2 Critical Tools That Will Change Your Life

“The Secret to getting what You Want is being grateful for what you have.”

“Eric, do motivational speakers ever have a bad day? With everything that happens in life, how can you be positive ALL the time? “ These questions were posed to me at a recent speaking engagement and they got me thinking. 

In reality, even those of us that are paid for our positivity have negative experiences. I am no different from you. What separates me from a pessimist is my belief that your perspective determines your progress. 

How you perceive what happens to you is more important that the actual event itself. A person with a negative outlook is more likely to procrastinate because he views his setbacks as a stumbling block instead of a stepping stone. 

I recognize that maintaining the right outlook is easier said than done, so as you read on, you will learn two critical tools that I use to stay positive. If you commit to using them it will change your life.

1. Focus Card
Each day I use a 3" x 5" index card to write down everything that I am focused on for that day. On the front, I have my daily goals. These are the tactical to-do items that will help me achieve my strategic 12 month goals. 

On the back of the card, I write down the things for which I am thankful. Areas such as my health, family, and friendships rank high on the list. As I experience failures and setbacks, reflecting on my goals and what I am grateful for allows me to maintain the right perspective. 

I like the 3 x 5 Card because it fits neatly in my shirt pocket and I can carry it wherever I go. The card is sturdy enough to allow me to write while in the palm of my hand, which allows me to make changes if I am not around a hard writing surface. 

2. Lessons Learned List
In his book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill says the following “Every adversity carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” The key to maintaining the right perspective on your failures is to focus on the lessons that you learned from it. 

To accomplish this, I create a lessons learned list for any setback I experience. In the memo app on my phone, I notate all of the positive lessons that resulted from a specific setback. 

For example, when I competed in The Toastmasters Speech contests, any result less than a first place finish was a setback for me. During those times that I finished short of my goal, I would write the positive lessons that I gained from the experience. I would notate things such as becoming a better story teller, and gaining valuable stage time as takeaways. 

This habit helped me to move forward with the right attitude and perspective. If you discipline yourself to using the focus card and lessons learned list, you will maintain the right perspective and be less likely to procrastinate in the pursuit of your goals.

Sincerely,
Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner

PS. For additional information on being grateful and having a focus on your goals, download my latest ebook, One Moment in Time. 

Focus Forward

Failure is in my history, but greatness is in front of me.”

This past weekend I was watching Back To the Future starring Michael J Fox. In this classic movie, Michael’s character Marty Mcfly, and his scientist friend traveled through time in their DeLorean automobile time machine. If they were unhappy with their results, they hopped in the DeLorean and went back in time to make corrections. Their DeLorean gave them the opportunity for a “do over” if they made a bad decision.

Have you ever made a hiring decision, and after 30 days, wished you had a DeLorean to hop into? Or maybe you gave a sales presentation, but were unable to land the account. What about the time you interviewed unsuccessfully for that position and had regrets about how you answered the questions?

I have experienced each of these setbacks and can relate to the regret that you feel when they occur. When you hang on to the regret you waste time that should be invested in moving forward. The question becomes, how do you maintain a forward focus in spite of a painful past?  The answers below will help you to make better use of your time and experience less stress.

Inquiry
The inquiry I am referring to is with you.  Whenever you experience a setback, you should make an inquiry by asking yourself the following question: “What did I learn from this experience?”  Next,  make a list of your lessons learned and anytime you are tempted to beat your self up, refer back to your list.  Noted philosopher Edmond Burke said these very famous words: “Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it."  Focusing on the lesson will position you for future success and keep you from repeating the same mistakes.

Improvement
The second key to maintaining a forward focus is to commit to daily improvement. Every day you should do something to get better at your craft and move towards your calling. For example, I have a daily reading schedule that results in me reading three books a month. If I had a major setback three months ago, I don’t dwell on it because I realize that I have read nine books since then. I am smarter today than I was three months ago based on what I have read.

According to modern medical research, the cells in our bodies completely regenerate and renew themselves every 11 months. This means that you are a new creature and the mistakes of your past were performed by the OLD you! Referring to your lessons learned list and committing to daily improvement will help you to maintain a forward focus and make the most productive use of your time.

Sincerely,

Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner 

Have an Attitude of Gratitude

It is impossible to feel blessed and stressed at the same time.”

As an up and coming executive responsible for multiple business locations, I was trained to make fixing problems a priority. I was taught to “manage by exception” by spending the majority of my time focusing on the shops that ranked in the bottom third in sales results. Simply moving the bottom third to the middle would have a dramatic impact on the overall results of the organization. We had record setting sales results and I received nothing but praise from my superiors. 

Unfortunately, my intense focus on problems was turning me into a pessimist. My ego took a major hit as I read the anonymous feedback surveys from the managers that reported to me. To my surprise they perceived that I was picking on them and that I failed to recognize their progress. To make matters worse, my stress level was at an all time high and I was on the verge of burnout. What could I do to reverse this trend? 

Thank You List
The main source of my stress was that I only focused on my problems without recognizing the positives. The solution was to embrace gratitude on a personal level. I started making a list and reflecting on everything in my life for which I was thankful. Areas such as my faith, family and friends were included. I would review this list before starting my day. I was amazed at how my productivity increased and my stress levels decreased. I became more proactive once I adopted the right perspective. 

The Dime Test
Once I adjusted my perspective, I was able to address my team. I used a best practice known as the “dime test” to make sure I recognized the positives with my people. I would take ten dimes and place them in my left pocket. Every time I thanked one of my managers, I would switch a dime to my right pocket. My goal was to end each day with ten dimes in the other pocket. After about twenty one days, saying thank you became a habit and I no longer needed the dimes. 

According to a University of Pennsylvania study, an optimist will outperform a pessimist on the job or in a business situation by as much as 50%. Making a thank you list and adopting the dime test will generate optimism, increase your success, and lower your stress. 

Sincerely,
Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner