Tag Archives: self-aware

This Summer, Get Your Life Back Together

This summer is all about big and scary changes for me. What about you? What areas in your life — mental, financial, relationships with siblings or spouses, diet, etc. — need the most improvement? What makes you frustrated or unhappy is the area that needs the most work. Let summer 2013 be all about making healthy steps forward, not backward.

1. Mental Health 

Do you wish you had someone to talk to in confidence? Do you feel depressed, angry, hopeless or frustrated and not sure how to get out of this mess? Gather up your courage and locate a mental health professional. Focus on practical methods of therapy that will help you to focus immediately on the major issues and he or she will guide you to make the necessary changes in life.

  • Find a therapist at therapists.psychologytoday.com and enter your zip code.
  • Choose someone that specializes in areas you need work on (eg: anxiety or substance abuse, marriage counseling) and that accepts your insurance or offers a sliding fee scale — one of the most common reasons for putting off seeing a therapist is the thought that one cannot afford it — not true!
  • Make an appointment for next week.

2. Physical Health

Feel sluggish all the time, tired, and winded going up a few flights of stairs? Recently gained weight? Never exercise? It’s time to change.

  • Start small — 3 times a week for about 30 minutes.
  • Make it easy — take a walk after dinner. No purchases required to get fit.
  • Make it fun — involve your friends/family. Play tennis, play tag with kids, go to the beach and walk along the shore, go swimming, take Zumba, etc. Find something you like.
  • Make it last — attach the habit of exercising with something you already do everyday. Drive past a gym on the way home from work? Keep your gym clothes in your car and head there immediately before going home. Need to watch a certain show every night? Exercise during that program.

3. Spiritual Health

  • If you are religious and have been slacking on going to your church/temple/place of worship, it’s time to recommit. It’s a great place to feel a sense of community and faith like nowhere else and feel like you’re part of a bigger whole, which is comforting. Also, start reading your passages and reflecting silently, too. How can you be a better Christian/Jewish/Buddhist/etc. person today? Can you volunteer, help someone, read a new passage, pray, be closer to nature?
  • If not religious, you can still work on your spiritual health. Practice saying a mantra everyday that makes you feel empowered. Or go to a quiet place of nature and reflect silently.Take steps everyday to remain positive in your life and believe in the magick/karma/The Secret. Meditate. Do yoga. Feel more in tune with your body & soul. Align yourself — become more balanced.

4. Diet/Nutrition

  • This is an important step. Diet has a profound impact on the way we feel, think, and our ability to perform/function in our daily lives. Take this summer to practice eating habits that make you feel better. Journal what you eat, at what time, and how hungry you were. Note how it makes you feel after eating and what emotion you were feeling. Note trends in how you feel hours later or the next day, too — especially if you eat a lot of carbs (sluggish, tired, bloated). Change your habits one meal at a time and become more conscious of the calories you consume — though you don’t have to count them, it’s a good idea if you want to lose weight.
  • Eat cleaner, local, organic foods — search for local farmers markets in your area.
  • Eat more vegetables. Every meal. And try a new veggie once a week or so.
  • Drink water, not calories. An easy way to lose weight and feel better is to drink more water and replace sodas/juices/etc. with water.

5. Social Life/Happiness/Relationships

This is an important one to work on. Ask yourself honestly: How can you be a better…daughter, mother, son, father, wife, husband, friend, relative?

  • What relationships in your life are fading and need TLC? Who can you call that will brighten their face? Catch up with old friends.
  • Ditch the toxic people in your life, as well. If you feel negative when you’re around, make bad decisions like drink/smoke, or if they treat you badly, ditch them. Life is too short to hang around with awful friends. You can always make new friends that align with your goals. Seek them out.
  • Do something that makes you happy everyday. Even if it’s a little bit selfish. If you are not happy everyday, than what is the point of living — seek help if you are feeling depressed, and seek ways to bring happiness into your life on a constant basis.
  • Make an effort to be social, friendly, and confident — even if you don’t feel like it, fake it. It will get easier, I promise.

_____________

If this article helped or inspired you in any way please let me know what you will be working on this summer. I have my own list and I’d like to see what you will be up to.

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February, or the month of GSD

So January is almost over, and PROGRESS-WISE, that leaves me barely a stone’s throw away from where I started since 2012 ended.

I figure since February is such a short month (28 days!) that it’s time I mentally, physically, and metaphorically get shit done. Hence, Feb 2103 = Get Shit Done Month (GSD for short or if you don’t like swearing).

I’ve been lurking over at jessicamullen’s blog for a while to generally inspire myself and to think more positively about stuff. I’ve been trying to inject pieces of positiveness into the universe, take risks, and do things that terrify me, like participating in my classes. Just recently I took the plunge and gave myself a raise, technically speaking, on Fiverr: instead of getting 500 words for $5, I’m charging $5 for 250 words. And people are still ordering from me! My fears have been abated. I deserve more. I write good (er..well). People like my work. I’ve been committing to going to classes like it’s my job. I like learning when I’m there. I like my teachers. I like feeling productive, instead when I skip I feel useless and generally crappy.

the only thing that I’m not working on at all is my weight situation, which is, er, a huge problem. I’m tired of gaining and not losing. I want to be healthy, happy in my own skin. But I’m not acting like I want to be those things. I’m behaving like I want to be unhappy, unhealthy, and uncomfortable. I have to reverse this horrible habit. So this month I’m mostly going to concentrate on going to the on-campus gym (which is right there and, free) after classes at least three days per week for 30 minutes to start. The weather is a tad less wintry and awful, so I’ve been walking to school some days, which takes 15 minutes one direction. I will end up not taking my car completely when it is consistently warmer out.

I’ve been adding healthier things in my diet, but I also eat a lot of nonhealthy things, and just plain unfood. Cookies, chips, and other things I inhale to distract myself from other things just has to stop. It’s time for lettuce. tomatoes. broccoli. Things that make me feel better after eating, not worse. not things that make me sick. figuratively and literally.

I also need to make my DAYS more productive. How do business people act? People who freelance professionally? People who have the lifestyle I want? I need to emulate that. People who create multiple streams of income online do not sleep until 2pm. People who freelance professionally do not stay up until 3am eating cookies (I think).

These people wake up early, at a set time everyday, exercise first thing in the morning, eat a real breakfast, get their work done early and don’t bullshit on the internet half the time, and keep their house clean and orderly. They manage their time well and don’t have to rush for deadlines, well unless they like the rush (don’t all writers? we like punishing ourselves this way, don’t we). They know how to get into FLOW and FOCUS. They take breaks and eat regular, balanced meals. They still have plenty of time for other creative and social activities. They know what to do to avoid getting depressed or feeling hopeless.

This February, I will GSD. Will you take the challenge with me?

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The “Better Life” Epic Brainstorm List

My previous post has me thinking about how I want to be looking back at my life 5 years from NOW. I want to be leaps and bounds away from where I’m at currently, in multiple areas of my life, physically and mentally.

So here’s how I’m going to do that: epic brainstorming sesh.

I’m going to uninhibitedly thing of anything and everything that I want my life 5 years from now to consist of, include, become, do, have, and think. because in order to change, you must first write it down. so do it with me.

i will be 100-120 pounds thinner. i will eat a low-carb paleo-inspired diet rich in greens, healthy proteins, and whole foods. i will regularly engage in exercise, and become someone who likes running. i will participate in 5Ks regularly for the fun of it, especially the Color Me Rad event. my brain won’t be foggy and it will be easy to concentrate and focus. my mind won’t wander; mostly, because i will be eating the right foods and giving my body vitamins and nutrients. i will drink plenty of water, and almost never soda. i will learn to love coffee with either  splenda, truvia, or drink it black. i will drink tea mostly, unsweetened, if i desire a caffeine boost. i will have protein shakes for breakfast and make delicious smoothies. i will walk to places that are close by. i will play tennis at the park. i will go hiking for fun, and explore nature around me. i will take a jog by the beach at sunrise. i will take hard boot camp classes and kickboxing and feel healthy and strong like a woman should.

i will have an office space in my next apartment that is solely for me; with inspiring notes, pictures, and words of wisdom. i will have a bookshelf or kindle with the best books on it and read my favorites and discover new authors that i love. i will make a good amount of money writing; i will have increased my rates to one i feel comfortable working for, and my clients love my work. i get new exciting projects all the time and more people recognize my work online. i will have finished a novel and will mostly self-publish online as an ebook. i will be working on other novels and projects all the time; always many projects half-finished. but i am a productive worker, i get things done when i need to and i don’t have a hard time concentrating or focusing. i make enough money online through freelancing and website projects that i do not have to have a job, but i do anyway because i like working. i have enough money saved for an entire year of emergency income, and i am never late on bill payments. my husband and i have a one-bedroom in a southern state because i hate the snow, and he is going to grad school. our love life is amazing and we go stronger and closer everyday. i have a good circle of friends and i talk to out of state friends regularly online. i am networking with other bloggers and freelancers.  i am taking online web design classes and paying off student loans from my bachelor’s degree. my part time job utilizes my love of psych to help children, adolescents, or mentally disabled kids in some way. i am thinking of going to grad school for a teaching degree before we start a family. i am contacting agents to realize an important dream of mine, to become an offline published author, with a real physical book with my name on it.

just writing this out makes it sound a little more do-able. i am excited for my future, for tomorrow, next week, and to see how the next five years will pan out for me.

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Who I Was 5 Years Ago, Plus LinkLove

coolthingnotext

I am a super self-improvement nerd, reader and collector of all things self-help, psychological, inspirational, motivational, and ass-kicking.  =) So I think it’s about time I compile what I’ve been reading on the interwebz as of late.

Lately when I find it difficult to concentrate, or if I am feeling like I cannot accomplish my goals, I turn to any of these links and I am met with sparkling inspirational abundance. Each of the people behind these links transcends my goal-setting into overdrive as I can only wish that someday I can be a fraction as inspiring and awesome as they are…

These have become part of a massive list of great blogs I have on my Evernote.

Jessica Mullen ESPECIALLY School of Life Design
Get Rich Slowly
I Will Teach You To Be Rich
Lifehacker
Pick the Brain
Zen Habits
As always, Steve Pavlina but ESPECIALLY this, this,, and this

And my good friend allyssa‘s new blog just oozes amazingness. She inspired me to write about this:

Me, 5 Years Ago…Vs. Today

Five years ago, in 2008,  I was 19 years old. I was a second-semester freshman at Southern CT State University. I had just graduated high school, and I was excited to be going to college. I didn’t get a room so I was using multiple modes of transportation to get to school. It was exhausting, and I was also working part-time at a local drive-in (fast food joint). My major was Psychology. I had been going out with my boyfriend for 3 years now. Gosh, it’s hard to think so far back in time. It feels like forever ago. I barely remember my classes taken at SCSU. I was drinking pretty regularly and just experiencing going to night clubs, but it was hard to make friends at the college since I was only there for classes. I weighed a lot less than I do now, mostly due to walking everywhere, and I still lived at home. I mostly went to Burt’s house to see him, though.

My parents got divorced, and in 2009, my mom remarried and got pregnant. She kicked me out of the house and I had nowhere to go, but Burt’s family let me live with him. I was stressed and poor and I ended up dropping out of SCSU to avoid failing all of my classes that I never went to. I never, ever thought I would do this. Little did I know that I would transfer colleges twice (attending 3 institutions), and drop out of college twice…

I began to gain weight since I didn’t care, and we always ate out. Soon I was extremely overweight. I was working a lot but I felt like something was missing. I decided to attend community college, which was in the same city I lived, so commuting was easier. I also managed to afford another car, so it made driving easier. I also got another job. I got my Associate’s in 2010, and felt pretty good, besides my weight.

Which brings me to where I am today, in the cusp of 2013. I am now 23, turning 24 in June, and happily married to the boyfriend I’ve loved since 2005. I have went from unhappily attending SCSU, dropping out, transferring to community college, receiving my AS in General Studies, and transferring to CCSU, another state university. We moved to our first apartment, and out of a destructive environment. Probably due to the depression that keeps coming back, I became unhappy at CCSU and didn’t see the point in anything. Actually I  almost dropped out of CCSU, but I took a leave of absence instead (with the coaxing of the registrar guy) to withdraw from last semester and am now happily enrolled full time this semester. My GPA took a huge hit due to failing classes and bad attendance, but I’m determined to finish my Bachelor’s Degree. I’ll be the first in my family to get one.

so what has changed in five years? Sometimes I still feel like the lost teenager, crippled with depression and anxiety that makes it nearly impossible to go to class. My weight and health is poor, and I’ve quit cigarettes 5 times (going on 3 months right now cig-free again). My weight is at an all-time high, but I’m actively making changes to lose weight again.

I’ve definitely matured in five years, though in the midst of depression I don’t feel like I have. I feel like I am less depressed but my anxiety is much worse. I am trying to solve this without the need for pills. I still feel like a lot of things would be easier when I lose weight.

I still feel like I have a lot of things to work on in my life. My mind changes constantly, and I love trying new things. But I still love reading and writing. In November I reached 35,000 words in my NaNoWriMo novel, and I’m determined to finish it. I truly want to be a writer.

And that is pretty much the only thing I’ve figured out, even though I knew it all along. But now I have clearer paths to become that writer I’ve always wanted. I’m making money with it online, and I write for fun in this blog of mine and offline, as well as working on the novel. I also occasionally write poetry, but that was more my thing during the depressed years.

So my epic goal for 2013 and beyond? I will become a writer, and I will define personally what that means for me in terms of success.

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Experimenting with Brain Waves

brainwavesI’ve been writing pretty exclusively on Fiverr and I get to write about the most interesting things sometimes. One of them is a couple articles about brainwave entrainment. Me being a Psychology major, I dig stuff like this, so I enjoyed researching. Soon, I found myself intrigued, and I looked at YouTube to try listening to some binaural beats myself.

Supposedly, brainwave entrainment is supposed to train your brain to sync to a lower frequency. The lower frequencies, called deta, theta, and alpha, allow you to get into a higher mental state through meditation and relaxation. Each frequency corresponds to a state of consciousness; deta is actually the brainwave dominant when sleeping or unconscious. Theta and alpha are the goal brainwaves for inspiring relaxation and getting away from beta, which at a higher frequency, promotes anxiety and high-strung behaviors.

There are a number of programs to buy, but I like sticking with free for now, so I found a couple that actually help me to focus. There’s a few different choices that have different effects like monaural, binaural, and isochronic. I just listen to different ones and see what effect they have on me, and if I can handle the sound. It helps to sit or lay comfortably, and focus on breathing like any other meditation. Instead, you are listening to specific patterns with headphones that help you to focus. On the mind level, it promotes theta or alpha brainwave frequencies.

People say that it helps to inspire focus, creativity, a better meditation experience, more relaxed lifestyle, and some even attribute it to letting go of negative thoughts and actions. I find that even if it is just another way to help me to relax, it is a good thing to try. I lay down, close my eyes, and think about a word or a thought that I want to think positively about.

Here are some videos I dig:

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Take a Mindful Break: 3, 2, 1

Stop what you’re doing.

Open a blank document in your preferred editor, or grab a notebook and pen.

Completely fill the page freewriting about the goal you are working on currently and specify the steps that you are going to do

  • TODAY, by the time you go to sleep.
  • TOMORROW, as early as you can fit it in.
  • BY THE END OF THE WEEK, list the steps you are going to do and what you plan to accomplish.

THREE.

How are you feeling? Do you feel good about yourself, your day, your current situation? If not, make sure you brainstorm at least 3 actionable steps you can do to shift that attitude.

TWO.

End the page with naming 2 things you are grateful for and/or love.

ONE.

On the top of the page, write the date, and write 1 word that most echoes what you’re trying to achieve. Here are some examples:

  • creative
  • inspire
  • trust
  • worth
  • health
  • fitness
  • intelligence
  • wealth
  • skill
  • YOUR OWN: ____________
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Brainstorm Your 2013 Goals Before the Ball Drops

ResolutionsSo, the end of the year holidays are upon us, and I am left laying in bed or day-dreaming in my commute to work about next year. The year 2013, where we will all gain another year under our belt and hopefully work on our goals. Have you given any thought about the new year? If not, it’s time to start, before you’re left in January 1, 2013 wondering how to make your life not suck.

  • Start small. Most people fail at new year’s resolutions because they dream too big, and have unrealistic expectations of what can be accomplished in a year. Yes, you must challenge yourself out of the status quo — but do not start out too big or you will just stare out the window, too overwhelmed to begin. Think of your overall goal and pick one aspect, that is workable in your life for one year, and start there.
  • Write in the present. A great trick to shifting your attitude that YES, you CAN do this, is to write your goal as if you are already doing that thing. For example, don’t say, “I want to lose weight next year.” Instead, say, “I am 50 pounds thinner and I feel healthy and more able to do things I love with my children.” Reading the first sentence feels scary, because not only is it an undefined goal (how much weight? what is the deadline? why do you want to do this?, etc), but it doesn’t feel attainable at the moment. When you read the second sentence, you actually feel happy imagining your life through that sentence and can begin shifting your attitude to realizing that very goal. More important, the second sentence tells you non-physical reasons to lose that weight, to be healthier and to play with your children. You feel that motivation stirring you because you have identified WHY you want this goal.
  • Once you figure out the WHAT and the WHY, you can begin chunking your goal into smaller and smaller pieces. These will become action steps for you to work on in regular intervals from monthly tasks, to weekly tasks — as small as what you can do TOMORROW for your goal.
  • Don’t make resolutions. No one sticks to those past Valentine’s Day. Consider these contracts or promises to yourself that you must keep.
  • Find someone to keep you accountable. It can be anyone, even an online buddy from a forum. I love subreddits to find great support and to find lots of information about basically anything.
  • Reflect and re-evaluate every week. Not so good this week? Figure out now what you need to to and change, even if it’s just one thing you focus on each week. Soon, you will see yourself gradually making progress.
  • Accept that you’re going to slip up, fall off the wagon, or lose track altogether. The important part is when you realize it and get yourself back on track. That’s why you re-evaluate, weekly.
  • Be thankful for what you have, everyday. Being thankful for things changes your attitude from negative to positive, and makes you take a look at all the luxuries you possess. I’ll take a wild guess and assume you have: a place to live, a bed to sleep on, heat and/or ac or fan, food and a fridge, a stove to cook food, shoes, a coat, maybe a job, maybe a family, a cell phone, internet connection and computer, money to buy things you like, a car. You’d be amazed at how many people in this world do not even have clean water, let alone any of this stuff.
  • Spend time each week reading something that is somehow related to your goals or inspirational in some way. You do not have to purchase books, support your local library.
  • There’s an app for that. If you have a smartphone, I bet there is an app that can help you keep track of your goals. Try Mint for money-tracking, and My Fitness Pal app for calorie/meal and exercise tracking.

Here is a brief, work-in-progress list of my goals for 2013. Maybe we share the same goals?

  • Lose 50 pounds by June 4, my birthday, which is a teeny bit over 2 pounds per week: I will be 50 pounds lighter and will have established a healthy eating and exercise routine for lasting health. Figure out by January 5 my method of exercise (gym or home? walk around block etc). I will reward myself by buying a new outfit (jeans, shirt, shoes).
  • Promote self as freelance writer on Fiverr and Freelancer and find long-term work to provide me with enough money for rent each month: I will earn enough money for rent each month with my freelance writing.
  • Save at least 10% of all paychecks in savings account not to be touched.
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3 Ways to Immediately Live a More Fulfilling Life

westie painting leftoversHave you ever thought to yourself, “there must be more to this life?”

There is. You just have to figure out what it is.

Stop living your life absentmindedly, going through the motions, and self-medicating with food, alcohol, or illegal drugs. Stop hating your life each morning, swearing under your breath as you brush your teeth. Stop yelling at your spouse or kids because you are so stressed at work and stop being disgusted with yourself. The time to act is now. Grab a pen and piece of paper, and find out what you need in your life to be happier.

1. Do what you love. Stop what you don’t.

There’s no point wasting your time being miserable. Focus on what you enjoy in your life and make a strong effort to replace time-wasting activities with activities and hobbies that make you smile or lose track of time.

DO: Try drawing in a sketchpad, painting on a canvas, reading a good book, hand-writing in a pretty journal, taking pictures with a real camera (not your iphone), going outside and laying in the grass. What makes you happy? Munching on chips probably makes you (temporarily) happy, but choose a more spiritually rewarding or creative task. The key is to replace a negative aspect of your life (what is harming some aspect of your life in any way, big or small, literally, morally, spiritually, or mentally), with something constructive and positive.

STOP: Get rid of mindless web surfing, bad television show-watching, sitting on the couch, sleeping in, toxic friends, smoking, over-consumption of alcohol or indulging in high-caloric food, social media….and anything else that bring no worth to your pleasure or career, things that give you anxiety or are tedious, and things that are not critical to your life and have no sense being in it.

Consciously remove yourself from that negative situation (caught yourself in front of daytime TV again?). If you cannot leave the room or environment (you hate your job, but you need to pay bills? See number two), use some quick relaxation exercises to calm yourself down and bring yourself in the present moment mentally. Stop shutting out your emotions and realize what behaviors or feelings are bringing you to desire this harmful activity.

Example: I mindlessly surf Facebook when I am bored.
What is at the root of this activity? What am I feeling? Boredom.
Why do I feel bored? Because I have no one to talk to, and I feel lonely. Because I can’t sleep, so I’ve logged onto the computer to waste time and distract myself.
What am I distracting myself from? My current financial situation.

This example shows how to write out and get to the root of your stress/worries that is causing the negative behavior. Free-write uninterrupted until you hit the gold-mine.

The next step, of course, is to figure out proactive ways to solve your problems. But first:

  • Remove yourself from the situation.
  • Calm yourself down and get back in the present. Realize why you are doing this behavior.
  • Physically get up, change gears, and begin doing the activity you’d rather be doing — the one that brings you joy, is productive and creative, and more fulfilling to your life.
  • Keep consciously changing gears until you replace the bad habit completely.
  • Feel infinitely better and more creative.

2. Get a job you love – the smart way.

It is easy for self-help books and blogs to say, “if you don’t like your job, QUIT.” But seriously, we all need to pay the bills. Sometimes the only job out there is one that is mind-numbing, below your pay rate or skill levels, or has a horrible and stressful work environment or co-workers. The smart way to do this is to look for your dream job — on the side. Keep your job for the necessities in life: utilities, rent/mortgage payments, car payments, gas, food, clothes, and insurance. But when you’re out of work, fill an hour or so per week hunting down that job. Update your resume, make an account on Linked In or SnagaJob, search Indeed or Monster for open positions, practice job interview questions. Glassdoor is a great resource for getting the inside scoop on job interviews, salary levels, and workplace satisfaction. Discover companies in your area and contact them.

Make a deadline for when you would like to quit. If you find it hard to work without pressure, type your letter of resignation now, and seal it in an envelope addressed to your manager. Bring it to your manager in the two weeks before your previously chosen last day.

Note: you may be tempted to find a job and rush in there, tell off your boss and stick up the middle finger and waltz out the door. DON’T. Remain professional and civil, and you will keep a reference for your future jobs. Also, most managers will not provide a positive reference to your employers if you do not provide the two-weeks-notice or more; please see your employee handbook for specific information for your job. Do not lose out on your reference, especially if you’ve been at the job for more than six months. Consider this a stepping stone to your true job.

If your employment relationship includes either an explicit or implied contract that says you must give two weeks notice of resignation and you don’t, your employer might have the right to take punitive action. For example, your employer might legally have the right to deny you termination benefits, such as accrued vacation pay. (source)

You may consider taking this hour or so every week to contribute your time to starting the business you’ve always dreamed of (see youngentrepreneur.com), starting a website to monetize/sell products/blog, or advertise for handy man work or cleaning positions on your local Craigslist. These side endeavors, with some hard work, and time/money investments (dependent on the nature of the project), will lead to a decent side income or may even a replacement to your paid-per-hour or salary job position. (See SmartPassiveIncome.com)

3. Be a constant learner.

A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study.
~Chinese Proverb

One of the greatest joys of life is that there is much to be learned — everyday. Seek out opportunities to learn something. Whether it’s a new word (like this one), a new language (great list of free language learning tools and sites), a program (like Photoshop), or something extremely out of your element (for me, it’s politics), the most fulfilling life is one that is full of constant learning. Here are just a few amazing online free resources.

  • Khan Academy – online courses/videos.
  • W3Schools – learn HTML, Javascript, CSS, ASP, PHP, etc.
  • Codecademy – interactive code-learning program for beginners.
  • Reddit.com – millions of amazing subreddits with opportunities to learn everyday with user-uploaded content and interesting debates like r/psychology, r/science, or this question/answer format r/IAmA (posters claim they are some interesting person, prove it, and answer reader’s questions). You can literally search anything and they will most likely have a reddit for it.
  • Tell me why? – random tidbits of knowledge and facts in a blog format.
  • DumbLittleMan has this great list of free online resources for learning something new everyday.
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Focus: 5 Things to Do Right Now For a More Productive Life

Focus on SightThere’s a lot of keys to success, and tons of different life paths, but you must have this in order to reach the door.

F O C U S.

What is a life without focus? It’s staring at the bottom of a bottle every night in a dive bar. It’s avoiding the mirror when you wake up so you don’t see the fat accumulating on your belly. It’s a pile of unpaid bills, half of them notices from the college you earned the degree from — the one collecting dust in a bent folder somewhere in your bookcase. It’s like driving without watching where you are going, kind of like texting and driving. Sure, you peek up here and there, just to make sure you’re still on the road. But someday, you’re going to crash. Hard.

Does it feel like a dream? Where does the time go? You have no idea, because you’re not keeping track. You’re not caring.

Suddenly, you wake up and you’re 25, or 30, or 40, and you must pull off that pile of regrets like you pull off your comforter in the morning, and get going with your life.

So how does one find focus in a blurry life? Start doing these things, and you’ll start seeing a more productive life.

1. Wake up 20 minutes earlier. It is true, the early bird gets the worm. But you don’t need to wake up at 5am to reap the benefits of a more productive, relaxed morning. Start at just 20 minutes earlier — enough time to read the newspaper, get a quick at-home workout in (just walk around the block!), eat an actual (balanced) breakfast, or ponder your life’s current path.

2. Write one page a day. It can be a Word document on your computer, an Evernote page, or an actual page in a notebook — just start your day by writing about anything that comes to mind. What is on your mind? What bothers you, upsets you? What are you thinking of doing today – this week – this month? End the page by writing down at least 2 productive things you will do today that is in line with your goals. Don’t have goals? We’ll fix that.

3. Determine your goals. Take a good chunk of time to really think about your life for a minute. Dig deeper until you find an aspect of your life that really depresses you or makes you angry. Is it your weight? Your lack of a job? Not having insurance or a reliable car? Horrible debt lingering over your head? Having poor friends or no one to talk to — or being single? Once you find something that sparks emotion, determine what would change that reaction to happiness and content about your life.

Do this: I would feel happier if I __________…

4. Stop doing something. Everyone has a bad habit, most of us have more than one vice. One way to have better focus is to stop poisoning your body with them. Is is smoking? Vodka? Or something else? Make the decision to quit, and you’ll feel a lot better — maybe not immediately (quitting drugs is difficult and can result in feeling withdrawal symptoms, even physical discomfort or sickness), but overall you will live longer and have something to strive for daily: not using/drinking.

Note: it does not have to be a drug/alcohol addiction. It can be anything big or small that you wish you would stop doing because it harms your body, bank account, friends/family, or life in some way. Do you have a horrible habit of reckless thrift shopping? Collecting new purses? Ignoring friend’s phone calls? Taking anger out on your wife/husband?

5. Remind yourself daily. A habit that is not watched quickly dies, so find ways to remind yourself of your new goals. Tell your significant other to wake up earlier with you, and make breakfast together. Call a friend and go for a morning gym session. Make an appointment to see a doctor about ways to quit smoking. Set your alarm clock across the room so you have to get up. Post photos of whatever inspires you on your mirror, on your fridge, in your car. Find resources online to help you. Check back weekly, and then monthly, to see your progress.

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

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Wake Up With a Smile and a Mantra Everyday

SmileMost people wake up in a fog (or hungover) and groan as they pick themselves up from their bed, peel off that oh-so-comfortable comforter blanket and shuffle their way to the coffee-maker. What is the first thought that goes into your head when you wake up?

Mine is: I am healthy, happy, and strong. I will work on my goals today and be productive.

Not quite what you’d expect, right? It wasn’t always that way. I used to hate waking up, wanting to hide under the covers all day rather than risk wasting the day hating myself and my life. I would immediately turn on the train wreck of negative thoughts and worry about what I had to do that day, and how I’ll probably find some way to mess it up or that I won’t have time to do it all, or that I will somehow waste the day.

It took me a long time to realize that when I wake up thinking negative thoughts, they just snowball into a huge boulder on my chest, preventing me from going after what I really wanted for my life. And when I am thinking negative thoughts, it becomes nearly impossible to think of positive ones.

So I started to try out this positive mantra of how I see myself wanting to be: strong, healthy, and most of all, happy. People don’t just wake up and suddenly become happy. But you can change your cognitive thinking to more positive thoughts, and it will be easier to learn to be happy.

Yes, you can learn to be happy.

Being happy isn’t a goal. It’s not a place you get to and then start living the good life. It’s not an endpoint. It’s the journey. It’s the attitude. It’s a feeling. The easiest way to tell if someone is happy is by their facial expression: what is the universal symbol for happiness? A smile. So start your day with a smile (and breakfast), and you will start waking up a lot easier without negative thoughts.

When you smile, instantly think of a positive mantra. You can use mine, or you can think about your favorite inspiring quote. Flash an image that makes you happy — your kids, your boyfriend, a friend that makes you laugh, flowers, you meeting an important goal, anything — every morning. Having trouble thinking of a positive mantra? Need some ideas? Download this pdf file of great ones.

Soon it will be automatic, and you will begin to face each morning as a new day to conquer your goals, not as just another day to get through and get it over with.

Every day is a new chance to do something important for the rest of your life. 

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