At some point in our lives, we all wish to be a better version of ourselves. Some wish for it every day; others once in a while. However, the fact that people want to be better does not change. Even those that are satisfied with themselves and their lives at the moment end up longing for more at some point. Thinking about improving ourselves is the first step, so we are on the right track so far. The hard part is crossing that bridge between thought and action.

This Mush Monday post focuses on how productivity will help you achieve your goals. Unarguably, a key factor to becoming a better and more complete version of yourself is mastering productivity. Why? Well, the most important resource for many people is time. Time enables us to grow, learn, and evolve. Sadly, there is only so much of it, especially on a daily basis. After work, chores, and personal affairs, there isn’t much free time to devote to ourselves. Most of the time, how we use that scarce free time will determine how much we can actually develop ourselves and become one step closer towards our goals. So we need to be as productive as we can during those hours.

Obviously, if managing time was easy, everyone would allocate it in the best possible way to improve themselves. What makes it so hard? Simply said and frankly put, the reason is that we are lazy. We wake up early, commute to our workplace, proceed to work 8-10 hours, go to the grocery store, clean the house, cook, look after our children/family, take care of random tasks, etc. When all is said and done, we have about one to three hours for ourselves. The first thought that crosses a person’s mind is “At last, some me time to play video games or watch TV.” That is our brain rationalizing a reward for the effort we invested throughout the day.

The sad thing is that this is the daily cycle of millions of people. Years may go by, but the story stays the same. The same job, house, or car for years on end. Few to no leisure trips. All your dreams about travelling abroad, buying a nice house, learning a new language, being a good writer, speaker, musician or painter, etc., start to fade away. Then we simply cross them off as “childish dreams.” But deep down there is a sense of regret for not making the effort to work on them. A few more years go by and now the excuse is that it is too late to take on new challenges. Our brain never gets tired of making excuses for our lazy behavior. Isn’t it time to take the reins? Tackle life as an adventure instead of a boring stroll through the same park that you pass by every single day on your way to work. Come on!

CHANGE YOUR DAILY HABITS

In order to be more productive and finally start to work toward those goals that you have, there is one simple formula to ignite the process:  change your daily habits. It does not need to be something completely drastic. Put forth a little effort every day and, in no time, you will start to see the difference in your life. And not only in your life, but in everything surrounding you. Little changes add up and become massive overhauls.

Instead of arriving home and proceeding to lay back and turn on the TV, why not wait 30 minutes or so and do something fulfilling instead? Read, exercise, devote time to a new hobby, or take a break and rethink what you could have done better at work. Simple, right? The trick is that these little spans of time – only 30 minutes a day – start to change your way of thinking. After a while, you will start to integrate more productive time into your free time. Instead of wanting more precious me time to do the familiar, you will want to do new activities.

People that finally start exercising, for example, will work out once or twice per week. However, if they stick to it long enough, they will jump to four, five, six times per week. Their brain starts to embrace the new activity. It becomes a part of their identity. This applies to everything else. When we were kids, we were super productive. Sadly, along the way we lost that spark and started to develop lazy habits. Habits become so ingrained in our bodies and minds that we can’t shake them unless we actively try to do so.

PEOPLE DO CHANGE

A very common misconception is that people don’t change. This notion couldn’t be more infuriating to those who actually put forth the effort to change and are living examples of conscious change. People are animals capable of changing if they so desire. We constantly change, from birth to old age, but conscious change requires conscious action. People don’t change if they don’t want to. Simple as that. There are many factors that influence us every day that result in subtle differences in our personality over time.

If we actively think about doing things differently and we take action to change, we will. It sure doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen. For example, when we are in love with someone and try to show them our best side, are those changes only temporary? Some may be, but not all. We take it to the extreme when we want to impress someone, however, and after that love phase is over, some traits stick around because we inherited them somewhere along the process.

Still, changing because we are in love is not the most advisable or recommended thing to do. We should work towards being a better and fuller person for our own goals and reasons. That person we want to impress might not always be around. Nevertheless, if that is your trigger, go for it. As long as you acquire new traits that will help you develop into a stronger individual, be our guest.

Yet, consider this: when you look back, after you have conquered many of your obstacles, do you want to attribute that success to someone other than you? No, you don’t. Who does?

You can change and you will. Now, the extension of that new you depends on the amount of effort you are willing to put forth.

LITTLE STEPS

The sensation of accomplishing something worthy of our personal approval is something long forgotten by many. We tend to fall into routines, and when those small victories start to fade away in our daily routines, we forget they even exist. However, there is nothing quite like that feeling of accomplishment or fulfillment when we know we did something awesome. Even little battles like studying for an exam instead of playing a video game. Or telling our friends we are not going out today because we are taking a new cooking class or studying a new language. Those are all little steps we take that make us more productive.

The steps may be little, but they are hard to take. It is undeniable that when we think about it in the short term, it seems like we are missing out and everyone else is having a blast. However, a few years later you will have a lot more to show for yourself than those that slacked off.

Being productive doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun or that we can’t indulge in things that others do or that bring us pleasure. On the contrary, being productive is all about managing your time to do it all. You can have fun, improve, socialize, sleep, study, work, etc. You just have to find a method that allows you to do it all.

Wouldn’t you rather be a person capable of exceling at everything? Or a person that can talk about various topics endlessly? If you are devoting all of your time to watching TV or some other lazy activity, how are you going to become more interesting? We all want to be better. We are all competitive, even if we don’t openly admit it. However, your biggest enemy is you. Fight your inner fears and start working for yourself. No more comfort zone. No more crutches.

Leading us to our next point.

SOCIAL CIRCLES

If you are working toward your goals, you need to surround yourself with people that have the same desire. Imagine you are trying to become a more productive person. You come home and to work or study a bit more, but then your roommate or family member is procrastinating in another room. He is telling you to sit and play for a little while. “Just five minutes,” he says. We all know how easy it is for those five minutes to turn into 20 or 60, and then the evening is gone.

When you begin to change and be more productive, you need new people to better suit your new personality and habits. Everyone has gone through that. This is one way that people start to fade away from each other. Life goes by and people start to change. If you look back, you can probably think of a friend you no longer see because you each evolved in different ways.

Sadly, you need to be productive even when it comes to your social circle. Weed out bad influences in your lifestyle. That is how life is. Some people come around later. But now is your time. It is now that you want to change for good. In order to be successful, you can’t just “kind of” do it. No, you need to make the commitment and take action. Devote your break time to yourself.

GOALS: WHY WE NEED THEM AND HOW TO ACHIEVE THEM

Human nature loves having something to strive for. When we don’t have a goal to motivate us to work harder, we inevitably start to fall into a routine. People are rarely satisfied with what they have. We make goals because we want to have bigger and better rewards. This applies to everything. At work, we want a better job or a better salary. In our love life, we want a loving partner that understands us and treats us well. In our friendships, we want buddies that we can count on at any given time. We want the latest technology, a better house, car, phone, laptop, clothes, accessories, gadgets. We want the most beautiful and shredded body.

Well, who doesn’t want all of this? These goals vary from person to person. Everyone is different and has different priorities. Some would rather have a fit body instead of a fulfilling love life. Nevertheless, one thing does not change. These goals require hard work and effort. They do not come by chance or fall from the sky. They require daily work and maintenance. In order to achieve them, you must allocate your time in the most productive manner.

You will have to balance your time better. Take an hour a day from an activity and devote it to your biggest goal. Are you sleeping eight or nine hours per day? Wake up one hour earlier and devote it to your goals. Or go to bed one hour later. Or – and this is the best possible choice – replace your free time with activities that actually help you improve.

Do you really want to sleep when your dreams are within your reach? If you live in a country where all the doors are open to you, do you think it is fair to sacrifice your goals for one or two more hours of sleep? If someone promised you a career and a life full of success, but you would have to wake up every day at 3am, wouldn’t you do it? Then what are you are waiting for? Can’t create the most productive schedule? Outwork everyone. No one but you needs to know how hard you are working. Don’t try to fish compliments from other people. Do it because you want it.

MOTIVATE YOUR OLD SELF WITH YOUR NEW SELF 

Most people have a nasty habit of thinking, “I’ll change tomorrow.” It does not work like that. We change whenever we commit to doing so. Our lives are the result of many different choices that we took in the past. Some look at their choices with regret and wish they could have changed sooner. That is the worst type of regret. Looking back and acknowledging how many years were wasted. You could have graduated three or four years ago. You could have gotten that promotion if you had learned that extra skill. That is when it hurts the most.

When you look back and notice how much better or different you could be right now if you had been more productive, the combination of regret from missed opportunities, misplaced priorities, and time wasted is the worst cocktail of emotions. Most of the time, however, that is the exact moment when we wake up and decided to be more productive. We decide our goals need to be achieved. We want to be better. We need to be better.

Regret is unbearable when we know we deserve better. Do you want to be haunted by your life decisions when you are older? Do you want to regret every major decision that played a massive role in your life? No one does. If that is how your sparkle for productivity got started, then please take it as a life lesson.

The time for wishing has passed. Now it is time to become a new person. Put your insecurities, your laziness, yours regrets aside. Create goals. Create a goal for this week. Create a goal for this month, next month, this year. If there are things that you need to do, finish them. No more postponing.

In this era, everything is achievable through hard work. If you invest your time in a productive manner – as we advise here on Mush Monday – you will start to become unrecognizable. You will become greater than you were:  a richer, fuller person. Are you ready? No more snooze buttons. No more “just one TV show.” No more “just a quick game.” No more procrastinating. Today is the day that you start your journey toward your goals. Today, you will learn to be productive. Tomorrow, you will be a whole new person.