Things That Have to Get Done


All of us have those things in our lives that we have to get done.  Sometimes we don’t want to do them.  Can you think of something that you don’t like to do, but it has to be done anyway?  Here is something that has helped me to make that process much easier. Today’s post is short, but worth giving a try.   

Pick a small daily or weekly task that you don’t like to do, but will need to do.  It could be something as simple as making the bed, cleaning your office, or attending a regular meeting.  When the time comes and you feel that sense of dread, notice the thoughts you are thinking about doing the task.  Make a decision not to react to the thoughts, and accept the task as something that you are just going to do. When you start doing the task or walk into the meeting, don’t add your thoughts to it.  Simply pay close attention to every detail of doing the task.  Get curious about the task, not how you feel about doing the task.  Do it mindfully and deliberately, paying attention to every step.  

This method is supported by the fact that most of the pain associated with doing these tasks comes from our mind.  Many times the tasks aren’t terrible, it is just our thoughts about them that are terrible.  Mark Twain was reported to have said, “I have had a lot of troubles in life, and some of them even happened.” In saying this he was bringing to light the fact that we are most of the cause for our own mental worry and suffering.  Think about things you have worried about that never happened.

Somewhere along the way we label the specific task as bad, and our mind just reminds us every time we have to do it.  Maybe when we first did the task we were having a bad day, and associated that having a bad day with the task.  Now everytime we have to do that, the same negative feeling comes back.  

Doing things without adding our own thoughts and just paying attention to doing the task, is a great way to make life a little easier.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Add Focus and Discipline to Your Day


Do you want to increase your ability to focus and gain discipline consistently?  In this post I want to provide a practical exercise to increase your daily focus, and increase discipline over a period of time. If you do this exercise consistently over a week, you will notice a significant improvement.  I am not by any means completely effective, but this exercise has definitely been a game changer for me.  

Our minds can only focus on one thing at a time. This is a scientific fact. We like to think we are effective multi-taskers.  The truth is that we can become better at task switching, but it is not the most efficient way to get things done.  It takes time to task switch, and dilutes focus.

One common piece of advice from the most successful people, is to only focus on one goal at a time if possible.  If you are focused on growing your business, do your best to just stay focused on that.  This is not an easy discipline to develop, especially when so many of life’s demands are coming at us. 

On a micro level, we also need to limit the items we focus on the same way. This will keep us from diluting our focus, and make each minute of effort more effective. It will also make us more aware of our environment, which will keep us more alert overall.  Your unconscious mind is really good at alerting you of change in your environment.  If you are intentionally focused on fewer things at time, you have more capacity for overall awareness 

The first step in getting more focus and discipline in your day is to be completely aware of what you are up to.  Our minds get really busy, and sometimes we aren’t conscious of just how busy our minds are.  I recommend taking  five or ten minutes twice per day to do the following two-part exercise.

  • First find a quiet place first thing in the morning, and some other time later in the day.  Sit or stand someplace comfortable.  Take a deep breath, and then continue to focus on your breath in and out for the next few minutes.  If you notice any thoughts coming up, just acknowledge them but don’t react to them.  Go back to focusing on your breath.  Do this for around five minutes.  You will find your mind a little calmer and clearer. It is normal when you are getting started to  have a hard time staying focused.  The fact that you notice it, just means you are making progress. 
  • Next just think specifically about what you want to get done for the rest of your day. You may want to write them down as well.  As you do this, you may find your mind jump to other things.  You will notice this because of the first exercise.  This is a good thing.  When your mind begins to generate thoughts, just go back and focus on what you want to accomplish for the rest of the day.

If you have tried this, let me know how it has helped you.

Once you have done the exercise just go back to your day and execute on what you want to get done.  Throughout the day try to keep this awareness.  I will often take a minute or so, several times a day to just take a deep breath, and just focus on my breath in and out. 

Happy New Year!


Do you have New Year’s resolutions?  Do you want to make your 2022 exponentially better than 2021? Congratulations!  Here are some tips for keeping your resolutions, and achieving your goals. For the sake of this post we will frame your New Year’s resolutions as goals. I am also offering the first three respondents who share their resolutions or goals, two free thirty-minute life coaching sessions.  

Goal Setting

When setting your goals:  

  • Make them achievable. Also, make sure they stretch you a little bit, and provide a benefit that will help keep you motivated to achieve them.
  • Take the time to visualize what your life will look like if you achieve them.
  • Find some pictures that represent them, and keep them in the same place.  I have my goals in a document with a few pictures pasted at the bottom to represent them.  
  • Make them specific, and make sure they have an achievement date..  
  • Consider framing your goals in terms of the benefit they will provide others as well as yourself.  If your goals add value to others and that is important to you, it will make them much more motivating.

Goal Review

Set aside five minutes or so every day to look at your goals, and make note of any achievements or changes.  Look at the dates and the pictures.  List any thing that you will do today towards their progress.  Check off any tasks you completed yesterday towards your goals.

Enjoy The Journey

Make a decision that throughout your day you will look at each task with curiosity, and enjoy the process.  Approach each task, as if it has something to tell you. It does have something to tell you.  Every action has feedback. The reality is that life is tough, and sticking to and accomplishing your goals is even tougher.  Once a day you will paint the picture of the goal in your mind, and the rest of the day focus on the process.  Obsess over what your activities can teach you.  It will feel awesome when you achieve a big goal, but that feeling doesn’t last long so it is important that we enjoy the journey.  

Self Check

The number 1 cause of unachieved goals is that we let those unconscious thoughts tell us they are not worth the pain of pursuing, or that we can’t achieve them.  Take time every day to just pay attention to the thoughts that are coming up in your mind.  Don’t react to them, but just get curious as to why they are coming up.  Understand that those thoughts arise as a result of past experiences.  You are not your past, and are capable of much more than you believe. 

Share

If you have someone to share your goals with that will support, encourage, and hold you accountable, you increase your chances of achieving them exponentially.  Make sure this is someone who won’t judge you, and add more weight to achievement.

Share your New Year’s resolutions / Goals and get two free thirty minute life coaching sessions.

What Makes You Unhappy?


If I asked you what makes you unhappy you might tell me about your boss, a family member, or something else.  I am not discounting anyone’s experience, but what really makes us unhappy is having unmet needs and desires.  We want our boss to stop treating us a certain way.  We want to quit feeling bad about a broken relationship.  Maybe we need money to pay our bills.  What do we do about these problems, until we can change our circumstances? 

This post is not about settling for whatever comes your way, and being happy about it.  It’s about accepting our circumstances for what they are at the moment. When we have unmet needs and desires it causes us to become discontent.  If we can’t see our way clearly towards a solution, it can lead to unhappiness or even depression.  

The most effective way to stop this cycle is to really think about our circumstances without reacting to them.  Accept them and then ask… Now What?  

For much of my adult life I had a lot of things to be thankful for, but I felt like the world was caving in on me.  What I discovered was my unconscious mind playing the same thoughts over and over.  I didn’t realize how much control our unconscious thoughts have over us.  Have you ever wondered why you don’t do what you ought to?

We consciously know that exercise is good for us, but until we can manage to make exercise a habit, we opt out often enough that we end up having to start from scratch again.  When we think about exercising, our unconscious mind tries to keep us from that pain.  If we don’t take action right away those unconscious thoughts take over.  Next thing we know we are planted somewhere on our backsides. 

It is often these same kinds of thoughts that are making you unhappy.  The first step is to use mindfulness, prayer time, or meditation to clear your mind and just notice the thoughts that are coming up.  Purposefully taking notice of those thoughts that are rising, but not reacting to them is the first step in stopping the cycle of negative thoughts.  That is what accepting what is without responding to it means.  Once you know what those thoughts are you can choose to replace them.  
If this post hit home for you and you want to explore in more depth what you can do to make your life more of what you want schedule your free Thirty Minute Consult.

Small Stuff ?


Small changes over time can turn your life around. These small changes build on each other. Sometimes we think that success happens because of the massive action we take, but we never think about the small things that let us build up to those massive actions.

Last week i got off track and started focusing on making changes to things that were currently out of my control. I let the actions of others get me worked up through the process.

Once I realized what was going on, I asked myself what I could do to get out of that state of mind. I realized was that I hadn’t been taking time to clear my mind, and exercise in the morning. I also hadn’t taken the time to be mindful throughout the day.

These were small habits that made a big difference in my effectiveness and happiness. I really didn’t think they would help that much, but I had to start somewhere. They were exactly the things that helped me to get perspective on what was going on. In a few hours, I was back on track moving forward.

When we want to make changes in our lives we often look for big things we can do to get on track, but the things that really make a difference are the little things. It occurred to me to write this post because I was surprised that getting back on track with just those two small daily habits, would make that much difference.

What are some small positive habits you can start this week?

A Mirage In the Desert


This post is meant to expand on and provide a “how to” for my last post.  Most of us who are working towards our life’s goals are thinking about a destination where life will be easy.  This is a place where we will have plenty of abundance to keep us happy and content.  Many successful people have traveled the road to their ultimate destination, only to find a new set of challenges, and another goal.  If we really pay attention, this is the story we tell ourselves.  We keep this destination in mind and we move forward.   Standard Oil billionaire John D. Rockefeller was asked, “How much money is enough?”  He answered, “Just a little bit more.”  He was teasing the fact that it will never be enough.  Someone who has achieved so much, realizes that the destination doesn’t exist, only a continued journey. 

That feeling of having given it everything you have, and getting to your goal is a great feeling.  If you talk to most people who have achieved a big goal like reaching a billion dollars in business, they report that initial deep satisfaction of having reached their destination.  Then they often report a huge let down once they settle into their new reality.  In their minds they had imagined a long term sense of satisfaction, only to be disappointed that it quickly faded.  If you want to achieve great things and avoid being fooled by a mirage in the desert read on.    

Goal Setting

The first step in a better way forward begins the same.  Write down your goals and visualize what your goals might mean for your life.  Only a small percentage of people write down their goals, and only a small percentage of people have great success.  That doesn’t mean that if you write out your goals, you will achieve great things.  What it does mean is that the chances of success without specific goals is thin.  It is important that you visualize what those goals will mean for your life as well as write them down. Once you have your goals written down, list the first ten or so things that you will need to do to achieve them. This is where your new path forward diverges from the traditional way of achieving goals. 

Shifting Your Focus

Take that list of ten next steps that you will need to take, and pick the one you are going to work on first.  You have already determined that this is something that you will need to do to reach your goal, so put everything else out of your mind, and just focus on the doing.  Most of the time when we are doing things, our mind is busy trying to distract us.  As I discussed in my last post it is distracting us with pictures of our goal, or by telling us we can’t achieve it.  As soon as you catch your focus going anywhere else, other than on what you are doing, gently push your focus back to what you are doing.  The purpose here is to derive your satisfaction from the doing.  Perform each task with equal parts trying to discover something interesting, and getting the task done.  Look at the task like it has something to tell you.  If you have never done this before, it might feel a little odd, but trust me it works.  

The Reason for Shifting Your Focus

Shifting your focus away from the destination does two things for you.  First it keeps the distractions that your mind will feed you at bay.  Just as important, it will add flexibility to your destination.  If you talk to someone who has grown a large company from scratch, more often than not, the business they created is much different that the business they set out to create. One you have the full picture of that original goal, that should become a second priority.  Your first priority should be on what you are doing right now.

Review

At the end of each week set aside a couple of hours to review what you have achieved.  Review the list of ten steps, and see what you have accomplished.  Then add anything new that needs to be done in the coming week.  Just like any other task along the way, focus on the doing and don’t let your focus move away from the task at hand.  This is a particularly good time to discover new things to guide you forward.  When you are done go back to the big goal, and see how certain parts of it may have changed or stayed the same.  This process of adjusting your goals as you go keeps your reality aligned with your goal.  It causes your goal to become the journey.  It will keep your expectations aligned with the process.

Continuous Improvement

As you perform each task, keeping yourself laser focused on just that task, and performing it as if it is the task itself that is the goal will greatly increase the quality of the work.  You will also start to notice inspiration coming from the doing rather than the achieving.  Continuous improvement will come naturally.  

If you have any questions about this post or are interested in life coaching you can drop me a note at www.brentpinkston.com/contact .  I also keep four fifteen minute spaces open on my calendar each month for free discussions about what you want to achieve via Google Meet.  These can be one on one, or group calls.

A Practical View of Positive Thinking


I have always been interested in positive thinking literature.  What follows are a couple of my own thoughts on the subject.  I understand that when some people hear the term “positive thinking”, they throw up a little bit.  You might imagine a bubbly, and smiling person being interviewed in the aftermath of a natural disaster and they are trying to spin it in a positive light.  I am interested in a more pragmatic approach to positive thinking. Not denying reality but understanding the impact of a positive outlook.  I will start with sharing a phenomenon that most people will be able to relate to.  Before buying a car of a certain model and color, you don’t notice very many of them on the road. As soon as you buy one, it seems everyone is driving a car like yours.  Before you bought the car your mind wasn’t focused on this particular color and model of car.  Once you bought one, you took mental and physical ownership.  In a similar way practicing a bit of positive thinking will help you to notice more positive things and opportunities. Putting more positive thoughts in your mind, will also help you to notice some of the unconscious negative thoughts that can come to mind regularly. If you are spending time everyday thinking intentionally positive, when a negative thought comes it will create a contrast that will help you to recognize it. One of the most valuable things I learned so far through my counseling and life coaching education, is that we are not nearly as conscious and deliberate in our thoughts as we think we are.  If you purposefully notice your thoughts, you will find that the majority of them rise in your mind without any intention.  Most of your thoughts are not an act of conscious will, it is just your brain on autopilot. The act of consciously planting positive thoughts in your mind is like buying that car. It will create a hook that will help you to become more conscious of your negative thoughts, which will allow you to catch yourself in the act of self sabotage. Let’s go back to the car buying experience. When you bought your car, it was a big decision. Maybe you weren’t completely comfortable with the amount you spent on the car or the monthly payment. Maybe your salesperson was applying pressure that made you uncomfortable. Spending that much money is uncomfortable for most people. A lot of people will blame it on a high pressure salesperson, but your resistance to buying the new car is just as much that your mind doesn’t like change. You have done the numbers and you know you can make the payment, but you act as if you are unsure you can afford it. After a few months you get accustomed to the payments. You like the car just fine, and life goes on. Starting to think more positively can be like that car buying experience. It feels good thinking about it, but your brain will resist and try desperately to get you back into your old thought patterns. You don’t like change because your brain doesn’t like change. Starting a practice of positive thinking can be as simple as writing out the goals or the life you want for yourself, and thinking about what good that will mean for your life. Just as important is to stop thinking about the things you don’t want. Toward the last third of the video below Brian Tracy talks about a study that the University of Pennsylvania did on positive thinking. It is interesting what successful people thought about vs, what some less successful people thought about. Negative thinking is something that I have struggled with most of my life. I know what limitations it can put on you, and there are no easy shortcuts.