagined that the most productive people are those that can wake up at dawn, and continue into the evening. But the 9-5 work day might not necessarily suit everyone.[16]

I’m not suggesting that people work less, but someone who works from 10-6 works for just as long as someone who works 9-5, and that extra hour in bed may mean that they’re more fresh and ready to work.

Often you might not have a choice in what time you get up, after all, if you are expected at work at 09:00, you can’t be in bed at that time, but if you have any flexibility at all, consider what works best for you.

3. Eat a good breakfast 

As also mentioned in the Daily Routine for Better Health, once you have woken up, it is very important to eat well. You need something that will give you a good boost of energy, all the while keeping you full. A good idea is oatmeal with a smoothie or a healthy fruit juice.

Check out 30 Healthy And Tasty Recipes For Breakfast That You Can Make The Night Before for more healthy breakfast choices that are easy-to-make and will keep you energetic.

Back to work…

4. Ensure a clean workspace which is distractions free

A few years ago a study at Princeton University concluded that if in your field of vision, there are many forms of visual stimuli, your brain will spread its focus and attention to each piece.[17] In another word, if your desk is cluttered, your ability to focus on the task at hand.

Simply clearing your desk of distractions therefore, can have a great impact on your focus, and with it, your productivity.

5. Don’t check emails first

Mornings are a great time to do productive work that requires focus, creativity, and strategy. Clearing out the inbox gives you a false sense of achievement, and wastes the opportunity to engage your brain in more proactive tasks. Though you may have read a lot of emails, you have nothing important done.

Unless your job revolves around emails checking and replying only, never make checking emails your first thing to do when you’re back to work. Instead, focus on your goals and do what really matters.

6. Tackle the worst thing first

Start your working day by tackling the most difficult or most pressing task first, the task that will most likely encourage you to procrastinate. This is the philosophy put forward by Brian Tracy in his book Eat That Frog.

The benefit of this is simple. Even if you accomplish little else that day, you can be happy with the knowledge that you did something important. Also, by doing the most difficult thing first, everything else will be easier.

7. Take a quick nap or meditate

When setting up a routine, it can be easy to forget the most important activity – resting. Humans simply aren’t built for working all day, every day without a break. If you don’t consider this in your routine, there is a danger that you will lose energy and enthusiasm all together and burn out, thereby killing your productivity altogether. This can be mitigated by making sure to making sure you get some rest.

One way to do this is by picking a reasonable time to stop working, another is to take a quick nap, others recommend meditation. It all depends on your preference.

8. Say no to unreasonable requests

This can be the hardest things on this list, but it can be one of the most effective. Adding extra tasks and jobs to your day can immediately throw your routine off balance, and it will negatively impact you day’s productivity.

As such, declining and saying no to extra tasks (that are unreasonably urgent or are unimportant) can be the key to staying productive. After all, doing one thing really well is more important than doing several things badly.

Sometimes you may be forced to say yes and accept new tasks, but this won’t always be the case. Feel free to say no some times.

9. Finish up and off on time

By remaining focused on specific tasks, you won’t feel overwhelmed and overworked as you’re totally in control. And because you have things all planned out, you saved tons of energy from making unnecessary decisions.

As you should have tackled all the hardest things by now, the rest of the day should be far easier too.

Daily routine for a stronger relationship


1. Kiss each other goodbye

How often do you rush out of the door with a quick peck on the cheek and a ‘see you later!’ Maybe you’ve got to the stage where you don’t even do that anymore. It’s important to really take the time to say goodbye.

Create 3-5 minutes in your morning routine to just be with your partner and properly say goodbye. Kiss each other meaningfully and take in the moment. It’s important not to get in such a rush that these small gestures don’t get overlooked.

During daytime…

2. Create little daily rituals when you’re together and apart

Creating small actions that are meaningful to both of you can build a sense of connection and these can carry on throughout your day when you’re apart.

Find a certain song you sing to each other when you bring a cup of coffee. Leave a message on the fogged up mirror for your partner to discover or leave little notes in the car or biscuit tin. Text a joke of the day on your lunch breaks.

These types of rituals bring a sense of positive expectation and bonding – something only the two of you share together. Without these, relationships can become stale.


3. Kiss each other hello

Again, these moments can get looked over once the initial spark of a relationship has died down. We often walk in the door exhausted, maybe even irritable, and we don’t take the time to connect.

Spend a good amount of time saying hello to each other. Kiss, cuddle, ask how each other is or don’t say anything at all and take in the embrace. Physical touch in silence is equally powerful.

It’s very easy to neglect this simple routine where it becomes a habit to not do it anymore.

4. Schedule regular date nights

This is particularly important when you have kids. When your lives are controlled by children and extra responsibilities, your relationship can get overlooked. This is when things can breakdown and intimacy gets lost no matter how much you love each other.

Schedule regular date nights where you can be free from responsibilities and really connect with each other. Use this time to check in with how each other is feeling, and most importantly, have fun. Keep reconnecting with the reasons you fell in love in the first place.

5. Create a bonding bedtime routine

When the doors are closed and you’ve finally fallen into bed, it’s easy to want to fall asleep but bedtime is a wonderful time to get connected with your partner not only in a physical way but in an emotional way too.

Try to go to bed at the same time and use it as your couple time. Pillow talk is a great time to bond. While you’re in a relaxed state, talk about your days at work, any concerns or even future plans. Communication and talking things out is the best habit you can have as a couple. Just make sure you take the time to really listen to each other with respect and an open mind – always ending the night on a positive note.

Regular relationship habits…

6. Say thank you to each other

Whether it’s in the morning, evening or a text in the day, remember to express gratitude to your partner.

Feeling thankful is a powerful way to create love in a relationship because it benefits both of you. Really feel gratitude for something they’ve done – even if it was something small two months ago. It’s impossible to feel gratitude and negative feelings at the same time so this can really strengthen your love for each other.

7. Use your partner’s love language

A lot of bad communication and feelings of neglect are down to not understanding each others love language. There are 5 key ways people express love and two people could have two completely different languages leading to misunderstandings.

Find out each others’ love language and try to use it to show your love throughout the morning, day or evening. Your partner may express love through physical touch whereas you express your love through words or gifts. One isn’t better than the other but finding out which one is important to each of you and acting accordingly will help your relationship to flourish.

How to stick to your routine like glue

When you do something and no immediate harm comes to you, your brain assumes that it’s safe to continue doing the activity. Overcoming a habit that feels comfortable to you requires impressive amounts of willpower.

Reaching for a snack or scrolling through social media can sabotage healthy plans by flooding your brain with dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter. That dopamine release causes you to want to continue the action whether or not it’s good for you.

There may be quite a few things that ought to change in your life. Changing too many habits at once can be difficult and discouraging.[18]

On top of all that, we only have so much mental bandwidth to devote to making decisions. When decision fatigue sets in, we’re likely to revert to whatever is easiest, even if we know it’s unhealthy.[19]

Biting off more than you can chew is a surefire way to fail. Instead, pick one routine, and work on that.[20] Before long, you can completely reconfigure your day. Slow and steady wins the race.

You can’t change your entire life overnight, but you can gradually change your lifestyle and routines.[21]

Upgrading your daily routine is a commitment. By starting small and being realistic, you can develop healthy habits and efficient routines that help you get the most out of life.

Featured photo credit: Freepik via

Reference [1] ^ Inc.: 7 Daily Habits That Will Save You 60 Hours of Your Life Next Year [2] ^ Skilled at Life: 18 Reasons Why a Daily Routine Is So Important [3] ^ Examined Existence: Why Having a Daily Routine is Important [4] ^ Develop Good Habits: 34 Quick Habits To Add To Your Daily Morning Routine [5] ^ Develop Good Habits: 34 Quick Habits To Add To Your Daily Morning Routine [6] ^ Journal Of The American College Of Nutrition: Cognitive Performance & Dehydration [7] ^ WebMD: Afternoon Energy Boosters [8] ^ Chatelaine: How To Balance Your pH & Find Out If You’re Too Acidic [9] ^ National Sleep Foundation: How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? [10] ^ The Spruce: 10 Things To Do Daily To Be More Organized [11] ^ Creative HomeKeeper: 10 Things I Do Every Day To Keep A Clean & Organized Home [12] ^ The Spruce: 10 Things To Do Daily To Be More Organized [13] ^ The Spruce: 10 Things To Do Daily To Be More Organized [14] ^ Creative HomeKeeper: 10 Things I Do Every Day To Keep A Clean & Organized Home [15] ^ Buffer: The Daily Routines of 7 Famous Entrepreneurs and How to Design Your Own Master Routine [16] ^ Trello: The 5 Productive Morning Routines Of Highly Effective People [17] ^ The Journal of Neuroscience: Interactions of Top-Down and Bottom-Up Mechanisms in Human Visual Cortex [18] ^ Zen Habits: Sticking to a Habit: The Definitive Guide [19] ^ Develop Good Habits: Psychology of Daily Routines (or Why We Struggle with Habits) [20] ^ Zen Habts: Sticking to a Habit: The Definitive Guide [21] ^ James Clear: Why is it So Hard to Stick to Good Habits? function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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How I Broke 3 Bad Habits in Less Than 2 Months

2. March 2018 - 12:00

The cycle of bad habits is what keeps us living small and stops us from reaching our true potential. Breaking a bad habit isn’t as hard as it seems; despite being a CEO of a company and raising two children, I still managed to break 3 bad habits I had within 2 months.

I took steps to eliminate them one at a time. Habits such as drinking Coke every day, slouching when sitting down and not having a consistent exercise routine.

So how did I break these habits? I used the Control Alternate Delete Method (Ctrl Alt Del).

What is this method and why is it so effective? Read on to find out how you can use it to improve your own life too.

How the Control Alternate Delete Method helps to break bad habits

We all notice on some level what our bad habits are. A lot of the time we choose to ignore the negative ways these impact us.

For me, I was sitting most of the day in front of my computer at work in a slouching position. I drank Coke every single day in an attempt to stay awake. I put off any kind of exercise regime because I felt that it was better to just relax and have fun after a whole day of work. As a result, I was leading a really unhealthy lifestyle suffering from weight gain and back pain.

I needed to make a change.

I started by focusing on just one bad habit, the first one being the sheer amount of Coke I was consuming each day.

Every day I applied the Ctrl Alt Del Method and after two weeks, not only did I stop drinking Coke every day (I only drank one can in 2 weeks), but I started the better habit of drinking 8 glasses of water every day instead.

After eliminating one bad habit, I moved on to the other two with this same method and a month later I was:

  • Hitting the gym twice a week.
  • Improving my sitting posture, not only at the office but also at home and everywhere else, improving my back pain.
  • Gaining core muscle which improved my back pain as well.
  • Losing fat around my waist which went from 36″ (considered obese level) to 32″ (normal level).

If I can improve my life using this method, then so can you. Using this structure to eliminate your bad habits will increase your success and replace your bad habits with more positive ones.

Control: Master your desire Identify your triggers

Bad habits such as drinking alcohol, snacking too much, and skipping exercises for something else trigger the release of dopamine, a feel-good chemical in the brain.[1] Although you might not like the end result, they give you a positive outcome in the moment.

It’s important to identify what is triggering you to continually act out your bad habit. This isn’t always an easy step because our habits have been built up over a long period of time.


To help you work out your triggers, do a bit of self-reflection. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • What comfort are you getting from this habit?
  • Why do you need comfort?

For example, I chose to drink coke because it tasted good and it made me feel good when I was stressed. I slouched only when I sat for too long working on my desk and started to feel tired. I skipped exercises because every day after work I felt I already did enough works and didn’t want to work out.

If you choose to eat fast food every night, you’re probably telling yourself you’re too busy to cook. But ask yourself why? What are your priorities? Maybe you have a lack of self-worth that means you don’t have the self-love to want to look after your health. Perhaps it’s a sign you’re not making enough time for important routines like shopping and creating a healthy meal yourself. Maybe you’ve always had a belief that you’re a bad cook.

Write a diary

Write down your thoughts and feelings around this bad habit. Writing things down forces the brain to think harder.[2] This helps you to find the source to your stress or limiting negative beliefs.

Alternate: Find a replacement Find a positive alternative habit

Once you think you’ve discovered your trigger, try to find a similar but healthy option. This is where I replaced Coke with lemon water; slouching with simply taking a walk and stretching my back every hour; and chilling at home after work with workout exercises that I actually found fun.

You could decide to walk to the office instead of driving or getting off the bus earlier to walk. You could switch to a healthier breakfast cereal instead of grabbing a sugary snack when you head out of the door.

By doing this, you aren’t getting rid of the act altogether like you would if you completely gave something up with nothing to fill that void. This helps your brain accept the improved habit more.

Create a defence plan

Everyone has moments of weakness and that want to revert back to the bad habit will rear its ugly head. This is where a plan can help counteract these moments.

Think of things you can do when the temptations come. For example, if you want to check your phone less, ask your friend or partner to keep it for you or switch it off and read a book. If you’re a starter for an exercise routine, like me, get someone to do it with you to keep you accountable.

Decide on something you will do once you feel triggered to go back to your old habit. Repeating these positive alternative habits consistently will help wire your brain to see them as your normal new habit over time.

Delete: remove temptations Remove stuff that reminds you of the bad habit

Getting rid of anything that reminds you of your bad habit is essential. For example, I got rid of coke in my office and at home and replaced my usual office chair with an exercise ball. It makes it much easier to stop slipping back in a weak moment.

Avoid all kinds of temptations

In the same vein, avoid places or people that you know will tempt you back into that bad habit. Don’t go to the supermarket on an empty stomach to avoid the temptation to buy trashy snacks, don’t drive past that fast food joint but find an alternative route instead, say no more often to the friend you know will get you drunk again this weekend.

It’s all about not putting yourself in the situation where you’re in danger of relapsing.

The Control Alternate Delete Method uses the right steps you need to overcome your need to indulge in your bad habits. Working with your core psychology, emotions and feelings behind your actions is what makes this method effective and easy to apply to all bad habits you have.

Bad habits are easy to form and making changes can seem difficult but remember that it’s all about consistency and repetition.

Start using the Control Alternate Delete Method today. What bad habit do you want to put a stop to once and for all?

You must set aside time and pick one bad habit to focus on. Start using the steps to increase and maintain more positivity in your life moving forward.

Featured photo credit: Picjumbo via

Reference [1] ^ Truthhawk: Why Do We Have Bad Habits? [2] ^ Agilee & Lean Life: Self-reflection, retrospective and journaling function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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The Simplest and Most Effective Exercise in Existence: The Power Push-up

1. March 2018 - 13:00

What if I told you there was one simple exercise you could do anywhere that would improve the way you look, think, and feel? Well there is. By adopting it, you can learn to break bad habits that are injuring your body.

Let me introduce you to the Power Push-up – the simplest and most effective exercise in existence.

Why the Power Push-Up

I used to focus on quantity instead of quality when I did workout exercises. In fact, I didn’t change my approach until I started injuring myself. I was performing way too many repetitions with poor form.

By shifting your focus from quantity to quality, you will find that your maximum repetitions will drop significantly. However, this should not matter because in the end you will be rewarded with phenomenal gains and a healthy body.

So, what exercise should you shift your focus to? The answer is the Power Push-up.

The push-up exercise is one of the most basic exercises you can do. It is simple and can be done in any location imaginable. Equally important, it is extremely effective as it works several muscles in your body.

Nevertheless, most people concentrate on quantity rather than quality when doing push-ups. In doing so, this leads to strain and injury and turns this powerful, yet simple exercise into a disastrous one.

How the Power Push-Up makes you fitter and healthier

This exercise will force you to do push-ups the right way. It will help you lose weight, strengthen your muscles, and improve your metabolism. From professional journals to blogs, nearly everyone agrees that (if done correctly) push-ups provide phenomenal health benefits.

Let’s examine some of these benefits:[1]

  • Increased muscle strength
  • Strong abdominal muscles
  • Increase in bone mass and strength
  • Increase in chest muscles and strength
  • Improved metabolism
  • Increased muscle mass in biceps and triceps
  • Improved stomach shape and weight loss
  • Improved posture

On the whole, the Power Push-up is simple and can be performed anywhere. It uses nearly every muscle in the human body and prevents injury.

How to perform the Power Push-Up

To demonstrate the Power Push-up, I highly recommend viewing the following video:

Let’s examine how to perform the Power Push-up in four simple steps:

  1. Body Position. Tilt your pelvis backward and keep your butt squeezed tight.
  2. Arm Position. Place your wrists in a nearly vertical line under your shoulder. Avoid out flared elbows completely.
  3. Range of Motion. Don’t cheat! Go all the way up and all the way down. This takes a while to get used to, because it is easy to cheat if you focus on quantity.
  4. Shoulder Blade Movement. This is the movement I most often neglected, which led to injuries. Focus on pushing your shoulder blades downward instead of up.

Make time for the exercise, as little as 5 to 10 minutes each day to start to pick up this exercise at the beginning. Gradually, you will experience a fitter and healthier body.

Personally, I have a 24 Hour Workout routine to stay fit and keep my brain sharp, you can check out my other article for the details:

This 24 Hour Workout Will Leave You Thinking, Looking And Feeling So Good

If you find that you can’t shift your focus from quantity to quality because you desire a high number of repetitions, then try this – stop counting. Use the following advice offered by Muhammad Ali,

“I only start counting when it starts hurting. When I feel pain, that’s when I start counting, because that’s when it really counts.”

Featured photo credit: Antonio Diaz, Getty Image via

Reference [1] ^ DrHealthBenefits: 17 Health Benefits of Push Up function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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How to Be an Effective Leader (A Step-By-Step Guide to Upgrade Your Leadership Skills)

28. February 2018 - 13:00

Many of the most important and influential texts ever written, like Sun Tzu’s the Art of War, Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, or even Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, are about leadership. With hundreds of books written about leadership, it would be easy to understand how to become an effective leader, but unfortunately that simply isn’t the case.

A leader has to be a person capable of juggling many huge demands at a time, they have to consider the opinions, needs, and wants of all around them. They need to be a person not only capable of making difficult decisions, but the right difficult decision. At the same time, they need to know how to look after their team, while pushing them forward to achieve greatness.

This article serves as an introduction to effective leadership and will give you a step by step guide on how to become an effective leader.

Is leadership in born?

Strong and capable leaders are rarely (if ever) born. Be skeptical of claims to the contrary.

Psychology research suggests that people become leaders through the process of teaching, learning and observation.[1]

If you put your preconceptions aside, you’ll clearly see that leadership skills aren’t inborn, but have to be learned by training, perception, practice and experience over time. And when we say over time – we really mean over a lifetime, as successful people never stop learning.

It’s true. Great leaders constantly seek out development opportunities that will help them learn new skills. If your goal is to become a leader – you should do the same.

How important is leadership?

There are great and inspiring leaders everywhere. Anywhere you see a team that works well together, a team that consistently works at their best no matter the pressure, a team of people that are confident and determined; you are seeing a team with a great leader.

A great leader can unite a group of people, each with their own goals and interests, and make them work together in synchronicity for a common goal.

A great leader is able to inspire confidence and resilience.

A great leader is open to the good ideas of others. They are good listeners and are open to learn from their team.

Ultimately, a great leader turns a group of people into a dependable, reliable, creative, motivated and effective unit.

But how does someone become a great leader?

First, learn about the basic traits as listed in the next part. And when you have mastered these traits, you’ll have to move on to the advanced level of skills to become an effective leader.

Basic traits to become a good leader

To develop your leadership skills, it’s best to pinpoint the areas that you feel you are not ‘up to par’ with, and strengthen them. To make this easy for you, I have a complete guide on all the most important leadership traits categorized into three areas:

  • Self-development
  • Communication
  • Team engagement

In the guide, you will find all the basic leadership traits and how to take up each of them. Check out the complete guide here:

14 Powerful Leadership Traits (That All Great Leaders Have)

Next, you will need to level up your leadership skills by understanding the different types of leadership.

Advanced skills to become an effective leader

The most effective leadership is not a single entity, or a single set of values or rules a person must have in order to lead people. There are multiple leadership styles each with their own benefits and rules. If you have learned the basic qualities of leadership, upgrade your leadership skills by identifying your leadership style and master it.

Find out the leadership style that best fits you in this flowchart:

Pace-setting Leader

A pace-setting leader focuses on targets and the speed with which said targets are being achieved. They set performance standards and schedules for the team to achieve goals and get the best results.

Pace-setting leaders typically ensure the work is on schedule and reaches the goals quickly.

Yet the biggest drawback of pace-setting leadership is being too predictable. Many pace-setting leaders overwhelm team members with deadlines, and harm their creativity as they rush to finish their work.

As a result, this style works best when employees are highly motivated and already competent workers. This is also good if a clear schedule needs to be set for a specific set of tasks.

In order to grow as a successful leader, pace-setters should ask for team members’ feedback often and give them space to work. Instead of focusing on deadlines, they should focus on the process of reaching quality work.

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, is a successful example of a pace-setter. Welch despised micro-managing and thought leaders needed to focus more on setting examples and deadlines. That’s the essence of a pace-setting leader.

Commanding Leader

A commanding leader makes decisions alone and gives orders to members to achieve goals.

A commanding leader can make decisions quickly. They don’t need to go through any discussions to come up with a decision most of the time. This saves time and is helpful especially during a crisis. Commanding leaders are often respected and are rarely challenged by the team.

Unfortunately, commanding leaders often inhibit critical thinking and demoralize employees’ team spirit as their opinions are not valued under such leadership. Team members are there for execution; they do what they’re told, and only the commanding leader gets to drive a decision forward.

Commanding leaders work best when quick decisions are to be made in a crisis or situation with inexperienced team members. As a result, many famed generals and politicians operating in times of strife fall into this category.

Winston Churchill is an example of a commanding leader. Churchill was especially known as a powerful orator and man overall, and often was able to inspire others to action simply via his commanding speeches and viewpoint. As mentioned before, his great leadership was instrumental in the allied victory during the second world war.

Visionary Leader

Visionary leaders are able to see the bigger picture and set the overall goals for the team.

This type of leader Inspires creativity and teamwork as team members are encouraged by the bigger end-goal of what they’re working on day-to-day. Jobs is one of the examples, but many tech company CEOs fit into this type too. Startup CEOs often frame product decisions around “saving the world”, and this is where the vision is found.

The flip side of believing you’re working on something which will change/save the world is that it may inspire fanatical belief in the leader himself. Another potential flaw is its heavily context-dependent, in another word, the goal at the end. With a constant focus on making the world a better place, team members can sometimes lose focus on their day-to-day plan they need to execute.

Visionary leaders are good in transition situations. Think about a new CEO coming in and immediately laying out the long-term vision for a place after the disgraced exit of his predecessor, the company and the employees benefit in this case.

A visionary leader, though, does need lieutenants who can take their vision and translate it into day-to-day work for the rest of the organization. If it’s all vision and strategy with no tie to day-to-day execution, employees will get confused and ultimately leave.

Steve Jobs built a company that completely changed multiple industries, and he did so by singularly looking at possibilities no one had ever considered. Imagine ten to twenty years before the first iPhone came out, if you had described that idea to your friend, they would probably have laughed you and thought you were a dreamer.

Democratic Leader

Democratic leaders make decisions together with the team members—regardless of rank—and closely work together with the team to achieve for the best results.

Democratic leadership is good for boosting team morale and improving relationships between leaders and members. An open environment encourages a constant stream of communication and idea exchange. For example, the idea of Gmail was brought to Google decision-makers by a lower-ranking staffer, as was the idea of AdWords. AdWords is a huge revenue driver for Google and it didn’t necessarily begin at the absolute top ranks, but the top ranks weren’t threatened when a new idea came about.

However, the authority of a democratic leader may be easily challenged and cause inefficiency in decision making.  A collective decision-making process usually takes a longer time.

Democratic leaders work best when team members are experienced and have strong knowledge in their functional area. Inexperienced members may be confused under such leadership, or wondered why their voice was sought after despite their lack of experience.

John F. Kennedy was a successful democratic leader. When Kennedy handled the Bay of Pigs situation, he gave everyone in his circle a voice. The way he made decisions had changed decision-making for the modern era.[2]

Affiliative Leader

Affiliative leaders show warmth and acceptance to members and create emotional bonds with them.

Because of the warmness provided, members feel safe and have a strong sense of belonging to the organization and perform better. Google has done studies of effective managers and found the No. 1 thing they provide is “psychological safety.” Affiliative leaders do that.

Unfortunately, mediocre performances may be fostered under an affiliative leadership because it rarely puts team members under pressure. Some team members may feel they can coast on certain work because their managers will always support them.

This leadership style works best in stressful situations or when team members’ morale is low. Typically, it’s used best together with other leading styles.

The Dalai Lama brings people along with him and into a bigger picture of contentment and safety.

Coaching Leader

Coaching leaders are mentors to the more inexperienced team members. They help the members to better their capabilities and performances by constantly providing them feedback.

This creates a positive working environment where leaders and employees are constantly communicating. With the coaching leader’s guidance, team members grow and improve continuously.

The downside of regular coaching is that it’s time-consuming. It also takes patience to coach each of the team members. In an organization that focuses on immediate results, coaching is not preferred because it takes time to see significant results.

Coaching leaders work best with inexperienced employees who are eager to learn and grow. A leader who is proficient in convincing and influencing others will execute coaching leadership well.

John Wooden, who won more NCAA basketball championships than any other coach, is a successful coaching leader. He had a very specific coaching model that focused on conveying information as opposed to course-correcting.[3]

Not all styles can be applied to every situation, and some people may be better at one style over another. If you use the right style at the right time, the effect can be substantial.

Bonus: Combine leadership styles

All these styles work well in specific situations, and oftentimes teams need a mix of the different leadership styles across different work teams and work projects.

The most successful organizations often have a mix of these leadership styles for teams and deliverables. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. The important thing is to understand where you fall, what your achievements and drawbacks are, and how you can grow or most benefit your team by considering adapting a slightly different leadership style.

Imagine that you are the leader of a small team. You have been given a problem to solve, and for a while you all have struggled over it. Suddenly you come up with a great idea solves the problem, but time is running out… what style of leadership do you choose?

  • Pace-setting leader: With this style, you could charge ahead with your idea, but your team is still struggling, they may not fully understand it. So while you have an idea that solves the problem, their low morale means you have to micromanage them to get them ready. You run out of time.
  • Commanding leader: You could just tell your team what to do. However as they’ve already been struggling they have low morale. Your extra demands only causes their morale to decrease further, and in the end they work poorly.
  • Visionary leader: Despite your great idea, you still need to figure out how to implement it, you need your team for this. As you are thinking too far ahead, your team struggles to catch up.
  • Democratic leader: You’re talking over the idea with the team, some have great ideas about how to implement your idea, but you all discuss it for so long that time runs out.
  • Affiliative leader: You’re able to bring the morale of your team up which is great, but due to the tight deadline you run out of time to actually implement your idea.
  • Coaching leader: You spend time instructing everyone on the details of your plan, they understand it and are ready to implement it…time runs out.

As you can see, in such a circumstance, no single system worked. Does that mean this system is broken? Perhaps failure is inevitable? Far from it.

You need to be flexible. Let’s try mixing a few styles:

  • Visionary/ Commanding leader – Here, you have the goal in mind, as you have worked with your team before, you know their strengths and weaknesses, because of this, with your idea in mind, you are able to delegate tasks to each person depending on their strengths. You are able to successfully implement your idea.
  • Coaching/ Pace-Setting Leader – You know not everyone fully understands your idea, but there are some that do. Those who understand it immediately begin to work while you bring the rest up to speed, soon you’re all working well together and your plan is implemented.

These two aren’t the only combinations that might work here, and sometimes they may not work at all. But the key is to know when to be flexible.

Ultimately, everyone has it in them to be a great and effective leader. It takes knowledge and practice sure, but if you are flexible and consider the many different forms of leadership out there, then you may find your skills as a leader, and the ultimate effectiveness of your team, grows and expands to greatness.

Featured photo credit: Freepik via

Reference [1] ^ Psychology Today: Leaders: Born or Made? [2] ^ HBR: How John F. Kennedy Changed Decision Making for Us All [3] ^ The Context of Things: How to give feedback: Lessons from John Wooden function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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14 Powerful Leadership Traits (That All Great Leaders Have)

27. February 2018 - 13:00

Being a leader of a company or organization is certainly a difficult and often frustrating position – but it can also be tremendously rewarding.

Whether you’re just starting out as a leader, or have been leading for a while, you’ll be sure to benefit from knowing the essential traits that all great leaders possess.

Effective and successful leaders transcend the title of ‘manager’ or ‘boss’. They’ve found a way to achieve the perfect combination of charisma, enthusiasm and self-assurance (with a healthy dose of luck and timing probably added to the mix).

It may seem like some people are gifted with leadership skills, but the truth is most leadership traits can be learned, adopted, and strengthened with time and practice.

As we delve into the traits of effective leaders, you will learn more about how you can become one of them.

Are leaders born or made?

During the Cuban missile crisis, when the world faced a potential nuclear catastrophe. President Kennedy’ s leadership and sound judgement pulled us from the brink of an apocalypse.[1] When hearing about such stories it’s easy to assume great leaders like Kennedy has something that most people lack, that great leadership is a quality that some people are born with, and others are not. But that isn’t the case. Everyone has the potential to be a great leader.

Take Elon Musk for example. He was born into a lower middle class family in South Africa, as a child he was bullied. Now he leads a multi billion dollar organisation, and may have just revolutionized space travel.[2]

As such I believe anyone can become a great leader, the difficulty is knowing how.

Fortunately, we’ve made this easy for you, as we’ve listed the essential leadership traits below.

The 14 most important leadership traits

Please read through them slowly, and take a note of which of the traits you excel at – and which ones you need to work at.

Traits for better self-development 1. Vision and mission

Having a clear picture of what needs to be achieved is a crucial quality of good leadership.

This vision is often communicated in a mission statement, such as this one from Starbucks:

How to develop vision? Spend time pinpointing what you need to achieve, and then plan the steps to get there. Here’s a complete guide on creating your own vision.

2. Self-motivated

It’s no coincidence that successful leaders have an abundance of self-motivation.

Without a decent level of self-motivation, you’ll struggle to become a strong and respected leader. However, if you don’t have a lot of self-motivation right now, don’t despair.

One of the secrets is to have definite goals to keep you motivated at all times. Some people also choose to reward themselves every time they achieve a goal, and this is certainly a good way to keep yourself enthused and motivated. Learn how to set an ambitious yet achievable goal here.

3. Optimism and positivity

Positive energy is contagious. Great leaders are overflowing with this type of energy.

Not only does a positive mindset make leaders easy to work with, but it also gives them a constant source of inspiration and ideas.

Tap into this energy by aligning yourself with positive people and positive goals. Learn the habits of positive people here.

4. Emotional stability

In leadership positions, frustration and stress are daily occurrences. This is why leaders need to have strong and stable emotions. They can’t allow themselves to be easily knocked off track.

If you’re prone to losing your emotional stability when stressed or frustrated, try some of these techniques: breath deeply and slowly for 30 seconds, go for a walk, drink some water (instead of tea or coffee), turn your focus onto something you can resolve. Find out more ways to control your emotions effectively here.

5. Self-confidence

Watch a presentation by any CEO and you’ll see that even if they’re not natural presenters – they make up for this by having powerful self-confidence.

It’s not just CEOs who have self-confidence, any successful leader will have this trait in abundance. One reason for this, is that only a confident person can persuade others and gain their respect.

Worried that you have low self-confidence? Try faking it. Psychologists often recommend that if you ‘act’ at being confident, you’ll start to look, sound and feel like you ARE confident. And in time… you will be. Learn more about boosting self-confidence from the confidence coach.

6. Decisiveness

Leaders are frequently called upon to make decisions (some leaders may have to make dozens of decisions every day). In fact, you could say that making decisions is one of the key things a leader must do.

Spend some time observing highly-successful leaders and you’ll see that they are quick to make decisions. They also enjoy making decisions, rather than stressing out like many non-leaders do when they’re asked to decide on something.

Put yourself in the leadership bracket by developing your decision-making skills. Start with small decisions – and then work your way up to bigger and more difficult decisions. Once other people notice your decision-making prowess, they’ll automatically see you as leadership material. Check out the guide on how to make good decisions every time.

7. Passion and enthusiasm

Expressive. Active. Energetic. These are words best describe a passionate leader.

Great leaders are lively, driven and are possessed with zeal and purpose. It’s this passion that helps them achieve big results. If you want to emulate their success, then you need to develop passion and enthusiasm for the work at hand, and the end goals.

Take a look at this Passion Pyramid to find out how importance a leader’s passion is to the team:

One way to do this is to find what motivates you, and keep your focus firmly on that. For example, i f you’re motivated by helping others, then make sure your role and company are both suited to realizing this. If you’re motivated by money, then put your focus on achieving bonuses and pay rises.

Take a look at Leo Babauta’s guide on how to find your passion.

8. Accountability and responsibility

Exceptional leaders know that at all times they’ll need to take responsibility for tasks and their results. This includes things likes individual and team performance, as well as being accountable for when things go wrong.

When negative things occur (and you can guarantee they will from time-to-time), a great leader will immediately step in and take responsibility. Initially, they’ll try to resolve the problem in as quick and smooth a way as possible. But if this is not feasible, they’ll be sure to say that the buck stops with them – and they take full responsibility for what has happened.

To develop your leadership skills, you must never shy away from responsibility or accountability. If you prefer to sweep mistakes under the carpet, then you’re demonstrating non-leadership traits. Try owning up to issues and finding solutions to them. By doing this, you’ll immediately gain people’s respect.

Find out some tips on how to be a more responsible person here.

9. Focus

Distractions are everywhere. And it takes major focus to stay committed to tasks and goals. The best leaders understand this, and therefore, they’re always looking at ways to boost their team’s focus.

One way leaders do this, is to keep their team intensely focused on the bigger picture. This might entail allocating specific time for tasks and eliminating any non-essential work.

If you’re easily knocked off track, you’ll need to spend some time boosting your focus. Try planning your day, week, month and year to help ensure that you don’t fall behind with achieving your goals. Check out the 7 strategies of staying super focus recommended by a productivity coach.

10. Ever-learning

Leaders know that to be successful they need to continually update their skills and knowledge. They deliberately learn all they can about their profession and industry, so they’ll able to make confident and assured decisions.

Why is ever learning so important? I’ll leave it to you to find out the reason here: If I Am Living a Good Life, Why Should I Bother Learning New Stuff?

Imagine a CEO of a solar power company. His company may have amazing solar panels, but when it comes to discussing business with potential buyers, if the CEO or his sales team show a lack of understanding about the solar industry and future trends, etc., they’ll be unlikely to win any business.

It’s exactly the same for you. If you’re a team leader at an electronics store, you should make sure you fully understand all the products that you offer. But go beyond just that, and read about upcoming products and trends that might change what customers are interesting in buying in the future.

Traits for Effective Communication 11. Empathy

The best leaders understand the feeling of their team members, customers and associates. They know when to praise, and when to discuss problems (usually in private).

Without empathy, leaders will be seen as cold, harsh and lacking understanding. They’re also likely to be regarded as untrustworthy.

One way to ‘put yourself in someone else’s shoes’ is to have regular informal discussions with your colleagues. When you do this, you’ll quickly learn their fears and desires. And when you understand why they have these – you’ll be in a position to express empathy. You can also learn to be more sensitive to others’ needs by taking up these communication skills.

12. Persuasive and influential

Communications are at the heart of all transactions. Whether it’s pitching for a sale or resolving a customer complaint, how you communicate will determine the outcome.

Charismatic leaders such as Richard Branson (Virgin) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) are confident and persuasive communicators. They know how to win over audiences and leave a lasting impressing in people’s minds.

There’re some common barriers that you’ll have to overcome in order to communicate effectively:

How to learn effective communication? You could join the world-renowned U.S. nonprofit Toastmasters International. They’ve been training people in the art of public speaking since 1924, and members have included Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, and Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy.

If you don’t have time to join a club, then practice your communications skills at home. You can do this in front of a mirror, or even better, video yourself presenting, and then ask some friends and family members for feedback. You’ll be amazed at what they pick up on.

Traits for ensuring an engaging team 13. Team building

If you put a bunch of random people together, you may have a loose definition of a team. In reality, a real team has purpose, drive – and a leader lighting the way.

If you’ve worked in different teams and with different managers, you’ll no doubt have come to this conclusion:

Managers who treat their team members like children are unpopular with the team. Conversely, managers who treat their team members like adults, are respected and well-liked by the team.

The days of disciplinarian managers are passed. Nowadays, successful team leaders know how to inspire and motivate their team, while keeping a harmonious atmosphere between all team members.

14. Fostering creativity

Solutions to problems are rarely black and white. Often it takes a leader who can ‘think outside the box’ to come up with answers. In other words, a leader must be creative, and also help to foster creativity and innovation throughout their team.

Creativity is not only associated with pursuits such as arts, literature and music, running a team can be just as creative. There will be times every day when you need to come up with ideas and give guidelines for your team to come up with theirs to solve problems.

Leadership is an amazing experience that will take you on roads you’ve never traveled before. Begin now to build your skills and experience, pick out the traits that you currently lack – and then work on developing those. It will take tons of practice and time before becoming an effective leader but eventually you will join the ranks of great leaders.

Featured photo credit: unsplash via

Reference [1] ^ Harvard Business Review: How John F. Kennedy Changed Decision Making for Us All [2] ^ Biography: Elon Musk function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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The 6 Stages You Experience When You Try to Change Your Behaviors

27. February 2018 - 12:00

There’s no doubt about it – change is tough. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle! In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model: stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

  1. Precontemplation
  2. Contemplation
  3. Determination
  4. Action
  5. Maintenance
  6. Termination
How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

Stage 1: Precontemplation

At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

Stage 2: Contemplation

At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

Stage 3: Preparation

At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

Stage 4: Action

When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

Stage 5: Maintenance

After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

Stage 6: Termination

Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

How long does each stage take?

You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

The limitations of this model

The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

Require the ability to set a realistic goal

For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

Difficult to judge your progress

The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others. Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards? Good luck!

Featured photo credit: Freepik via

Reference [1] ^ Psych Central: Stages Of Change [2] ^ Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change) [3] ^ Empowering Change: Stages of Change [4] ^ Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change) [5] ^ Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior [6] ^ The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model [7] ^ Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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Know The 5 Stages Of Sleep For Better Rest

26. February 2018 - 12:00

We get it. There’s nothing better than an extra 30 minutes of sleep on a warm, cozy bed.

But did you know that it could actually make you more tired?

I know, it sounds counterintuitive. More sleep = more tired doesn’t seem like an equation that makes sense, but hear me out.

After launching my language learning company, Rype, my sleep was completely out of wack. Some nights I would only get 2-3 hours of sleep, while other nights I would get 10, and still feel exhausted. If you can relate, I hope to share the 5 different stages of sleep we all experience, and some actionable tips to help you sleep better!

The 5 Stages of Sleep

It turns out that there are 5 major sleep stages that we all go through during the night. Starting with…

Stage 1 (NREM)

In this first stage, you’re in a NREM (non-rapid eye moment) stage. This is when you’re floating in and out of consciousness. It’s that moment when you feel awake but you also notice your mind is drifting away. You may also feel your muscle jerk that wakes you up into consciousness, also known as hypnic myoclonia.

Stage 2 (NREM)

Stage 2 is when you start to enter the lighter phases of sleep. About half of our sleep time is spent during this NREM stage. This is when your muscle and heart rate begins to relax, and your brain slowly dwindles down.

Stage 3 & 4 (NREM)

These next two stages are combined as they have very similar effects on your sleep, called slow wave sleep (SWS). This is known as the deepest part of the sleep cycle, and one must not be woken up during this stage. If you’ve ever been abruptly woken up in a groggy state, you were probably experiencing slow wave sleep.

The other reason why SWS is vital is because the body rejuvenates itself during this stage. Growth hormones are released, which is used to heal muscle and tissues, and provides important oxygen and nutrients to the body.

Fun fact: these are also the stages when children (or adults) experience sleep walking and bedwetting.

Stage 5 (REM)

This is the final stage of the sleep cycle, and the only stage where you experience REM (rapid eye moment) sleep. While we only spend 20% of our time during this stage, it’s when the brain is most active. It’s likely the most important stage as well because the brain is revitalized for daytime functioning.

The majority of our dreams are also occuring in this final stage of sleep, and the brain waves appear as if we’re awake.

How to Improve Your Sleep Quality

The real question is, how do we actually sleep better? I’ve spent hundreds of dollars and hours experimenting with different solutions, and these are the best tips I have found to be helpful.

1. Block blue light

In the digital world we live in today, the majority of poor sleep quality is due to what’s known as blue light. Studies show that we spend on average 10.5 hours a day in front of our screens (i.e. smartphones, TV, laptops) [1]. Each of these screens emit harmful blue light that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormone. In short, this tricks our brain to feel ‘awake’ when we should be in relaxed mode.

The best way to combat this effectively is to invest in a pair of blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) that you can wear while you work, and 90 minutes before you sleep.

Recommended: iGOTHAM Eyewear

2. Adjust your room temperature

Sleep experts have shown that room temperature between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for the best sleep. A room with extreme temperatures leads to more frequent awakenings and lighter sleep.

This can be extremely difficult if you have a sleeping partner, which is why I recommend Chilipad. It’s a heating and cooling pad that you place underneath your bedsheets. Best of all, you can place it just on your side of the bed so you can customize the best temperature for you, without disturbing your sleeping partner.

Recommended: Chilipad

3. Optimize for REM sleep

Given how important REM sleep is in our sleep stage, we should optimize our sleep time around it. The best way to do that is to

It turns out that our sleep cycle contains a REM stage every 90 minutes. That means if you know when you want to wake up (ex. 6 am), then you want to work backwards in 90 minute increments to find out when to sleep.

If your goal is to wake up at 6 am, then you will likely need to fall asleep at 10:30 pm or 12:00 am to meet the 90 minute rule. You can also use a sleep calculator to make this process more automated.

Recommended: (sleep calculator)

Next steps

I hope this was useful for those of you that struggle with getting quality sleep in your life. As someone who has struggled with insomnia, these tips are dear to my heart.

Like many of you, I procrastinated on taking action in improving my sleep. But I can tell you from personal experience the positive impact it has had in my life, once I put these tips into action.

My recommendation is to try out at least one of these tips. Once you notice the positive effects in your sleep, you can try another, and so forth.

If you are a struggling night owl, read here to learn tips on how to get more rest.

Reference [1] ^ IGOTHAM: Our Story function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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Why Giving up Is Not an Option (And How to Stay Motivated)

23. February 2018 - 12:00

We all get them – those feelings of doubt, fear, lack of self-confidence and lack of self-belief. Whatever it is we want to achieve in life, no matter how much we want it, there will always be times when you hit a challenging period, your motivation hits a wall and you feel like giving up.

When difficult times do stop you in your tracks, you need a way to push through, learn and understand what it is that’s truly demotivating you, what your mindset is telling you about the way you deal with challenges and coming out the other side a strong, successful person.

In this article you’ll learn that tough times make even the most motivated person consider giving up and this is completely normal. That despite the overwhelming feeling of wanting to just give up, it’s actually the most important time not to.

What creates your desire to give up

Identifying the reasons why giving up seems like the best option is so important. There are many reasons why people want to give up and each is driven by different motivations. However, there are a few human instincts that come into play here.

  • Mistaking lessons for failure: Not being able to see the roadblock for the lesson it is and keep going anyway.
  • The outcome is more important than the journey: Putting more emphasis on the end result and dismissing the importance of how you’re getting to the end goal and growing along the way.
  • Seeing the failure before it’s even happened: Self-sabotaging yourself by creating the thought that it just won’t happen. This is usually down to limiting beliefs and lack of self-belief.
  • Lack of discipline: Realizing that achieving your dream won’t just fall into your lap within a few weeks but will actually take hard work and determination.
  • Not adjusting to changes: Not embracing changes in direction, the need to tweak ideas or finding things evolve differently to how you originally imagined it and taking it as a sign it’s not meant to work out, are showing you that you’re not open to changes and the natural evolution to something even more amazing.

People often say, the moment they almost decided to give up was the moment just before they had a breakthrough. While demotivation, failure and giving up feels horrible, there’s a reason for this; it’s because you’re giving up on something that deep down you know is possible. 

Why you should think twice about giving up

The power lies with your mindset and shifting this is key to keeping up the motivation you need when the going gets tough. This is why it’s important to realize why you shouldn’t give in and give up.

Instant success is a myth

It is a generation of instant gratification which creates the illusion that everyone needs what they want. People look at other successful people and assume they got overnight success but in reality it took hard work and a lot of failing to get where they did. Most never see the journey but only the destination, and they fall in love with this idea that they don’t need to work hard to get it.

Understand this is a myth. Don’t be deterred by this because actually the journey is where the magic happens and makes your end goal ever more sweet.

A different approach maybe needed

People judge themselves so harshly and assume that they are just not capable if they seem to be failing at something they want. It could simply be resolved by trying a different approach.

People are often so focused on the end goal and believe there’s just one or two ways to get there. In fact there may be a hundred more avenues that their mind isn’t opening up to.

Open up and change your perspective. Are there other ways you can do it that feels better to you?

You’ll always wonder ‘what if’

That feeling of regret can hit you hard. What if I’d just stuck with it? I could have achieved it by now. What if I hadn’t given up, how different my life would be?

While regret is the number one thing you shouldn’t waste your time doing, before you quit your dream just imagine how your life could transform and where you could be in a year, two years or five years.

Don’t give your future self the chance to become regretful because of the one decision you make in the present moment.

You could be quitting right before your success

Many times, when people give up, they’re actually just a step away from success like this:

The toughest times are a precursor to a major breakthrough to success. Think of it as being tested just to make sure this is exactly what you want.

Decide yes, I still want this more than ever! You’re pretty much saying yep, give it to me now I deserve this after all I’ve done and this is usually the time it happens. Keep going! It’s all about trust that it’s going to work out.

It’ll happen again and again

Do you find yourself quitting things a lot?  By default, your habitual mindsets and thought patterns play out over and over again throughout your life if you don’t identify and change them. Don’t think, ‘I’ll have another go in a year’s time’ because you are really likely to repeat exactly the same pattern again.

It’s important to sit down with yourself and identify why you have a tendency to give up. This may feel uncomfortable and you may feel resistance to doing the process. But once you actually work through your limiting beliefs, they can be released really quickly and help you to remove mental obstacles you didn’t know were stopping you.

Struggle does not equate to failure

We’ve been led to believe en mass that struggle is something to be ashamed of. It’s somehow a negative representation of our core character and ability to move through the world. I’m here to tell you it’s not. Never think of hard times as failure. In fact, just take failure out of your vocabulary. Stop caring about what others think and just know and believe you are capable of getting through it and coming out the other end.

Struggle actually builds character. It’s there to serve you – to help you learn something you’ll need to use later on. Stop assuming struggle is negative but see it as a blessing on your road to great success.

How to stay motivated

The thing people tend to forget when all they want to do is give up is that failure doesn’t fix anything. Maybe for a moment you’ll feel relief because you no longer have to face that challenge, but the satisfaction will be fleeting. The misery you were experiencing will be back, one way or another.

The real challenge you’re experiencing in that moment is your own weakness manifesting in a physical form. When you accept that you aren’t worthy or good enough, that’s the mind set you will keep.

No matter what challenge you are facing (be it work or play) you will struggle with maintaining your optimism, dedication and will power because you haven’t addressed the real issue: yourself.

Imagine the Great Challenge as a big rock in front of you.

If you choose to give up, you work around the stone just to go around it.

Yet the fastest way to get over it is to break this big rock and go right through it.

It’s the same with your weaknesses. You could continue to adjust your life to fit your fears (i.e. no longer job-hunting because you’ve accepted you will always fail), or you could keep sending out applications and calling to follow up and schedule interviews.

No matter how great the challenge is, breaking it down is a must.

In order to truly stay motivated, no matter how great the challenge is, you’ve got to learn to break the Great Challenge down.

To truly overcome your weakness, you need break down the big rock into smaller pieces and deal with the small stones piece by piece.

Right now it may seem impossible. It may seem like this is the hardest thing you will ever go through. But remember how often your threshold changes.

Below are some tips that can help you take those first steps in keeping your chin up and truly facing the difficult choices in your life:

1. Figure out what you lack

No matter what the challenge you’re facing may be, there’s a reason it’s challenging to you. If it’s a job, why is it you aren’t getting hired? Go back through the job listings and skills required and find the common thread your resume doesn’t have. Is it not listed because you don’t have it? If so, work on doing something to give you that skill. Be it an online course or a volunteer project, do something to help push you closer to the “perfect candidate.”

2. Be patient with yourself

No one becomes a CEO overnight. If you have big dreams, you’re going to have to do big work to accomplish them. It’s okay to take time figuring out the best way to proceed, but it’s not okay to walk away because it’s challenging.

3. Be proud of yourself for every small win

Have you ever noticed how a small mistake can weigh on you for days? Whether or not you categorize yourself as a dramatic person doesn’t matter when it comes to the guilt we so often put upon ourselves. But when we make small strides in achieving our goal(s), we never seem to give ourselves much respect.

When we fail to pat ourselves on the back for little victories, it decreases our motivation and makes it much harder to achieve big goals.[1]

4. Remember that you aren’t the first to feel this way

When we face difficult choices or events in our lives, we often forget that we are not the first/only/last to experience this. Everyone faces hard decisions – be it deciding to end a relationship, changing careers, moving to a different place and leaving friends behind. We all go through it.

So don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends or family for a sounding board. In some cases, they may even be able to offer you advice you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

5. Know that you will grow as a person just from going through it

We build character through those hard times. The old cliche, “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” is true. When you go through something challenging, you learn from it, regardless of the outcome. Recognize the opportunities for learning and personal development.

6. Remember that you have choices

No matter how hard the challenge you’re facing may be, one of the best things you can focus on is that you have choices. Only you can decide how you handle something and the steps you take. More so, only you can decide how you take the next step.

You have the power to stand in your own way and to get out of it. Allow yourself to stay motivated by choosing to be stay motivated.

Choose to see obstacles as lessons. Ask yourself, what is this showing me? What is it bringing up for me? In most cases, they’re there to point you in a direction you’ve previously not considered. Trust in this and keep going.

Featured photo credit: Vecteezy via

Reference [1] ^ Selfication: The Power of Small Wins: Why Celebrating Your Progress is Crucial for Long-Term Success function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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24 Best Habit Tracking Apps (2018 Updated)

22. February 2018 - 12:00

Everyday our lives are governed by habit. These habits are the little routines and small ways of doing things. Most people are unaware or are only slightly aware that they’re doing them.

Some habits, like smoking, can have harmful effects on your health; others like procrastination can affect your work and career.

Therefore it’s important to take back control. This can be extremely hard, some habits after all are so ingrained that we do them without thinking. Luckily there are many habits tracking apps available especially designed to help you tackle your bad habits.

1. Momentum Habit Tracker

This app has a number of great features which makes it ideal for keeping track of habits and routines.

One of the most interesting features is that with Momentum, you can import your data into an Excel document, which allows for cross platform viewing of your progress. On top of this you’re able to set weekly targets and take notes allowing you to easily take control of your habits.

But unlike many apps on this list, Momentum is optimized exclusively for apple devices and as such, you won’t find it on Android which is unfortunate. However a benefit of this exclusivity is that your profile on Momentum can be easily integrated on the iCloud.

Download: iOS

2. Habitica

Habitica is extremely creative in its approach to tracking and maintaining good habits. It is inspired by RPG video games, each task you complete will level up your customized avatar giving you an extra incentive to stay motivated.

Its unique video game inspired design makes keeping track of your habits and goals fun.

The app isn’t limited to just habit tracking, but with it you can join your friends and complete quests and missions. It’s not just video game inspired, but is a game in itself.

But those who aren’t interested in video games may not prefer Habitica.

Download: iOS and Android

3. Productive Habit Tracker

Productive’s simple, but well designed interface makes keeping track of your habits simple. It is intuitively designed, with it, you’ll be able to starting planning in seconds.

Though it is simple in its design, it is full of great features, and best of all. The app keeps track of your successes, meaning you’ll be able to measure your continuing improvement and stay motivated.

Download: iOS

4. StickK

StickK was developed by behavioral economists at the prestigious Yale University. On signing up, you create a commitment contract with yourself and the app to reach your goals, you can even bet money on yourself.

For added motivation, you can assign a friend or family member to check your data to ensure you’re on your way to reaching your goals.

The unique commitment contract idea could be a brilliant way to stay motivated. This aspect is backed by great research, the app is based on the principles of Thaler’s nudge theory

On top of everything, the app has an eye catching and interesting layout.

Download: iOS and Android

5. Habitshare

Habitshare blends a social networking site with a habit tracker, allowing you to grow habits with friends.

The social options are well done and relatively uncommon, and unlike others with a social networking options, there is a messaging options allowing you to communicate with friends in real time. This allows you to motivate your friends, or be motivated by them, with it your goals become team efforts. You can also disable the social aspect and keep things private.

However, Habitshare doesn’t allow you to schedule tasks to be done on a monthly basis, which may be useful if you usually schedule monthly bill paying.

Download: iOS and Android

6. MindSet: The Good Habit App™

Mindset, has a warm, friendly layout that is easy to understand and use.

Though many apps have a journal system, Mindset brings it to the front and center which is useful if you know that there will be many things to remember.

Currently the app is only available to registered users of Mindset which is offered with membership to certain groups and organisations.

Download: iOS and Android

7. Streaks

This apple design award winner is built around encouraging you to maintain a 12 day streak of a good habit, as such it is a great way to stay motivated.

The interface is extremely customizible, as such, you can make it suit you and your tastes.What’s more it can be easily integrated with Health app, one of the most popular apps on the IOS. Used together, you’ll be able to develop healthy habits with ease. If you’re falling behind, the app will send you a reminder, and keep you on target.

Download: iOS

8. Habit List

Habit List is all about developing and maintaining a streak of beneficial habits.

It is great at tracking your habits over a long period of time, enabling you to easily make sense of your progress in a way that is easy to read and understand.

If you have a complicated schedule, or want to complete specific tasks on specific days, you can easily set a calendar of activities to complete, and view them accordingly.

Download: iOS

9. Balanced

Balanced is designed to help you keep track and measure your sleeping patterns, your exercise, and time you spend sitting, encouraging you to develop healthier habits.

Unlike many apps, Balanced is completely focused on healthy habits. It gets you to be concentrated on only three activities at a time so you won’t be overwhelmed.

Download: iOS and Android

10. Simple Habit Tracker

Don’t be fooled by its name, simple habit tracker is one of the more interesting habit trackers and is packed with interesting features.

If you’re looking for inspiration, the app comes with over 200 pre-designed habits to get you started. One of the most appealing things is the s beautifully designed and eye catching interface.

Download: iOS

11. Habitbull

Habit-bull is one of the most feature-rich habit tracker apps and it’s detailed recording system means you’ll be able to get detailed information about your progress.

If you’re aiming to increase your fitness, Habitbull can be integrated with GoogleFit.

If you’re worried about losing your data, don’t worry it can all be backed up on the cloud, meaning you’ll never need to worry about losing track of your data.

But anyone who’s looking for a more simple habit tracker may find this one complicated.

Download: iOS and Android

12. Strides Habit Tracker

Strides Habit Tracker is a good all rounder, with all you expect from a great habit tracker and more.

The app is quick and easy to use, so you’ll be able to start developing great habits right away. If you plan to complete a set number of tasks for a specific date, the app calculates if you’re on track to complete it on time, enabling you to tailor your habits around your goals.

Download: iOS

13. comes with all you might expect from a quality habit tracking app, with the extra unique feature of being able to hire either a habit coach or even a leadership coach for extra costs.

The coach hiring feature, if you can afford it, has the potential of having a radical impact on your goals and productivity. There are two options, leadership coaching and habit coaching, so you’ll be able to get the training you need.

Download: iOSAndroidWeb Browser

14. 42 Goals

42 Goals is quite simple in its design, but comes with many of the features you’d expect. Unlike many similar apps, it is optimized mostly for web browsers. The website has an online community allowing you to share your progress with friends.

Currently it is neither on IOS or Android, but they are in development, so stay tuned!

Get started:

15. Habit – 21 day routine

Habit – 21 day routine is built around the principle that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, as such, it encourages you to maintain a new habit over 21 consecutive days.

The app’s layout is beautifully designed. The idea that it takes 21 days to form a new habit is supported by research, as such it is possible you’ll find it extremely beneficial.

The app limits you to one habit at a time, with extra costs attached to additional habits. And at the moment there seems to be no free version

Download: iOS

16. is fairly unique in its approach, each time you stick to your habit, your chain grows, helping you stay motivated.

The app has a beautiful and intuitive interface. Most importantly, it can be used both online and off, allowing you to keep track of your habits wherever you are

This is not a free app but it is relatively inexpensive.

Download: iOS

17. Done

Done gives you the ability to track an activity multiple times a day, on top of this, the app is full of the features you’d expect from a great habit tracker.

With the app, you can easily track habits you want to build up, and ones you want to slowly eliminate. Unlike many other apps, it features a number of customization options making it suit your tastes.

The Premium version (paid) even allows you to export your habit data as a CSV file or on Dropbox.

Unless you upgrade to premium, you can only track 3 habits on the basic version.

Download: iOS

18. Good Habits

Good Habits offers many great ways to track the progress of your habits thanks to its smart design.

The app enables you to look at the precise data of your habits and chains. Enabling you to check your progress with ease (paid version).

It can be used with Apple Watch and the Today Widget for extra usability.

Unfortunately, there ultimately is not too much to set it apart from other apps. But if you like the way it looks, you might have a great time.

Download: iOS

19. Habitify

Habitify is bold in its design, and is both sleek and easy to use, and complicated and detailed.

Habitify allows you to keep focused boy showing you the habits and jobs needed to do sooner first, making it ideal for busy people. Detailed graphs and statistics show you all you need to know about your progress and your habits.

It can also be seamlessly synchronized across all you iOS devices.

It is relatively low on customization options, but if this isn’t a problem for you, you’ll find a lot to love

Download: iOS

20. Sessions

Sessions is a well designed app great for timing your activities and habits.

It is visually pleasing to look at thanks to its uncluttered interface. It allows you to set specific amounts of time to perform each activity, you’ll be able to carefully plan and structure your day and routine. You can also track your progress as you develop your habits and routines for maximum efficiency.

Download: iOS

21. Morning Routine Habit Planner

Morning Routine allows you to focus on one habit at a time, ensuring you stay focused.

It can be used in conjunction with Siri, for hands free use, a rare and useful feature.

The app includes inspiring advice from influential and successful people, which is a great motivator.

Download: iOS

22. Persistence

Persistence has many ways to make you stay motivated. The app tells you when you are on or off target for completing your goals enabling you to correct yourself and succeed.

Being able to quickly tell when you are off and on target is extremely useful, ensuring you’ll always know when are where to push yourself or relax. As well as this, there are numerous other options and ways to track your goals.

It also allows you to enter notes about your progress and habits to ensure you remember all you need.
It has a $1.99 price tag with no free version. But it’s still less than a cup of coffee!

Download: iOS

23. Rabbit, Habit Reminders

Rabbit is a way to set yourself regular reminders to help you maintain your good habits and routines. If you are looking for a simple way to set reminders, you’ll find a lot to like here.

However, it lacks many of the features common in other habit tracking apps, such as the ability to make notes and keep a log of your successes or failures making it difficult to tell how you are progressing.

Download: iOS

24. Way of Life

Way of Life advertises itself as the “ultimate habit building app” and you can see why. It comes laden with features to ensure you are in control of your habits and routines.

On first use, users are presented with an interactive tutorial, to ensure they quickly know how to understand and use all the key features, including: the ability to share your progress on your social media profiles, export your data as an Excel file or CSV file, archive your completed goals for a full record of your success.

Some may find the layout complicated, however this is mitigated thanks to the tutorial.

Download: iOS and Android

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Leadership vs Management: Is One Better Than the Other?

21. February 2018 - 12:00

Being an excellent manager doesn’t make someone a strong leader. We’ve all run into someone who uses the titles interchangeably, and it can be frustrating.

Knowing the difference leadership vs management helps you understand your role in your organization. By recognizing the difference, you can sharpen your abilities so that you can reach your fullest potential. Knowing what separates managers and leaders can also help you figure out how to achieve the best balance of leadership and management qualities.

In this article, I will explore the similarities and differences between leaders and managers, and help you figure out how to get the best of both worlds.

What are leadership and management?

A leader’s power comes from their ability to get buy-in from others. They use their influence to challenge norms and guide innovation. As Drucker implies, leaders sometimes bend the rules to spur change. Peter Drucker aptly puts it:[1]

“The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers. To gain followers requires influence but doesn’t exclude the lack of integrity in achieving this.”

Managers ensure that employees conform to standards and adhere to policies. They make sure that the goals of their leaders are carried out. They are capable and responsible, but their contribution to organizations is strictly by-the book.[2]

Key differences between leadership and management Focus on goals and vision vs. Focus on tasks

Leaders are oriented toward their company’s vision and goals. They look at the big picture and come up with new ways to actualize their vision.[3] When leaders try new things, they always tie their ideas back to the company’s mission.

Managers are task-masters. While they may care about an organization’s vision, their job is to stick to policy. Managers carry out the big ideas for their organization’s leaders.

Sell it vs. Tell it

Since leaders are always on the cusp of innovation, they have to convince others that their ideas are worthwhile. Remember, they gain their authority by encouraging others to buy into their line of thinking.

On the other hand, managers don’t have to sell an idea because their role is to enforce policies. If someone steps out of line, they can fall back on procedures. Employees do as their managers tell them.

Take risks vs. Minimize risks

Anytime you try something new, you must take a risk. Leaders take risks by default because they often push for change.

Managers are put in place to keep risks to a minimum. They make sure that workers are doing what they’re supposed to do in the manner the company tells them to. When problems arise, a manager may take the problem to leadership to amend policies.

Encourage vs. Instruct

The lines between management and leadership blur here depending on how the manager approaches their duties. Ultimately, leaders offer encouragement to employees to think outside the box and see the big picture.

Managers usually have clear guidelines about different aspects of their workplace. They may provide encouragement, but their main job is to tell you how things are supposed to be done. They’re the person you turn to when you want to figure out the best way to do your job.

Go against the grain vs. Go with the flow

Leaders need to challenge the status quo or else their organization risks stagnation.[4] They try new things to see if they can be more effective. They work to align company policies with the company’s vision.

Managers, on the other hand, maintain the status quo. They’re doing their best work when they are enforcing the guidelines set out by the leaders.

Motivate vs. Approve

When you try new things, your risk of failing increases. Leaders must be motivated, and they’re great at keeping others motivated. They tie everything they do back to the company’s vision. When a company has a strong vision, a leader can use it as a rallying point for inspiring employees.

When you’re managing people, your main objective is to decide if something passes muster. Managers look at their subordinates’ actions and determine whether they meet the standards set out by the company.

Break the rules vs. Follow the rules

Leaders have to play fast and loose with the rules to get ahead. Rules are often too rigid to allow for innovation, which means that leaders frequently bend them. When a company or organization is badly broken, leaders may disregard the rules entirely.

If a manager wants to keep their job, they stick to the strategies set out by superiors. Bending and breaking the rules undermines their position, which can weaken the company.

Inspire trust vs. Expect control

When someone is guiding you through uncharted territory, you must have a certain level of trust in them. A strong leader is excellent at inspiring trust to take people to places they’ve never been.

Managers’ authority rests in their ability to have control outright. You don’t have to like or trust your manager to do what you’re told. Managers expect and need control to do their job well.

Foster ideas vs. Assign tasks

Leaders thrive on making improvements by trying new things. They foster new ideas and free thinking because this supports their aims. They know that if they can encourage more people to think outside the box, the collective brainpower of the group will drive more innovation.

Managers can’t encourage free thinking because they wouldn’t be able to fulfill company expectations. Telling people what to do is the only way they can ensure that employees will do what they’re supposed to in the way they’re supposed to do it.

Is one better than the other?

As you may have noted, there are some stark differences between leaders and managers, but leadership and management are complementary.

Leaders are risk-taking, innovating, game-changers. Managers are by-the-book maintainers of the status quo. That doesn’t mean that it’s better to be one or the other.

Companies need managers and leaders to run smoothly. A lack of management puts organizations at risk for falling out of compliance and not meeting goals. A lack of leadership leads to a stagnant and uninspired workforce.

Leaders and managers may exist at opposite ends of a spectrum when it comes to authority, but they’re on the same team. A leader can have a grand vision, but without managers to carry it out, the vision won’t be realized. Managers have to adhere to standards, but if they aren’t inspired by leadership, they won’t be able to share their vision with the workforce.

How to strike the balance between leadership and management

There’s a happy medium between leadership and management. In some cases, you do need someone to perform as strictly one or the other. The best authority figures know when to apply leadership and management to greater and lesser degrees.

When to use leadership skills:

The degree to which you’re able to use leadership skills depends on your workforce and your company’s way of operating. If your members are clear about the team’s vision and goals, they’re more likely to be inspired by a leader.

For an authority figure to lean more toward leadership, they need to be able to trust that workers are already fully aware of and compliant with company policies. If you constantly have to babysit your team members to perform basic tasks, it’s going to be difficult to encourage free thinking.

When a team is made up of dedicated individuals who understand their roles, you have more leeway. They’ll be able to handle innovation and creativity while keeping up with their responsibilities. When a leader can enter into a dialogue with workers about company policies, they can come up with new ideas together.

When to take on the role of a manager:

When you’re new on the job, you need somebody to tell you how things should be done. Managers are an absolute necessity when your team members are new. They can help workers figure out how to do their jobs in the most efficient way possible.

Managers are also excellent at figuring out how much employees are capable of. They know that giving them too many responsibilities can have a negative impact on their performance and morale. They safeguard employee productivity by understanding how each person works and responds to stress.

Organizations always need managers to help employees with uncertainties that they may have about their work. The manager is the person who can show you where to find a procedure in the handbook. They take the mystery out of the work so that employees can meet company expectations.

Running a company made only of leaders would be like herding cats. Having managers run the show means that you’ll get a lot done, but you’ll never get better. Organizations need managers and leaders to reach their full potential. You can’t have one without the other.

Featured photo credit: pixabay via

Reference [1] ^ Lund University: Leadership vs Management: A Business Excellence / Performance Management view [2] ^ EBA: The Leadership versus Management debate: What’s the difference? [3] ^ go2HR: Understanding the Differences: Leadership vs. Management [4] ^ Wall Street Journal: What is the Difference Between Management and Leadership? function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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Achieve Inbox 0 To Increase 100% Team Efficiency

20. February 2018 - 16:00

Founders and CEOs are always short on time, and their plates will never be cleared. But in order to succeed long-term, all leaders have to decide on strategic things they cannot let slip. These bottom lines form the rituals that help leaders make key decisions to help their teams get work done. It’s proven time and again that founders like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg need to have a ‘superhuman’ work ethic[1] to stay on top of their businesses.

Whether it’s wearing the same clothes like Obama, Zuckerberg, and the late Steve Jobs does, or setting fixed times to finish all your tasks, having an anchor ritual is key. When leading a company, a leader’s most critical role is decision making. You do not want to become the bottleneck[2] that’s holding your awesome team members back.

To help your business grow, you must achieve inbox 0. By ensuring that you’ve addressed all messages at the end of the day, your team will be able to hit the ground running tomorrow. Below are the ways I do it.

Turn off all notifications

First, turn off all your notifications. The cost of task switching[3] can break your train of thought and becomes a complete diversion. As tempting as it is to think that you must pick up those phone calls or respond to a direct message, don’t. Instead, by creating a response time buffer to protects your focus. You are giving yourself the space to return to only the important items later on. Read here to see why multi tasking isn’t as good as you thought it would be.

Set times to check messages

Give yourself two or three fixed times throughout the day to clean your inbox and other apps such as Slack, Hipchat, Pipedrive for sales and even Git if you are technical. By giving yourself a block of time to respond to messages, you are also giving more time to give thoughtful responses. Messages often fall into the problem solving or planning[4] type of work that is a different mindset from procedural tasks.

Use Automation tools so nothing slips through

Use a tool to help you collect all your messages in one place, such as Franz. Even more simply, bookmark all your messaging platforms (e-mail, Whatsapp, Trello, Asana, Missive, or Pipedrive) in one browser folder and open them all at once. Automate tasks like these so that you don’t have to spend time thinking about which platforms or channels to check every day.

Don’t give yourself tomorrow

“I’ll check that message tomorrow” is a luxury you can never allow yourself. That one message will quickly become two, three, and a hopeless pile by the end of the week. Productivity is the mentality of holding yourself to a standard. If you are staying up too late to clear your inbox, think about optimizing your schedule in other ways. For example, can you delegate some decision making tasks to team leads? Another way is to rearrange your social schedule or finding the most optimal times during the day to work on different tasks.

Give yourself a basic Yes / No question

Finally, learn to prioritize instantly by screening messages with a yes/no question. When scanning a notification, ask yourself: will this take less than 2 minutes to address? If yes, clear it now to reduce your task list. If it will take longer, then create an item on your favorite to-do app. Also consider importance and urgency. Is someone dependent on your answer? If yes, and your response only takes one line, then provide an answer to allow your colleague to continue their work.

As a leader, your responses are essential to guiding your company. By doing small behavioural changes, you can achieve inbox 0 by screening message priorities and scheduling dedicated time slots to respond.

Reference [1] ^ Business Insider: The unorthodox productivity hacks of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg [2] ^ Medium: How I attracted awesome team members as an introverted founder [3] ^ Fast Company: Worker, Interrupted: The Cost of Task Switching [4] ^ 99u: The 5 Types of Work That Fill Your Day function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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