How to Spend 5 Minutes in the Morning to Supercharge Your Whole Day

These activities offer a outsize impact with a short time investment.

CREDIT: Getty Images

CREDIT: Getty Images

Which investment would you take, one that costs a dollar and returns 100, or one that costs 20 and returns 25? This problem isn’t a head scratcher. We all instantly recognize that the 100X payoff is the better bet. But when it comes to time, somehow deciding how to spend this limited resource isn’t always as clear-cut.

We spend hours emptying our inbox to little effect, or waste whole afternoons checking social media or browsing the web. Meanwhile, there are a few activities out there that are the temporal equivalent of that awesome 100X investment, activities that if you spend mere minutes on them early in the day, will pay you back with vastly more energy and productivity later on.

What are they? Quora users recently converged on a handful of sure bets when a curious poster wanted to know, “What can I do in 5 minutes in the morning to make my whole day better?” (Hat tip to Business Insider for the pointer to the thread.). Here are the answers that came up again and again, as well as links to the scientific reasoning behind the power this these simple morning routines.

1. Writing

Many people think of writing as something teachers or work forces them to do, but there’s a huge pile of science showing that taking a few moments to write out your thoughts is a phenomenal way to boost your mental health. All it takes is a five minutes daily thought dump.

“Use the Five Minute Journal every morning. You’ll feel more positive and happier when you use it. Your whole day will be better as a result,” suggests entrepreneur Chris Remus. “I actually used it for 6 months, stopped and came back to using it. That was over five years ago and I haven’t looked back since.”

Or combine two powerful science-backed happiness boosters into one and opt for a gratitude journal instead. That’s what another entrepreneur respondent, Nela Canovic, advises: “Write down 3 things you are grateful for today. Think about what you already have in your life. Don’t focus only on material things (such as a car or a computer), but rather think in more simple or basic terms, such as having.”

2. Meditation

Meditation might sound like a difficult undertaking only tackled by monks or tech executives with Herculean levels of self control and a lot more household help than you have, but experts insist that you can get the benefits of mindfulness meditation in just a few minutes a day. And what an array of benefits you can expect. Meditation has been shown to do everything from increasing focus to lowering blood pressure and even helping raise profits (Yes, really).

Quora users agree wholeheartedly with this chorus of meditation boosters. “Sitting for 5 minutes to detach from the thoughts of your mind will have a profound impact on your day,” insists founder Ariel Banayan. “You’ll understand your own negativity better. You’ll have just a little bit more freedom from your thoughts so that you can focus on what has to be done during the day without excess thinking.”

Engineer Raviteja Chirala assures readers that getting started is easier than you imagine. “Don’t worry about reading about how to do and all. It’s as simple as closing your eyes for five minutes without any distraction and focus on your breath and nothing else,” he writes.

3. Exercise

Much like meditation, the scientific case for the benefits of exercise is open and shut. And just like with meditation, the range of potential positives from even a little physical exertion will probably surprise you. Exercise won’t just make you fitter and healthier, it’ll make you smarter, happier, and less stressed too, research shows.

With an upside like that, how could it not be worth setting your alarm a few minutes earlier, argue a number of Quora respondents. “Morning exercise does not just wake up your body, it gives you a dose of adrenaline to clear your mind and help you to focus,” claims product designer Minh Killy Le. “Working out in the morning also results in numerous benefits such as upbeat mood, positive thinking, more healthy metabolism, etc.” And you only need five minutes to feel these effects, he insists.

“Try any intense workout in the morning,” agrees Chirala. “It can be a HIIT or any regular workout that can push your boundaries. For example running, crunches, push-ups, squats. Whatever you’re comfortable doing in your limits and yet not really comfortable. This excites your body and helps it to get on track for the rest of your day.”

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5 Dos and Don’ts of Thought Leadership Marketing

Image credit: Hero Images | Getty Images

Image credit: Hero Images | Getty Images

Gone are the days when marketing meant putting out some advertisements and hiring a copywriter to rave about how great your brand is. In a technology-saturated age where consumers are more skeptical than ever of self-promotion, traditional advertising strategies just don’t work anymore.

That’s why many entrepreneurs are interested in the new value of thought leadership. If you’ve been privy to trends in marketing over the past few years, you’ve almost certainly heard the term being thrown around at least a few times. But thought leadership is more than just the latest marketing fad — it’s more of a philosophy that’s probably here to stay. In essence, thought leadership is about providing genuine value to your customers without even a hint of self-promotion — showing them that you’re the no. 1 expert in your field — somebody who is 100 percent worthy of their trust.

The idea is that people are more willing to invest in you if they are confident that you really know your stuff. ut positioning yourself as a thought leader isn’t easy — and if the terminology is new to you, it can be hard to know where to start.

Thought leadership expert Danielle Sabrina offers five dos and don’ts for those who want to implement thought leadership into their marketing plan:

1. Show, don’t tell.

The point of thought leadership is to demonstrate your expertise, not simply talk about it. Your trophy cabinet may be impressive, but it’s important to show how you’ve earned your accolades.

If you’re an expert in Facebook advertising, don’t just talk about how much you know. Write an in-depth article (or two or three) tackling specific issues in the world of Facebook ads. Not only will be people be more interested in reading an article that could help them, but you’ll earn their trust by showing the proof of the pudding.

2. Provide, don’t promote.

From spam emails to pyramid schemes to Nigerian princes who always seem to have millions of dollars to offer you, people are more skeptical than ever of online advertising. No matter how much you try to disguise an advertisement, don’t underestimate the general public’s ability to sniff out promotion from miles away.

That’s why you should focus on being a genuine resource for potential customers. Your emails, social media channels and blog posts should constitute a gold mine of useful, actionable content for anyone interested in your field. This will encourage people to revisit your site, check out your other material and sign up for your email list.

3. Depth, not breadth.

Dig deep. Being a thought leader doesn’t mean knowing everything about every aspect of your field. It’s about being the go-to person in your particular niche, which can be very narrow.

A single detailed, statistics-backed blog post will take you much farther than 10 vague, general ones. Instead of mass-producing articles to provide a constant stream of content, shift your focus and energy to creating thorough, comprehensive content that deals with a specific problem. This will drive traffic to your site and differentiate you from the thousands of similar sites on the internet.

4. Analyze, don’t assume.

You might think you know what people want to know about, but the truth might surprise you. Often times, we get so caught up in our fields that we lose sight of what our clients — rather than our peers — want to know. Pay attention to your customers. Take note of what they’re asking on your social channels, and respond to their questions. Interview them to see what’s working for them and what they’d like to see more of.

In addition to showing that you value your customers, this can give you ideas for your next blog post, social media post or product.

5. Open a dialogue, not a monologue.

As Sabrina says, “The idea is not to interrupt the conversation, but become part of it.” After all, you’re not the only participant in your field. Engage with your peers, and don’t be afraid to share their content if it could be of use to your customer base.

Being connected in your field can open up opportunities for collaboration and help you reach a broader audience. Further, it provides additional proof that you’re current and up-to-date about the status quo in your area of expertise. Think of the people whose opinions you trust. Did they gain this trust by trumpeting their skills, continually telling you how great and talented they are? Probably not. It’s much more likely that they earned your trust by repeatedly showing their expertise, sharing their knowledge and providing valuable information to you and others.

That’s the big concept behind thought leadership marketing. In the words of Sabrina, “Thought leadership marketing is not just about selling your product or service. It’s also not about telling the world your company is the best. It’s about sharing value and being a resource.”

When done correctly, thought leadership marketing builds rapport with your customer base without coming off as fake and self-promotional; it allows you to present yourself as a true expert that people trust.

And in the end, earning trust means earning business. Simply showing off your skills isn’t enough anymore. Today, consumers demand proof, and thought leadership is an excellent way to provide it.

3 Qualities of Remarkably Confident Women

Confident Women

Confident Women


Don’t be afraid to stand out.

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How can more women leaders instill confidence in the workplace? is written by Priti Shah, vice president of leadership product strategy and corporate development at Skillsoft.

Confidence may come more naturally for some women than others, but regardless of where we start out, we need to take the steps toward becoming advocates for ourselves. As women continue to face an uphill battle in the workplace, it’s crucial for us to be thinking about what we stand to lose if we let opportunities pass us by because we haven’t asserted ourselves properly. And being proactive about finding mentors — continuously learning and defining our personal brands — will always put us in a better position to be seen as equally confident to our male counterparts.

As I rose through the ranks in the predominately male technology field, I’ve learned that it’s essential for women to show conviction — but how? And what about those of us for whom self-advocating doesn’t come naturally? Regardless of your place in the organization, these three strategies can improve your confidence as a leader and the confidence of those around you:

Be proactive about finding a mentor (and be one yourself)
Careers are rarely made without a little guidance along the way. Open yourself up to networking and find someone you identify with and admire in a similar career trajectory. For women, this can be of even greater value if you make a point of approaching a female colleague you trust and respect, who can offer you a broader glimpse into the unique set of challenges we face in the workplace and how to tackle them. It’s also important to share your knowledge by and mentoring and sponsoring others. This will help to establish yourself as an authoritative and confident leader within your organization.

Be proactive about learning
Working for a learning and development company, this is certainly top-of-mind for me and I can’t overstate the importance of seeking out anything and everything your company offers to further your professional development. Some employers will make it easier than others — with apps for your phone or personalized platforms for continuous learning — but regardless of your situation, make it a point to approach your manager, your mentor or anyone in HR about what learning resources may be available to you. At the very least, your proactivity will demonstrate that you take self-improvement seriously.

Be proactive about your personal brand
Identifying and defining your personal brand provides you an opportunity to articulate what makes you stand out and demonstrate that you are a highly capable leader. It is who you are in your combined personal and professional capacities that, in sum, make you less of a nine-five worker and more of a well-rounded asset to your company. As much as you may feel you have an understanding of your personal brand, take the time to write things out — your interests, your goals, your passions, your motivations, your strengths, your weaknesses — and you’ll gain a clearer picture of what skills you want to work on and what attributes you want to promote more proactively.

Perhaps the most significant moment of clarity I’ve had as a woman in the workforce was when I first realized that I needed to be the biggest and most vocal advocate for myself. This can apply to anyone in the workplace — male or female — but is even more of a necessity for women who may already be at a disadvantage because of the existing unfortunate gender stigmas. In all likelihood, as women, we aren’t able to just walk into work on the first day and have the whole office assume, “she could be the next leader of this company,” but by practicing the above strategies, your ability and confidence will be undeniable.

10 Online Classes Every Entrepreneur Should Take Before Starting a Business

You need a good education in the business of doing business.

There comes a time in many people’s lives when they long to own their own business, to be captain of their own destiny and the architect of their own fate. For far too many people, this dream dies unanswered. Those who answer the call, however, find that great rewards only come to those brave enough to take chances–and smart enough to learn as much as they can about business before taking that fateful leap.

Having a great idea for a new business is only the first small step in starting your own business. In order to make that business successful, you need a good education in the business of doing business.

Here are 10 important online classes every budding entrepreneur should take:

1. “Starting a Business While Working a Full-Time Job”

Leaving the security of your current job is a very scary proposition that not everyone can afford to take. This course is aimed at those who can’t afford to give up the security of a steady paycheck while building their own business. Instructor Ryan Robinson, a veteran entrepreneur with a number of successful startups under his belt, teaches students his own 10-step methodology on how to successfully launch a business while keeping your day job.

2. “How to Start Your Own Side Business”

Not sure if you are quite ready to take that chance? This course provides a comprehensive guide on how to keep your job while starting a successful side business and how to avoid many of the common mistakes and pitfalls that can stall your business. This course is perfect for passionate, creative working professionals who long to start their own business while keeping the security of their current job.

3. “Essentials of Entrepreneurship: Thinking and Action”

This course provides an introduction to the basic building blocks needed for budding entrepreneurs. Topics covered include: how to evaluate the opportunity and feasibility of a proposed business; the importance of a business plan and how to create one; and how to achieve success in a new business venture.

4. “Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship”

Not everyone who has a great idea for a new business or product has a business background. This course is a general introduction to business basics, entrepreneurship, industry, and markets that can help beginners get a better handle on how to start that first business.

5. “The Lean Startup”

Two of the greatest weaknesses of startups–small staff and limited financial resources–can also paradoxically be among their greatest strengths. Being lean means you can pivot quickly to take advantage of opportunities or to recover from problems, and limited staff means it is much easier to keep everyone on task and on target. This course gives you the information you need to maximize results while minimizing work and expense, which together can quickly make your startup a success.

6. “The New Business Toolbox”

This course gives you the tools you need to recognize potential pitfalls–and opportunities–that your business may face, and how to turn them to your advantage.

7. “How to Build a Startup”

The most valuable tool any company can use to build a strong foundation is to listen to its customers. This course, led by veteran entrepreneur and author Steve Blank, focuses on the “Customer Development Process,” which teaches businesses how to develop and test ideas based on feedback from their customers.

8. “Find Your First Profitable Idea”

The key to starting a successful business lies in being able to recognize that million-dollar idea when it comes along. This course will teach you how to recognize business ideas that have the potential to grow into highly lucrative successes–and avoid those that are destined to fail.

9. “New Venture Finance: Startup Funding for Entrepreneurs”

The best business idea in the world is worthless if you can’t find and secure the financing to make it a reality. This essential course will teach you the “language” of startup capital, how to raise startup capital, and how to create the perfect investor pitch to get the money you need to get your business off the ground.

10. “Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship: Pitching Your Business and Yourself”

This course is a basic introduction to the world of entrepreneurship–what a true entrepreneur is, how to be an entrepreneur, and, most important, how to pitch your entrepreneur vision to potential investors and customers.

Whether you are a veteran entrepreneur or just starting out on your first business venture, these courses will help you get on the right track to business success.

How to Change Your Poor Personal Reputation at Work

Image credit: Shutterstock

Image credit: Shutterstock


Changing the way others see us is difficult — very difficult. Here’s why: People form opinions about us, fairly or unfairly. As an example, say that others believe that you’re overly harsh or critical. Humans like to be right, right?

Therefore, once an opinion is formed, we tend to look for evidence that supports our beliefs. Conversely, we ignore behavior that contradicts our thinking. This is particularly true when the thing that contradicts our perception of someone is the absence of a bad behavior — a non-behavior.

We have worked with several mid- and senior-level executives to help them change their colleagues’ perceptions. In one case, an executive was known for being very direct. He didn’t mince words when he saw a problem or something that could be improved. His subordinates came to expect his criticisms and were used to hearing him voice them in front of their coworkers.

So, he changed: The executive began seeing that his behavior was having a negative effect on the groups he led. He found out, for example, that some of his direct reports labeled his office “the gates of hell.” So, he started to watch what he said. This executive then actually managed to go for several days without as much as one critical word.

But he slipped. He criticized one of his direct reports in front of the entire team at a meeting — and immediately regretted his behavior. Yet it was too late. He had said something harsh. And that action reinforced others’ perception of him.

The trouble with getting others to see and believe in a change in the offending person’s behavior is that people are unlikely to think, “That’s the first harsh thing I’ve heard the boss say in a few days.” Instead, people are more likely to think, “Yep, just what I thought, always negative.”

So, even though you, the offending person, may have improved, say, 95 percent, that one slip will reinforce what people think; perceptions will remain unchanged. This is why changing the way people see you is so difficult.

Still, changing how you’re perceived is not impossible. The key is to get people to notice your improved behavior, something that is unlikely to happen without some prompting word or phrase from you. A technique that has worked well for us over the years is to ask for help from the person whose opinion you want to change. In the case of our executive-client, we had him enlist the help of a couple of his key subordinates.

He did this by saying, “I have received feedback that I am too critical and I know it’s true. I’m trying to be less negative, but changing is difficult. Would you be willing to help me?” In our experience, this request usually gets a favorable response. Generally, people ask, “What can I do to help?” This was the case with the executive. He explained that he wanted his observers to pay close attention to his behavior and note every time he said something that could be perceived as harsh. He then met individually with them to get their feedback.

After several weeks of identifying only a limited number of times when the executive was harsh, his observers began to accept that he had changed. There was the added benefit that they began to spread the word to others within the organization. Over time, the executive was able to reduce the frequency of these feedback sessions. And once he and others had accepted the new behaviors as normal, he was able to phase-out the sessions altogether. He was able to get people to notice a non-behavior.

One caution here: Don’t start this process unless you are serious about making a change. If you ask for feedback but don’t make the necessary change, you’ll only call attention to your bad behavior more. You’ll make the situation worse.

Changing the perception that others have of you is hard work, but, with persistence, it’s do-able. The process we’ve outlined here is the best one we have found for getting people to notice positive behavioral change. That way, you can finally stop worrying that others are describing your office as the “gates of hell.”

5 Things Great Leaders Do Every Day

The secret to great leadership does not exist in that cup of coffee you drink every morning.

CREDIT: Getty Images

CREDIT: Getty Images

1. Inspire optimism

It can be difficult to always be the person finding the silver lining inside a huge, gray cloud. Even if you’re the only one carrying the burden, keep in mind that after a little while, positive feelings always do catch on.

2. Be genuine

No matter how small the action, great leaders are genuine in everything they do. They are purely themselves, take it or leave it, and they don’t compromise their ideals or core values in an attempt to be liked. They do things because they believe in them; they believe in the words they say, they believe in the people who work for them, and they believe in themselves too.

3. Practice confidence

While we all have our bad days, there are some that require us to continue to buck up and continue plowing forth, even when all we want to do is find somewhere to rest our head. Confidence is something that leaders carry regardless of the environment they may find themselves in. Great ones practice it every second of every day.

4. Communicate

Seeming both accessible and able to speak to those around us is a huge plus for leadership. Allowing yourself to act as someone that is responsible enough to take care of problems effectively–while being compassion and receptive–is great for encouraging people to trust you in every sense of the word.

5. Decide things–and stick to them

In a world where people constantly change their minds about all sorts of things, like which cereal to consume, or whether or not they know someone they’ve decided not to like, it can be hard to find stability to hold onto. Good leaders provide that, however. They are decisive when everyone else tends to waver–a great asset that allows others to become natural followers who easily fall in line right behind.

6 Bad Habits That Destroy Your Productivity (and Happiness)

If you want to excel at your work, stop doing these things immediately.

productivity

productivity

In today’s interconnected and increasingly mobile world, people need no longer be confined to their offices. You can work anytime you like wherever you happen to be. But that very freedom has also resulted in some very bad habits that sap your productivity and can make you miserable at the same time.

That observation comes from productivity expert Maura Thomas, founder of Regain Your Time. Here are the habits she says can hold you back–as well as the people who work for you.

1. Working during your vacation.

“With your office in the palm of your hand, it is easy to check your email, respond to a text or call into the weekly conference call on mute,” Thomas says. Too easy. Not only are you doing yourself a disservice, you’re signaling to your employees that they have to work during their own vacations. “Knowledge work requires a fresh perspective, but you can’t get a fresh perspective if you never step away,” Thomas says.

2. Not using all your vacation time.

There’s quite a lot of scientific evidence that skipping vacations is bad for our productivity, our mood, our relationships, and may even shorten our lives. So make sure to use all your time off, and to unplug from the office while you’re away. Encourage everyone who works with you to do the same. “You’ll get all the restorative benefits of vacation yourself, and you’ll be modeling healthy behavior for employees,” Thomas notes. (If yours is one of the growing number of companies with unlimited vacation policies, make sure you take at least two to four weeks off per year.)

3. Working during evenings and weekends.

We’re all guilty of this–I’m writing this column late in the evening right now. But if you never step away from work, you never get the fresh perspective that only a mental break can give, Thomas warns. Worse, your employees will feel obligated to work similar hours. “Although leaders aren’t looking to make employees feel as if they are tethered to their job at all times, it can easily happen,” she notes.

4. Sending emails and texts outside business hours.

Doing this is absolute proof that you’re working at all hours. And by communicating with employees at such times, you’re encouraging them to answer you instead of taking their own time off. This is why a growing number of countries are making after-hours email to employees illegal. “If the issue isn’t urgent enough to pick up the phone, then think twice about sending emails and texts at night, on the weekend or while someone is on vacation,” Thomas advises.

5. Creating lists of priorities.

“To-do lists that include items with a priority of high, medium, or low don’t give you enough direction,” Thomas says. “A lot of times, we’ll put a task on our to-do list that’s just too big. ‘Research local non-profits sounds’ big and difficult and is more likely to be avoided. Instead, write down: ‘Google non-profits in Texas.'”

This one small change can save you an enormous amount of wasted time wandering around the Internet or trying to figure out how to get started on a daunting project, she says. To really increase productivity, give each task a due date, but be realistic about how much you can get done in a day, and build in time for unexpected tasks or priorities to arise.

6. Multitasking.

There’s plenty of evidence that multitasking is bad for both you and your productivity. Don’t do it! Instead, Thomas advises creating conditions that allow you to focus completely on one thing. “Find the place where your attention is so absorbed in a single task that time moves differently, and you come out on the other side with a genuine feeling of accomplishment,” she says.

This may mean posting an “unavailable” status on your chat clients, logging out of email, closing your office door, turning your mobile phone to airplane mode, and maybe even putting on headphones playing white noise. “Put yourself in a distraction-free bubble so you can single-task, even for just 15 minutes every hour,” she advises. You’ll be more productive, and happier too.

How to Coach People Who Need to Lead But Don’t Want To

Leadership

Leadership


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Not every leader is comfortable in their position — especially new leaders. In fact, a 2015 survey of 1,000 employees conducted by Saba Software and Workplace Trends found that only 11 percent of respondents aspire to C-level positions.

So, what happens when an employee who doesn’t want to lead moves into a leadership position? If they never really embrace the role, peers, employees and the company as a whole feel the strain. But with the right coaching, new leaders can feel confident, comfortable and take a more active leadership style. The important caveat here is that the new leader is open to being coached. If the new leader is resistant coaching this can be a symptom of larger issues that exist.

Here are a few signs your leaders are reluctant to lead and how to steer them on the right track:

They’re afraid to speak up.

New leaders and those who are reluctant to lead may not feel comfortable with their new authority. They don’t speak up, give their input or express their opinions because they’re afraid to be wrong or disagree with those higher up the leadership chain.

In addition, they may feel like even if they do give their input, it won’t matter. In fact, a 2015 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey of 600 U.S. employees found that only 37 percent were very satisfied with the consideration managers gave their ideas.

But to be effective leaders, these professionals need to step up and share their insights. These new leaders may need to be reminded that they were promoted because of their skills, insights, and abilities. As such their peers and other leaders are looking to them to share their insight. Let them know that their opinions and feedback improve individual employees, their team and the organization as a whole.

If it’s negative feedback they shy away from, emphasize that feedback is not criticism — it’s collaboration and an opportunity to learn and grow. It’s OK to disagree with a key executive or let an employee know what can they improve upon. This input is constructive and critical.

They shy away from recognition.

Employees thrust into leadership roles are typically afraid of the spotlight. They don’t want to take the credit for their team’s work as they don’t want to seem full of themselves. But recognition is crucial, and new leaders need to understand that their role is important.

In fact, 86 percent of employees said recognition made them feel prouder and happier at work and 70 percent said they have a greater emotional connection to their job, according to a survey of more than 800 U.S. employees conducted by Globoforce in November 2015.

When leaders downplay their work and importance, they won’t take charge and lead — they just fade into the background.

No matter how small a leadership position is, show employees how the role fits into the company as a whole. What impact do they make? How do they drive the company forward and help reach major goals?

When new leaders understand the importance of their role, they’ll be more comfortable receiving and giving recognition. Coaching can help them understand how and when to give credit to their team or specific team members as well as spotlight their personal contributions.

They focus on the negative.

New leaders get overwhelmed easily. They want to take on more responsibility but are afraid of failing in their new role. As they take on new duties, they may feel unable to complete their old ones. After all, 51 percent of employees surveyed by Wrike in 2015 say that prioritizing tasks stresses them out.

These professionals are worried about what they won’t get done, but experienced leaders understand that flexibility is key. Priorities change in an instant, and leaders need to change their plans and focus on what will get done. And when leaders aren’t really leading their team, the situation is worse. The leader tries to do everything themselves, instead of delegating.

Coach leaders to focus on solutions, not problems. When priorities change and work gets crazy, train them to be flexible and lead the team to success instead of feeling the stress of the situation. Give them the right coaching and resources so they feel ready to take control of added responsibilities and feel comfortable during stressful times.

19 Tiny Habits That Lead To Huge Results

Success starts with the little things.

CREDIT: Getty Images

CREDIT: Getty Images


Success doesn’t happen in an instant. It happens through the progression of lots of little successes, strung together over time.

If you want to build something big, if you have a vision, a dream, or even just a clearly defined end goal, then the question is not how you can make that happen right now, or tomorrow. The question is: “What habits can I put into place that will allow that end goal to manifest itself?”

1. Do what you say you’re going to do. Step 1 with anything: Less talk, more action.

2. Journal once per day. Even if it’s just a paragraph, or three sentences, or jeez, one sentence, but do a quick check-in to see where you’re at and write it down. Long term, this will keep you grounded and sane. It all starts with acknowledgement.

3. Never lie. As my grandma used to say, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!”

4. Always make time for your closest friends. A buddy of mine manages a few very, very successful music artists, and he told me once, “I’ve seen it: You could have all the money in the world, but if you traded your friends to get there, you won’t be happy.”

5. Practice your craft. What may just be a hobby now could one day be something very special. If you love it, practice it. Don’t be that 40 year old guy that says to every young person he or she meets, “I used to want to be a guitar player!” Well why aren’t you still playing then!

6. Go to the gym. Or the yoga studio. Or run up and down the block. Whatever. Just be physically active. There’s nothing sexy about not being able to walk up a flight of stairs.

7. Surround yourself with people who represent what you ultimately want to become. This is a habit and a choice. If you aren’t happy with where you’re at or where you’re going, take a hard look at the people around you. Chances are, they’re in a similar boat, and as long as you stay in that situation, neither of you are moving any time soon.

8. Read. Seriously. If the only reading you do is perezhilton.com then you need to hit up Amazon and buy a Kindle.

9. Don’t just set goals–track them. Do you know what once of the most revealing things I’ve ever done for myself was? I made a project plan for my life. Yes. A project plan. And all the things I wanted to get done in the next 3 months, I planned them out like I would a marketing campaign (I’m not joking). But guess what? It showed me everything I needed to know, when things were due, and how much time I needed to spend on them in order to get them accomplished. Do this more often, and you’ll be amazed at how much you over-promise and under-deliver–and what needs to happen for you to fix that habit immediately.

10. Never eat alone. A great book, and an even better motto to live by. Make use of your lunches and dinners by sharing in conversation with people you can connect with, collaborate with, and learn from.

11. Dress for success. It’s cliché but true–you have more confidence when you feel good about the way you’re presenting yourself. Make it a habit to portray your best self.

12. Meditate & Reflect. In tandem with the journaling habit here, you need to make time to reflect. You can’t always be in go go go mode. Without reflection, you will not be able to properly integrate the lessons you’ve learning along the way.

13. Teach others. Even before you feel like you’re an “expert,” take the knowledge you’ve acquired and pass it along. Not only is it good for humanity, but you will learn whatever it is you’re teaching even more when you have to explain it to someone else.

14. Play. When was the last time you went to the beach? When was the last time you did something crazy, like parasailing? When was the last time you wrote a song on your ukulele? Take care of that inner child of yours and make time to play.

15. Eat healthy. What you eat is a habit. You’re going to set a habit and then repeat that habit daily for a very, very long time. Make that habit healthy for you and take care of you, not drag you down.

16. Check in with people of different ages. Make sure that you keep in touch with those both older and younger than you. They provide a much needed perspective.

17. See art. Nobody gets inspired sitting at a desk all day. Go to museums. Go watch movies. Go listen to live music. Go watch a mime on the street, or an acappella trio in the train station. Go out and get inspired!

18. Wake up when you say you’re going to wake up. When you set that alarm the night before, you’re promising to yourself you’re going to get up at that time. Keep that promise.

19. Read your Chief Aim aloud. Stealing from Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill here, write down whatever it is you want to build for yourself in life. And then every morning and every night, read that aloud. Out loud. Hear it in your voice and in your heart. Welcome it into the world.

15 Signs You’re Emotionally Intelligent (Without Even Realizing It)

How many of these describe you?
EI
It’s all too easy to lose control of our emotions.

That’s why emotional intelligence (known as EI or EQ) is so important. The ability to identify emotions (in yourself and others), to understand their powerful effect, and to use that information to guide thinking and behavior, can greatly increase the chances of successfully achieving your goals.

Like any ability, the skills of emotional intelligence are sharpened with practice. But might you already possess a high EQ, without even knowing it?

Take a look at the following statements, and see if they describe your own behavior and habits:

1. You think about feelings. A lot.
EI begins with reflection. You ask questions like, “Why am I feeling this way?” and “What caused me (or someone else) to say or do that?”

By identifying emotions and reactions, you’ve become more mindful and use that information to your advantage.

2. You ask others for perspective.
You understand that others see you much differently than you see yourself. It’s not about right or wrong, rather, understanding how perceptions differ.

3. You say thank you.
It’s surprising how widespread the lack of common courtesy is nowadays.

But not from you. You recognize the power of those two small words to change someone’s day, and to strengthen relationships–and that’s why you always take a few extra moments to express appreciation.

4. You know when to pause.
“The pause” is as simple as taking a moment to stop and think before you act or speak. (Easy in theory, difficult in practice.)

Of course, nobody’s perfect. But the pause has prevented embarrassment on many occasions, made you a better worker, and even saved your relationships.

5. You explore the “why.”
Instead of labeling people, you realize there’s reasons behind everyone’s behavior.

By developing qualities like empathy and compassion, you work to see a situation through another person’s eyes. You ask questions like, “Why does this person feel this way?” and “What’s going on behind the scenes?”

By doing this, you’re able to relate to almost anyone.

6. You’re open to criticism.
Nobody enjoys receiving negative feedback, including you.

But you know well that much criticism contains at least some element of truth, even when it’s not delivered in an ideal manner. Additionally, criticism teaches you much about how others think.

So, you keep your emotions in check and learn as much as you can.

7. You constantly consider how others will react.
From the moment you meet a person, you’re analyzing them. You just can’t help it.

But all of that observation leads to benefits: You realize that everything you say and do potentially affects others. And that means focusing not just on what you say, but how you say it.

8. You apologize.
You know that “I’m sorry” can be the two most difficult words to say in the English language. But you also recognize that they are extremely powerful.

By acknowledging your mistakes and apologizing when appropriate, you develop qualities like humility and authenticity, and naturally draw others to you.

9. You forgive.
While understanding that nobody’s perfect, you’ve learned that refusing to forgive is like leaving a knife in a wound–you never have the chance to heal.

Instead of hanging on to resentment while the offending party moves on with his or her life, you forgive–giving you the chance to move on, too.

10. You have an expansive emotional vocabulary.
By learning to express your feelings, you increase your ability to understand them. When you’re sad, you go deeper in trying to determine why: Am I disappointed? Frustrated? Hurt?

By expanding your active “emotional vocabulary,” you gain insight and learn to take action when necessary.

11. You praise sincerely and specifically.
By consistently looking for the good in others, and then specifically telling them what you appreciate, you inspire them. They feel good about working with you, and are motivated to give their best.

12. You work on controlling your thoughts.
It’s been said: “You can’t stop a bird from landing on your head. But you can keep it from building a nest.”

When you experience a negative situation, you may not have control over your natural, emotional response. But you are in control in what happens next: You choose where to focus your thoughts.

Instead of dwelling on those feelings and thinking about how unfair the situation is, you turn it into a positive–and develop a plan to move forward.

13. You don’t freeze people in time.
Judging others too quickly, without taking context and extenuating circumstances into account, is a very destructive habit.

In contrast, you’re aware that everyone has a bad day, or even a bad year. By refusing to label others, your opinion of them remains fluid, and you get the most of your relationships.

14. You analyze your weaknesses.
It takes self-reflection, insight, and courage to identify weaknesses. But you won’t get better unless you work on them.

By analyzing situations in which you’ve lost control of your emotions, you develop your strategy for encountering those moments the next time.

15. You know that emotions can be used against you.
Just like any ability, emotional intelligence can be used both ethically and unethically. When others increase their skills, they could use that power for manipulative influence.

And that’s exactly why you should sharpen your own emotional intelligence–to protect yourself when they do.

Source : 15 Signs You’re Emotionally Intelligent (Without Even Realizing It)