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7 Simple Steps to Overcoming Laziness

lazy

Photo courtesy of Matt Erasmus

There have been times in my life when I struggled to overcome what I usually refer to as “sloth-mode.” Many people struggle with this problem – especially in recent times. Virtually everything in our modern world offers increasing amounts of convenience, now allowing us to work, eat, and be entertained all within our own homes. Unfortunately, all of this convenience has led to a society that appears to be rather “lazy.”

What I’ve discovered though, is that while it may seem like laziness, there’s usually something else at play.  Laziness is just a term we’ve invented, and it covers a pretty wide range of behaviors that are, in fact, much deeper than simple laziness. Once you’ve figured out what you’re really dealing with, it’s much easier to get your motivation level up to snuff again.

Do a little self-assessment and determine which of the following best describes what may be causing your so-called “laziness.” Then take the accompanying advice to kick your butt back into gear:

  1. You’re bored. It’s extremely easy to mistake boredom for laziness. If you’re not excited about something, why bother, right? If boredom really is the issue, you’ll need to make a few changes and pursue something that interests you, if possible, or find a way to make what you are doing more interesting.
  2. You’re tired. When you’re not well-rested, the chances of you feeling inspired and motivated are extremely low. Work on getting an extra hour of sleep every night and see if your slump lifts.
  3. You’re disorganized. It’s difficult to get started on anything before you’ve got a good handle on organization. If your work area is a mess, what you may be calling laziness is probably procrastination instead. Set aside a decent chunk of time to clean and organize before you attempt anything more ambitious.
  4. You love pajamas. Sometimes, just getting dressed into a nice looking outfit will give you the kick you need. Ditch the pjs and don some attire that makes you feel attractive. Smile at yourself in the mirror, and get to work.
  5. You’re scared. If the problem is that you’re afraid to fail once you put yourself out there, remember this: “You always pass failure on your way to success.”  ~Mickey Rooney. In other words: Get out there and try anyway.
  6. You have a poor sense of time. If the hours in the day just seem to get away from you, start setting multiple alarms that alert you to begin certain tasks. For me, putting time limits on how long I work, clean, and even play, helps keep me focused and productive.
  7. You don’t know where to start. This happens to the best of us, and the best way to fix this problem is to make lists. I suggest getting a big calendar and writing a To-Do list for every day of the week. Crossing things off your list feels really good, and will give you the boost you need to keep being productive.

Believe it or not, another good practice is to allow time in your life for laziness to be ok.  Everyone needs time to decompress, and your productivity level will actually be higher if you have designated “down time” to look forward to. Make Saturdays “Pajama Day” or watch movies on Lazy Sundays. My advice is to pick only one day, so the behavior remains an exception rather than the rule.

 

 

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How to Stop Being Tardy for the Party

late

Photo courtesy of Steve O’brien

On my way to lunch with some friends yesterday, I received a text, letting me know they were running about ten minutes late. “No problem!” I responded, and, true to their word, they strolled into the mom and pop café at exactly 1:10pm.

Not only were they only negligibly late (I don’t really consider someone late until it reaches the 30-40 minute mark), but they were conscientious enough to shoot me a text anyway.

I have awesome friends.

With that being said, I do know a few people who run on a schedule that pretty much deviates from every other human being in the modern world. I’m willing to bet that all of you know someone who has earned the reputation as the latecomer in your group of friends.

As it turns out, chronically tardy people aren’t typically showing up late just to get your goat. In fact, many of these people have repeatedly attempted to fix their chronic lateness, but have failed time and time again.  Even when their lateness means being reprimanded at work, arguments with friends, and problems in romantic relationships – being late is much, much more complicated than it seems.

Recently, a study was conducted at San Francisco University, aiming to examine why certain people struggle so immensely with being on time. The results showed some clear patterns. When compared with their on-time peers, the chronically late participants struggled with self-control in at least one area of their lives (overeating, shopping, substance abuse, gambling). They also had a much harder time staying on task in a manner similar to ADD sufferers. Many of them also admitted to some moderate to severe anxiety or phobias, displayed a great deal of ambivalence, and/or an affinity for thrill-seeking behaviors.

The good news is that tardiness doesn’t have to be a permanent factor in anyone’s life. Just like many other psychological issues, there are steps that one can take to be on time more and more consistently. If you or someone you know is always late to the party, be aware the changing this behavior takes time, and a lot of understanding from friends and loved ones. Consider the following:

  • Practice self-reflection and self-awareness on a more regular basis in order to discover what lies behind your chronic lateness.  Figuring out if you’re always late to the same type of events can be telling – the answer might be as simple as situational anxiety.
  • Determine what you consider ‘late’ to be.  Are you always the same amount of time late, or does it depend on the situation?  What types of events do you show up to on time, if any?
  • What do you get out of being late?  Does it give you a rush? Do you like to cause a scene? Perhaps you’re afraid of being the first to arrive.
  • In general, how good are you at estimation? Many latecomers think they can do more than they really can in a set amount of time. You may need to retrain your concept of how much time you really have.
  • How forgetful are you? Another type of latecomer is constantly distracted, loses things frequently, and has difficulty focusing. If this sounds like you, it’s possible that you may have an attention deficit disorder, and you may actually benefit from seeing your physician.

Making the leap from lateness to promptness is a challenge, but one that can be conquered with the right attitude. Setting small, achievable promptness goals will help you learn how to tell time all over again. Your internal clock needs to be re-set, and you can do that by promising yourself to be on time first. Once you’ve mastered honoring your own time goals, start planning to arrive early – everywhere you go. Always leave room for traffic, forgetting something, or getting lost. Before you know it, you might just be the first one to the party!

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Optimistic Realism: An Attitude Worth Having

 

optimism

Photo courtesy of Steven Depolo

Constantly seeing the glass as half full may seem like the “in thing” to do these days, but do yourself a favor and leave the pure, unadulterated optimism to someone else. It’s definitely beneficial to have a generally positive outlook, but there’s a big difference between that kind of unrealistic optimism and optimistic realism.

All of the recent talk about mindfulness has some people under the misguided impression that if they visualize success, it will arrive on their doorstep. ”If I believe it will happen, it will happen!” Unfortunately, this is a completely unhealthy way of thinking, especially if all you’re doing is believing.

Living a mindful life means being aware of and accepting things exactly as they are – even as you’re mindfully aware of being caught in a downpour without an umbrella. Mindfulness isn’t about reaching your goals at all, actually; it’s about being present enough in any given moment to appreciate all aspects of that moment, taking the good with the bad.

Adopting a mindful attitude does generally mean approaching life with a positive outlook - that part’s true, but it doesn’t mean you should become blissfully unaware. Observing and experiencing your life’s moments mindfully and then taking meaningful, realistic action is the key.

The most successful people are full of optimism but are keenly aware of reality, as well. To achieve your goals, you’ll need to master the fine art of balancing the two mindsets. As it was once said by William Ward, “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

Pessimists never get very far toward their goals because they spend most of their time and energy complaining. Uber-optimists tend to spend most of their days in La-La Land, fantasizing about the future and assuming that their destiny is already decided for them.

Optimistic Realism: An Oxymoron?

It all boils down to this: actions speak louder than words. The only way to get where you want to be is to get up and start moving. You’ll need to have a realistic mindset about the road ahead of you on your journey. Bumps in the road will challenge you, for sure, and instead of wearing blinders, you’ll fare much better if you’re on the lookout for any detours you may need to take along the way.

So, keep your (moving) feet on the ground but leave your mind wide open. Your continued optimistic belief in yourself will help you succeed, but true success will only come when you put forth effort, careful planning and dogged persistence.

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8 Things to Stop Thinking About

daydreamPhoto courtesy of Scott Anderson

I’ve come to realize that a little daydreaming is ok, but that it can be all too easy to get lost in your thoughts, leading to distraction and a less mindful way of living. Allowing your inner thoughts and dialogue to take a major detour will derail your focus, making you much less productive at work and more stressed in life.

There are some common “thought traps” that are easy to fall into, and they can leave you ruminating rather than really living. When these thoughts pop into your head, let them pass through without stopping.

1. Woulda, coulda, shoulda: If you’re constantly preoccupied with thoughts of things you wish you’d done differently, you’re essentially beating a dead horse with an old stick. Let thoughts of the past move right on by, and every time they pop back in for a visit, think about something positive that came of the choices you did make.

2. Fantastic fortune and magic carpet rides: Passive fantasies about the life you really want will get you nowhere. Get those thoughts onto paper, and into action!

3. Worries. Dwelling excessively on an anxiety-provoking topic ultimately won’t make one bit of difference in the outcome of any situation. Worrying is something everyone does, though, so it’s a natural and normal feeling.  Just don’t let it control your life.

4. The Oops. I used to literally punish myself anytime I’d made an embarrassing mistake at work by replaying the event over and over again in my mind. What’s done is done, and the only thing to do is to learn from your mistake and do better next time.

5. How you’re measuring up. In other words, you’re preoccupied with what other people think of you. The only person you should be measuring yourself against is, well, yourself.

6. Why me? This is a huge thought trap for many people. It’s essentially a Pity Party for One. Stop asking “Why me?” and ask “Why not?”

7. The missing piece. Are you spending precious time focused on what you don’t have? We’ve all met that person who constantly bemoans all of the things she hates about her life. This type of person usually displays extreme jealousy when others experience good fortune, too. What a waste of energy and lost minutes that could be spent enjoying the present moment for what it is.

8. Your limits. Most people are convinced that they have invisible limits that no one else can see or sense. Staying within your preconceived limits allows you to feel safe, but it also hinders how much success you can attain.  Limits only exist in the mind. In reality, you can accomplish anything.

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The #1 Reason You Keep Procrastinating

Photo courtesy of Sophie

Some people are more notorious than others for procrastinating, but generally speaking, we all know what it feels like to put things off until the last minute. Especially today, with so many modes of entertainment right at our fingertips, staying on top of those less-than-thrilling tasks can be a challenge. While it has been said that “good things come to those who wait,” it’s easy to miss the sweet spot, and before you know it – waiting for the right time can turn into a less-than-desirable habit.

Habitual procrastinators have often been told that they’re lazy, irresponsible, or just plain dumb. The facts point in a different direction, however. A recent study in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology investigated what exactly causes people to “put things off.”

Have you been called a procrastinator? Are you easily distracted? Have there been times that you’ve made commitments you’ve failed to properly fulfill?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may be suffering from what is known as Self-Regulation Failure. And, while it sounds rather Doomsday, the bones of the issue are pretty easy to understand and fix.

Psychologists have noticed a pretty solid connection between procrastination and a high ego. Now how many of you just had a lightbulb turn on? I know I did. I definitely think pretty highly of myself, and have been known to procrastinate, so I can vouch for the connection in my case.

Having an elevated sense of self is fantastic, so if you’re feeling pretty good about yourself on a regular basis, let me be the first one to congratulate you. Don’t even think about changing how great you think you are. You can become more productive on a more regular basis without knocking any wind out of your sails.

Here’s what generally happens: A person with a relatively high ego agrees to a certain task sometime in the future. The main reason she agrees to complete the task (be it a favor, freelance project, or work commitment) is because she feels she can accomplish anything. Which she is statistically probably right about.

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

As the deadline for said task approaches, she may suddenly see the task as above her capabilities, or out of her range of expertise, so she puts it off. If she manages to complete the task but fails to do it well, she considers herself a failure.

Because of her sense of failure, she then begins to procrastinate on more and more action items, until practically everything in her life is put off until the absolute last possible second. You see, she’s afraid to fail again.

If this sounds like you, becoming aware that this phenomenon is occurring in your life may actually be all that you needed. You’ve already got a good sense of self-esteem. Keep agreeing to demanding tasks like you’ve always done in the past, only instead of fearing them, embrace the element of challenge that they bring to your life. Try to glide easily over the little bumps along the way as you complete difficult assignments in a timely manner. As long as you apply yourself and continue to give your all, failure isn’t even an option.

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Simplify Your Life. Is it Really that Simple?

Photo courtesy of Kevin Dooley

It’s the latest thing. All of the coolest grown ups are doing it and shaking their heads with pity at those who just don’t get it yet.

Simplifying your life: Is it all it’s cracked up to be?

There’s been a slow phase-out of the fast paced, jam-packed, overscheduled lifestyle people were leading a decade ago, at least if they planned on keeping up with the Joneses. These days, zen habits and mindful living are definitely on the rise, and the word Stress has become a six letter pariah - nobody wants it around except psychotherapists and pharmaceutical companies.

Those of you who are still embracing the overly busy and complicated lifestyle that’s so “yesterday” might as well open your front door and invite that undesirable pariah in for brunch. Even worse, if your life is in a state of overwhelming chaos, you probably won’t even notice Stress until it’s gotten good and comfortable. By that point, it will have made quite a mess of your life and will be extremely difficult to get rid of.

Simplicity: Is it right for you?

The process of making life manageable is different for everyone because the changes you may want to make will be specific to your needs and the current level of discord you’re experiencing. However, if you’re determined to overcome Stress permanently, there are some basic starting points that will help you to move toward a simpler life, and anyone can do them.

Kickoff to a more laid-back lifestyle with a crystal clear understanding of what is most important to you. Take some time to write out your priorities so that you can align them with the level of simplicity you’d like to achieve. Once you are sure of your top priorities, you’ll be able to go about organizing your life in the way you’d really like it to flow.

If you find that you’re overwhelmed by your life more often than not, you probably have a daily routine that’s not aligned with your priorities. The key is to set up a functional schedule that finds you spending the most time on tasks relating to the things that are most important to you.

Simplification: Is it really just that simple?

Because our world is so full of enticing distractions, of course it’s not that simple. An important part of living more simply is not allowing yourself to get sucked in by too many things that aren’t on your priority list, especially those that are useless or even contrary to your goals.

After you’ve found a way to fit the most important parts of your life into a simple weekly schedule, be sure to allocate a large percentage of the remaining time toward activities that fall somewhere between ‘priority’ and ‘useless.’ Allowing yourself ample opportunities for leisure and down time are vital components in living a simpler, more enjoyable life. As an added bonus, they’ll also help you stay more focused when working toward your goals (items on your priority list).

Along with creating a less complicated/more focused daily routine, you’ll also want to de-clutter your home, car, and list of friends, which involves getting rid of things that just aren’t working for you anymore.

Simple? Not even close. Worth it? Totally.

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A Dozen Ways to Ruin a Perfectly Good Morning

Photo courtesy of John Liu

Recently, my husband has been making some major changes in his life that have increased his productivity, feelings of self-worth, and overall happiness. He shares all of his ideas with me, and what I’ve noticed so far is that the changes that have had the most effect on his life are the ones that happen in the first hours of his day. Intrigued, I did a little research into the subject, and was surprised to learn a few compelling facts that now have me rethinking my mornings too.

As it turns out, many Americans are sabotaging their overall productivity without even knowing it by getting off on the wrong foot each morning. In the United States, 55% of all adults say that they are ‘morning people,’ while the rest feel perkier in the P.M. However, because you’re likely to find that your days end pretty much the way they start means it’s important to make mornings count.

Interestingly, a podcast about productivity is what really got my attention on this subject with the claim that those self-professed ‘morning people’ are healthier and richer, and that they live longer, happier, more productive lives.

Despite the multitude of internet articles claiming that it’s possible to transform into a person who gleefully bounces out of bed every morning, it is much more realistic to make some tiny shifts to your current (possibly less-than-ideal) morning routine.

See what you can take away from this list of what not to do every A.M., followed by an explanation for what makes each component important to achieving a successful morning (and day):

  1. Sleep as late as possible. Early risers make good use of that quiet alone time. Allow yourself enough time to ease into your day without rushing around like a crazy person.
  2. Blast yourself out of bed with the loudest alarm possible. Jarring yourself into consciousness will guarantee that your day has a jittery start. Find a soothing sound that’s loud enough to wake you up but not startle you.
  3. Save time by skipping breakfast. – The importance of eating a good breakfast is ranked right up there with a good night’s sleep. Just do it.
  4. Forget showering – you took one last night, right? – Last night was a long time ago, and even a quick spray-down will leave you refreshed, invigorated and ALERT.
  5. Check all of your emails. – If possible, have a separate work email address and don’t log in to your work account until your work hours start.  Avoid checking personal emails until your first break of the day, or, if you simply can’t wait, at least put off responding until break time.
  6. See what everyone is up to on Facebook. – Does this even need an explanation?
  7. Make up for lost sleep on the weekends. – While it seems so tempting, keeping a regular sleep schedule – even on the weekends - will make it easier to wake up early on the weekdays.
  8. Don’t exercise. – Getting your blood pumping means more blood-flow to the brain, too. Your metabolism will be ramped up, giving you more energy and burning more calories!
  9. Wear the outfit that strikes your mood. If you’ve ever stood in front of your closet and wasted 30 minutes deciding what to wear, you know that morning-time is definitely not the best time to choose your outfit.  Lay everything out the night before, including shoes and socks, so that decision is already taken care of when wake up time rolls around.
  10. Save the fun for after work. Doing something fun before your work day starts is a surefire way to put you in a positive mood and a good frame of mind. All work and no play is no good for anyone.
  11. Shuffle your kids quickly out the door and onto the school bus so you can get on with your day. It’s been proven that two minutes of hugging per day makes for happier people. A little quality time with the little ones (or teenagers, as the case may be) will be good for all of you.
  12. Once you sit down to work, don’t get up until you absolutely have to. There are so many good reasons to take regular work breaks: improved circulation, avoiding eye strain, giving your hands a break from the computer mouse, and giving yourself a mental break only name a few.

You may never pop out of bed filled with vim and vigor, but that doesn’t have to mean that your mornings have to be disasterous and unproductive. Those of us who aren’t ‘morning people’ can learn how to make the most out of a situation that we’d rather not face at all…or at least until noon.

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Words to Live by as You Create Your Best Life

Photo courtesy of Nolan Williamson

One of the more popular internet memes at the moment involves creating mock “Hallmark” greeting style cards to share on Facebook. This is made possible by someecards.com – a website with the tagline, “When you care enough to hit send.” Pairing self-penned quotes with images that are consistent with traditional greeting cards has provided millions of social networkers with hours of entertainment.

These self-made cards usually contain deadpan humor that could be mistaken as offensive by someone unfamiliar with their parodic sentiments. Admittedly, a few of the cards have struck my funny bone, but I’ve always had a deep appreciation for more thought provoking (sometimes famous, sometimes not, but always meaningful) quotes and sayings.

When you feel yourself hit a wall or find that you’re lagging behind on attaining some of your life goals, it can be quite helpful to read through a few motivational quotes to move and inspire you. Today, I thought I’d share some of the inspirational quotes that motivate the staff here at TinyShift.  We look to these poignant and eloquent words (and many others) to keep us striving toward living the best lives possible:

You’ll never go anywhere if you never get going! This quote also points to the fact that even the most daunting of tasks can be accomplished as long as we keep moving toward the finish line, taking it one purposeful step at a time.

Photo courtesy of Oprah.com

Have you ever looked up from the chaos of your life and realized that you’ve been meeting everyone’s needs but your own? Sacrificing your life satisfaction only to go on living the status quo, especially if that means you’re lost and unfulfilled – just isn’t worth it. While calculated risk is usually advisable in terms of huge life changes, if you aren’t even sure where you fall on your own “to-do” list, there should definitely be some calculating and risk-taking in your near future.

Photo courtesy of Ginnyire

Instead of allowing yourself to be controlled by the “Coulda, woulda, shoulda,” focus on the here and now - things you can control.  If your present life isn’t exactly playing out how you had envisioned, make the changes you need so that you’re on track to thoroughly enjoy your future.

Photo courtesy of Crystal Coleman

As Shakespeare said, “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”

It’s up to you to discover and explore your passions in this life.  After all, no one has as much of a vested interest in them as you do. When a clear picture of your best life begins to take shape, forge forward into it and determine to make it into your new reality.

 

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11 Ways To Do More of What You Love This Year

Photo courtesy of Mohamed Malik

“This year is the year I’m going to make myself a priority.”

That is what I said to myself last year at this time, and the most important thing I did after that was follow through on my promise to myself. This year, you can do it too, no matter what difficult situation(s) you’re dealing with at the moment. It is extremely important to find ways to do more of what you love, and you can start by using the list below as a guide. I promise you that you won’t regret it.

  1. Create “Me” time. Make a conscious decision to schedule time that is specifically designated to doing things that you enjoy. To ensure that your “Me” time activities are honored, put them on any calendars that you share with your significant other or family members who require prior knowledge of what you’ll be doing in the near future.
  2. Participate in activities that feed your soul. Take some time to analyze what things give you the most enjoyment. If you’re finding that you don’t seem to have enough time to do all the fun things you used to do – prioritize. Quality really does win over quantity in this case.
  3. Live in the now. Putting mindfulness practices into action in your life will increase the number of things that give you intense pleasure. When you get good enough at mindful living, even the simplest activities will bliss you out.
  4. Love the one you’re with. Simply put, look for the happiness that already exists in your day-to-day life. Falling in love with your spouse all over again or getting to know your children on a deeper level are two examples of finding joy right in your own home.
  5. Get proactive about being productive. Train your brain so that you have the most effectual habits and productive routines, leaving you with more free time for leisure activities.
  6. Learn to let the word ‘no’ come more easily. Saying ‘no’ can be quite a challenge for some people, but consistently saying ‘yes’ to everyone’s needs but your own will leave you overscheduled and overstressed.
  7. If you were dealt a bad hand, trade in your cards. If too many things are making you unhappy in life, you’re highly unlikely to derive much pleasure out of anything. It’s never too late to make changes – even significant ones.
  8. Share your enthusiasm with your loved ones. Try to get your family members excited about the things you love doing. If you can get them on board, you’ll get less complaints and demands for your time.
  9. Ask, and ye shall receive. Sometimes, you simply have to ask for time to do the things you love. Try it and see what happens.
  10. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. As I recently told my son, “Never give up on something you really want.”
  11. Read This Year I Will… This book will help you follow through on your promises to yourself, giving you the skills you need to attend to your happiness.

In an ideal world, you’d be doing what you love and loving what you do every day. However, if you can’t do both (all of the time, anyway), take action to ensure that you spend time doing what you love as often as you possibly can.

 

 

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The Only One Syllable Word We Struggle to Pronounce, Guest Post by Royale Scuderi

Photo courtesy of Marc Falardeau

It’s hard to say no.

It’s even harder when we really want to say yes! It can be excruciating when it costs us financially or emotionally to say no. But…

There’s always a “but”, isn’t there?

I believe that the toughest no is often the most necessary and the most valuable – at work, at home, in every area of our lives.

What do I mean by a “tough no?” How about when you are offered an exciting project at work, but just can’t fit it in and juggle your other work successfully? Or when you are asked to volunteer for that special cause that is near and dear to your heart, but your plate is already full? Maybe you are offered your “dream job,” but there’s a catch, you have to travel all the time and you have small children? Or maybe it’s a fabulous career move that sounds wonderful, but isn’t really the direction you want to go. How about the potential client, partner, friend that looks good on the outside, but just sucks all of your energy?

You know what I’m talking about. You’re beginning to sway, your arm is being twisted either by money, pride, or guilt – but deep in the pit of your stomach, you just know that saying yes is the wrong decision – or maybe now just isn’t the right time.

Can you say no? Should you?

Yes, you can! Yes, you should!

I have struggled with this from time to time and have always been glad when I managed to choke out the “NO” even if it half killed me to do it. I just recently wrestled hard with a “tough no” that might have cost me financially in the short run, but would have taken me down the wrong path and stood in the way of long-term goals. It was the right choice for me even though it was incredibly scary and heart wrenching to utter that no and then follow through and stand firm on it.

If something is not a good fit for you – the best answer is no.

If something doesn’t quite feel right – the best answer is no.

If something takes you off your path, veering from your vision and beliefs – the best answer is no.

Stay on course.

Know where you’re going.

Have your priorities straight.

Listen to your gut.

And most importantly – when the decision is made and the NO is given, move on and don’t look back!

The beauty of the tough no is that in having the courage to dig down deep and honor your soul, you open up the space for new wonderful opportunities to flow into your life and you’ll be able to confidently offer the joyous “Yes!”

Royale Scuderi is a life fulfillment expert, consultant and freelance writer who specializes in personal and professional growth, life satisfaction, and success. She is a curator of ideas and strategies that support a productive and purposeful life. Visit her at Productive Life Concepts .

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