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Lazy? Or Right on Schedule
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Q. I've been working on a big project for a long time. Although I try to move ahead every day, sometimes I have to force myself to accomplish even a small task. When I skip a day, I feel guilty. How can I stay motivated?"
A. When you're working on a book, job search, business start-up, dissertation, or special project, you can feel consumed by the project. And often you feel as though you can't afford to take a break, let alone a day off.
I once heard a writer say, "Sometimes I'm really productive. I write five pages on my book! Then the next day I'm drained. So I review what I've written or organize my research files."
And I feel the same way. I resist taking a day off to read a new mystery, go for a hike, visit an art museum, or watch a season of an HBO series on DVD. But the next day, invariably, I wake up eager to work. And I accomplish everything I need to do, and more.
Frankly, I've never found staring at a blank screen (or paper, in the old days) does much good. Resistance means, "Time for a change of pace!"
These beliefs are supported by scientific evidence. Psychologists who study these up-and-down activity blips have found a certain randomness operates in human productivity levels.
For example, an employee "Bill" varied his arrival time at work. When Bill was late, his boss yelled at him. When Bill was on time, the boss offered praise.
Sure enough, Bill responded. The day after the boss yelled, Bill was on time. And the day after the reward, Bill slacked off and arrived late. So, concluded the boss, praise doesn't work. And punishment does.
There was only one problem. A computer demonstrated that Bill's arrival times showed a pattern of random variation. In fact, the computer could predict quite accurately how Bill would perform - with or without praise and blame.
The same pattern has been found among students: some days you learn faster while other days you just don't get it. And some days you're productive and efficient, while other days you're sluggish.
If you've studied statistics, you're probably guessed that we're talking about regression to the mean, which is very powerful. People usually have an average level of productivity. When they work hard one day, they tend to slow down the next.
So here's an exercise. Suppose you have a writing project. You set a goal: write 500 words a day. For other projects, find a daily activity level that's easy to observe and measure.
For the next 30 days, track how many words you write (or how productive you are in the task you've chosen). Some days you'll write 1000 words, other days none, with lots of variation. Each day just record your word count, without judging your output. At the end of 30 days, calculate an average. And calculate again after 60 days.
You may find that your natural average is 300 words a day. You can lower your daily goals - or recognize that you work best with your random pattern.
Obviously, if you have a deadline, you may have to increase your output. Professional writers typically write 1000-3000 words a day.
But if you're making acceptable progress toward a goal, you can begin to understand, accept and work with your natural rhythm. Regardless, beating yourself up and feeling guilty won't work. If you're constantly falling behind, maybe it's time for a change of career - a chance to enjoy marching your life to a new beat.
Most of all, I ask my clients to remove the word "lazy" from their vocabularies - forever! When you're berating yourself for lack of progress - stop! Chances are you're right on schedule.
Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., helps midlife professionals who want to make huge, medium and small career changes. Strategize, get unstuck, start a business or start over. Fr^e Report: Ten secrets of managing a major life change. mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact mailto:email@example.com or call 505-534-4294
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Getting What You Really Want
Everyone wants something in life, love, money, success, recognition ..
Self Confidence : The Importance of Will-Power
The importance of will-power is recognized by most men, yet few deliberately give any time or thought to its development. Why we resist one thing and yield to another may be due to "the strongest motive," but what more particularly concerns us in the study of self-confidence is in what way this mighty power can be built and directed.
Motivation: Tearing Down Your Own Limitations
Q.: I've always been sort of cynical about all this motivational stuff.
Clear Thinking - Ten Ways
Does your mind sometimes feel like a television station you can't quite tune in? You know there's an interesting program on - or several, but everything is mixed with static. What if you could "tune in" at will, have clear thinking whenever you want it? Try some of the following.
The Art of Scripting Your Life
Writing a 'life script' is like writing a movie script. You need to create a feeling, evoke emotional responses and create the scenarios.
Life Is About Taking
"Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.
Are You an Optimist or a Pessimist?
I have been giving some thought lately to optimism and pessimism. Basically, these are attitudes.
How to Get rid of the "Overwhelm" Monster
If you wear many hats, manage a family and/or a business, it is easy to feel overwhelmed on a regular basis. Too much to do, not enough time, money, or help to do it.
Habit Change--Six Steps to Success
As every New Year approaches, many of us are doing the usual?thinking, "This year will be different. I'm going to change?(fill in the blanks)?my work habits, my attitudes.
The Default Setting
In the coaching relationships I have with our clients, the major problem I see is that individuals end up in the same place - over and over and over again. They mean to save money and build wealth, only to end up (again) with "too much month at the end of the money.
It can be challenging to think about going to the next level. Especially when you're completely overwhelmed by the thought of taking the next step.
How To Be Motivated To Create The Life Of Your Dreams
When it comes to motivating yourself to be a better person, to do better at work or to create a happier family life you need to understand the importance of taking control of your self-talk. You really need to know how to motivate yourself through thick and thin.
Achieving Your Dreams
While most people spend most of their lives struggling to earn a living, a much smaller number seem to have everything going their way. Instead of just earning a living, the smaller group is busily working at building and enjoying a fortune.
Remember, Worse Things Can Happen At Sea, So..... Dont Ever Quit!
Throughout the many pages of scores of motivational books, with the Bible being at the forefront, we are encouraged to "not give up." We are told to believe that we can come through any situation and be victorious in life.
Magic In The Leadership Zone!
"Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable, procures success to the weak - and esteem to all.
Knowledge Or Action
It's been said that knowledge is power. While that's true to an extent, it isn't the whole truth.
7 Magical Ways To Stop Procrastination
There are a number of techniques to help you stop procrastination once and for all. If you can stop procrastination in your life just think about what you could accomplish and how much better you would feel.
Inertia? 5 Tips to Getting Yourself Moving Again!
Inertia. Even the word sounds like a disease.
How Do I Stop Procrastinating?
Often times we procrastinate because it just seems like so much WORK to get what we want! We just don't feel like the rewards justify everything that needs to be done to obtain those goals.Other times we procrastinate because we feel like we can't have what we really want so we settle for something less than we truly deserve.
I worked hard for the past 17 years. I felt I had to.
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