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Understanding Self: The Foundation of Success

Understanding Self: The Foundation of Success

Understanding Self: The Foundation of Success

If you understand others you are smart.
If you understand yourself you are illuminated.
If you overcome others you are powerful.
If you overcome yourself you have strength.
If you know how to be satisfied you are rich.
If you can act with vigor, you have a will.
If you don’t lose your objectives you can be long-lasting.
If you die without loss, you are eternal.

  • Lao Tzu

One of the keys to being successful in any aspect of life is understanding other people. How do we do that? We have to start by understanding ourselves. The better you understand yourself, the better you will be at everything you do, whether it’s working, being in a relationship, being a friend, being creative, running a business, making decisions, and the list goes on. Sound important? It should. Understanding self is critical to everything else! So, let’s get started. Open up a blank document, or grab a pen and paper, and let’s build a reflection of you.

Personality Traits

One of the best tools in our time is the Myers-Briggs personality assessment. If you haven’t already done it, go to 16personalities.com and take the free assessment. Do yourself a favor and take it honestly. Don’t answer the questions the way you want other people to think you are, answer them truthfully. This isn’t a judgement of character, it’s a self-assessment tool.

When you know these things about yourself based on your personality, you can then determine if your job is right for you. You can assess opportunities and determine if they are a good fit for you. You can pinpoint the sources of stress in your life and understand why things are affecting you the way they are, and make changes accordingly. Finally, you can better understand your relationships with other people by understanding the differences in your personality traits. This will make you a better communicator, a better spouse, a better friend.

Exercise: Write out your personality type based on the assessment. What sticks out to you? What surprised you? What did you already know that got confirmed?

Peaks and Troughs

I went over this at length in my recent blog on Effective Time Management. You’ll want to read that too, if you haven’t already, but here’s the crux of it:

Everyone has highs and lows throughout the day. Some of us are morning people. My eyes pop open sometime between 4 am and 5 am every day. After a cup of coffee, I am at my best mental condition, primed up and ready to tackle the heavy thinking. This will wear off by lunch time, and I will only be operating and 40% – 60% capacity at best for the rest of the day. I have a crash around noon, then I get a second wind in the mid-afternoon, with another crash around 4 pm.

This is important for me to know, because it allows me to schedule my activities accordingly. If I’m going to write a blog, I want to be at 100%, so I know not to try to do that in the afternoon or evening. If I have errands to run, I don’t waste my prime brain time by doing them in the morning. Instead, I save them for the afternoon so I can make the best use of my time.

If you are the opposite of me, you’ll find my schedule to be ridiculous. After all, I’m ready to go to bed at 8 pm, and you might just be getting into your prime time. I might not do my best thinking at 10 pm, but it’s important for me to understand that others can be wired different than I am, and I shouldn’t base my expectations of them on the way I do things. Understanding this relieves me of the stress of unrealistic expectations of others.

Exercise: Under your personality type, write out the 24 hours of the day (1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm, etc). If you’re on your computer, color code the hours based on your operating capacity at that time. Black is for sleeping. Green is for Best, Blue is for Second Wind, Red is for Crash times. If you’re doing this in paper, draw lines to block the day into sections, and label each one accordingly.

Know Your Triggers

There is an acronym in the recovery community called HALT. That stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. The idea is that if you realize that you are irritable or stressed, you do a quick HALT inventory. The source of the problem is often one of these 4 things.

Hungry: Being hungry is a huge thing for me. You know those Snickers commercials with guys turning into divas when they get hungry? That’s totally me. I didn’t know that for a long time, so I just ran around all morning in a bad mood, jonesing for lunchtime. Now I know that I should eat a protein bar at 10 am, and another one at 3 pm. If I don’t I’ll get hangry (hungry/angry). I have explained this to those around me, and they know to ask me if I need to eat if I’m being grumpy. Guess what? My life is way better.

Angry: Being angry about something can easily spiral into a nose dive for some people. If the source of your stress is being angry, identify what exactly you are angry about. If you can isolate it, then it’s easier to solve it, or at least keep it from spilling over to the rest of your day and those around you.

Lonely: For extroverts, too much isolation is a bad thing. If you are an extrovert, and you get your energy from being around people, then having a job where you are by yourself all the time can be stressful. On the opposite side of that, if you are an introvert, then being around people too much can be stressful. Whichever side you’re on, you can quickly recognize if you need to either get a few minutes of alone time, or go find someone else for a quick people break.

Tired: Being tired is a very common source of irritability. If you determine that this is the problem, take a nap. If a nap isn’t an option, then often a 5 minute brisk walk around can help. If you have the opportunity to just close your eyes for ten minutes (set an alarm!), it can help you out tremendously.

Exercise: What are your triggers? What can you do to solve them as quickly as possible? What do you need to have with you to manage your triggers? Do you have a trigger that’s not on this list? How can you manage it?

Putting The Big Picture Together

Knowing your personality type will help you understand your tendencies, and the way you are wired. This is useful beyond measure. Add in your daily peaks and troughs, your triggers, and your solutions, and you have a blueprint for making great decisions and being prepared to handle life. Once you have been doing this for a while, and read up on other personality traits, you will start to understand the people around you better, and that will lead to a better relationship with them.

Here’s an example of some of the things I learned about myself from this process:

I am an INFJ-T.

I am an introvert. I can function around other people, but I need alone time to recharge, and this is very important. I do best when I am alone more than I am around groups of people. (I know it sounds crazy, but I didn’t know this most of my life. I just knew that I was way more comfortable in social situations if I was drinking.)

I am very idealistic, I emotionally invest in everything I do, I’m sensitive to stress and criticism, I’m organized and decisive, and I have very high standards and expectations of myself and others. (I knew most of this, but seeing it in writing has really made me realize that my job needs to matter. If what I’m doing all day is meaningless, then I’m never going to be happy doing it for long, no matter how well it pays. I also need the people I work with to have a high investment in what they are doing. If I’m the only one putting in 100% effort, I’ll go crazy.)

I don’t respond well to Authoritarian or Command-and-Control leaders. (This is a huge big deal for me to know about myself. I spent 10 years of my life working either in the Army or for the Army as a civilian, and both were 100% C-a-C environments, and I was miserable. Knowing this will help me make better decisions about where I work.

Weaknesses that I need to be aware of and work on:

Very sensitive, get my feelings hurt easily, take everything personally

Prone to burn-out: need to pace myself

I tend to be dismissive of other people’s ideas. – work on listening, and realize that just because someone has a better idea than me doesn’t mean that I failed.

Peaks and Troughs

I have my Time Optimizer Template below, which tells me what time I should do each task. Green is my best time, blue is okay time, red is my worst time.

5 am          1 pm

6 am          2 pm

7 am          3 pm

8 am          4 pm

9 am          5 pm

10 am         6 pm

11 am         7 pm

12 pm         8 pm

9 pm – 4 am – sleeping

HALT Inventory

I need to always have protein bars or crackers with me, everywhere I go. I also need a quiet, isolated spot to get away from people when I need a break (5 minutes alone can do a lot for me). I should set an alarm and take a ten-minute power nap after lunch. If I don’t set the alarm, I’ll sleep for 2 hours, and I’ll be a wreck the rest of the day.

Conclusion

Hopefully your sheet looks something like this, although a bit longer (mine’s short since it’s just an example). The more extensive it is, the better. Refer back to it a lot until you know it by heart. It’s a living document, and it should change as you change, so refine it and update it when necessary.

Use these insights in every aspect of your life. You will find that the better you understand yourself, the more you will be able to build a lifestyle that brings you satisfaction and joy. Your relationship with yourself will improve, and your relationships with everyone else in your life will improve as a result of that. Self-discovery is at the center of everything.

Foundation of success

 

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Justin B. Long is an author, blogger, website developer, and the CFO of Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic. In his spare time (ha!) he likes to paint, read, canoe, and hike in the wilderness. You can subscribe to this blog in the blue block, and future blogs will be delivered to your email. Warning: Subscribing may increase your awesomeness quotient. Please feel free to comment, and share this blog on your favorite social media page! To learn more, please visit JBoydLong.com.

3 Ways to Live a Happier Life

3 Ways to Live a Happier Life

3 Ways to Live a Happier Life

Are you living the happiest life that you can live? For most of us, the answer is probably no. There are a lot of surface things you can do to live a happier life. Then there are the basic principles that are at the core of your lifestyle. We’re going to look at a few of those today.

Why doesn’t everyone do these things? Because it’s hard. It’s painful in the beginning, and most people can’t see past that to the freedom that lies beyond. Oh, and it involves change, and most people refuse to change. However, if you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, here are some things you can do.

Get Rid of the Television

I can hear the screams of protest, but hear me out. The average American watches 5 hours of TV a day, and the older you are, the more TV you watch. That means your brain is on autopilot, absorbing advertising and mindless entertainment. You aren’t getting as much sleep as you should, or as much exercise. Over time, your ability to think critically is impaired because you don’t do it outside of work (and maybe not at work, either).

How many of you sleep with the TV on? 2/3 of Americans. How many of you eat dinner with the TV on? 2/3 of Americans. How many of you listen to your kids talk about school with the TV on, or your spouse talk about their day? If you’re doing these things, then you aren’t fully engaging with other people. You also aren’t thinking as much as you should, or letting your brain rest at night (it can hear the TV when you’re asleep, you know). This means you’re likely stressed out easily, and you can’t focus or make good decisions.

Bottom line: the television is wrecking your health, your ability to think critically, and your relationships with the people you care about the most. It’s also a colossal waste of time. I challenge you to turn it off for 30 days and see what happens. Tip: do something constructive with the time!

Get Rid of Toxic Relationships

This one is hard, because it involves cutting people out of our lives. However, once this is accomplished, you will wish you had done it years ago. But what is a “toxic relationship”? The simple answer is that there is more negative energy in the relationship than positive energy. To take that a step further, even if the balance is 40% negative and 60% positive, there is still a lot of negativity, which means it’s tearing you down instead of building you up. Sometimes these relationships are with spouses or partners. Sometimes they’re with friends. Sometimes they’re with family members.

I’m going to give you a golden key here, and I want you to remember this, if nothing else: Being related to someone does not obligate you to them in any way. That’s right, you don’t owe your time or energy to someone who is tearing you down, even if it’s a parent or a sibling. You are free to end that relationship if it’s having a negative impact on your life, and you don’t have to explain yourself. So many people are continually drug through the proverbial mud year after year by someone, and they put up with it simply because they happened to be born into that particular family. FACT: The only person who can obligate you to someone else is you, and you can end that obligation at any time. Don’t chain yourself to the whipping post.

Sometimes great friendships can evolve into toxic relationships over the years. This often happens when one person takes a life path that leads them to bigger and better things, and the other person does not. In the beginning they’re happy for you and supportive, but as time goes on and gulf widens, it can turn into animosity, jealousy, and contempt.

It’s emotionally difficult to cut people out of our lives, even when we know we need to. It’s important to take care of yourself during this process, and having a therapist to talk to is a great way to get through it. A therapist is cheaper than cable TV, so you’ll be able to afford it after you get rid of the television.

Get Rid of Gender Role Expectations

One of the ways that family, religion, culture and society screw people up is by assigning household roles based on gender. Traditionally, the man works, mows the yard, and washes the car. The woman raises the kids, cooks, cleans, shops, and does what she’s told. Also traditionally, the man slaps the woman if she talks back to him, and punches her in the eye if supper isn’t ready on time. Being traditional for the sake of being traditional isn’t always the best approach to a happy lifestyle.

In today’s world where both the husband and the wife have a career, it’s still common to find the woman doing most of the household chores. This is one of the biggest stress points in a relationship, and one of the leading causes of divorce. If this is a factor in your life, you need to fix it. Again, the therapist is a great resource, so find one and get some help if you need it.

If you are sharing a home with someone, you should split the chores in a way that makes sense for both of you. Doing laundry isn’t a gender-specific task, nor is cooking, parenting or anything else. Don’t let yourself be gender-cast by anyone, especially not your significant other. This will absolutely destroy happiness over time. Just because your parents did it that way doesn’t mean you should. Learn to think about things and understand why you live the way you live, and make changes when necessary.

To take this a step further, I’ll give you another golden key: It’s okay for a woman to make more money than her husband. Yes, that’s right, you can be in a successful, healthy, happy relationship in which the woman is the breadwinner. How do I know? I’m in one. I’m living it every day. My wife makes twice as much money as I do. I also do a lot of household chores, which would traditionally be considered “woman’s work” since I work from home. It just makes sense to do it that way in our house. Does that make me less of a man? No, of course not. As a matter of fact, it makes me a bigger man than many, because I don’t have to dominate my wife in order to satisfy my ego.

Make a Decision, and Take Action

What do you want to be able to say about your life when you are old? What changes do you need to make now so that can happen? What are you waiting for? A happier life is what happens when you remove the negative things from it.

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Justin B. Long is an author, blogger, website developer, and the CFO of Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic. In his spare time (ha!) he likes to paint, read, canoe, and hike in the wilderness. You can subscribe to this blog in the blue block, and future blogs will be delivered to your email. Warning: Subscribing may increase your awesomeness quotient. Please feel free to comment, and share this blog on your favorite social media page! To learn more, please visit JBoydLong.com.

Life Happens Outside Your Comfort Zone

Life Happens Outside Your Comfort Zone

Life Happens Outside Your Comfort Zone

Living VS Existing

Do you ever meet people who seem to have an amazing life, with exciting activities and various things going on all the time? Most of us know someone like that. Now, let’s look at the other end of the spectrum: do you know anyone who doesn’t do anything other than work (if they have a job), watch TV, and sleep? Most of us know lots of people like that. For some people, existing is enough; it’s all they want out of life. For some of us, existing isn’t enough; we need more.

Life happens outside your comfort zone. If you want more out of life, then you have to be ready to step away from the same old, same old; you have to be willing to do things you’ve never done before, learn knew things, meet new people, explore the unknown. This is a scary experience. You’re going to feel uncomfortable and nervous, like you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s okay! That means you’re doing it right.

Jump in the Deep End

Whatever it is that you want to do, the only way to do it is to do it. If you want to start playing soccer with the open league on Saturdays, the only way to do it is to go to the field on Saturday and get involved. There’s nothing wrong with doing research, don’t get me wrong. With some things, proper research is critical.

The trap lies within the tendency to “research” whatever it is indefinitely, and never actually get started. We judge ourselves by our intentions (rather than our actions), so it’s easy to convince ourselves that we’re living, doing stuff, getting more out of life, etc, when all we’re really doing is thinking about it. So, set a timeframe that’s realistic, learn what you need to learn, and get started.

Judge Not…

There are two ways to fool yourself about how you’re doing. One is to measure yourself against someone who is a master at what you want to do. The other is to measure yourself against someone who is a novice at what you want to do. Neither one of these is an accurate way to measure how you are doing.

The only true way to measure your progress is to measure yourself against yourself. Where are you at now compared to six months ago? A year ago? If you’re in the same place, then you haven’t improved much. That’s okay if you are where you want to be. For me, I have a long way to go. However, as I write this, I’m miles ahead of where I was last year at this time.

For example: a year ago, I had just completed my first book, Adventures of the Horse Doctor’s Husband. I didn’t know that I needed beta readers to help me find and fix problems with the writing before I moved forward with it. I didn’t know how to find an agent or an editor (or if I even needed one), I didn’t know that my writing skills were lacking, I didn’t know how to do anything that I wanted to do to get my book published. So, I went to a writer’s seminar, where I met some people. I joined a writer’s group. I began building a network of contacts. I went to a major writer’s conference, where I learned all kinds of things and met some industry professionals. I found online resources that taught me a lot about the processes. I planned and wrote two more books, each better than the first one. I learned things, I improved my process, and I expanded my network.

If I measure myself against Stephen King, then I am a failure. If I measure myself against someone who has written a rough manuscript but doesn’t know what to do next, then I am doing great. Neither one of these are accurate, though, and they don’t tell me how I’m doing.

In 1 year, my circle of writing people has increased from 1 to over 75. My knowledge on the craft of writing has increased tremendously. My experience has increased through the writing of 2 more books. My knowledge about the publishing process has increased significantly. My goals for 2018 outline a very specific process for getting my 3 manuscripts turned into published books by this time next year. Next year, I should be able to compare where I’m at then to where I was at when I wrote this blog and see major forward progress. That’s how I accurately measure myself.

Life Happens Outside Your Comfort Zone

You must accept that change is the name of the game. If you want your life to be different in some way, then you can’t be resistant to change. It sounds like an obvious point, but you have to be conscious about it, because most of us are naturally resistant to change. One of the best tools I’ve found for this is listening to podcasts for small businesses. Some of them, such as StoryBrand and Social Media Marketing (two great podcasts, free tip!) interview top-level business coaches and business leaders every week. I have learned an immense amount from the very best experts about things I didn’t even know I needed to know.

One of the things they say all the time is that life happens outside your comfort zone. Top CEO’s of major corporations talk about feeling like they’re in over their head, and how they learned how to keep on going from someone else. How to avoid becoming paralyzed by fear. These are things I need to know as a small business owner, because I deal with them, too. Guess what? I’ve found all sorts of ways to apply things I learn from those people to seemingly unrelated things, like my website development business, my writing, and my personal life. It’s all tied together, and I don’t have to learn all the lessons in life the hard way. I can learn from others, and podcasts are a fantastic resource for that.

It Never Ends

Life is all about the journey. The journey, at least for some of us, is all about growing, improving, learning, becoming better, doing more, and living. I want more, and I’m willing to do whatever I have to do to make that happen. You can, too. You can develop the discipline and the knowledge to do what you want to do, be who you want to be. You can start today. You can start right now. Go. Do. Be. Live.

J. Boyd Long is an author, blogger, website developer, and the CFO of Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic. In his spare time (ha!) he likes to paint, read, canoe, and hike in the wilderness. You can subscribe to this blog in the big blue block, and future blogs will be delivered to your email. Warning: Subscribing may increase your awesomeness quotient. Please feel free to comment, and share this blog on your favorite social media page! To learn more, please visit JBoydLong.com 

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Set Yourself Up For Success

Set Yourself Up For Success

Set Yourself Up For Success

Set yourself up for success: it sounds obvious, right? No one is going to intentionally set themselves up for failure, right? Wrong. We do it all the time. Self-doubt, or lack of confidence, makes us do things that keep us from succeeding. That’s right, we take specific action to avoid succeeding at something we want. We believe that we can’t do any better than we’re doing. We don’t think we have what it takes. No one in our family has done it. Our friends don’t support us. Whatever. We have an endless list of reasons.

Inaction is an Action

One of the most common forms of self-sabotage is doing nothing. Opportunity comes knocking, we deliberate, we hem-haw around, we fantasize, and opportunity leaves. Then we either get depressed about how good things might have been, or we go the sour grapes route and tell ourselves it probably wouldn’t have been very good anyway.

It’s also very common for our friends and family to keep us down. They tell us that we can’t do it, and that we shouldn’t try. They remind us of all the times we’ve already tried and failed. They mean well, as they’re just trying to protect us from failure and pain, but they are doing us more harm than good. Sometimes doing more in life means changing out some of the people in our life. Growing pains.

Develop An Attitude of Gratitude

The first thing you need to do to set yourself up for success is check your attitude. Do you find that you are critical, dubious, and skeptical of everything that’s outside your bubble? If so, you need to start retraining your brain to think positively instead of negatively. That sounds hard, and that’s because it is hard. I know, because I did it. I was one of those people that could find a fault with anything, and a reason to pass up on every opportunity. Guess what? I got tired of living and thinking that way, so I changed. You can, too.

Know Thyself

If you haven’t taken a Myers-Briggs personality assessment, you need to do that today. It takes about 15 minutes, and it will help you for the rest of your life. In a nutshell, there are 16 personality types. Once you know which one you are, then you read up on the characteristics of your personality type (another 10 minutes). That 25-minute investment will help you gain self-awareness, which will guide you to make better decisions based on your tendencies.

For example, I am an INFJ. I know that I am extremely idealistic, which is the core of my personality type. Therefore, I’m never going to be successful trying to scam people. I’m not even going to be a good salesperson, because if I don’t believe in something 100%, I’m not going to be able to push it. I also know that I put 150% effort into everything I do, and therefore I need for my job to matter. Knowing my personality type keeps me out of the wrong career fields.

You can take the free assessment online at www.16personalities.com

set yourself up for successWalk Through The Fear

One of the things I was amazed to learn is that everyone experiences fear, even successful people. The thing is, successful people don’t get mired down in the fear. They acknowledge it and keep on going. My mentor was fond of using a reference from one of the darkest points in our country’s history to nail home the point. He said, you gotta keep walking. When you hear the dogs barking, you keep walking. When you hear the men shouting, you keep walking. When you see the torches burning, you keep walking. You gotta keep walking to be free.

It’s about sticking with it, and not giving up. Persistence, tenacity, determination. Refusing to quit when it gets hard, or scary. It’s always going to be hard and scary, and that’s okay. Fear should keep us from touching the hot stove, but it shouldn’t keep us from going in the kitchen. Recognize it as a tool instead of a master.

Believe In Yourself

If you really want to set yourself up for success, you have to believe that you can do whatever it is that you want to do. Most people won’t ever even come close to achieving what they’re capable of. Therefore, you shouldn’t do what most people do. Find a mentor, someone who has what you want, and do what they do. Learn from them. See that they are just a person like you, and that you can do anything they have done, and maybe more.

Michael Phelps isn’t a super-human, he’s a guy that lives up to his potential and swims through the fear. He acts, he takes opportunities. He believes in himself, and he accepts that failure is part of it, and that it’s okay to fail. He tries anyway. How about Martin Luther King Jr.? Do you think he ever experienced fear and self-doubt? You bet he did. And he still got up every day and tried. Elon Musk. Winston Churchill. Taylor Swift. All people, all have dealt with fear and self-doubt, all walked through the fear and succeeded. None of them were born with a superpower. You can do what they have done.

Set Yourself Up For Success

You don’t have to become a world-renowned celebrity to have success in life, and you shouldn’t judge yourself by impossible standards. Determine what you want to do with your life, and figure out what you need to do to accomplish that. Then set a series of goals to get you from here to there. You need to know what the definition of success is for you, based on your goals. Believe in yourself. Follow someone else who has walked the same path. Dream big. Live big. Set yourself up for success. You can do it!

Justin B. Long is an author, blogger, website developer, and the CFO of Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic. In his spare time (ha!) he likes to paint, read, canoe, and hike in the wilderness. You can subscribe to this blog in the blue block, and future blogs will be delivered to your email. Warning: Subscribing may increase your awesomeness quotient. Please feel free to comment, and share this blog on your favorite social media page! To learn more, please visit JBoydLong.com.

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Setting and Achieving Goals

Setting and Achieving Goals

J. Boyd Long goalsSetting and Achieving Goals

Setting and achieving goals is one of those things that few people think about, fewer try, and even fewer actually do. It’s in the same category as dieting, exercise, and making good life decisions. But we all have intentions of doing things, right? So why don’t we get anything done?

Distractions

People have never been busier than we are today. Technology has helped us fill every second of the day with something. What do people do if they’re waiting in line for more than ten seconds? Pull out the phone and check Facebook, send a text, look at the headlines. There are approximately a trillion television shows that are so addicting we can’t bear the thought of missing a minute of them. New movies come out all the time. The kids have a million things going on.

Lack of Direction

A lot of times we have vague ideas about things we’d like to do, but we haven’t ever taken the time to think it out. One of the negative side effects of being busy every minute of the day is that we don’t have time to think about things. So, if we don’t stop to figure out exactly what it is we want to accomplish, then we will never achieve anything outside the whirlwind of daily life.

How Can I Change?

First and foremost, you have to want things to be different more than you want to avoid the stress of change. It sounds simple, but it isn’t easy. Change is hard, change is scary, change requires time and effort and commitment, and we just don’t like that stuff.

People will endure amazing hardships just to avoid change. I call this ‘being committed to the Known Quantity.’ Some people will stay broke, because being broke is easier and safer than committing to learn and work at something they haven’t done before. Other examples of people choosing the Known Quantity over change: staying in bad relationships, staying in a bad job, not trying something that you think you might like (sky diving, painting, bowling, writing, new career field, new food item, new friend, etc), not stopping something you don’t like anymore (drinking, drugs, smoking, watching TV, toxic friendship), and the list goes on.

Okay, I want to change: How do I start setting and achieving goals?

Start small. Be realistic about what you can achieve. Right now you are filling up 24 hours a day with stuff, so in order to start doing something new, something else is going to have to be sacrificed. For me, that was the television. I wasn’t very committed to it anyway, so it wasn’t too painful, but I realize that other people feel differently about that.

If you are trying to instill a meditation or exercise regime, getting up twenty minutes earlier in the morning might be all you need to do to create a timeslot. Routine is very helpful for establishing new things, so try to do it at the same time every day until you get established.

Become a List Maker

Making a list of things you need to achieve each day and each week is a great way to keep yourself on track. I have a variety of goals, and they change on a regular basis, so I have to write things down. For example, I am trying to build a network of authors on social media, so I have a goal of sending at least 2 Facebook friend requests each week, and following 3 authors on Twitter each week. I also have a goal for how many words I want to write each day, or how many pages I want to get edited.

Each Sunday, I go down my list from the previous week and list what I actually accomplished beside my goals. I have two accountability partners, so I email them the results as well. At the end of each month, I write out my weekly goals for the upcoming month. This way I know exactly what I want to get done, and the timeframe that I have to accomplish it in.

Tracking and Rewards

One way to keep yourself engaged is tracking your results, and rewarding yourself. Once setting and achieving goals becomes a part of your daily life, it’s good to be able to look back over your goals history and see how much you have accomplished. It’s also a good way to see if you are setting your expectations appropriately. If you see that you are consistently failing to meet your goals, then you need to figure out why. Are you trying to do too much, or are you not trying hard enough to get it done? If you are hitting every goal every time, perhaps you can challenge yourself to do more.

Rewards are also fun. While ice cream is great, it might not be appropriate if your goal is to eat healthier, or to lose weight. Make sure your reward is good for you and your new lifestyle. I’m not very good at rewarding myself, so this is something that I need to work on instituting. I don’t get to read as much as I’d like, so maybe an extra 30 minutes of reading time each week would be a good reward for me.

Accountability Partners

When it comes to setting and achieving goals consistently, nothing has helped me keep my focus more than accountability partners. I wrote an entire blog on that topic, so I’ll just give you a link to that topic here: Accountability Partners Blog

So, there you have it: you can do way more than you think you can. All you need is an overwhelming desire to do something, some direction, a list or two, and a buddy. Once you start down this road, you will be amazed at where your life can go!

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Justin B. Long is an author, blogger, website developer, and the CFO of Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic. In his spare time (ha!) he likes to paint, read, canoe, and hike in the wilderness. You can subscribe to this blog in the blue block, and future blogs will be delivered to your email. Warning: Subscribing may increase your awesomeness quotient. Please feel free to comment, and share this blog on your favorite social media page! To learn more, please visit JBoydLong.com.

Do You Have the Right Job for You?

Do You Have the Right Job for You?

The right job for me

If you follow me on Facebook, you probably know that we have a bottle-baby kitten right now. This isn’t the first time one of these has shown up at our door. As a veterinarian (and crazy cat lady), my wife attracts these sorts of adventures. As a work-from-home hermit, I end up spending a lot of time playing, feeding, and cleaning up pee, as well as typing with a feisty helper climbing on my arm, chewing on my finger, or sleeping in my lap. There’s usually the sound of the wind chimes on the front porch to create ambiance, as well as the sounds of the horses downstairs in their stalls.

Not the right job for me

I used to work in an office where the phones rang all the time, people were in and out demanding this, selling that, complaining about so-and-so, and the drama of office politics was always being played out in one ridiculous way or another. Before that, I was a mechanic working for the Army. I spent my days working on vehicles in a giant concrete parking lot where it was miserably hot in the summer, and freezing cold in the winter. Office politics was a favorite game there too; played with fervor by the amateurs and professionals alike.

J. Boyd LongI’m glad I had jobs that I wasn’t cut out for, in places that I don’t perform well. Those experiences gave me a solid perspective against which I can measure my life today. Without them, I wouldn’t have any way to realize how perfect this job and lifestyle is for me. I wouldn’t know that the office politics between the cats (vicious, but only on occasion) isn’t so bad, that when I have to pause the bookkeeping to go pick up a baby donkey and bring it to the vet clinic, it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind, for peace and quiet. Those things are important to me.

Know what makes a job the right job, or the wrong job

If you’ve read my previous blogs, then you know I’m a big fan of understanding myself. Did you think this was about kittens? This is about knowing yourself, knowing what sort of environment is good for you, and what is bad. I’m an introvert, a Ravenclaw, an INFJ, an anti-conflict kind of guy. I’m also smart and logical and creative, and I like to do things the way that I deem best, and I don’t handle command-and-control people being in charge of me very well, especially when they’re idiots. I certainly don’t work well under micro-managers, or people that demand that you are busy every moment of the day for the sake of appearances, or people that need to dominate you to get their self-value. Before I knew these things about myself, where did I work? In all the worst places for me to be, because I was choosing them based on money alone.

Know why you do what you do

Knowing these things about yourself, and then finding an appropriate place to work that fills your needs and minimizes your stressors, are a major cog in the wheel of happiness and quality of life. It’s scary to quit a job that pays you well, especially if the place you’ll be happiest doesn’t pay as well. That’s when it’s important to know what you can afford, how you can adjust your lifestyle expenses, and what’s most important to you. Everything has a price. Once you know what you value, you can make informed choices and take action to improve your life. Or, you can do the same thing over and over, hoping for a different result. People do it every day.

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Justin B. Long is an author, blogger, website developer, and the CFO of Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic. In his spare time (ha!) he likes to paint, read, canoe, and hike in the wilderness. You can subscribe to this blog in the blue block, and future blogs will be delivered to your email. Warning: Subscribing may increase your awesomeness quotient. Please feel free to comment, and share this blog on your favorite social media page! To learn more, please visit JBoydLong.com.

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