Change Your Life by Stepping Into Monk Mode

Change Your Life by Stepping Into Monk Mode

It’s common the hear people talk about going, “monk mode.” What does this mean?

How does a Buddhist monk live? Their entire life is about understanding how the mind works and gaining enlightenment. To that end, they give up just about everything else: money, entertainment, women, and so on. They have zero distractions to keep them from their purpose.

A more relatable example might be that of a serious writer. She might put herself in a cabin in the woods with nothing other than a word processor, some food, and a bed. She avoids contact with most people and focuses 100% on writing.

You can do the same thing on a more or less temporary basis. You can focus on one aspect of your life and largely ignore the rest for a short time.

Choose a focus:

1.  Health. Maybe you want to lose a few pounds, heal from childhood trauma, or clean up your diet. 

2.  Fitness. Maybe you want to focus on getting in the best shape of your life. You might want to see your abs, bench press twice your bodyweight, and run a 10K in under 48 minutes.

3.  Finances. Most of us could use a little more money. You can choose to temporarily focus your life on maximizing your income and minimizing your expenses.

4.  Spirituality. Education, meditation, and prayer might be just what you need to take your life to the next level.

5.  Finding a partner. What would happen if you made finding a life partner your primary focus?

6.  Writing a book. Have you always dreamed of writing? This could be your chance!

These are just a few possibilities. You might want to focus on the piano, perfect your oil painting, work on your communication skills, or build an online business.

What is so important to you that you’re willing to put the rest of your life on the back burner for a while?

Use these tips to go monk mode:

1.  Eliminate as much as possible. What are you willing to give up? What do you need to give up in order to maximize your results?

*  Irrelevant social interaction. You don’t have to cut yourself off completely, but it would be helpful to come close. Most of the interactions you have with others are of minimal value and waste time.

*  Meaningless distractions. TV, internet, smartphone, reading fiction, reading non-fiction that isn’t related to your area of focus – these are a good start. How do you like to waste time?

*  Anything that doesn’t contribute to progress in your area of interest. Remember, in a perfect monk mode world, you’d do little other than eat, sleep, and improve in your area of focus.

2.  Define the most effective ways to spend your time. Now that you’ve created a lot of time for yourself, you have to know how to spend that time wisely.

* What are the most important actions you can take? How can you best implement them into your life?

* What information do you need? A mentor? A new book? Ensure that you know enough to make wise choices.

3.  Expect to be uncomfortable. If you’re used to meeting the same set of friends for nachos and beer twice a week, it will be awkward to end that practice. If you numb yourself with TV every evening, it will be uncomfortable to no longer have that crutch. Imagine living like a real monk.

You know that you’re smart and capable. The biggest challenge you have is that your time and focus are too scattered. By going monk mode, you can put all of your resources toward mastering one aspect of your life.

What do you want to master?


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13 Habits That Increase Patience

13 Habits That Increase Patience

Life is full of bumps in the road. Construction holds up traffic on your way to work. Your child loses their homework folder about once a month, and your boss blames you for a decision they made.

Sometimes you can change your circumstances. More often, you’ll need to change your attitude so you can run into obstacles without losing your cool.

Developing more patience will make your life run smoother. It’s like acquiring any other skill. You’ll need to practice regularly.

Start with minor irritations and work your way up to handling bigger challenges. Take a look at these exercises for developing more patience.

Basic Exercises for Increasing Patience:

1.  Spot your triggers. Figure out what frustrates you and why. It could be certain events or words. Ask your family and friends for feedback if you’re not sure about what usually sets you off.

2.  Keep a journal. While you’re trying to develop more patience, it helps to keep a record of your activities. Use your phone or a notepad to count the number of times you feel stressed and describe the situations.

3.  Slow down. Rushing around creates more tension. Pause for a moment when you feel overwhelmed, so you can resist the urge to speed up.

4.  Meditate on your breath. Try to maintain a daily meditation practice. Even a few minutes of deep breathing can be beneficial. Put aside other thoughts as you focus on each inhalation and exhalation.

5.  Relax your muscles. Scan your body when something disturbing happens, so you can release tension quickly. Smooth your brows and unclench your jaw. Soften your neck and shoulders. Gently rub your back or any sore spots.

6.  Take care of basic needs. Dehydration, hunger, and lack of sleep can threaten your composure. Carry a water bottle and healthy snacks with you so you can refuel as needed. Go to bed early and aim for at least 7 hours of sleep each night.

7.  Enjoy the weather. Heat, cold, rain, and snow can teach you to embrace change or at least tolerate discomfort. Buy a beautiful, warm coat or think about plants that need water to grow.

Advanced Exercises for Increasing Patience:

1.  Delay gratification. Practice waiting for what you want. Postpone purchases for a day or two before you buy new shoes or sports equipment. Go for a walk before you eat dessert.

2.  Set priorities. Are you trying to do too much? Delete nonessential tasks from your to do list. You’ll have more time for the things that really matter to you.

3.  Adjust your expectations. Technology conditions us to expect things quickly, like groceries delivered to your door or streaming movies and music on demand. Remember that important projects usually require significant time and effort.

4.  Evaluate the outcomes. Losing your patience might be tempting if the clerks at the DMV escorted you to the front of the line and fed you ice cream while they completed your paperwork. However, you usually just wind up feeling less-than-satisfied when you lose your patience.

5.  Listen closely. Do you become edgy when your children ask multiple questions or coworkers talk so long that a meeting runs overtime? Instead of tuning them out, give them your full attention. You’ll probably feel calmer and you may learn something new.

6.  Be thankful and helpful. Gratitude and generosity are the ultimate recipe for patience. Count your blessings so you can keep minor irritations in perspective. Think about what you can share with others instead of focusing on your own comfort.

Increasing your patience will make you happier and better-liked by others. You’ll experience less stress and find it easier to get what you want.


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Start Living Your Dream Today

Start Living Your Dream Today

Why are you in a holding mode? People everywhere seem to be waiting for something to happen before they can begin living their dream. This is a mistake. Now is the time to begin making things happen.

You might be short on time or money, but there are still things you can do to get started. Let today be the day you start to make your dreams come true!

Use these tips to begin living your dream:

1.  Realize that life gets shorter each day. It’s easy to believe that you’ll have time to do what you really want to do after the kids finish school, you have a better job, you’re retired, or more money in the bank. The truth is, there will never be a perfect time to start living your dreams.

–  The amount of time we all have left gets shorter each day. Time is the most valuable resource of wealthy and successful people. It’s also the most valuable resource of the average person, but the average person doesn’t realize it.

2.  Define your dream. Have a crystal-clear objective of what you’re trying to achieve. It’s not enough to have a vague idea. A vague idea isn’t motivating enough to keep you going when faced with obstacles. It’s important to have a clear picture you can keep going back to when challenges arise.

3.  Work backwards. It won’t be possible to take one step from where you are to the end. There will be many steps along the way. The important thing is to find something you can do today. Keep working back from the endpoint until you find something you can accomplish right now and get busy working on it.

4.  Do a little each day. A little each day turns into a lot over time. Cutting a few calories each day can result in a lot of weight loss over a year. Adding a piece or two to the wood pile each day is a lot of wood after a year.

–  You can probably reach your dreams without spending eight hours each day on it. Just do something each day.

5.  Deal with limiting beliefs. The primary reason you don’t already have everything you want is limiting beliefs. There are many forms of limiting beliefs:

–  It’s going to take too much time.

–  It’s too hard.

–  I don’t have enough money to get started.

–  People won’t approve.

–  I’m too tired.

–  I can start next year.

–  Any thought that prevents you from getting started is a limiting belief.

6.  Ignore the people that get in your way. There’s always someone trying to get in your way. It might be a family member, friend, neighbor, or anonymous person online. You have to be strong enough to ignore those people and stick to your plan. You can have the last laugh.

7.  Focus on the things you can control. There aren’t too many things you can actually control. However, it makes no sense to spend your time, energy, and focus worried about things outside of your control. Keep your attention where it can make a difference.

8.  Celebrate victories. A long journey is easier with a few pleasant experiences along the way. Celebrate your progress regularly. It will be easier to reach the finish line.

It’s never too late, or too early to begin living your dream. Each second that passes by is a second you’ll never get back. There’s not a good reason to wait any longer. The time to begin living your dream is right now.


The Circle of Life

Reveal the “big picture” of your true dreams – and pave the road for a real, personalized action plan

I am a Board Certified Life Coach, a Board Certified Health Coach,  and a teacher of Mindfulness Living who helps people unlock their potential and live life on Purpose

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How to Gain Laser Focus in a World Full of Distractions

How to Gain Laser Focus in a World Full of Distractions

Our ability to focus has been reduced dramatically. We’ve never had more distractions to deal with. And as disheartening as it sounds, many of the distractions we face were engineered to be as distracting as possible.

Our brains quickly become addicted to these distractions and our ability to focus on important work suffers.

Learning how to focus is a vital skill if you want to be productive and successful.

Overcome the distractions in your life and get things done with these strategies:

1.  Single-tasking beats multitasking. Avoid fooling yourself. You’ll get more done and feel more relaxed if you focus on a single task at a time. It’s not easy for your brain to switch back and forth between different things. Set your priorities and complete them in order.

2.  Do deep focus activities early in the day. Your ability to focus deeply is greatest in the morning and decreases throughout the day. A few people also do well late at night if their day isn’t too demanding.

–  Schedule your more demanding mental tasks earlier in the day. Save the simpler items for later when your focus is weaker.

3.  Practice focusing. You can’t be good at something you don’t practice. It’s harder to focus deeply than you think.

–  Try setting a timer for 15 minutes and keep your attention entirely on performing a task. Notice how stray thoughts constantly interfere. Notice how strong the urge to check your email, text messages, social media becomes.

–  Over time, you’ll be able to focus for longer periods of time before you need a break.

4.  Remove distractions. Make life easier for yourself by removing as many distractions as possible. Put your phone away. Turn off the TV. Block any websites that you find compelling. Close any computer tabs you don’t need. Remove any distracting sounds. Turn off the radio.

5.  Learn to be comfortable with being bored. When you’re focused and working, it can also be boring. Most of us choose to distract ourselves because we’re bored. The better you can handle boredom, the easier it is to avoid engaging in those distractions.

–  When you have the urge to distract yourself, force yourself to wait 15 minutes longer. After a few days of this, try 30 minutes. Keep building on this.

6.  Plan time for your most common distractions. You don’t have to avoid your favorites distractions 100% of the time. Simply schedule time for those activities after your work has been completed for the day. Put a reasonable limit on how long you’ll spend on them.

7.  Get enough sleep. Sleep is important for focus and energy. Your brain needs at least seven hours of sleep to be at its best. Have consistent times for going to bed and waking up. 

–  Try sleeping for seven hours each night for a week and rate your ability to focus. The following week try 7.5 hours. If you see an improvement, try eight hours. Keep going if necessary and find the optimum amount of sleep for you.

8.  Eat healthy foods. Your body and brain function better when you eat in a healthy manner. Your focus improves with a healthy diet. Start by eliminating everything you know isn’t good for you – one at a time will work.

Life is a never-ending series of distractions. The most successful people are able to focus in spite of distractions. It takes practice to focus intently in the face of other things vying for our attention. Incorporate these tips into your daily schedule and you’ll see your ability to focus grow.


The Circle of Life

Reveal the “big picture” of your true dreams – and pave the road for a real, personalized action plan

I am a Board Certified Life Coach, a Board Certified Health Coach,  and a teacher of Mindfulness Living who helps people unlock their potential and live life on Purpose

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7 Tips For Being Honest Without Negativity

7 Tips For Being Honest Without Negativity

Being honest and being kind can be tough to do simultaneously. There are times that it’s easy to be honest, while other times can require far more tact. There are even times when it’s best to keep your opinions to yourself. It’s not always easy to know when you should speak up and when you should keep your mouth shut.

Even when you’re trying to be helpful, your honesty can backfire. Proceed with caution.

If you’ve decided to speak the truth, there are several things to keep in mind:

1.  Be gentle. There are many ways to say something. For example, you could say to your spouse, “Of course it doesn’t fit. You’ve been eating a lot for the last three months. What did you expect would happen?”

–  You could also say, “Well, we haven’t been very healthy lately. Maybe we need to skip dessert and start taking a walk after dinner. It might be fun.”

–  Avoid the temptation to harm the other person. Focus on relaying the necessary information in a way that is kind to the other person. There are many ways to get your point across to someone. Consider your options before you speak.

2.  Ask yourself, “Does this help the other person?” Sometimes, the truth will be ignored even if you choose to share it. Sometimes, the truth only causes problems. If you’re quite certain that being honest isn’t going to be beneficial, it’s best to keep your comments, opinions, and advice to yourself.

3.  Start with the positive. Before you say something that might hurt the other person’s feelings, start with a few positive statements. Spend a moment talking about the positive before diving into the negative.

–  This can be a great way for dealing with an employee. “We love how you do xyz, and we’re grateful to have you as an employee. But it would be better for the company if you did abc this way instead.”

–  Leading with praise or compliments can greatly lessen the sting of constructive criticism. Make it a point to say something pleasant before delivering a harsh truth.

4.  Have your conversation in private. Some honest conversations are best done in private. Having the wrong conversation in front of others can create a lot of negativity. That same conversation might not be a big deal if done one on one.

5.  Focus on the behavior or situation instead of the person. If you’re addressing someone’s behavior, keep the honesty focused on the behavior instead of making it personal.

6.  Question your motivation. Before unleashing your honesty on the other person, ask yourself what your true motivation is. Are you trying to be helpful? Or, are you trying to even the score? Are you doing it because it will benefit the other person, or are you trying to make them feel bad?

7.  Think about the likely outcome. Be realistic and ask yourself what the likely outcome will be from your conversation. Do you expect things to go well or poorly?

Examine your true motivations for being honest in each situation. We’re often just doing it for ourselves or causing more harm than good to the other person. You might consider yourself an “honest” person, but there are times when you should consider keeping your comments to yourself.

Each situation is unique, so it’s impossible to have a single rule that always applies. Use your common sense before offering your two cents.


The Circle of Life

Reveal the “big picture” of your true dreams – and pave the road for a real, personalized action plan

I am a Board Certified Life Coach, a Board Certified Health Coach,  and a teacher of Mindfulness Living who helps people unlock their potential and live life on Purpose

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Five Unique Ways to Deal With Procrastination

Five Unique Ways to Deal With Procrastination

If you didn’t procrastinate, you’d be one of the most powerful people in the world. You’d utilize your time effectively and get a lot of things done each day. Over time, that’s an incredibly powerful way to live.

Unfortunately, we all seem to have a villain inside that tries to thwart our plans at every turn. He makes every other activity seem so enjoyable and the thing we need to do so unenjoyable.

Procrastination can be an incredibly challenging obstacle to overcome.

Deal with your procrastination and beat the villain inside with these strategies:

1.  Do the task immediately. The longer you think about doing something, the more reasons your mind will invent to keep you from doing it. Have you ever noticed how you get a great idea, but then you talk yourself out of doing it? It’s the same idea.

–  Before you have a chance to think about it, just do it. The longer you linger, ponder, think, relax, or stall, the less likely you’ll be to do anything. You only have a few seconds to take action before your brain will start getting in your way. 1-2-3-GO!

2.  Set a time limit. This can be especially helpful when tackling a big task. Rather than trying to do it all at once, tell yourself that you’ll work for an hour, or 30 minutes, or whatever works for you. Knowing that you have a set ending point can ease the challenge of getting started.

–  Once you get busy, you might find that you just keep on working after the time has expired.

–  Using a timer is also a great way to focus your attention. It’s interesting how much more you can accomplish when you’re racing against the clock.

3.  Only do a tiny bit. Getting started is often the most difficult part. Make it so easy to get started that you can’t possibly fail. Need to write a history paper for school or a report for work? Tell yourself that you’re just going to do one paragraph. If that’s too hard, make it a single sentence.

–  Again, after you get started, you might decide to keep on going. It’s amazing what a little momentum can do.

4.  Start with the big items. We like to start the day with the easy things, the things that won’t take too much time. Unfortunately, the longer you put off doing the bigger stuff, the harder it is to get started on it. 

–  Avoid this situation by attacking those bigger, less pleasant tasks first thing in the morning. Save the easy stuff for later in the day. You’ll be able to have a more peaceful afternoon.

5.  Figure out your primary distractions at the moment and do them later. Those distractions can be so appealing. Whether it’s texting your friend about the weekend or playing a few more games of Candy Crush, distractions are more enjoyable than doing what actually needs to be done.

–  Use your distractions as rewards. Tell yourself you can do the thing you really want to do after you get a certain amount of work completed. You’ll get your work done and still have fun before the day is over.

How much do you procrastinate? How much does it impact your life? What could you accomplish if you could greatly reduce your procrastination?

There are many strategies for dealing with procrastination. The trick is to figure out which one works most effectively for you. Try the methods above and any other methods that appeal to you. Decide for yourself how to best manage your procrastination tendencies.


The Circle of Life

Reveal the “big picture” of your true dreams – and pave the road for a real, personalized action plan

I am a Board Certified Life Coach, a Board Certified Health Coach,  and a teacher of Mindfulness Living who helps people unlock their potential and live life on Purpose

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