Warming Up

There is an issue I have been dealing with for a while now. I often find myself having trouble getting to work. I get up on time, wash up, get breakfast but when I try to get to work, I can’t do it. It’s been going on for a months now but today I figured it out and it wasn’t what I had expected. You see, in between all of these activities in the morning, there is one thing I fail to do that affects my work, warming up.

Warming up? How? Well it’s very simple; in everything we do, warming up is very important. It’s our way of preparing our bodies and our minds for the task ahead. Runners start with a jog around the field and at the gym most people start with some stretching or a jog around the field. The only place where people don’t really warm up is in the classroom and the results speak for themselves. Most people report not being focused, attentive or even interested in the subject matter, why? Because they jumped right into their work without warming up, without preparing for what was coming and so when all this information started flowing their way, it overwhelmed them.

With this in mind, how exactly can we warm up before we do anything at all. How do we warm up for breakfast, or even lunch. Do we even have to warm up for such simple tasks like eating and drinking? Obviously not, but if you are having some trouble at work, school or even at the gym, it may be time to consider a warm up routine. How many times do people report to work and jump on to the heap of paper work waiting in their desks only to end up feeling tired and overwhelmed a few hours later. How many students walk into class and start revising only to get bored minutes later? It’s quite a number of people and the unfortunate part of it all is that they usually blame themselves for the lack of productivity yet the solution to their problems is very simple and efficient.

Next time before you jump on that heap or paper work, peruse through it and know what kind of work you will be dealing with, take a few moments to take a breath and relax then start your work. In school, before you start revising for that exam, think about the subject matter for a few minutes and try to understand it rather than cram it all. Next time you are about to start a project like me, take a few moments to think about what you are about to do and its significance, make sure you are ready for what is coming so that when it does come, you are ready. In whatever task you are about to do, make sure you warm yourself up, you won’t regret it.

 
Have nice day 🙂

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The Compounding Effect

Back in high school we learned about compound interest. The way it worked is that after you deposit some money into your bank account,  it earns some interest at the end of every year. If you deposited 1000 ksh, at the end of the year, you get an extra 100 ksh with a 10% interest rate. While this may seem small, over time this amount of money will keep accumulating until after 10 or 20 years where it will double or triple the original amount.

The compounding effect works more or less like compound interest in the bank. For every task that you do consistently, you get better, or you gain more of that specific skill. If you are a dancer and you dance an hour a day, with time you will start to get better and this works for everything we do. Think about your first day on the job and how you are today, if you are a freelancer think about your first job and client and where you are now. Think about athletes’ who wake up every day to run getting ready for the Olympics, or a student at school who starts revising weeks before the exam a day at a time. These people, at the end of the day, get what they want and it happens because of the compounding effect.

The compounding effect implies that for whatever task you do, you will get better at it as long as you do it consistently. And this effect applies to everything we do. For me as a blogger, the compounding effect makes me a better blogger with each post I make. For the guy at the gym, the compounding effect makes him stronger and makes his muscles larger. It may not be obvious in the beginning but over time this effect delivers on whatever you invest in it.

The thing I found interesting about this effect is that it applies to anything that we do. Think about people with weight problems. First they started eating something unhealthy. The effects could not be seen then but over time as they indulged in their unhealthy eating habits, the fat content in their body compounded and now they want more than anything to lose weight. Think also about drug addicts. I don’t know of anyone who starts doing drugs with the intent of being an addict but it happens any way, why? Because for smokers, they started with one cigarette a week, then two, then three, then one cigarette a day until now a few months or years later, they need a pack to keep them going. The thing about this effect is that while it’s very significant in our lives, we rarely take the time to observe its changes and that’s why the changes catch us off guard, because they took place one small effect after another over a long period of time.

Now, with this in mind, can we use this effect to our advantage? Yes we can. A popular piece of advice given to those who want to be successful is start small. With the compounding effect, this advice works very well. Want to get fit? Instead of rushing for that gym membership, start with simple basic exercises. Start by walking every day, then start jogging, then do some basic exercises at home and in with time you will notice the difference. If you want to eat healthier, instead of changing everything all at once, start small. Start with a fruit before every meal then start taking out the foods you know are not good for you and with time you will be looking and feeling better. This effect works for anything you can think of including addictions, the only thing to note is that you have to be consistent for this to work. So for whatever you do or are doing, remember that this effect is in play. Put in the right set of actions and you will reap success at the end of your day.

Have a nice day 🙂

The Value of Time

Time is the most valuable thing on earth, nothing compares to it. Once it’s gone, it can never be redeemed. It is always moving and it never stops. It is always moves forward and never backward. Everything on earth depends on time and nothing happens before it. Everything requires time to get done and without time, we have nothing. So with this in mind, what really is the value of time?

There is an old story about Picasso. He was sitting on a park bench when he was approached by a woman who asked him to make a portrait of her. He agreed and made the portrait quickly and gave it to her. She was impressed by the portrait but when she asked for the price, she was shocked. “$5000!” she exclaimed, “but it only took you a few minutes to draw this”. “No “replied Picasso, “it took me my entire life.”

Of course if you have already heard this story then you know his reply differs with your source but the lesson remains the same, there is a price for mastery.  Picasso had to invest time into learning how to draw to be able to draw such an impressive portrait in such a short time. But once he had mastered his craft, people never really understood its value.

There is a quote that states “we tend to overestimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can achieve in a year”. This quote tends to bring out the lack of patience that is shown by people. People want to go to the gym and get results in two weeks, yet it takes about a month for the results to start showing, people want to go to art class and in one month, draw like a pro. Good things take time, be it work, art and even relationships it takes time for this things to actually flourish.

I was at a talk for high school kids the other day and their career mentor was just telling them about the value of school and learning. He told them that the more you stay in school, the more you will earn once you are done. Now given that that may not really apply in this day and age, the idea behind his statement is very powerful and still applies. The more time you invest in doing something, be it writing, art, dancing or singing the better you will be at it at the end of the day. And that, I believe, is the true value of time.

Have a nice day 🙂

Being Proactive

If you are a fan of motivational speeches or quotes, then you have noticed that most of them have one basic theme, to be successful you have to make things happen. You have to do things and take initiative so that you can be the person you want to be tomorrow and in the future. But how do you ensure you keep moving despite the obstacles that you will encounter along the way? Well, it’s very simple; you need to realize what kind of a person you are. In today’s article I talk about two kinds of people, the proactive and the reactive and I give you some tips on how to be more proactive so that you can be the kind of person who makes things happen and not the person who things happen to.

So what is being proactive or reactive? This two are opposites of each other. A reactive person is a person who does not take initiative. These kind of people let the environment determine how they feel and how they will act. As a result, they are tossed and turned by the tides of life and most of the time life catches them by surprise. They do not plan for the future so when the future does take place and they are not ready; they scramble to react to it just to stay afloat.

A proactive person on the other hand is one who takes initiative. They own their life, their mistakes and their problems. They rarely make excuses and are busy fixing their problems. Unlike the reactive person, the proactive person adapts to the waves of life and isn’t caught by surprise when the unexpected takes place. They not only plan for the future but anticipate it to ensure that nothing catches them off guard.

So with this in mind, what makes these two types of people so different? The answer lies in how they perceive life and their way of living. For example, reactive people do not see the point in learning while proactive people always keep learning no matter the place or age. In a work place environment, reactive people will do what they are told and wait for more orders while the proactive will look for improvement and an opportunity in the work that they are doing. They are more likely to get promoted at work while the reactive stay in the same position at work. When it comes to change, reactive people will opt to stay in the same old routine. Change for them is unpleasant and uncomfortable while proactive people will embrace the change since it means that they are moving forward.

In a nut shell, reactive people deal with things as they come. They come unprepared and as a result two things will happen to them; they will waste time on unproductive activities and they will often feel overwhelmed by things. This is as a result to not having planned before hand. Proactive people on the other hand are organized and tend to project themselves into the future instead of focusing on what is happening to them in the moment.

So how do you become a more proactive person? First make your own luck. Luck is said to be where preparation meets opportunity. Take steps on a daily basis to become a better version of yourself than you were yesterday. Set out milestones and timeframes and make sure you attain the goals you set for yourself. Be consistent. Success is not about getting everything right, it’s about consistency. Ensure that you are consistently taking steps on a daily basis and steadily moving towards your goal. The steps do not have to be big, small steps compounded overtime will move you further down the path to being successful in what you do.

 

Find the right people. You are the average of the five people you hang out with. Imagine being in a room where people are just watching movies, playing games or taking naps, do you think you will be able to make actionable plans to improve your life? Of course not. Surround yourself with people who are driven and effective so that their energy can rub off on you as well. You have to choose between driven people and people who are just going to drag you down; you can’t have both and expect to succeed. Lazy people are like quicksand, they hold you down without you knowing it until one day when you realize that you have been consumed by laziness.  Surround yourself with people who are taking initiative and be motivated to take charge of your life.

Finally be honest with yourself. Look at what you are doing and how you are doing it. When something is not working, be honest with yourself instead of making excuses. It’s easy to stay busy and think you are making progress and harder to acknowledge that you are not actually making progress. You will not get better by telling yourself it is okay because it is not, if something is not working out, be honest about what it is and make the necessary changes.

These are not the only tips on being proactive but they are a good starting point for anyone who feels they want to change and start making progress. Look at them as steps to transforming yourself into the kind of person who can build the kind of future you aspire to have. Take initiative and take charge of your life.

Have a great day ahead 🙂

 

 

 

Building Strong Habits

When it comes to success in any activity, investing in habits is a great way to getting more done. Think about the last time you thought about brushing your teeth or even washing your face in the Morning when you get up. you probably think that its customary to wash your face immediately you get out of bed but it’s not; you got so used to doing it, you think its procedure.

The great thing about habits is that they need less thought to get things done. Thinking about doing things or making decisions leads to decision fatigue. Decision fatigue is the state of mind where you’re so tired from thinking all day, you can’t think about anything else. For most people, decision fatigue is experienced in the evening after a long day of work.

With habits however, the situation is different. Since with habits you need to think less, it means that at the end of the day you will have done a lot of work and will still be in a position to get some more work done. But habits are not just about what we do on a daily basis but also how we can add new activities into our day. The less we think about an activity, the easier it will be to do.

The thing that’s challenging, however, is forming a habit. It’s easier said than done. It’s easy to want to go to the gym but harder to actually go. It’s easier to want to read but harder to actually take a book and read. One of the reasons this may happen has to do with how we start. Imagine  going to the gym and starting with the heaviest weights, or reading three chapters of a book for the very first time. Remember, first impressions matter, and if you perceive a new activity as hard the first time you do it, it will be harder for you to do the same thing next time.

A better way to go at it is to first start small. If you want to go for a marathon, start with a few laps on a field, for a book start with one chapter. Don’t do too much of the activity the first time so that you may have energy it for later. Make it fun and enjoyable and  get creative by finding different ways of doing the same thing. Finally try as much as possible to enjoy the process instead of focusing on the end  result. For example, why do we brush our teeth? For better dental health. But dental health is not a static state, it’s a continuous process.  So in the same way, when forming a habit, don’t be motivated by an end result, enjoy the process and learn from it. Remember, the more you do something  the better you will get. While reading fiction may not help you get certified or make any money, it will help keep your mind sharp which will help you study more effectively when the time comes.

Building habits is a great way to ensure you are constantly growing  and although the building process may be hard in the beginning, when you get through it, there will be more for you to reap from the whole process.

Have a good day 🙂

Ways to Boost your Creativity

Creativity is defined as the use of imagination or original ideas especially in artistic work. But if you go a little bit deeper into the definition, you will find the word original. Being original is about creating something unique. It is also about using material from numerous sources and combining them into one. Einstein says that creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. This implies that creativity isn’t something that can only come from within, it is a skill like anything else and with enough determination and time, we can get better at it.

People have different approaches to creativity. There is the first group of people who get an idea and work on it until it’s refined. They think over the idea for days or even weeks, trying to create a better version of the idea. Then there is the second lot who come up with many ideas. They write them down on paper and when there done, they sort through the list and pick the best ideas. You may think that the second group of people are more efficient but so is the first. Both approaches have their pros and cons but the thing they have in common is they both involve generation of ideas which is what creativity is all about.

There is no limit when it comes to creativity. Never has an artist been satisfied with their ideas, they are always looking for more and better ways to express themselves through their art. But as much as they may love what they do, some days may just be slow, with no source of inspiration or motivation.  If this is you sometimes, try out some of the tips below to help you boost your creativity instead of just sitting down waiting for an epiphany.

The mind is a vessel, just like a cup or mug, and just like any vessel, it runs dry from time to time. Some may assume that the information regenerates from within the mind but a better approach is to read more. Reading helps your mind relax and it also helps you get more ideas from the things you read about. Whether art or music, when our creativity is low, we can always learn more through reading.

Another way to boost your creativity is doing something new. In the article Out of the box thinking, I talk about trying new things as a way to enhance the way you think. The same applies in creativity. Going through the same things over and over can become boring after a while, if you want to stay motivated looking for ideas, then trying new things is just the thing for you.

I recall when I started this blog; I had so many ideas of topics I could write about on the blog. The only problem is that they were too many and I couldn’t attend to them all at once. If this happens to you from time to time, a great way to handle it is write everything down. Writing things down frees your mind and it also helps give you perspective. An idea may look great in thought but then you write it down and find out it wasn’t that great. This will help you sift through your ideas to create the best material you can.

After doing all the work, remember to rejuvenate your mind. Rejuvenating your mind helps you relax after a long day. It also helps you be objective about the ideas you have. When you have many ideas to pick from, write them down and take a walk. When you come back to your work station with a refreshed mind, you will be able to analyze the ideas more objectively and pick the ones that you will need and discard the rest.

Of course not every day will be your creative day. There will be days where even an idea will not be at your disposal. Instead of feeling bad about it or even feeling like your creative life is done, remember to stay positive. Positive moods have been found to help encourage creativity while negative moods tend to restrict it. Remember it’s all about attitude and a positive attitude will keep your creative efforts at their best.

I hope the tips above help you grow your skill of creativity and by applying them you will creative even better work for yourself than before.

Thank you for stopping by. Have a creative week ahead :).

The ART of showing up

Imagine you had a goal in mind, be it read more books or make more friends or even start a company, your next step would be to educate yourself on these things. So you go online and you find articles, and blogs and videos on the subject matter and you absorb all you can. When you feel you’ve had enough to get you started, you pick up your first book and start reading. Halfway through, or on day two, you realize something feels off. It doesn’t feel as great as it did when you started off. It has its challenges and it’s no longer stimulating. Before long, you quit and look for another goal just to find the same pattern repeating itself.

This happened to me a while back when I was trying to get fit. I used to go to the field and take a few laps every day. But some days I would wake up and realize I didn’t feel like it and slowly as I accepted this feeling, I stopped going for my jogs. I was lost there for a while, wondering why I hadn’t gone through with the practice regimen I had developed until later I met a guy who changed my whole perspective on the matter.

For story purposes let’s call him John. John is training for the Olympics and every evening he is on the field training. Since he was the most consistent guy I knew, I decided to join him in his workout. I followed him for a week and never was he off in his workout. On some days I would say I didn’t feel like it and even when he didn’t feel like it, he still did the workout. Needless to say I left but I learned something from him that day, the art of showing up.

The art of showing up is an art designed to help people get more consistent with what they do on a daily basis. With most leisure activities, people  choose to do them because they feel great, stimulating, or thrilling. But when that thrill wears off , people tend to leave the activities and look for new ones. A good example is working out, it feels good when you start but as time goes by, the great feeling you get starts to dwindle and all you have are aching limbs the next morning. In such a case, one would choose to stop working out and find something else to do. If this happens to you often, the art of showing up gives a better long lasting solution to the matter.

The basic idea is first, ignore how you feel. In my workout example, I mention that at one point I didn’t FEEL like it. Feelings tend to mislead people especially where long term goals are concerned. We tend to relate how we feel with the result. For example, if I feel great about working out, I will work out better. The reality, however, is the opposite.  Working out with time tends to give its benefits after the workout is done and not during the workout as some would expect. Also at the end of the workout, you will have a feeling of accomplishment when you do all the assigned sets. So instead of going with your feelings, just go to the gym and do what you had planned for the day and see what happens.

With the first point in mind, the second is just as important. Have a plan. I recall days when I had no plan for my day and what would happen is that I would wake up and get lost in my day. You do not need a job or some big career to have a plan for your day. A plan gives the day direction so without one, you could end up being bored which leads some bad habits. With a plan, you don’t have to really rely on your feelings, you just have to do what needs to be done, and you’ll be okay. A great way to do this is create a time table.

The third and final point is show up. If you have a workout, go to the gym and do some reps. You want to read more books, read a book for an hour every day. You want to build a company, show up for work every day and look for clients. The idea is be there and do something whether it feels great or not, whether it’s great or not. If you want to be a better writer, write an article a day, whether it’s a great article or just basic, at least you’ll have something. a

The art of showing up encourages people to show up and be present in their day and their lives. Showing up ensures consistency and with time, you can be sure of growth which means getting better at your craft. I’ll finish off with a quote from James clear that says “Don’t worry about the results until you’ve mastered the art of showing up.”

Thank you for stopping by. Have a productive day ahead 🙂