3 Ways To Take Control Of Your Life

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Do you have an important task that you need to face, yet find yourself putting it off time after time? Do you lay it out meaning to get to it, but then let it get buried under other urgent tasks? Is there something that you’ve been meaning to get to, yet the years go by and it is still undone?

What makes some tasks so hard to face? Tasks like filing income taxes, paying bills, facing a troublesome client, or dealing with bureaucracy can be very difficult for many people to confront. We have a variety of ways in which we avoid the tasks we dread.

Sometimes we let other urgent issues push the important one aside. Sometimes we suddenly find we “must” do a chore like scrubbing behind the toilets, rather than working on income taxes. Sometimes the important task is not urgent, so it is easy to let it slide to the back burner.

Generally the task that is put off is in some way worrisome or stressful.  The outcome can be unknown – How much will I owe the IRS? How nasty will the difficult client be? If I face the bureaucracy will I be in more trouble than I am in now? Will I discover some hidden dreadful consequence if I face the task?

These fears are enough to prevent most of us from starting on the dreaded task. We postpone until the fear of missing a deadline becomes greater than the fear of doing the task, then wade in with dread.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can learn to face up to difficult situations, and take control of your life. You can get a handle on things so that you have a well ordered, stress-free life. You can conquer procrastination.

Here are three steps for taking control of your life.

1. Realize that today is the day.

Each day you have a chance to make a difference to your life and goals. Each day you can make either a positive contribution, or let the day slide by. On any given day it may not seem like a big deal if you don’t accomplish anything. But the days add up.

Your life will become the sum total of how each of your days is spent. If you sit back and watch TV, eat foods you shouldn’t, miss a workout, and don’t tend to your bills or taxes or whatever worries you, that day will go by as all days do, and the next day you will still have the same problems. But if you approach each day realizing that here is a chance to make a difference, that what you do today will impact the days to come, and if you act on that feeling, then what you do today will take you forward.

A day squandered can never be reclaimed. But a day well spent is an investment in the future.

2.  Take action.

When something is stressful or frightening, the best thing to do is to take calculated action. If you face your fears and act boldly the fears will gradually cease to exist. Fear breeds on inactivity and avoidance. The longer you wait to take that first step, the more difficult it becomes.

Inertia is an extremely strong force. Until you start moving it is very difficult to move. If you can take any action at all toward your goal, it is easier to keep going from there. So, choose action.

Start easy. Write out a script of what you want to say to the difficult client. But don’t let yourself stop there. Pick up the phone. Dial the client. Say what you need to say. Continue until the task is done.

Take the first step toward doing your taxes. Gather your forms.  Open TurboTax. Enter the first numbers. Make a goal for the day that is challenging but doable. Don’t stop until your reach your goal.

Deal with bureaucracy. Fill out the form, make the call, face up to the issue.

Pay your bills. Pick up one envelope, open it, deal with the contents.

By taking action, no matter how small, you are taking a step in the right direction. And once you are moving it is easier to take the next action.

Always choose action.

3.  Put important tasks first.

There will always be the everyday tasks that need to be done. The dishes need to be washed, food has to be prepared, the car needs to be cleaned. You can easily fill a day with these necessary but mundane tasks.

Make sure that each day you work on an important task.  Look at what needs doing, and whether it will matter in the long run. Ten years from now, will it really matter if I did the dishes today? Probably not. But will it matter if I never got to that task that I have been dreading?  Yes.

Choose an important task and put that first on your list of To-Dos for the day.  Make sure that the important tasks are given high priority. Don’t let them get hidden by mundane daily tasks.

Do the important task as early in the day as possible, while your willpower is still strong. Make an appointment with yourself as to when you will do the task – “At 10:30 I will make that important phone call”. When 10:30 rolls around, take action.

Apply these three steps to handle the difficult items in your life, and you will be amazed at how easily you can get things under control.

What will you do today that will make a real difference?

5 Ways to Combat the Loneliness of Solo Entrepreneurship

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When you break free from the corporate world to start your own company, the exciting world of entrepreneurship beckons. You may imagine a fast-paced lifestyle, as you, the tycoon, makes important business deals. Or you may imagine a cozy luxurious life of sitting at home, doing work that you are passionate about.

One thing you may not have imagined is the loneliness. Working alone, without the built-in support network you can find at most jogs, can lead you toward depression. If you are not careful, this unplanned problem may derail you on your path to independence.

Here are five tips for managing the isolation and loneliness of solo entrepreneurship.

  1. Make time for exercise

Exercise has been shown to help combat depression, and improve mental alertness. Harvard Health reports that walking fast for 35 minutes five times per week can improve your mood, as well as your health.

As a solo entrepreneur, particularly if you work at home, you can decide what time of day is best to take a break and go out to exercise. You may have the luxury to take a break mid-morning to go jogging, then shower off afterward before returning to work. Enjoy this perk, that you couldn’t get in the corporate environment!

2.  Create or join a mastermind alliance

In his book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill describes a mastermind alliance as a group of people work together in harmony to encourage and hold each other accountable. You can borrow the education, experience, influence, and capital of the other people in your group, and thus accomplish much more in a year than you could do otherwise.

Your mastermind group can be informal, just some of your friends with whom you discuss your plans and goals. Or the group can be created formally and meet on a regular schedule. There are many articles on the internet for how to form a mastermind group.

Being part of a mastermind group can help you to avoid the sense of isolation you get when you are the only person who cares about your goals.

3.  Join clubs

There are clubs available on a multitude of subjects, and meetup.com is a great resource for finding these clubs.

Join clubs of people like yourself who are working to get their company started. Join clubs with people who have knowledge that you lack, for example you might join a marketing club if that is not your area of expertise. And join clubs simply to be exposed to more people, for example a hiking or dance group, or a Toastmasters club.

These clubs tend to meet evenings and weekends, which is when most people are free, so that may leave some long, lonely weeks for you if you don’t have other activities planned.

4.  Get out of the house

Sometimes all that is needed is to be around other people. If your work can be mobile, try working at a coffee shop for a change. Or take a break and visit a museum or a park and spend a little time people watching.

When you go on errands for your business, take your time and enjoy the people around you. Strike up a short conversation with the person standing next to you. Become friendly with the shopkeepers. Being connected with other people is a basic human need, and should not be ignored.

5. Use the internet

In the late afternoon, take a break to watch a video on a topic that you need to learn for your business. The sound of the human voice, even for just ten minutes, can really help to break the spell of aloneness.

Get involved in on-line communities. Read blogs related to your business. Read the comments of other viewers; that can help you feel connected. Post your own comments. Getting a response can give you a real thrill of connectedness.

Don’t ignore your loneliness or try to tough it out. Use these steps to regain your sense of connectedness.

Let me know in the comments of other tips that have worked for you.