Your philosophy for life matters. Here’s why

Philosophy for LifeDo you believe your own philosophy for life is important dear reader?

What do I mean by ‘your own philosophy‘?

In this case I’m not referring to the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and existence and people like Aristotle.

By philosophy I’m referring to your mind-set, whether it’s positive or negative, and how you choose to see the world around you.

I believe personal philosophy really does matter.

I think how you choose to look at life and the world around you will influence your life experiences to a greater degree than you might expect. It’ll also influence how happy you’ll be.

My own philosophy for life is simple.

Firstly I accept the world around me is the world around me. It is what it is. Stuff happens and I have little or no control over most of what happens. That’s just life.

Politicians will come and politicians will go. They’ll promise much but deliver very little usually.

Philosophically I accept that which I cannot influence directly. I see little point in worrying about any of it. Why worry about stuff you can’t change?

In my experience people will always look after their own interests first.

That’s fair enough if you think about it because why would they do otherwise? If they don’t look after their own interests then no one else will that’s for sure.

The underlying point here is that most of what’s happening around us is all just noise really. All we can do is work around it. And basically that’s what I try to do.

I focus on my own interests and those of my family and I always do my best to protect what’s mine. My family will always come first and I will do anything for them. Well, anything that’s legal at least.

To do the best for my family I recognise that I have to be the best that I can be. To have skills and knowledge that will allow me to add as much value in my work as I possibly can. So I take personal development seriously. That way the more value I can add the greater will be my income.

I’m a reader and a keen learner and I’m constantly working to add to my skillset and knowledge. Learning for me is a lifelong process, it never stops, and I will keep learning until I no longer have the energy to pick up a book.

I believe that the better informed we are then the better prepared we’ll be to excel in our chosen field of work. We’ll also be better prepared to seize any opportunities that come our way too.

Let’s face it dear reader, work is just doing stuff for other people in exchange for money.

We work in order to generate income. And we generate income to put bread on the table and a roof over ourselves and the heads of our loved ones.

Whilst work gives us a sense of purpose and adds value to our lives, we should not live just to work. The idea should be to work to live. Well I think so anyway.

We must work hard when we’re at work of course but we must enjoy life with family as much as possible too. As they say where I come from, we’ll be a long time dead.

My aim in life is to be financially independent with multiple income streams.

With multiple income streams there’s a reduced risk of not having any income at all. I think it makes sense not having all your eggs in one basket.

Essentially I see life as a game. And my aim is to become a master of the game of life.

We must look after our own interests because no one else will.

We must be prepared to be ruthless when necessary. By that I don’t mean being nasty or mean to people but if you don’t push hard sometimes, chances are you’ll lose out to those who are willing to make good use of their elbows.

My point is that we can’t afford to be overly sentimental and on occasions in making the right decisions for us it may prove to be less favourable for someone else.

If that happens, that’s life I’m afraid. We must make decisions that are right for us.

Sometimes you really have got to be prepared to use your elbows if you’re going to grab your fair share of life’s pie. Don’t be too willing to let other people go first. You might find there’s nothing left for you.

As always there’s a balance to be struck of course but never lose sight of your own interests and never do anything which works against your own interests.

There is no utopian place where all’s well and the sun shines every day. Life’s life. Some of it’s good and some of it’s not quite so good.

However in the end it’s what we make of it that counts. We get out what we put in. There’s no free ride for anyone. On Spaceship Earth we’re all crew.

All you can do with life is deal with it as best you can.

Enjoy the summers but make sure you’re prepared for the winters too. Winters always follow summers, so be prepared.

Enjoy the good times and when life gets difficult all you can do is take it on the chin and move on.

Worrying about anything you cannot control just steals your joy and spoils your day.

Life’s too short. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are and most of all enjoy every minute because the years all go by in the blink of an eye. So don’t die before you’ve lived.

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How to develop effective time management skills

Time Management Skills1. Time Management Skills:

Developing effective time management skills is an essential ingredient for success, I’m sure you’ll agree. You can’t add real value without making the best use of your time.

However making the best use is not always easy in practice, is it?

So, how good are you dear reader at managing your time?

Do you have a reputation for being ruthlessly efficient and productive or are you someone who’s always struggling to keep up?

When someone asks you to do something in the office, do you accept their request without question and simply add the task to your ‘To Do’ list? If you do, you’re not alone. Many people will do that in my experience.

Alternatively, perhaps you’re the type who thinks carefully relative to your priorities before you accept such a request? Now be honest. We’d all like to think we’re the latter, when in fact far too many people are the former I think.

2. Productivity is what really matters:

In the world of work it’s easy to confuse being busy with being productive but these two concepts are not the same thing at all, are they?

For instance, you can be busy doing things that don’t really need doing at all. Whereas being genuinely productive means delivering real results from high value tasks which can only be done by someone with your skills.

And let’s face it, reputations are built by being productive not merely by being busy. It’s the results you deliver not energy you expend that matter most.

3. Time is your most precious resource:

How often do you hear someone say, “Oh, I would love to do that, if only I had the time.

And yet we all have exactly the same amount of time, i.e. 168 hours per week.

Time is simply a resource like money, albeit it’s more important than money. I say that because you can get more money but you can’t get more time. None of can do that, can we?

So you must learn to use your time wisely. Time is your most precious resource, so you must develop effective time management skills.

4. High value tasks must take precedence:

Modern pressures mean it’s easy for us to try to do too many things. We can all be a bit like that, including me dear reader.

Our lives are cluttered with too many activities, too many objectives, too many distractions and far too many demands on our time.

The result is that we tend to lose focus on what really matters most and in the end we don’t do anything as well as we should have done.

In my experience, in most jobs you’ll find that 90% of productivity is down to completing the top three or four major activities within that job. What I’d call high value tasks.

If you take the top three major activities, the high value tasks, associated with your job and focus on those to the exclusion of just about everything else you’ll almost certainly maximise your productivity and efficiency.

5. The most common time management mistake:

The problem is, when we’re working, we seem to find it easier to focus on minor tasks and random actions requested by other people.

We feel obliged to accept requests from others. It’s a common mistake of which we can all be guilty.

Now, whilst tidying up all those minor tasks might make us feel like we’re achieving some quick wins we’re usually fooling ourselves.

By the end of the day we’re usually left with a sense that we haven’t done all we should have done and that leaves us feeling stressed.

And that’s when we start to think about how we might improve our time management.

6. We can’t do everything, nor should we try:

We must recognise that we can’t do everything but we can be selective about what we choose to do.

And if we’re going to get those major tasks of higher value completed then they must take precedence over those low value, minor tasks, which can always wait if necessary.

High value tasks should always take precedence over low value tasks.

7. Work smarter:

People often think of time management as a skill which would allow them to work faster. Well let me tell you this, that’s not the idea at all.

Effective time management skills allow us to work smarter, rather than harder.

Instead of getting lost in the minutiae of everyday life, with effective time management skills, we focus on and prioritise those things that will add most value to our productivity. In other words, we focus on high value activity.

8. The law of three:

So. if time management is an issue for you dear reader, start by taking a good hard look at your list of daily activities and ask yourself these three questions:-

  1. What single task can only I do and when completed by me will add the most value to the business?
  2. What’s the second task on my list only I can do and when I’ve completed it would allow me to add the most value to the business?
  3. What is the third task on my list only I can do and when completed by me will add the most value to the business?

Once you’ve identified your list of three major, high value tasks then that’s where your focus should be each day before you touch any other minor tasks or accept random requests from other people.

9. The most powerful time management tool:

The point of work is to deliver results. You’ll deliver the best results if you concentrate on your top three major tasks first.

And never forget that you’ll be be judged by the results you actually deliver. No one cares what you had to do for someone else, they only care about the results they expected from you.

Your time is your time and you must decided how it is to be used most effectively.

Just because someone asks for a piece of your time doesn’t mean you’re obliged to give it to them at the expense of your own productivity. Never be afraid to deploy the most effective time management tool of them all.

And what is the most effective time management tool? It’s the word NO.

Think of the word NO as a baseball bat.

Whenever someone makes a request of you then NO is the means by which you can whack that request right out of the ballpark.

10. Be in control of your time at all times:

You’re not obliged to agree to a request even if someone asks nicely. It’s reasonable to be working to your own priorities.

All too often we feel obliged to do things for other people when actually we should have just said politely, “No, I’m really sorry but I can’t do that right now for you because I have to deliver this by 5pm and it’s a priority.”

If our personal productivity matters to us, and it should, then our focus should always be on our own major, high value deliverables.

Unfortunately we allow ourselves to be driven by the agendas of other people.

However that’s not good for our productivity, nor is it good for our well-being and stress levels.

11. People will take everything you’re prepared to give:

I can tell you from experience that other people will take everything you’re prepared to give and a bit more besides. That’s the nature of people.

However if you fail to deliver what you’re actually being paid to deliver, then no list of incidental work completed for other people will be accepted as an adequate plea in your defence when your boss wants to know why you’ve failed to deliver your own high value results.

If you’re painting my house I’ll measure you on the quality and timeliness of your work, not the amount of help you gave to my neighbour by, say, looking after her dog.

What you do for other people is irrelevant to me, should you fail to deliver what I’m actually paying you to deliver.

12. Focus on your priorities:

In reality if your colleagues can’t get something done by you they’ll simply ask someone else. So let them.

Why worry? Just be very polite when faced with a random request but say NO firmly. I can tell you this, you’ll have to be disciplined but it’s a habit well worth developing.

We can all be guilty of expending far too much of our energy helping other people achieve their aims, to the detriment of our own interests and our ability to deliver our own high value results.

To achieve anything of significance in life we must be focused on our own major activities.

We must concentrate on completing our big three major high value deliverables daily and focus relentlessly on working towards achieving our own goals generally.

13. The need for balance:

If you’re asked to do something then it’s perfectly reasonable to say NO, if to do otherwise would prevent you from delivering the results you’re being paid to deliver in a timely manner.

Yes of course, occasionally there will be tasks you’re obliged to accept for whatever reason.

However mostly being firm in declining such a request is a sign that you’re assertive and in control of delivering as much value as possible.

Another polite but firm response to a request might be something like, “Sorry I would love to help you with that but I cannot right now because I have my hands full with the deadline for this project.

As with everything there is a balance to be struck of course.

Sometimes it’s in your interests to do someone a favour because one day you might need them to return that favour. That’s reasonable, providing you always retain a primary focus on keeping your main things, the main things.

14. Conclusion:

You should always ensure that you’re making progress towards achieving your big three deliverables and your own goals generally.

It’s perfectly reasonable to have your own agenda and a desire to achieve your own goals and add the greatest value only you can add.

If you want to make a difference, focus on your big three major activities.

Those activities which only you can do.

And to ensure that you’re doing that, don’t be afraid to use the most effective time management tool  of them all whenever necessary. The word NO expressed politely but firmly.

15. Further Reading:

In writing this article the aim was to convince you of the importance of your need for a transformation, should one be necessary for you to achieve better time management.

However you might feel you could use a little extra help. That’s fine and it’s always useful to add a good book to your personal reference library. And one book you might consider on this subject is:-

How to set your Personal Boundaries: Learn to say No and Protect Yourself from Overwhelming Stress by author Josie Baxter

In this book the author Josie Baxter explains in digestible chunks how we can learn to set boundaries and be able to say no when necessary.

She recognises that what should be a simple thing is in fact often quite difficult.

She acknowledges that it’s natural that people care about other people but potentially that can put us at risk if our tendency always is to say yes.

The risk being that we take on too much which can add to our stress levels and stop us from achieving our own goals. In turn this can lead to exhaustion and burn out.

Josie Baxter explains that it’s not selfish to care for ourselves first.

In fact she notes that it’s actually quite sensible.

The advice in this book is useful for all areas of your life and you’ll find it invaluable if you’re someone who struggles to set firm boundaries. It’s an excellent book and well worth considering.

You can take a look at it if you CLICK HERE.

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How to break a bad habit

How to break a bad habitWhen it comes to bad habits, we can all be guilty, at least to some degree. And many people frequenty consider the question, how to break a bad habit?

Do you have any bad habits dear reader? Now be honest with yourself.

I refer to those little, irritating patterns of behaviour you simply can’t help. Those obsessions you may have occasionally. Perhaps you have one or two bad habits you’d really like to break?

Now habits can be hard to break of course, particularly bad ones.

So here’s another question. Could you break bad habits simply by being more curious about them?

Well the psychiatrist Dr Judson Brewer certainly has an opinion to offer on that issue.

Dr Judson Brewer studies the relationship between mindfulness and addiction and in the TEDTalk included in this post he shares his views on everything from smoking to over-eating to all those other things we do even though we know they’re bad for us.

If you want to learn more about the mechanism of habit development then you’ll find this video interesting and it’s definitely worth watching.

If you have habits you’d really like to break then it would certainly make sense for you to learn more about how you developed those habits in the first place.

The more you understand the better you’ll be able to take action and break those bad habits.

So take a few minutes now and listen to what Dr Brewer has to say. It’ll be well worth a little of your time I promise.

How to break a bad habit:

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How to build confidence and self-esteem

How to build confidence and self-esteemRealizing your full potential would be an excellent definition for success, wouldn’t you agree dear reader?

Unfortunately that’s easier said than done, of course.

For many, if not most, people what’s going on in their head can be the greatest barrier to achieving their full potential. Could you be one of those people dear reader?

You want to achieve success but you’re full of self-doubt?

You don’t believe you’re worthy enough, perhaps?

You just don’t believe you can do it and generally you find it hard to believe in yourself?

And then there’s that old chestnut from which we all suffer occasionally, namely the fear of being found out.

It all boils down to lacking self-belief, a lack of confidence and low levels of self-esteem.

Ultimately all those negative thoughts prevent you from achieving your full potential and they’re a drain on your confidence and self-esteem too.

Negative self-talk not only drains your confidence, it also drains your emotions and it can rob you of the energy you need to work towards achieving your goals and becoming the person you’d like to be. And becoming the incredible person you really could be too.

Within us, we all have enormous potential.

That’s a fact that many people fail to appreciate.

We have so much to offer but for many people that potential goes unrealized.

Essentially many of us just waste so much of the potential we have to offer.

How to build confidence and self-esteemSo how do we become more confident and increase our self-esteem? Now there’s an important question.

The late, great Jim Rohn used to say, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” And he was right in my opinion.

The more you work on yourself, the more confident you’ll become and the greater will be your sense of self-esteem. It really can be that simple.

In the embedded video included below, Oprah Winfrey gives us her views on why it’s important to work on yourself.

And let’s face it, Oprah Winfrey is extremely successful by any measure, so she’s one person to which we should all be listening, or at least those people for whom success is a goal.

If success is your aim, listening to successful people on a regular basis is a very good idea. Find out a few of their secrets and copy them and you’ll be well on your way to achieving and sustaining success yourself.

This is an excellent video and I can recommend it.

Working on yourself:

If this video has roused your curiosity about Oprah Winfrey’s ideas then she’s written many books and they’re all worth reading. You’ll find them all on Amazon. JUST CLICK HERE

DISCLOSURE: This website is an Amazon affiliate. Should you click on the link included in the text above and you then make a purchase, you should be aware that this website will receive a small commission. These commissions serve only to cover the cost of maintaining this site. Your understanding is truly appreciated dear reader. Thank you.

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7 tips for becoming your best self

Best SelfSuccessful people are generally regarded as being the best at whatever they do.

However to be the best at what you do you must start with becoming the best person you can be. That is you must be your best self. In other words, you must find the hero that lies within you.

There’s infinite capacity within you to excel but to realize at least some of your potential you must work at becoming the exceptional person you really can be.

The obvious question is, where do you start?

So today I offer you 7 tips to help you become your best self:-

1. Know your purpose:

If you’re going to be the best person you can be then you cannot just drift through life hoping that it will all just fall into place. It won’t. Nothing happens by accident.

You cannot drift through life with little direction or purpose, not if success is your aim.

Drifting may seem attractive to some but it’s not the way to discover contentment, health and wealth?

It never has been and it never will be.

You must determine your life’s purpose, or your mission if you like.

Having a sense of purpose is essential. With it you’ll have your own compass that will guide you to your truth north all the time.

2. Know your values:

What really matters to you dear reader?

Having a set of values is important. Having a moral code is important too.

Civilization is underpinned by accepted values and a moral code.

Values are the benchmark against which we measure ourselves and any successes we may achieve.

For instance, achieving success by cheating will not make us feel good about ourselves because we’ll know we didn’t play fair. We were dishonest and we’ll know we were dishonest.

It can only feel like a real achievement if it was won in a fair fight. A bit of gamesmanship is one thing but cheating is quite another.

So what is it you value most dear reader? Pause for a minute and give that question some thought.

Make a list of your top three values.

Then check your goals against those values. Are your goals congruent with your values? Certainly they’ll need to be.

If a goal doesn’t align with any of your top three values then you must get rid of it.

Anything you achieve that is inconsistent with your values will not make you feel good about yourself.

You will only recognize you as your best self when you consider yourself against the values that matter most to you.

3. Know your needs:

Every human being has needs. Having needs is part of the human condition.

Abraham Maslow put it best when he described the hierarchy of needs.

Physiological needs, the need for safety and security, the need for love and belonging, the need for self-esteem, and the need for self-actualization.

We all need these things to varying degrees.

We all need certainty. However certainty can be boring, so we also need uncertainty or change to make life more interesting. The problem is uncertainty can make us feel insecure which is why we tend to feel uncomfortable when we experience change.

You’ll have your own specific needs dear reader and it’s important to identify them.

If you’re to live authentically then the life you live should be consistent with your needs. You can only be you. Anything else would be a fake.

Perhaps attention and recognition are your greatest needs?

Perhaps what truly matters most to you is family and friends?

Perhaps you have a need to become a mum or a dad?

Perhaps you have a burning need to play a musical instrument or to write?

Whatever your needs if they remain unmet it will stop you living authentically.

So list your top five needs and make sure any goals you have are consistent with meeting them.

Know your needs and make sure you work towards meeting them before it is too late.

Best Self4. Know your passions:

It’s often said that the three things we need in life are a passion, a purpose and a pastime.

Passion is important.

If you have a passion for what you do, you’ll do it well.

If it really matters to you of course you’ll do it well. And if you do it well people will notice. And when people start to notice then demand for your services will increase. And once demand for your services increases then your value will increase. So it’s a virtuous circle.

Knowing what you truly like and enjoy doing is part of really knowing who you are as a person.

Knowing your passions allows you to express yourself and to make your own unique contribution to life.

And by expressing yourself and leaving a legacy you’ll pay tribute to all those people who inspired you to become the very person you really could be. To become your best self.

5. Live from the inside out:

Your body is the temple in which you will live your entire life.

If that temple is in bad shape then that’s hardly a basis for you becoming your best self, is it?

So be in tune with your body and take care of it.

Eat sensibly and exercise regularly.

Put your physical and mental well-being at the heart of everything you do.

Appreciate the world around you. Stop to smell the roses occasionally. Allow yourself to be in spiritual contact with nature and the world around you.

When you feel stressed and pressured, take the time to breathe deeply. This will help you relax and quiet your distracted mind.

Above all, listen to what your heart is saying. Follow your heart but take your brains with you, of course.

6. Know your strengths and work to them

We all have our own strengths. We all have a natural talent for something and there are things that others will recognize that we’re very good at.

You’re no different dear reader. So what are your strengths?

At what do you excel in comparison to other people?

Knowing your strengths and making sure you’re working to your strengths is essential if you’re to be your best self. Certainly you won’t get far if you’re working to your weaknesses.

So what positive traits do you possess?

What would other people say are your strengths?

For what do other people regard you as the ‘go to’ person?

Your authentic self will be expressed best by working to your strengths, of course.

If you’re good at what you do then you’ll do it well. And doing it well will increase your self-confidence.

And confidence is an essential ingredient to you being your best self.

7. Serve others:

Human beings are social animals and we live naturally in groups and society.

Being part of society means making a contribution to it.

We must all make a contribution particularly if we are striving to be our best self.

Living authentic lives means we must develop an interconnected sense of being.

If you’re true to who you are, living your life’s purpose and giving your talents to the world around you then you are providing a service to others.

To contribute to society you must serve others in some way. And giving your best is the service you share with others. That is your spirit; your very essence. That is your raison d’etre.

Service to others provides its own rewards.

Sharing your gifts with the world can be pleasing indeed. Knowing your contribution was one only you can make can be truly satisfying.

Know you’ve made a real difference and you will have achieved your best self.

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How the power of words can change lives

Have you ever wondered just how powerful words can be? Well let me tell you a heart warming story to emphasize something I believe to be true.

Not long ago I had lunch with a group of old friends. Nothing unusual about that, you might say.

Even the fact that it was the first time we’d all been together in the same place, at the same time since the summer of 1979 was not exceptional. Such reunions happen all the time, don’t they?

Anyway it was genuinely a pleasure to see them all again and swap stories about how our lives had progressed since those far off days.

However it’s the story of one of my fellow diners that day that’s worthy of sharing with you now because I think it’s a source of inspiration and it reinforces the importance of just how powerful words can be.

Back in those distant days, we were all working together for the national telecommunications operator in Bahrain. Three of us had been young, graduate engineers on an upward career trajectory, with the future seemingly ours for the taking. The other member of our group, let’s call him Saeed, had been the handyman and tea boy in the department at that time.

Saeed was then a teenager, straight out of school. He was a bright and willing fellow but with absolutely no academic qualifications and he spoke very little English at the time. He came from a poor village and his perceived failure at school had left him feeling that he’d blown his chances and was destined for a series of low paid, low skilled jobs.

Fast forward 40 years and Saeed’s now every bit the poor-boy-made-good story.

Not only is he now a wealthy international businessman with two very successful businesses. He also has a string of qualifications including a PhD. Amazingly he’s now completed a second doctorate too.

In short, his success is impressive by any measure.

Nevertheless, how did Saeed get from where he was to where he is now?

The simple answer of course is determination and a lot of hard work. You cannot achieve anything without those ingredients.

However he also needed a reason to believe; a spark to light the fire. And that for me is where the story gets interesting.

Over lunch Saeed explained that it was a kind and encouraging word, all those years ago, from one of our fellow diners that had made him believe that he could make a success of his life, despite a poor start.

My fellow diner in question, let’s call him Tom, didn’t even remember the conversation. However back in the day it seems Tom had explained to Saeed that your future is not defined by your past, it’s an endless stream of opportunities which you can choose to take, or not, and you can make your life whatever you want it to be.

The power of these well-timed words of encouragement had an impact on Saeed so profound that they propelled him down the road to a destiny which otherwise he did not think possible. And in that is the point.

Words can be very powerful, so always choose them wisely.

A few well-timed words can inspire young people. Young people need encouragement more than they need critics.

So next time you’re working with someone in the early stages of life’s journey, remember your words can have the power to encourage them. They also have the potential to discourage them too, if you’re not careful. What you say and how you say it really matters.

Always offer positive words of encouragement, rather than harsh words of criticism.

Never, ever forget how powerful your words can be. The right words really can inspire young people to achieve their full potential.

If you want to leave a legacy behind you; it would be hard to improve on that I think.

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11 tips for improving quality of life

tips for improving quality of lifeLife has never been easy but it seems to get tougher with each passing year.

We’re all constantly juggling the conflicting demands of work and family and trying to squeeze in a little ‘me time’ whenever possible.

It’s that elusive thing known as work-life balance. Most of us aspire to it but few achieve it.

How would you describe the quality of your life right now?

This is a question we all ask ourselves occasionally.

A reader asked me recently whether I could offer some tips for improving quality of life. It’s a subject close to my heart, so I am only to happy to oblige.

So here are 11 memorable tips which I hope will help you improve your life’s quality:-

Top tips for improving quality of life:

1. Keep it simple

There really is a lot to be said for simplicity. Complexity can be stressful. So keep everything in life as simple as possible. Ditch the clutter; buy only what you really need and can actually use; and learn to appreciate what you have rather than fretting about things you think you’d like to have but don’t right now. Nothing matters much and actually very few things really matter at all. If you’re lucky enough to have family and a handful of genuine friends plus food on your table and a roof over your head then what more do you actually need? Keeping life simple will reduce your stress levels and that’s important.

2. Treat people with respect

I believe that only people matter. Yes having a nice house and a nice car is great but as human beings we are social animals. We are not solitary animals like cats. We live in groups and we need other people in our lives. And key to having friends is being a friend and treating other people with respect. Treat everyone as you’d prefer them to treat you. Not everyone will appreciate that approach of course but the ones that matter most will and surely that’s what counts. Treat people with respect and generally other people will treat you with respect. And if we could all treat each other with respect then the world would be a better place.

3. Actions speak louder than words

We are judged by what we do and not what we say. Anyone can talk a good game but not everyone can deliver real results and deliver them well. If you want to impress people then it is only your actions that will count. If you can do what you do well then you will be well on your way to achieving success.

4. Ask questions

Intelligent people ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask a question or to request a clarification about something. If something doesn’t sound quite right then don’t be afraid to challenge it. Ask questions and you’ll learn; fail to ask questions and a life of ignorance lies ahead of you. Only a fool would proceed in ignorance.

5. Look forward; never back

The past has gone and it is important only insofar as the lessons it has taught us and the memories it has given us. The future is where we will spend the rest of our lives. Therefore we should always be living in the present and looking to the future. And above all our focus should be on forging the future we really want. Live your life by looking through the windshield not the the rear-view mirror.

6. Create your own future

We can’t change the past but we can influence our future. We can have a vision of what we want to achieve and how we’d like it to be. We don’t have to accept what is given to us. We can go out and get the things we want. It takes hard work, as well as determination and discipline but it can be done. Create the future you really want and don’t just settle for anything that comes along.

7. Don’t be afraid to change direction if necessary

There will be times in your life when you head off in a particular direction only to find that it doesn’t turn out to be quite what you imagined it would be. There’s nothing wrong with that as you won’t always get it right. From time to time you will make mistakes or perhaps you’ll misjudge a situation. However once you realize something is not quite right for you then don’t be afraid to change direction.

Just take it on the chin, change direction and move on. Don’t worry about what others might think. They’ll think whatever they think but who cares? It’s your life not theirs. It’s only what you think that matters. If you’re not happy with a situation then it’s better to take action than to live a miserable existence because you’re worried about what others might think.

8. Face your fear and just do it

From time to time we all face challenges in our lives. They can often seem daunting and more than a little scary. However if life was always easy then we’d never grow as people. By facing up to a challenge we learn and we grow. That’s how we build our character. That’s how we toughen up. Yes we’ll make mistakes but it is better to have a go and fail than not have a go at all.

Face a challenge and achieve a result and we have done something of which we can be truly proud. Face a challenge and get an outcome we didn’t really want and at least we’ve learned a valuable lesson. That is how we build experience. And if nothing else we can be proud that at least we had a go.

Fear is the body’s way of warning us to proceed with caution. It’s natural to feel fear but courage is our ability to act despite feeling that fear. Have courage and face every challenge as it comes. However hard it might appear at first, you’ll be glad you did.

9. Look after your own well being

You can’t enjoy life to the full if you have health problems can you? So take care of yourself and look after your health. Eat sensibly, drink in moderation, get plenty of exercise and avoid things like tobacco and other recreational stimulants. You might think it doesn’t matter but it does. One puff on a cigarette won’t kill you but the effect of regular smoking will have a cumulative, detrimental effect on your health. You might think ‘you can handle drugs’ but that is the wisdom of a fool. Regular use of recreational drugs will affect you in time. It is only a matter of time. If you don’t look after yourself then no one else will.

10. Learn to manage your time effectively

Time is our most precious resource. We all have the same amount of time, 168 hours each week. It’s how we choose to use it that matters most. Just because someone wants a piece of our time, it doesn’t follow that we should just give it to them. Allocate your time very, very carefully.

If something doesn’t need to be done, don’t do it. If someone else can do it, let them do it. If it can wait, let it wait. And if it absolutely must be done now, get on with it.

It is all about your priorities and those actions where you and only you can add the most value. Identify those things that will allow you to be most effective and they will form the basis of your priorities.

11. Have fun; life’s too short

We all need to ensure that we take time out for ourselves occasionally. We all need a little ‘me’ time; time to recharge our batteries and relax. Work is important of course, as it gives us a sense of purpose in our lives. However it is essential that we have a little fun too.

Life is far too short to be constantly working. So having a hobby or pleasurable pursuit is a very good idea, as is spending some quality time with the people who matter most to you. Have some fun and make sure that you have it regularly.

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Self-promotion and why it matters

Self-promotionThe idea of self-promotion is something with which many readers will feel slightly uncomfortable.

Perhaps it leaves you feeling a slight sense of unease dear reader; the idea of ‘blowing your own trumpet’ and making sure that others know all about what you have to offer?

By self-promotion I am referring to personal visibility, particularly in the office or workplace.

Does personal visibility really matter that much, you may ask?

Well that depends on how you think about it really.

If you’re happy to plod along and just accept whatever life decides you should have then it probably doesn’t matter much at all.

However if success is your aim or if you want to enjoy more of what life can offer then personal visibility is essential.

How can you be a solution to my problem if I don’t know you exist? How can I possibly know what you have to offer unless I have some visibility of you in action? How can you establish a reputation if you hide your light under a bushel? If I don’t know you exist, then to me you don’t exist.

If you really want to succeed in life then you have to be seen and you must make an impression on people. That’s important, like it or not. People need a reason to remember you.

Ideally you want them to like and respect you. Even if people just love to hate you then that’s better than them being totally indifferent to you.

At least you will be known. You have to be visible. As the saying goes, ability without visibility is a liability.

The product ‘You’ will only sell if people are aware that it exists.

So self-promotion and personal public relations initiatives play an important role in building your reputation and creating demand for what you have to offer.

Humility is all very well but diffidence is at best unwise. You’ll never get anywhere unless you have visibility with people that matter.

Think about the most successful people; people such as Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Donald Trump, Richard Branson, Elvis Presley and John Lennon. Sadly the latter two are no longer with us. Nevertheless the examples are still valid.

They all make or made an impression on you.

You may not like them but you cannot or could not ignore them. They all have or had that special quality known as presence.

So make sure you get yourself noticed. Stand out in the crowd and give people a reason to remember you.

And remember this old Arab Proverb; “Be memorable, Be known”.

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Top 10 Tips for How to Manage Your Time

how to manage your timeIf only I had time!” is an expression I hear constantly.

People will say to me, “Oh I’d love to do that, if only I had the time.

However we all have exactly the same amount of time. We all have 168 hours each week and it all comes down to how we make best use of it. In other words, our priorities.

Time is our most precious resource, wouldn’t you agree dear reader? Yet far too many people don’t use their time as wisely as they should.

So here are my Top 10 tips for how to manage your time.

How to manage your time:

1. Be in control: Just because someone makes a demand on your time, it doesn’t mean that you have to agree to it. You are the captain of your own ship and you should always be in control. And you’re mindset should always be, “I am in control of my life and if anyone wants a piece of my time then they’ll need to provide me with a very good reason as to why I should agree to their request.”

2. Keep your life and your desk free of clutter: Dealing with clutter just stresses you out, so be ruthless and get rid of it. You cannot work efficiently at a desk which is full of clutter. And you will waste so much time looking for things you need. So clear your desk and get rid of anything in your life that will prevent you from managing your time as efficiently as possible.

3. Be organized: A place for everything and everything in its place. If everything is in its place then you’ll know where to find it should you need it. And that reduces clutter and makes for a better environment in which to work, be it in the workplace or your personal life.

4. Make lists: You need to plan your week and plan each day too. Write it all down so you won’t forget it. Having a weekly planner is a good idea. Knowing what needs to be achieved each week, allows you to identify ‘must do’ activities each day. At the end of each day make a list of what needs to be done the next day in order to achieve your objectives. And do not rest until your list has been completed each day.

5. Prioritize: Everything is urgent these days, so you have to identify those things that are important to you achieving your objectives. Those are then the activities on which you must focus. You should know your priorities and they are the things that will allow you to achieve your objectives and meet your deadlines.

6. Develop routines: Having a proper routine will allow you to get very efficient at what you do. For instance, rather than responding to emails as and when they arrive in your inbox, set aside two or three time windows each day when you will deal with email. That could be for exactly one hour at the beginning of each day; half an hour just before lunch and then say half an hour at the end of the day just before you leave your desk. Be very strict about these windows for dealing with email and don’t allow email to become a distraction at other times.

7. Set deadlines and stick to them: If you have a piece of work to complete, judge how long it will take, use that to set a deadline for completion and then focus on that work such that you complete it within your deadline.

8. Delegate whenever possible: You should only be doing those things which absolutely have to be done by you. If you are lucky enough to have people to whom you can delegate then make use of them as much as you possibly can.

9. Don’t procrastinate: Procrastination is the thief of time. If you have got something to do, then get on with it. Don’t mess around. The sooner you start the sooner you’ll finish.

10. Learn to say No: Master this skill and it is the biggest time saver of them all. Far too often we agree do something for someone else simply because we don’t like saying no. It may not even be our responsibility but we do it anyway rather than say no. Always be polite but it is perfectly reasonable to say, “I’d love to help you but I’m busy right now.

Master your time management skills:

Whilst this is not a comprehensive list, it’s a good basis on which to start improving your time management skills.

If you want to be successful then effective time management is an essential skill.

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9 tips for getting the most from your work

Getting the most from your workDo you feel valued by your employer? Now just think about that question for a second dear reader.

I’m sure you’re aware that companies are very good at circulating messages which include platitudes like, “Our employees are our most important asset. We value our employees.

However you have to ask yourself how many of them really mean it? The answer is few, if any, in my experience.

Now to be fair, many employers probably think they mean it at the time such messages are circulated to the workforce.

Staff in the Human Resources department may be genuine when they issue such statements. Nevertheless the reality is almost always quite different, however right on and trendy your employer tries to be.

Rarely are employees truly valued by their employers.

Most companies regard people as a commodity to be used when they’re useful and then discarded when they’re perceived to be no longer of use.

So what does this all mean for you?

Well for a start it means that you have to look after your own interests.

If you don’t look after your own interests then no one else will, that’s for sure. If you think someone, somewhere is thinking about your best interests then, with the exception of your parents, then that’s unlikely at best.

It’s all down to you to get the most from your job and your career.

You must decide what you want; you must decide where and how you can add the greatest value; you must decide what’s the next logical move for you, in pursuit of your goals; and you must decide on the timing of when it’s appropriate to move.

Occasionally you might get lucky and a great opportunity will fall straight into your lap. However that doesn’t happen often, if at all.

Remember that you are the captain of your own ship.

So you decide where it goes and you must steer it accordingly.

It would be a mistake to rely on others to plan your career, quite simply because they won’t and it would be naïve to think otherwise.

So today I offer you my 9 tips for getting the most from work.

Getting the most from your work1. Take a pragmatic view:

Now, reading this,  you might think that I have a jaundiced view of companies and corporate life.

Actually I don’t; this is simply a realistic and pragmatic view based on many years of experience.

Work is just doing stuff for other people in return for money.

If a company has stuff that needs doing then they are willing to pay good money to get it done.

However once that work’s been done, or is no longer required, then employers see no reason to retain people. Why would they? After all they’re in business to make money.

So be realistic and take a pragmatic view. That way you won’t be disappointed.

2. Recognise the psychological contract:

Let’s be fair, the company’s approach is no different than the one we’d take as individuals. If we need our house painting, we hire a painter and decorator. Our house gets painted and when the job’s been done we pay the painter for the work completed.

We don’t start worrying about the painter’s job satisfaction or career development. The psychological contract between us and the painter ends when the bill has been settled for the work completed. That’s the way it is. Simple.

So why should we expect our employers to be any different?

Companies are not charities or job creation schemes. Commercial companies have to make a profit, if they’re to grow and survive, and costs have an impact on profit, obviously.

The psychological contract we have with our employer is one where we do stuff for them and then we’re paid for our efforts at the end of each month. We’re the hired help and once we’ve been paid that’s where the psychological contract ends as far as our employer is concerned.

Your employer will not spend his or her time worrying about your aspirations or your dreams. Once again, it would be naïve to think otherwise.

3. Accept commercial reality:

Commercial reality whether we like it not is that all companies exist to make money for their owners. It’s that simple. Why would anyone start a company for any other reason?

So if you think that your loyalty will be appreciated by the average employer then I think you’re either mistaken or deluded.

Employers will take everything you give and a bit more besides, but once you’re no longer required they will be as ruthless as they have to be.

If they weren’t able to be ruthless when necessary then that could put the whole company and the jobs of everyone involved at risk. So there’s a good business reason for the way companies tend to operate.

Furthermore we don’t spend our money unnecessarily, so why should we expect a company to be any different?

From time to time you’ll meet leaders of real stature and class who will treat you very well. However they’re the exception rather than the rule.

Most senior executives are driven only by self-interest. Once you’re no longer of use, they will be as ruthless as they have to be. That’s the way the world works, so don’t expect it to be any different for you.

4. Don’t expect loyalty to be reciprocated:

The point I’m making is that you must be ruthless too. You must look after your own interests, constantly.

It’s perfectly reasonable for you to be working with your own agenda in mind. Deliver the results for which you’re being paid of course but always with one eye on your own best interests.

In any job you should make sure that you know what you’re meant to be doing and what you’re meant to be delivering.

What you’re delivering must add value. You should know what that value is and you should be confident that it’s not something that can be done by a machine. If it is, then the chances are that one day it will be and you will be out of a job.

Never do anything out of a misplaced sense of loyalty because that loyalty is unlikely to be reciprocated. At work you have to be very business-like in everything you do.

The name of the game from your standpoint is to earn a living. If it’s not obvious to you what your contribution is meant to be then you should start to worry. If you cannot explain what you’re meant to be doing in a couple of lines then it’s time to move on.

If you don’t know what you’re meant to be doing then the chances are that your boss is wondering too. And once your boss starts to question your role then there is a risk that it won’t be too long before your job is eliminated in a future cost-saving exercise.

5. Look after your own interests:

Remember this: No one owes you anything.

Life is what you make it. As I said earlier, you’re the captain of your own ship. You should be steering that ship in a direction that suits you and your ambitions. Steer the good ship ‘Me’ in the direction you wish to go and not in the direction someone else wants you to go.

You should be working to your own agenda and within the framework of your own plans.

If you think your employer has plans for you then you’re fooling yourself.

You will only figure in your employers plans for as long as it makes good business-sense for them to include you in those plans.

If they can’t see how you’ll add value to their plans then a parting of the ways might not be far away.

6. Take every opportunity to develop your experience:

You may make mistakes occasionally and you may do things for employers which for whatever reason come back to bite you. If you do, don’t worry. Just learn any lessons from the experience and move on.

Lessons learned are far more valuable to you than anything someone else can tell you. That commodity based on life’s lessons is known as experience and it’s a very valuable commodity indeed.

Take every opportunity to broaden your experience and grow. Work harder on yourself than you do on your job. The more you have to offer the more employable you’ll be and the greater will be your financial rewards.

7. Have realistic expectations:

Never expect loyalty from your employer and you won’t be disappointed.

You’re not indispensable and neither is anyone else.

If you weren’t around then someone else would be hired quickly and the business would move on. And in all probability you’ll soon be forgotten.

The chances are that someone else will take the credit for any significant contribution you’ve made but you’ll probably take the blame for everything that’s wrong, including things in which you had no involvement at all.

That’s life, unfortunately.

8. Work to you own agenda:

If you look after your own interests then your achievements will be all yours and you’ll be on the road to success.

You have to carve out the success you want; no one else will do it for you.

Add real value to your employer for as long as you can or for as long as it makes sense within your own plans for you to do so and then it’s time to move on to the next opportunity.

Don’t get overly sentimental; you’ve got to be as ruthless with your employer as they would be with you. It’s perfectly reasonable to work to your own agenda, and that’s exactly what successful people do.

9. Keep reading; keep learning:

Never underestimate the value of reading and continual learning.

The more you read, the more you learn and the more you learn the greater will be your value.

Read one good book related to your work or personal development each week and over a year that’s the equivalent of a PhD’s worth of knowledge gained.

Increase your knowledge by that amount every year and you’ll be light years ahead of your colleagues.

Increase your value and you increase your ability to earn more. And what’s not to like about that?

So what are your views?

Now I’d be interested to hear what you think dear reader. I’d love it if you could share your own experiences with other readers.

If you’d like to add your own views about the world of work then please feel free to add your comments below.

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