This week, I’m joined by award-winning podcaster and one of the many contributors to my 2-book set Entrepreneur Mind Hacks, Daniel J. Lewis. Daniel has some simple but amazingly powerful productivity tips to share!
Daniel helps people launch and improve their podcasts and helps them communicate their passions to the world. As an entrepreneur, he knows what it is like to have limited time to work with, and the need to make the most of every second in order to be productive.
Daniel defines “productivity” as simply being able to get things done. It is a combination of using the right tools for the job, knowing how to use those tools well, and discovering new tools or techniques to be able to accomplish the things that you need to in the time that you have without having to sacrifice. When it comes to systems, they are important as long as they are not too complicated.
Whatever system you use to accomplish your daily tasks must be simple enough for you to consistently follow and effective enough that it actually works.
You could have “the best system in the world”, but if you never use it, it’s pointless. Or if it’s so complicated that you’re always using it incorrectly; or you’re spending more time on the tool and trying to get it to work within your workflow, it’s no longer an effective system.
“Often, we don’t have time for something unless we make time for it. We will schedule times to meet with clients or to make important calls, but it is also helpful to schedule into your day things like processing email.
I don’t even receive as many email as other people do – I get maybe 40 or 50 emails a day – but the times that I find that I’m able to process these the best is when I have actually scheduled time each day to process my inbox.
I typically schedule an hour per day, and I try to spend that time doing nothing but that task – focused on handling my email. By doing that day after day, after day, not only does it help to know that this is the time that I do this specific task (in this case, email). But, it’s giving me a regular amount of time each week to accomplish it.
You see, if you set aside an hour per day to process your email inbox, that adds up to five hours per week! Sometimes you might look at your inbox and think, “No WAY! This is gonna take five hours for me to get through!”
But, if you schedule one hour per day on whatever scheduling system you use, then you’ll actually have the accumulated time to accomplish this task.
By putting your own appointment in your schedule, it blocks out the time you need and it prevents other things from happening during that time. So, no one else can schedule a meeting with you during that time; You won’t take other calls during that time; You won’t schedule anything else during that time. And, if you use any kind of digital system, it’s very likely that it will also remind you that time is coming up.
So you’ll have these reminders telling you when to switch tasks or prepare for an upcoming task.”
So, what qualifies as a task worth scheduling? According to Daniel:
“Really, anything that you want to do or maybe anything that you find yourself doing. For me one of these things is participating in social networks. I actually have that scheduled into my daily calendar. For me, that is important for my business because I feel that it’s important for me to go out there and interact with people who are in my field, respond to tweets, check out my Facebook groups…
And this isn’t just marketing. Sometimes it’s just helping people answer a question and provide solutions for people. When I interact with my social media outlets, it really builds my brand, and it shows that I’m interested in giving back to the community. But it can be quite a time waster, if not properly handled. It’s very easy get lost in time while surfing around and around and around my various social media spheres.
So, as silly as it seems, I actually have “Social Media Participation” scheduled on my daily calendar.
I have a set time on Mondays when I start preparing for my podcast, a set time when I go live, as well as certain times I prepare for those podcasts. And usually, when I have a project that I know it’s really important – that I really need to take care of this week – I will schedule with myself to make sure I do it. Then I won’t let anything else interfere with that project. This system is better than just a “to do list” that says, “This is what you need to do today…”
It’s much more specific.
But how would someone use this approach when it comes to projects that could take days, weeks, or even months to complete?
It’s not so much about blocking out the time to complete the task in totality – although it might be. I might decide I’m going to work an hour or two on a particular project on these particular days of the week for a certain amount of weeks. Not only is this a great way to focus and get that stuff done, but it can also be more of an accountability tool for myself. My calendar will remind me at this time I need to switch over to work on this other task. So I start transitioning over. I start working on the next task. And then, I might continue working on that new task all day. But, I might not have ever made that transition to that task in the first place without the scheduling reminder. I might’ve been chasing all the little fires that surround me each day instead of doing the task. And by the time today’s over, I’d realize that I ran out of time.
The calendar is just a way of me helping myself to be more accountable to the tasks I need to do in that day.
Now, I have found that sometimes I need to make a hard decision between what is worth scheduling into my day, and what I simply need to toss to the trash. Daniel has these recommendations for prioritizing what should be included in your daily schedule and what doesn’t:
Often times, I need to ask myself, “What’s the return on investment here?” and not in on actual dollar amount. Sometimes value can’t be assigned to certain things, like social media participation, for example.
So, I have to decide is this really worth my time?
I need to work on treating myself like I should be treating the people who work for me – assigning myself one specific task during a specific time to focus on.
So, in essence, Daniel has set up a system that helps him stay disciplined.
Some people don’t struggle with that as much as I do I know that my biggest struggles are procrastination and time management. I put things off. I get distracted by all the shiny new things I run across. This extra structure is what helps me to stay on top of things and accomplish things; and when I see that I’m falling behind on the tasks I need to do, it is usually because I wasn’t following my structure as much as I should have been.
Any kind of timer that you have – even if you grab your kitchen timer or use an alarm clock – can be sued as a timer. Or, use the timer on your smartphone or tablet. Or use a website like e.ggtimer.com. What a timer can do is help you focus via what is called the “Pomodoro Technique”. You set a timer for yourself for, say, 25 minutes and you focus on whatever task you are on and nothing else for those 25 minutes. This gives you extra mental freedom because you’ll inevitably get distracted during that time, but you can defer those distractions. You see, if I am half-way into a 25 minute period and I get a distraction, like a quick thought of a possible email coming into my inbox, or an alert of some sort… I can look at my timer and realize NO! I need to focus. And I can check my email in 12½ minutes. I can wait 12½ minutes!
It’s kind of like when I used to teach small children. It almost always happened right in the middle of a lesson, at least one kid raised his hand and asked if they could go to the bathroom.
Each time, I would immediately ask them, “Can you wait?”
And the answer, almost always was, “Yes.”
It’s a similar situation with these little distractions that can wait. You can wait to reply to that tweet or check your email or let someone go to voicemail and call them back in 15 minutes…
By deferring those things, you offer yourself more mental freedom to focus on that task right then. And when your timer runs out, you can then pursue those distractions (if you want to) Or, you may find yourself in a great zone because you’re focused! You’ve spent so much effort on focusing for those 25 minutes that you are now in a “productivity sweet spot”.
If this is the case, simply reset your timer for another 25 minutes, or however long you want, and you can get really productive work done during that time.
So much of what we do in trying to get stuff done is often just the transition into it.
I’ve seen multiple studies that said it takes up to 15 minutes – sometimes people say it’s up to half an hour – for you to really transition your brain from one task to another. So, if you’re focusing for 25 minutes, a lot of that is your brain transitioning into that task and you may find yourself in a great point where you are just “in the zone”, writing like crazy… podcasting… or whatever the task is!
You’ll find yourself in that “zone” because you’ve disciplined yourself with what seems like simple disciplines. So, when your timer does end, you may find yourself not wanting to pursue your distractions and instead stay focused for even longer in order to get more accomplished!
All this begs the question of whether or not there are tasks that DO NOT work well with Daniel’s timer.
I think the tasks that have an indefinite amount of time, or where you don’t need to focus much on it, fall into that category. For example, one-on-one consulting or talking with someone on the phone. I think it’s actually disrespectful to set a timer and have the mindset that in exactly 15 minutes, this interaction must end.
To be conscious of the time is one thing, but to make someone feel like they’re on a timer is another. So, if you’re interacting with other people, especially face-to-face or voice to voice, that’s not when you should use a timer technique. But instead, maybe just a calendar technique and block out that chunk of time in your day.
Other tasks might include tasks that you’ve been dreading. A better way to time these out is with the “timer reset” technique.
This is a technique that I learned from Stever Robbins – The Get it Done Guy. This is a way that I’ve been able to clean up my office and clean rooms that I would have never otherwise cleaned. The flipside of the psychological thing of using a timer is when you tell yourself, “I’m going to give myself only 15 minutes to work on this task.” Then it seems very attainable. You give yourself those 15 minutes. And you work on that task. If you then DO reset the timer after that, and continue working for another 15 minutes, there might be a psychological switch that goes on that the next time you need to work on that task (or continue working on that task) you might be thinking to yourself, “I don’t have time right now.” And really it just takes 15 minutes. But you’re conditioning your brain to think “A 15 minute task actually means an hour”. So, those may be times when you might use the timer… but don’t reset it. And I suggest that when you do those things that you really dread – set a timer and when the timer is done, you’re done. Or, at least wrap it up as quickly as possible. That way, the next time you have to do the task, you know you only have to do this for 15 minutes!
And if you think about it, over the course of a week at only 15 minutes per day, you’ve actually spent 75 minutes doing something quite easily rather than dreading it for an hour in one shot.
For more amazing insights from Daniel, check out danieljlewis.com!
Shawn Manaher is my guest this week, as we discuss his contribution to my 2-book set “Entrepreneur Mind Hacks”. Shawn has some golden nuggets regarding the power of good connections to share with us, and advice on how to avoid totally messing them up!
Let’s start with the basics: What are networking & business connections?
According to Shawn, networking connections are simply making and building relationships related to whatever you want to build. So, in this context were talking about networking for the purpose of building business. Think of it more as a relationship more than just an activity – getting to know one another. Often times, those that are in the “online space” make the mistake of thinking that networking is just like online. However, all networking should actually be approached in more of an “offline” approach, in that getting to know one another and establishing a relationship should be paramount. Once you know and understand what each other’s strengths, weaknesses, services and needs are, then the mutual benefit of the connection will naturally surface.
When Shawn goes into a networking, or into any kind of connection, relationship he understands that there’s a give-and-take in the relationship. This practically works itself out by having a certain set of strengths and services connected with the person he has networked with so that when Shawn meets someone else who needs that service, he instantly will connect the two people and see their business grow, while fulfilling the need of the other person. Then, as the relationships grow and become more and more reciprocal, everybody within the network wins!
You see, as Shawn puts it, your business growth and your business potential is only as strong as your ability and the strength of your network. Now, he is the first to admit that this truth didn’t sit easy with him at first. Shawn didn’t like that the idea that success really is about who you know not what you do.
Yet, as Shawn connected with and became friends with people such as Chris Dreyer from Attorney Rankings, he realized that now, either one of them would be willing to drop everything to help one another succeed – all because each of them have given to one another without expectation. So, in building his networking circles, Shawn has come to understand both who he has connected with, as well as where their mutual benefits reside.
Now, it’s a hard truth that some people are going to be more takers than givers. But if you find a core group of people that are willing to give, and you’re willing to give, and there’s that mutual respect and connection across the board… then, those people become your inner networking circle.
One of the most valuable lessons Shawn has ever learned came to him the hard way:
Since learning this incredibly valuable lesson, Shawn is much more organized and almost always has a plan in place before meeting somebody. He puts them in an email database. He follows up with them on a regular basis so that he is connecting with them in a meaningful way. Ultimately, the purpose of networking is not just to accumulate a list of names that you know, but to help build each other’s business efforts to new levels.
But to achieve this, Shawn needed to come up with and organize an effective system.
At one point, Shawn was going to a lot of business networking events. He was mostly going to open networking events where he would basically meet with anybody and connect with anybody. But, then he learned about closed networking events. At these events, instead of focusing on meeting 100 different people at each event, taking part in short conversations amounting to very little meaningful give and take, he decided to go into a closed networking group.
There, Shawn worked on building relationships with a select few individuals particularly interested in building each other’s businesses in a mutually beneficial way.
Typically a closed network would be a group of about twelve like-minded businesspeople that Shawn will see fairly regularly – on a monthly basis, he meets with two or three of those individuals face-to-face, one-on-one for about 30-45 minutes. He gets to know their businesses they get to know Shawn’s. And then, through that one-to-one connection, each of the people are able to refer business at a higher rate and a much more successful rate for one another because they actually know each other.
Among his other efforts, Shawn has begun Sidepreneurs (sidepreneurs.com). This innovative pool of resources, podcast, and connection site is all about helping individuals launch their side-businesses and graduate into full-time entrepreneurship! Shawn offers mentorship which comes out of his own experience, as well as his network. The result has been the building of a community of like-minded individuals who are focused on building their side businesses and helping one another achieve those goals.
Susan Finch was one of the most prolific contributors to my 2-book set “Entrepreneur Mind Hacks” . This week, she is offering the “full scoop” of her genius, as we discuss hacks that can move your business forward.
One of Susan’s greatest nuggets that she wrote was, “Productivity starts before you punch the clock” – meaning that before you even sit down to begin your first task of the day, you need to be in the right frame of mind in order to do a great job that day. For Susan, this begins from the second that he morning alarm goes off… before she even lifts her head from her pillow. That’s when she makes the decision to have a great day, do her very best for her clients, be honorable and helpful, and to have a lot of fun!
As Susan puts it, it’s like armoring yourself with Teflon before the kids start fighting in the morning.
But, this doesn’t happen automatically. It takes time to initiate this key to success. But, by taking the time to do this, it enables Susan to transition from each distinct stage of the morning, and even the entire day. When her morning “ritual” becomes routine, then she is much more capable of focusing on what is in front of her and being much more productive.
One lesson Susan learned from her mom was to never even leave her master bedroom until she was ready to take on the day – dressed, hair done, makeup done, teeth brushed, etc. By setting the stage for each day in this way, both Susan and her mother are prepared to take on anything that might spontaneously come their way.
Once she has herself together, then she spends time doing things like preparing her kids lunches, or doing things for her non-profit, or preparing things for a volunteer opportunity at her kid’s school… any number of tasks that are non-work related. In fact, she handles these things before she ever looks at her email or social media. It’s her way of lovingly taking care of those near and dear to her with all of her focus and without the distractions of work and other demands.
This helps her compartmentalize her day from the very beginning, setting the stage for an even more productive day once her work hours begin.
You see, according to Susan, human beings crave structure. We often don’t even realize it, but when we are surrounded by clutter and mess, we also surround ourselves with reminders of unmet obligations or goals. This is depressing!
But, when we declutter our office, home, or even counterspace, we will feel less burdened and be more productive!
Here are some of the “simple tasks” Susan does each morning:
By taking care of these simple tasks, she expresses her love for her family while jump-starting her day with simple productivity. You see, the way that Susan is wired, when she is of service to someone or creating something, she is at her happiest. When she is stuck doing something that doesn’t fall into either of those categories, she simply doesn’t feel right.
Now, most of the time, her efforts go unnoticed. Her kids rarely even recognize that they have a clean place to eat their cereal in the morning or lunches are made. But, we don’t love in order to receive recognition, and when they do notice that she has done something nice for them, the rewards are precious.
All this to say, these morning routines don’t have to be huge, elaborate systems. Sometimes it’s as simple as slicing apples so that her daughter can eat her lunch and talk with a friend without a mouthful of fruit.
But, while it doesn’t need to be elaborate, it does require intentionality. In order to be productive in anything – whether it be as a parent, a homeowner, or a business person, we need to pay attention to what those around us need. This helps us most effectively meet their needs.
It all begins with a proper mindset.
For instance, Susan prays daily, thanking God for her clients that allow her to work from home… establishing a grateful and selfless mindset each and every day.
Susan began learning about this years ago. When she was planning her wedding day, her priest asked her and her fiancé to answer one question (one that had no right or wrong answer) that would lay the foundation for her entire wedding day: Would she be the gracious host or the honored guest?
By deciding to be gracious hosts, they would not disappointed if things didn’t go perfectly throughout the day, but they would be incredibly filled with joy just seeing their friends and family celebrate the special day together.
This translates into her life today, both personally and professionally.
Early in her career, Susan had the opportunity to work under Jack Mealer, an advertizing great from Orange County, CA. While there, she saw a coffee mug that read:
“Our clients do not need us, we need our clients.”
This motto seemed to embody nearly everything that the firm did. Susan learned early on to never take anything for granted. They simply maintained the mindset that they were grateful for the opportunity to serve their clients.
Now, there is no guarantee that each day will end perfectly, but at least she can set the stage well by beginning each day filled with love, fun, creativity and productivity!
But what happens if your day takes an unexpected turn and suddenly becomes one of “those days”, despite your best efforts?
Susan offers some mindset game changers:
You can learn more from Susan at SusanFinch.com.
This week, Dan Crask joins me to discuss some very practical things that will help you get the most out of your work day and work space. This is a great one for entrepreneurs and home-based business folks.
Dan is “The Brand Shepherd” among my fellow collaborators for my two-book set, “Entrepreneur Mind Hacks”. He is also a marketing expert and graphic designer as well as just a great guy! His chapter in Entrepreneur Mind Hacks is simply titled “Tips on Staying Productive”, and he strikes gold right from the beginning:
“Staying productive is like navigating a minefield of distractions and meaningless work.”
One aspect of this is the entrepreneurial truth that not everyone is equal. As businesspeople, we need to be able to prioritize the multitudes of problems, individuals, and projects facing us each day. According to Dan, the number one way to do this is to first minimized your distractions.
But, what’s a distraction?
It could be as simple as family distractions, if you’re working from a home office. For Dan, when the door is closed, nobody bothers Dad. Another distraction could be your phone and computer notifications. And, speaking of your phone, minimizing distractions could also mean sending all calls to voicemail instead of answering each call as they come in.
And, when it comes to personal needs, Dan goes so far as making “appointments” for his own self-care needs on his calendar so that the time is intentionally set aside for working out, meals, and even family time.
Dan also wrote:
“Through trial and error (heavy on the error), I have a few mind hacks to help keep you productive.”
It’s hard to imagine a guy like Dan being heavy on errors, but the truth is that up until 2010, Dan found himself incredibly distracted by all the latest things that were happening in social media. It got to such a point that he was extremely enamored by what he was seeing on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It was consuming him to the point that he’d bring social media up at client meetings, he’d be distracted by social media while trying to accomplish his work duties, and what’s worse is that his clients saw it before he did.
At that point, he put social media in the far, far, FAR backseat of life and only uses it as a tool to accomplish his and his clients’ branding goals.
Dan also suggests to implement what he calls a “mandatory door”, no matter where you work. In other words, you need a space where you are able to hunker down and get work done. Not only does this offer you the ability to focus without distractions, but it also provides privacy that could help your clients and partners feel more confident and at ease. The other side to having a “mandatory door” is that when the door is open, anyone can come in and you are not forever isolated from the world, or more specifically your loved ones.
Now, like many entrepreneurs, Dan works from a home office, so the door has become quite a necessity. However, depending on where you stand in your company’s pecking order, you may find yourself working in a cubicle or open space where co-workers are able to interrupt your focus. In this case, effective communication between you, your boss, and your co-workers is critical so that everyone understands when and how you need to work distraction-free.
This also ties into some things I’ve been reading lately regarding the need for leaders to be considerate and compassionate toward the needs of those who they are leading. This principle applies to people working within an organization, or the solo-entrepreneur who is leading his family. Healthy communication is key.
Another tip Dan offers is to make sure your notifications serve you, not the other way around.
Too often, our email, text message, social media, and news alert notifications ping us to death when it comes to focusing on what needs to get done. For Apple users, there is a convenient “Do Not Disturb” mode on iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers, which Dan takes advantage of.
Turning off his notifications did take Dan a bit of “detox time”, as it may any of us, but putting his social media and other non-time critical interactions onto his own terms has been incredibly beneficial.
Almost immediately, Dan was able to put in a full hour of undistracted, undisturbed, and productive time. This may sound basic, but Dan is a creative person in a creative business and creativity can gain momentum. Dan was finding that his repeated notifications were constantly taking him out of his creative rhythm and interrupting his momentum. Without them, he was instantly more productive.
Dan also has found that he is more productive in the early morning hours. Getting to this discovery took a lot of humility, as well as Dan’s ability to identify his own strengths and weaknesses. He had to abandon the stereotypes of what needs to be done in order to be successful and take a hard, honest look in the mirror. Such stereotypes might be: if you’re a farmer, you’re supposed to rise before the sun and get straight to work. If you’re an artist you’re supposed to work all hours of the evening. If you’re a writer, you should be able to tirelessly sit in front of your computer all day long. Before abandoning the stereotypes, Dan really wanted to be a “night person”, but he realized that he simply isn’t one. By the time 8:00 rolls around, he’s done. He’s usually in bed before 9:00 at night. The flip side is that he is awake and refreshed sometime between five and six each morning. Dan finds that the early morning brings on a “newness” that invigorates him.
Now, not all of us are like Dan – possessing the ability to be most creative before lunch – but , the key is to figure out how you are wired and what part of the day you are most naturally productive, and then make the most of that portion of the clock-face.
One thing readers of Entrepreneur Mind Hacks may notice is a quick tip that immediately follows Dan’s submission. It reads:
“Every day, without fail, spend the first 20-30 minutes of your day resetting your thinking about yourself, your goals, and your daily projects. Do not start your day without absolute clarity regarding the most important tasks for your day. Those 20 minutes will determine the tone, course, and productivity of your entire day.”
This works for Dan many mornings, but working at home with three kids under seven has its built-in obstacles some morning. Nevertheless, he does what he can to get an early start to each day. Whether he starts first thing in the morning, or if his start time gets delayed a bit, he has systems, including a big dry erase board, that helps him organize his day and approach his mornings with clarity. Then, at the end of each day, he adjusts the lists, tasks and other information on the board to reflect the priorities of the following day.
All this boils down to Dan’s personal success in providing his clients with brand guidance and design. He works with businesses of all shapes and sizes, listens to their goals and directions, and helps with pretty much anything that is visual regarding the company’s brand, as well as the company’s brand identity or even brand packaging.
This process can turn into analyzing a website’s Google Analytics report and figuring out how to help a company’s website perform better, to coming up with the right design for the packaging, printing and even product design that would help lead to successful profits.
(The following was originally published at CareyGreen.com.)
We are God’s most complex creations… which means there are TONS of things to get us off track in any given day. But there’s ONE THING I’ve discovered that derails my mindset more than anything else. Can you guess what it is?
It’s not life’s circumstances. It’s not things people say to you. Nor is it the way you are treated by others.
It is… your feelings.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those guys who recommend suppressing or ignoring your emotions or that having feelings is a bad thing.
In fact, for myself, I’m thinking of my marriage – I love my wife and I love the feelings that I feel when we are together or apart. All the emotions I feel in regards to my bride are wonderful. They’re like icing on a cake!
But they’re not the cake itself.
You see, we live in a culture that promotes feelings a lot – to the point where even in too many people’s marriages, their feelings become “the cake”. But feelings are not the be all / end all. There are other things in life that matter WAY more than how we feel. It’s because of this worldview that people’s feelings get in the way and derail their mindset in regards to the commitments they have made, the decisions they make and the type of person they set out to be.
Here’s an example:
Imagine you are sitting out at a campsite. It’s early in the morning and you’ve got breakfast cooking for your family. As you bask in the early morning light with the smell of bacon in the air, you look down and you see a snake! What are you going to do? Most people will react and jump up to higher ground.
Once you are standing on top of the picnic table, you look again and realize that it’s not a real snake, but a rubber snake your kids brought and left outside.
My point is this: when you first see the snake, your feelings hit the roof and you react out of pure emotion. But the reality of the situation is that the thing on the ground that got you all worked up is actually just a toy and can do you no harm at all.
But, even after you are aware of and KNOW that fact, your feelings will still be running on overdrive. It always takes a little time (sometimes a lot of time) for your emotions to sync with the life’s truths.
If nothing else, this illustrations depicts how feelings can govern how we view the world around us and how we live our lives. This is why feelings are often the one thing that derails your mindset.
You’ll be right on track doing something with a proper, truthful mindset. Then, mid-stream, someone tells you something, or some circumstance occurs, that causes you to feel differently than the mindset you had in place to begin with. Then, you find yourself vacillating back and forth.
You see, feelings are powerful “convincers”. They convince us that what is going on in a certain situation is different than what is actually taking place. They even redefine truth – if only temporarily.
This is why we need to take charge of our feelings and maintain a proper, truth-based mindset.
Sometimes even the “strongest” of people are struck with paralyzing worry or anxiety.
Or, if you find yourself feeling inadequate, or full of fear, or you feel condemned – hearing voices in your head from long ago telling you that you’re not worthy or good enough – WHAT DO YOU DO?
Without a fixed mindset, any of these emotions can completely derail you from your task, your day, your week, or worse.
Well, here are a few helpful tips on how to address these potential emotional obstacles:
Firstly, accept the fact that feelings are often the things that derail you the most. I don’t care how stoic or unemotional you think you are, every single person falls prey to their emotions from time to time. Sometimes it’s simply the feeling of “I don’t want to get up” when your alarm goes off in the morning. Combine this feeling with your tiredness and the “good feeling” of staying in bed and your mindset has a battle in front of it. Your mindset needs to be stronger than those feelings in order to get your body up and start to take on the day.
Secondly, list out on paper the most common feelings that you battle with. Once you have your “enemy” named, dig deeper and write down what those feelings are all about – where do they derive from, what avenues of life are you typically hit by these emotions? By writing these things down, you become specifically aware of what feelings you need to be aware of and on the watch for, so that you can see them coming before they have a chance of overwhelming you.
Next, make a list of God’s truths that are contrary to those derailing feelings. For instance, if you battle with inadequacy or a lack of confidence, you can write in your “truth list” 2 Corinthians 3:5-6,
Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
According to this truth, written in God’s Word, we should have the confidence that we ARE competent to accomplish what God has put before us. Once you make your own truth list, you will have an arsenal of weapons to fight those overwhelming feelings with.
Fourth, embed those truths that you just wrote down into your soul. This may come through memorization, it could be done through 3×5 cards or sticky notes placed strategically throughout your home or office, or it can be something altogether personal so long as there are tangible ways of reminding yourself throughout the day of God’s truths. Reading God’s Word in the morning simply isn’t enough to sustain you through the day. You leak. You leak affirmation. You leak God’s truth. By dinnertime, you don’t remember them as clearly as you did at breakfast. It’s just a hard truth.
And finally, prepare yourself EVERY SINGLE MORNING. Get your mind ready for action, as Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:13,
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.
This verse tells us to set our mind ever day, being alert and on guard, with full anticipation for what God has promised in the future, knowing that what we do with each day today is not in vain, but according to God’s plan!
I know it sounds like a lot, this daily battle. But, with God’s help, you can overcome the tyranny of your feelings that sprout up at any given moment and derail your mindset
(The following was originally published at www.CareyGreen.com.)
This one’s about personal affirmations. You know, the “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like me!” things people are being encouraged to say to themselves each morning.
Don’t get me wrong, I think personal affirmations are a powerful way to start the day, at least as part of the morning routine – they are even Biblical…
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Psalm 43:5)
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. (1 Samuel 30:6)
But the way personal affirmations are created and practiced today is not working. And there’s one good reason why… they aren’t TRUE! Too often, these “affirmations” are merely phrases that we wish were true, when in reality, there may be things in your life that simply prohibit (or at least get in the way) of these things being true. It’s one thing to think positively about yourself, it’s another to make stuff up! I’ve heard the most self-centered person say that they are generous – all in the name of “personal affirmations.”
Another reason why many of today’s personal affirmations don’t work is because they are based on the desire to feel something: confident, good about yourself, healthy, strong, powerful, determined, generous, etc. However, mindset is not about emotions. In fact, feelings often derail our mindset.
Mindset is about setting your thinking on truth. And the truth that matters is God’s truth.
If personal affirmations are going to work it’s vital that they are true, because truth is what’s at the root of a healthy strong mindset.
We Christians have long been encouraged to do what we call a “Daily Quiet Time” or “Daily Devotional”. At first, these moments were designed to be a Christian version of “personal affirmations” – a time to dive into the Scriptures, read God’s truth, and allow that truth to feed your soul. But, over the years, the Christian “quiet time” has become an obligatory drill and a guilt ridden exercise in futility. Many 21st century Christians read their Bible, do their devotion time each morning, and get absolutely nothing out of it.
This is due to the fact that we don’t think about God’s truth in the right way.
So, instead of beating yourself up each morning, engaging in a “quiet time treadmill”, re-think your time of learning and being encouraged by God’s truth as a Morning Mindset Reset, where you hit the “reset button” on your thinking every day!
And, we need to do this every day because, to put it simply, we leak. We leak truth, confidence, and certainty that God is there. Not to mention, life circumstances hit us from all sides each day, which erode away at the fortress of our mindset and foundation of truth. This makes it incredibly hard to maintain a proper mindset throughout the day.
This is why we need to hone in our mindset reset and understand why we do it.
We do it to reset our thinking each and every morning. We need to set it on the foundation of God’s truth. Every day we need to start off with a fresh attitude and mindset toward God and His promises.
To achieve this, we need to daily think truth about ourselves, God, other people, and life situations. Say them out loud to yourself in a manner that, like David in the Old Testament, encourages yourself in the Lord!
And be honest. Because it really doesn’t matter what we hope we are or what we hope we might be. What matters is what God says we are and what is true of us. And, when we read God’s outlandish statements about us and rest in their truth, we are then able to set our minds on real truth! This helps us live in a powerful way each day.
Here’s one (out of hundreds) example of God’s truth from the Bible:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Now, let’s slow down and read this verse and realize how personal it is. Just like the author, Paul, we Christians have also been “crucified with Christ”. So, when Jesus died on the cross, over 2,000 years ago, somehow part of me died also. What part died? According to the Scriptures, the “old part” that is prone to sin, habitually fails, doubts nonstop, and sets its mind on wrong things that are contrary to God’s will. That’s the part of me that died with Christ.
So, when feelings of doubt, failure and condemnation creep up, I have to remind myself – based on Galatians 2:20 – that I have been crucified with Christ and that is not me anymore!
I no longer live, but instead Christ lives in me! Jesus lives INSIDE of me! Stand in front of a mirror, look at yourself and realize that Jesus lives in you! Say it out loud!! This is truth. It isn’t wishful thinking.
Continuing in the verse…
The life I now live today, and all the things that I fill my day with, I live by faith in the Son of God. This isn’t some mystical “otherworldly” sort of thing. It’s belief. I have a firm conviction in the Son of God and in what He says: that He has made me into a new creation; that through Him, my old self is dead; that He lives in me today; the list goes on and on. And, I refuse to let life’s circumstances or my emotions pull this belief away from me. It is anchored to God’s truth!
Finally, imagine that you are going to go on a diet and get into shape. You don’t go onto a diet by studying the menu at your local Dairy Queen, so that you know what not to eat. If you did, in no time, you’ll be shoveling a three-scoop sundae into your mouth! Likewise, you don’t beat the devil, when he throws doubts and accusations at you, by focusing on the doubts and insecurities.
The way you defeat Satan and his lies is by focusing on God’s truth instead. Focus on what God has said about you.
Now, you may have to do this multiple times throughout the day – not just once a day in the morning or during a lunch break. Write the verse or verses on a 3×5 card or sticky note and keep it with you throughout the day; and whenever the opportunity arises, pull it out and remind yourself of God’s truth – even when something tough is NOT happening to you. At any and all moments, it’s good to remind yourself who you are!
(The following was originally published at www.CareyGreen.com.)
Do you remember your first week in Algebra 1 class? I do. I can remember evenings at the kitchen table, reworking math problems over and over because I kept messing up easy steps early on in the process of working out the solution. It was so frustrating.
I was so upset because of the basic way math works. If you miss something vital early on, it WILL impact the rest of the problem and your answer will be wrong.
Your mindset is that way too.
If you accept something as “true” when it’s really false, every step you take on that situation from that point forward will be negatively impacted. You’ve got to learn how to safeguard yourself from making mindset conclusions or decisions that are incorrect (untrue), early on in the process.
It’s like making yourself the bouncer at the doorway of your mind. You deliberately and consciously check the “I.D.” of every thought that comes to your mind before you allow it to settle down and be at home. If it’s truth, you allow it in. If it’s not truth, you kick it out. No, you kill it.
In this Periscope session I chat about the daily battle to keep a truth-based mindset, why it’s so hard, and how you can
#1 – determine what is true, and
#2 – strengthen your ability to fight the battle daily.
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(The following was originally published at www.CareyGreen.com.)
When we talk about “mindset” we’re actually talking about where you FOCUS your thoughts.
And that’s the BIBLICAL definition.
In this video I’m going to walk you through the passage where the Bible makes the point that what you set your mind on is what will dictate your life.
Really, it’s there.
I’m also going to show you how the mindset you choose is your responsibility and give you some practical ways you can begin making the transition from an unhealthy mindset to a healthy one.
Think about a person who is constantly bemoaning their state in life. They complain about the things around them and what life is throwing at them. Often times, when their mind is laser focused on these negative things, even from the outside, you can see how the steps of their life tends to follow their complaints. Their lives seem miserable. They tend to misread people in most situations by interpreting them in the worst possible light (which confirms their negative mindset). And this is all due to what they choose to focus on.
Now, perhaps there are things that have happened in their lives that compel them to focus on these things and cause them to draw negative conclusions, but that doesn’t take away from the truth that the grace of God is available to everyone everyday. Jesus told us that He came so that we could have life – and have it abundantly!
So, we need to get our mindset (our focus) out of the negative gutter and into the positive realms.
When you have a negative mindset, there is no motivation to change or take charge. You feel like a perpetual victim to life’s bad circumstances and you resign yourself to that.
Romans 8:5-8 tells us:
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Did you notice that? Five times in three verses, Paul says that our minds can be set in a certain place. And its YOU (and me) who decide where our minds are set. The burden is on us.
Verse five tells us that anyone who is living a life that does not please God, but instead is hostile to God and self-centered, needs to know that this sinful life comes from their mind being set on things of the flesh. Meaning that by merely thinking constantly about angry, or lustful, or bitter, or bad things – this sets your mind’s focus and determines the type of life they lead, or produces a life that reflects these mindsets.
However, a mind that is set on the things of the Spirit -things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8)… things that are centered around bringing about God’s goodness in your life – you then produce a life that is according to the Spirit.
So, here’s the takeaway: You get to choose your mindset each and every day. You can choose to focus on things the Bible calls “the flesh” which bring along death (things that are bad) to your life; or you can choose to focus on things of the Spirit which bring God’s blessings and lead to the kind of life that God loves.
Now, don’t get me wrong – the passage (nor I) am saying that if you simply think about the right things then everything in your life is going to go perfectly and easily. The verse is, however, contrasting what it’s like to have a negative, flesh-centered mindset with a positive, Spirit-based mindset. Given those two options: one leading to death and the other leading to life, which one would you choose?
The choice is up to you.
Take some time today to honestly assess which direction your mind is typically set. Then ask yourself where you are going to determine to set your mind each day. Finally, ask yourself what you are going to do to ensure that this conviction that you are making is going to happen every single day. I suggest implementing a daily morning mindset reset. Take the truth’s from God’s Word, set your mind on them, focus on them, and strategize how you will keep these truths at the forefront of your mind throughout the day.
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