4 Ways to Decrease Stress and Maximize Performance

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Stress is one of the biggest factors holding people back from creating transformational breakthroughs in both their personal and professional lives. If you don’t know how to handle stress, it could become the factor that, at first, keeps you from performing at your absolute best, and ultimately — if not addressed — kills you.

This threat is widespread, of course, because, in the business world, the demands, obligations and expectations entrepreneurs face to continually deliver exceptional results, seems never-ending. Not to mention that, when you combine all of the different personal obligations you face, you begin to see why stress so often is called the silent killer.

Certainly, there are many different strategies that highly successful people use to deal with stress and not let it get the best of them. But I thought that instead of citing the experts, I’d share four particular things I personally pay attention to on a daily basis. All have greatly helped me to decrease the amount of stress in my life.

And while, initially, they may seem simple and just plain common sense, remember: What’s common sense isn’t always common practice.

1. Maximize endorphin production.

Nothing has positively benefited my life more than getting into the habit of having a workout during the course of my day, especially when I have a lot going on and feel stressed out.

One of the quickest and surest ways to diminish the negative side effects of stress is to get your sweat on. When you partake in some sort of physical activity during your day, your body releases endorphins, which end up triggering a positive feeling in your entire body. Not only will you decrease your stress by getting a workout in, but you will be lightening your mood and setting yourself up for a more productive day.

Personal experience: A few months ago,, I was completely worn out and on the verge of burnout. I was traveling all the time and giving the upper hand to my excuses as to why I wasn’t working out and taking better care of myself.

After three weeks of feeling miserable, I knew I had to do something fast. It didn’t matter where I was in the world: I made a commitment with myself to get two workouts in each and every day. So, I did a quick workout first thing in the morning to jump-start my day and then another workout later, which usually consisted of cardio at the end of the day.

This was the exact same routine I’d used when playing professional football and college football. Even though I was no longer an athlete, this routine of maximizing my endorphin production twice a day worked exceptionally well. I started to feel a whole lot better about myself and noticed positive changes in my work.

The message here is, you don’t have to get in two workouts each and every day like me, but you should make it a priority to maximize endorphin production at some point during your day. I have found from personal experience that one of the most efficient ways to increase productivity, reduce stress and spark creativity is to just get moving.

2. Learn how to say “no” more often.

As an ambitious and highly motivated individual, I find that one of the hardest things to learn over the years has been to say “no”more often. When you are looking to take your life and business to the next level, saying “yes” and agreeing to every little opportunity that presents itself is almost second nature.

But the fact of the matter is that many of the daily obligations and opportunities we agree to aren’t going to move the needle for us. Of course there are things that need our attention, as the day goes on, which we didn’t plan for, but I advise planning your day the night before and never having more than five tasks on your daily to-do list.

What this simple habit does is force you to zero-in on what matters most for that particular day that will give you your biggest return on energy and time.

Personal tip: Another key strategy that has helped me say no no more often is having in front of me at all times a list of the three biggest priorities that will impact my business the most. When a decision is needed or an opportunity comes knocking, I glance at those priorities — an action which then guides me, on where my time and energy will go.

If the opportunity doesn’t include one of those three things on my priority list, I will decide whether it needs to be delegated to a team member or if another course of action needs to be taken. Learning how to say no more often is a game-changer.

3. Go make someone else’s day.

One of the main reasons why a lot of us get easily stressed and let anxiety and worry take a place at the forefront of our lives is that we get too caught up in our own little world. Yet, there is so much more to life than what we ourselves are experiencing.

When I notice that I’m feeling stressed and that my daily workload is getting the best of me, I make it a habit — and it’s one that brings me great joy– to go make someone else’s day. For you, this might involve calling up a friend and asking how his or her day is going, lending a listening ear to someone who has it much worse than you do or giving back to the local community.

There is no right or wrong way on how to make someone else’s day, but the next time you feel stressed, I challenge you to explore different ways to be of service to someone in that particular moment.

Personal tip: I keep a stack of cards next to my desk, and not a week goes by where I don’t write a thank you note to someone that I am extremely grateful for. My grandfather always used to tell me when I was younger about the significance of handwritten notes, and I haven’t forgotten that advice to this day. Want to instantly elevate your well-being? Go be of service and make someone else’s day.

4. Monitor what you put into your body.

One of the first things people turn to when they’re stressed is junk food. Indulging in your favorite treat from time to time won’t harm you, but when you consistently fail to fuel your body with the right food, you’ll lose your chance to achieve a level of peak performance.

According to Mark HymanNew York Times best-selling author of Eat Fat, Get Thin, eating whole, real food restores balance and reduces the negative effects that stress has on your body. Replacing harmful substances such as caffeine, alcohol and refined sugars with clean proteins, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats helps regulate your hormone levels — including the stress hormones.

Personal tip: I tell people all the time that one of my best decisions for elevating my performance and decreasing stress levels was getting my blood tested to see what my deficiencies were, then hiring a nutritionist to show me how to fuel my body to fill those specific needs.

After one month of changing my eating habits and getting rid of the junk, I felt like a new man, able to perform at a higher level for a longer period of time than what I’d previously achieved. You can have all the success in the world, but if you don’t have your health, that success means absolutely nothing. So, make your health and what you put into your body a priority. Use the four strategies I’ve described.

And, don’t let the hustle and bustle of life and negative side effects of stress be the reason why you don’t begin the journey of living your best life. Today.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Make Someone Else’s Day, and 3 Other Ways to De-Stress

 

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A survey from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that close to half of all working adults say that their job negatively affects their life. And that certainly resonates: It’s easier now more than ever to get stressed out and adopt unhealthy habits into our everyday lives.

What’s more, the biggest problem about this epidemic is not the actual stress in itself, but our inability to do anything about it. Instead of thriving on all cylinders and being a top producer in our chosen lines of work, most of us settle for a state of survival.

Of course it’s important to work extremely hard, put in the long hours and do everything in your power to make sure you are living up to your full potential each and every day. However, that doesn’t mean you neglect your emotional, mental and physical health in the process.

Here are four things that will help you eliminate stress and reclaim your happiness.

1. Make someone else’s day.

Remember the famous Clint Eastwood line from Dirty Harry? Why not turn it around? Because one of the easiest ways to eliminate stress and put a smile on your face is to find a way to make someone else’s day. When stress beats us down, it’s usually because we put too much focus on ourselves.

We may be way too hard on ourselves, setting unrealistic expectations at work, and feeling consumed only with what we currently have going on in our lives. But when we make it a priority to be of service to someone and “make someone else’s day,” we just might learn one of the most fulfilling ways for minimizing stress and reclaiming our happiness.

2. Go on a digital detox.

One of the best decisions that I ever made was to go on a digital detox for one full week. I stayed off social media, never once opened my email and even made sure that my phone was in a completely different room locked away for the whole week.

This was a very powerful action that provided me with just the right amount of solitude and soul searching required to get back on track and come back even stronger. In the technology-driven world that we currently live in, it’s incredibly easy to fall into the trap of comparing our success (or lack thereof) to someone else’s achievements. It’s easy to let social media run run our lives. It’s easy to forget about what matters most in life.

I am not suggesting that anyone go on a technology detox for a full week like I did. But I am encouraging that people at least try it out for maybe a weekend or just one day. I am positive that you will enjoy the sense of relief and calmness that will result.

3. Let gratitude be the driving force in your life.

Every single time that I have been stressed out and on the verge of burnout, my absence of gratitude has always been the main reason why. It’s virtually impossible to be stressed out and feel terrible about yourself when you are in a constant state of gratitude.

And in case you’re wondering what that means, there are plenty of ways to incorporate gratitude into your daily life. I write in a “gratitude journal” each and every morning. The first thing I do when I wake up is write down three to five things that I am grateful for that day. Instead of worrying about what I have to do over the day ahead or taking a look at the hectic calendar waiting for me, I turn to gratitude first.

Another way that I bring gratitude into my life is by going on a daily gratitude walk. I learned this daily practice from my friend and bestselling author Jon Gordon. Before I listen to music or a podcast, I’ll go on a scenic walk early in the morning and say out loud everything that I am grateful for. This energizes me and is a profound way to start the day. Stress has no chance of surviving when you are in a constant state of gratitude. Don’t believe me? Check out this Newsweek article which reports on five scientifically proven benefits of gratitude.

4. Get lost in a great book.

One of my favorite things in the world is to read and get lost in a great book. There is something magical about picking up a great book and not letting your worries, fears and stresses win the battle of your mind. Great books have the potential to change lives.

Even though I read a new book every week, I have a stack of ten or so more familiar books that I always turn to when the going gets tough and I feel the hustle and bustle of life starting to really get to me. All it takes is for me to pick up one of these great books and start re-reading it for 15 minutes.

Reading a great book helps me to see the world in a different light and forget about all of the problems going on in the world. I might do the same for you: Getting lost in great books has totally changed my life; and I know it can do the same for you as well.

Stress doesn’t have to get the best of you and steal your happiness. I hope these four ideas help you just as much as they have benefited my life over the years.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

This is the Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make

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One of the most important decisions you can ever make is to become your own CEO. I’m talking about taking complete responsibility for your life and not blaming others or your circumstances for past results or where you are right now.

It’s mindboggling to me how someone can go year after year, month after month, day after day complaining about their laundry list of misfortunes but do absolutely nothing about it? I hear so many people say they want to be great, achieve more success and make more money. But they never do anything about it. The main thing that most of these individuals do is whine and complain about their sorry lot in life. They sit back and let others make their decisions.

Granted, I understand there are situations and issues in peoples’ lives that may prevent them from achieving their dreams. There can be circumstances that are beyond their control. Certain family issues, disabilities, and extreme illnesses to name a few. I’m not judging people when I see them living in undesirable situations. It’s possible life has dealt them a bad hand and they can’t navigate their way out. I get it, and I do not mean to sound preachy.

On the flip side, I see others who could do something about their lives if they just tried a little harder.

Throw away the excuses.

“I don’t have any talent.”

“I can’t ever seem to get a good job. Someone better always gets the job.”

“I can’t make enough money to pay my bills.”

“I don’t have any luck at all.”

“I feel like the world is out to get me.”

“I am worried about what others will think.”

Does this sound like anyone you know? They make you want to kick them in the butt and say, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself! You can change your destiny! You can change your life!”

The list of examples can go on and on, but you get the point. Making excuses has never crowned anyone a champion. The day that you decide to throw away all excuses once and for all will be the day that changes your life forever. A simple but extremely powerful transformation begins to take place.

Just do it!

Nike’s slogan “Just Do It!” is one of the best in advertising. Getting up off your butt and going out there to make things happen is the way you become the leader of your life.

Sure, I know. I agree with you. I’ve been through it, so I’m speaking from experience. One of the hardest things to do is take full charge of your life and be the leader of your destiny. But when you do, you force yourself to look at your life and say, “I am not where I want to be because of myself and the choices and decisions that I have made.” Your next comment may be, “I am going to do something about it and make a positive change.”

When you do this, you take ownership of where you are and where you are headed. That’s not an easy thing to do, trust me. One of the hardest things I ever do is force myself to look within when times are not the best. Heck, when I was 16-years old and a full blown drug addict throwing my life away I could barely look at myself in the mirror. I was so despicable. Things began to change when I finally had had enough. That is when I developed the courage to truly look within myself. Slowly but surely, I became the CEO of my life — the leader of my destiny.

Becoming my own leader redefined my philosophy of life. It will redefine yours, as well. There is absolutely nothing you can’t do or overcome when you choose to be the CEO of your life. Being the leader of your destiny is rejecting the easy road and opting for what’s worth it in the long run.

Think about it. It will be a shame if you get to the final stages of your life with nothing but your excuses for why you didn’t follow a passion or a dream. It breaks my heart to even think about this, but it happens all the time.

Maximize opportunities.

Becoming the leader of your destiny opens the floodgates of opportunity, and life seems to become a bit easier, because others will join in and help when they can.

For example, let’s say there are two young men named John and Chris. John is the leader of his destiny. When something goes wrong, he doesn’t make excuses or place the blame on someone else. John doesn’t focus on the negative. He constantly searches for ways to better himself and elevate his position in life.

Chris is a totally different story. He has a long track record of letting his failures define him. Every chance he gets, he makes excuses or blames someone else for his misfortunes and lack of success. It truly is a negative, energy-draining experience for anyone who comes in contact with him.

Out of the two men, who do you think is more likely to receive more opportunities to get back on the right track and have others want to help in any way they can? The answer to that question is obvious. People gravitate toward positive people. They’re attractive and make you feel good. On the other hand, it’s difficult to be around negative people because they’re a liability to your happiness.

Make the decision.

One of the most rewarding decisions you can ever make is to become the leader of your destiny, your own CEO, and take complete responsibility for everything that happens. Once you do, it won’t be long before your opportunities begin to expand. And others will go out of their way to help you, even if it’s something simple. Being the leader of your destiny is a trait that all champions possess.

This piece is adapted from Matt Mayberry’s book Winning Plays, published by Hachette/Center Street.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Questions That You Should Regularly Ask Yourself That Can Transform Your Life

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Asking great questions regularly can drastically transform your life in many amazing ways. Doing this also encourages you to pause and think more deeply. What’s more, asking the right questions stimulates creative thinking that can inch you that much closer to experiencing a major breakthrough.

Such questioning has been monumental in my own personal and professional growth over the years.

I truly believe that the best of the best, those excelling at a very high level in all that they do, have formed the habit of asking better questions on a regular basis than everyone else. Tony Robbins once said, “Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” I couldn’t agree more.

To get you started on the right track, here are three questions that I regularly ask myself that have provided a tremendous amount of value in my life.

1. “Where am I?”

Taking the time to ask yourself where you currently are in life is incredibly important. A huge majority of the population never even stops to analyze where they are right this moment and if that’s where they truly want to be. They just continue going through the motions and living life way beneath their full potential.

Then, all of a sudden, they get stopped dead in their tracks and realize how unfulfilling their lives are, and they start feeling sorry for themselves and playing the blame game. Please don’t fall into that trap. Start asking yourself on a continual basis where you currently are in life and answer that question honestly. One of the hardest things to do is to admit that you aren’t where you want to be or that you have been doing it all wrong leading up to this point.

However, do you know what’s even much harder to deal with? Regret. And a lot of the regret that people unfortunately experience comes directly from never taking the time to ask this simple but extremely important question.

2. “Where do I want to be?”

This question is all about digging deep within yourself and discovering what your true passions, goals and dreams really are. In this day and age, it is so easy to get sidetracked by the fast-paced and noisy world we live in, while totally forgetting about what we truly want for our lives, personally and professionally.

One of the best ways to constantly make sure that you are moving in the right direction is to get in the habit of asking yourself where exactly you want to be. Where do you want to be professionally? Where do you want to be financially? Where do you want to be in your personal relationships? Where do you want to be in your health journey?

3. “How am I going to get there?”

All three of these questions are vitally important to ask yourself, but this last question can exponentially change the game for you. This question also happens to be the one that most people end up never asking because it requires a whole lot of work and actually getting up and doing something after you take the time to answer it.

Everything that I have ever been able to accomplish in my life has been a direct result of constantly asking myself this particular question, writing down every possible thing I can think of, and then taking massive action to execute everything that I wrote down.

Asking the above three questions and taking the time to write out the answers on a regular basis has changed my life in so many ways; and I fully believe it can do the same for you. I don’t just challenge you to ask yourself these questions, but to actually think long and hard about your answers and then write them out.

When we set aside time to write everything out, we start to see things we never would have seen before. Asking great questions puts you on the right path to start receiving great answers.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Ways to Have a Bigger Impact in Your Personal and Professional Life

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In my travels all over the world, speaking to different organizations of all sizes, there are two common questions that I always seem to receive at some point before or after I deliver my keynote presentation: “How can I decrease the daily stress in my life, and, “How can I have a bigger impact this year?”

Most people are stressed out at a very unhealthy level and truly believe that they must go through pain and all kinds of stress in order to take their lives and business to the next level. But this popular belief couldn’t be more wrong.

Yes, you absolutely need to sacrifice a tremendous amount and work in a way you have never worked before, but not at the expense of feeling miserable. The truth of the matter is that there is a way to not only decrease stress levels at a rapid rate, but also transform the impact that you have in the world. The more stressed out that you become, the more paralyzed your ability to unleash your incredible potential into the world.

Here are three things that have worked exceptionally well for me in the hopes of looking to minimize stress and increase impact.

1. Live in the now.

Regardless of where you may be in your life, whether it’s a time of failure and distress or a time of unbelievable success, don’t forget to live in the now.  Be as present as possible. All too often, we let our ambition and desire get in the way of enjoying life today, which will always provide anxiety and stress to some degree.

Living in the moment doesn’t mean completely forgetting about the past and the future; it means not allowing the past or the future to control the present. I can honestly say that one of the things I am most proud of during my short time in the NFL was being present every single moment and taking it all in. People who rush, rush, rush toward their future often forget about what they’re doing right now.

Time goes quickly, and if you don’t stop and enjoy what’s occurring, at the end of your life you’ll end up wondering what exactly happened.

2. Be a champion of preparation.

Working insanely hard doesn’t stress people out; weak preparation and working hard on insignificant tasks is what stresses people out. So, be a champion of preparation. Do the work others aren’t willing to do. Being around future Hall of Famers in the NFL and seeing “up close and personal” what it really took to excel at an extremely high level was eye-opening for me. I immediately noticed the ridiculous amount of preparation and hard work that was required to be the best.

I also noticed that these were the players who never worried and stressed themselves out, because they knew deep down that they worked to the best of their ability. They left it all out there, each and every day, regardless of whether the context was the film room, the practice field or the way in which they were taking care of their bodies.

Sure, many people would love to have the glory and accolades of becoming a Hall of Famer, but how many would actually do the work to obtain it? That is the question. So, start today. Dedicate yourself from this day forward to preparing to be the best you can be at whatever it is you want to do.

Study, research, practice, prepare. There is immense gratification that comes from adopting this mentality. It’s never enough to just do what’s required. When you become a champion of preparation, you will notice your impact rise and your stress levels drastically decline.

3. Celebrate every day.

There is power in celebrating everything — especially the small daily wins. Make it a personal habit right now to start celebrating everything in your life. Just because you haven’t reached one of your main goals yet doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and capitalize on where you currently are. One good way to get into the habit is by recording your small daily wins in a journal.

I personally use a Moleskine notebook, and at the end of each day, I write down five wins for that specific day. It doesn’t matter how bad my overall day was or what happened, I force myself to jot down five positive things. It puts me in a positive state of mind before I go to bed and builds momentum for the following day. Whether those wins are big, medium or small doesn’t matter. Celebrate those wins!

These three daily habits have greatly benefited my life and I hope they do the same for you.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

8 Ways to Stay Positive Regardless of What Is Going on Around You

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You probably hear it over and over again how important it is to be positive, think positive and only engage in positive activity. In this day and age, being positive isn’t always an easy task.

Turn on the news and the first thing you will usually see is something negative. Head into work and a negative coworker is already complaining about the boss. Watch the presidential debates and all of the coverage leading up to the upcoming election while the only thing you can do most of the time is shake your head in disbelief while you watch the two potential leaders of this country.

The list goes on and on. The point is that negativity is all around us. No matter where you look, you will always find either a negative situation or a negative person. However, you don’t have to let what happens on the outside interfere with what happens within you.

Being positive each and every day is an inside job that consists of intentional effort even at times when you don’t feel like it. No, being positive won’t guarantee that you will be a success or achieve a major goal of yours, but it will help you a whole lot more than what being negative will do for you.

I recently sat down with Jon Gordon, the bestselling author of the mega bestseller The Energy Bus to discuss eight ways you can become more positive regardless of what is going on around you.

1. Make the choice.

All of life consists of choices. In order to be incredibly successful, stay positive, and reach your full potential, it all starts with a firm choice to do just that. Jon says, “You can listen to the cynics and doubters and believe that success is impossible or you can trust that with faith and an optimistic attitude all things are possible.”

2. Talk to yourself like a champion.

I have been speaking about the power of talking to yourself for quite awhile now.  Jon Gordon said, “Talk to yourself instead of listen to yourself. Instead of listening to your complaints, fears and doubts, talk to yourself and feed your mind with words of truth and encouragement you need to keep moving forward.”

3. Be strict with energy vampires.

Association is everything. It’s an absolute must that you have zero tolerance for negative energy vampires. Jon says, “Post a sign that says ‘No Energy Vampires Allowed.'” Gandhi said, “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”

4. Live your purpose.

Nothing helps you to come more alive alive and radiate positive energy like living out your purpose. Gordon said, “Remember why you do what you do. We don’t get burned out because of what we do. We get burned out because we forget why we do it.”

5. Change your perception of adversity and failure.

This is what my new book, Winning Plays is all about. Being able to redefine what failure really means and learning how to capitalize off of each and every setback. Jon says, The next time you ‘fail’ remember that you aren’t failing, you are becoming. You aren’t failing, you are growing.”

6. Smile and laugh more.

Very simple things to do, but so many forget the power of just smiling and laughing more. Just as Jon said, “Smile and laugh more. They are natural anti-depressants.”

7. Protect your inner world.  

It’s important to remember that regardless of how bad or negative a certain situation may be that you don’t have to let it dictate your level of happiness or positivity. Jon said, “Remember that outside circumstances and events have no power over you. You create your world from the inside-out.”

8. Be patient.

A great majority of the negativity that holds many people back is a major lack of patience. Greatness takes an extraordinary amount of time putting in the work behind closed doors before anything blossoms. Jon said, “There’s no such thing as an overnight success. Anything worthwhile takes time to build.”

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

4 Things You Can Do to Stay Positive In Trying Times

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Everyone will agree that the current presidential campaign is turning out to be one of colossal angst, controversy and mudslinging. Friends, families and businesses are fighting with one another over which candidate is best.

The thing is, if we keep our minds on the controversies, disharmonies, and fighting, we stand a very good chance at losing hold in our businesses and in life. And we can’t let that happen.

What we can do is be of service to others. As Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Take a look at yourself. You can strive to make a difference in your customers’ lives, in your friends’ and families’ lives and in your own business and world. A good way to counteract all the disharmony that’s taking place in our country and the world right now is to focus on the service we provide to others. Whether it’s through our business or through our relationships, we can give more, listen more, and understand more. We can glean much understanding of others by giving of our time to those in need. It was Mother Teresa who said, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”

This may sound so cliché and simple, but it’s a truth. So, in this time of political angst, here are some things you can do to stay more balanced in your business and life.

1. Teach humanitarian service and love.

Volunteers of all ages build houses for the homeless. They traipse to other countries to build homes and provide aid to those in need. Not only that, but they collect shoes for the homeless, they pick vegetables and fruit on farmers’ fields for the homeless. They donate leftover food to the homeless from restaurants and social events. They ring kettle bells for those less fortunate. They read stories to children and play games and do arts and crafts with the elderly in hospitals and nursing homes. There are a million kind acts that people do for others. When you offer yourself to be of service to others in some small way, the love will come back to you a thousand-fold, and this will benefit your business and life.

2. Giving and mentoring: A gift that lasts a lifetime.

I know a friend who tutors and mentors at-risk youth to help prepare them for exams. His students come from all ethnicities, religions and backgrounds. He has told stories about how he helped gang members get out of their gangs and focus on their studies so they could earn good grades and attend college.

Other people I know serve as volunteer lifestyle coaches in halfway houses to help people who have been to drug and alcohol rehab. Those recovering people need ongoing help and support, and the volunteers serve as a guide to those in need. Many times these lifestyle coaches will save lives because of their gifts of service. This kind of “gift” and service is everlasting.

You can even give your time to your nieces and nephews. This is more valuable than any gift you could ever purchase for them.

Giving of yourself to others in any way will help you learn more about people and in turn, this will help you achieve more in your business.

3. Join a group like Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is a wonderful organization that allows you to be of service to others by volunteering your time to guide and mentor a child so he or she can fulfill their life’s potential. It gives you the opportunity to help shape that child’s future by playing sports together, reading books together, or simply going out for pizza. Some children need a big brother or big sister because they have no one else.

4. Teach by example and be a role model.

One of the best ways to serve others is to teach by example and to be the best role model you can be. Again, this sounds so simple, but it’s not. The way you carry yourself, your actions, your conversations, your thoughts, your demeanor — all write the story of who you are. People respond to that. If you’re negative or angry all the time, that’s how people will perceive you. And there will be some who will copy you because they think if you can get away with it, so can they.

You can start slowly. Maybe even just block out one or two hours a week to give some time of service to an organization or someone. You can come up with your own creative way of volunteering. It can be at a church, a hospital, a school, a nursing home, a pet shelter or your local gym.

It’s very important to display your best at all times. Be your best. Teach your best. There’s always someone out there who needs guidance or mentoring. When you are kind to others and offer your service, it acts like a boomerang. The kindness will bounce back to you.

Stephen Covey said, “Seek to understand before being understood.” In these times of political turmoil, it’s important to stay balanced in your business and life more than ever before. We desperately need more understanding. Stop and look inward through meditation, silence, and prayer to better understand your own self.

To stay balanced and productive in your business and life, which includes a sense of empowerment and unity as a country and people, it starts with you and with love in the home and service outside.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

15 Things to Do When You’re Feeling Stressed

Image credit: Photo by Kieferpix — Getty Images

 

Have you mastered stress, or is stress mastering you?Between work deadlines, bills, and family and friend obligations, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. And if it goes on for too long, you’ll find yourself struggling to merely survive instead of thrive.

 

I know firsthand how brutal it can be when you don’t make an effort to manage your stress on an everyday basis. And I also know firsthand that if left unmanaged,it puts you at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, weight loss or weight gain depending on your physiology, depression and other problems.

Around three months ago, the hustle and bustle and stress of everyday life started to derail me. I was sleeping only three hours a night, neglecting the gym almost every day, and withdrawing from my loved ones. I stopped my daily walks and moments of solitude, prayer and meditation, and stopped writing in my gratitude journal. My life was quickly spiraling downward into one big fat mess.

Here are 15 things that I did to take control of my stress. You can use these or modify them to fit your own life and personality.

1. Increase your endorphin production.

One of the quickest and surest ways to defeat the negative side effects that come from stress is to get your sweat on. You can start small if going to the gym seems too overwhelming. Take a daily 15-minute walk. When you do physical activity, your body releases endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling in your body.

2. Pay attention to what you’re putting in your body.

People often turn to junk food when they’re stressed. Eating a cookie now and then won’t necessarily harm you, but if you do it regularly, there will be consequences. According to Mark Hyman, New York Times bestselling author of Eat Fat, Get Thin, eating whole, real foods restores balance and reduces the effects of stress on your body. Replacing harmful substances such as caffeine, alcohol and refined sugars, with clean proteins, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats helps regulate your hormone levels – including the stress hormones.

3. Create a stress jar.

Sit down every morning (or before you go to bed) and make a list of things that are bothering you and stressing your day. Write down the things you can control and the things you can’t. Once you make that list, fold the piece of paper and put it into a box or a stress jar. Put that jar in a closet or in a place that won’t constantly attract your attention. “Out of sight, out of mind” is an old saying that can help you in this instant. You’ve written down your worries, so now put them away for the day and forget about them.

4. Keep a gratitude journal.

Whether big or small, write down everything that comes to mind that you are grateful for right this moment. You can start small with something as simple as, “I am grateful that I am healthy and strong. I am grateful for my family and friends. I am grateful I live in a city that’s enjoyable and fun.” The mere act of writing down things you’re grateful for will change your outlook on life. Do this every day.

5. Make a list of your goals.

After writing in your gratitude journal, make a list of your goals – no matter how far-reaching they may seem at this point in time. Writing your goals in a journal is a powerful way to rekindle your passion and remind yourself of your dreams, ambitions, and what’s truly important.

6. Learn how to say no.

Learn how to say “no” to things that would only add more stress to your life. It’s easy to fall into a “people-pleasing” trap where you say “yes” to everything. Perhaps you want to spend an evening at home alone and someone invites you to go to a party? What do you do? Perhaps people are asking you for free services because they’re your friend or because they don’t respect your time. What do you do? You have to learn how to say “no.” Whether it’s in your personal or professional life, agreeing to more than you can manage is a surefire recipe for stress.

7. Surround yourself with positive and encouraging people.

Surrounding ourselves with positive and encouraging people during stressful times can brighten our mood and help us put things in perspective. Who wants to be with someone who is negative all the time? There’s nothing more depressing or stressful, so avoid those who stress you out.

8. Get lost in a great book.

Being able to pick up a great book and get lost in it has the potential to transform your mindset and help you start to see the world in a different light. There’s nothing more relaxing and wonderful than reading a great book by one of your favorite authors.

9. Create your own Mastermind group.

Gather together some highly motivated and ambitious individuals, peers and associates, and build a Mastermind group. The group works like peer-to-peer mentoring in which you either meet or talk on the phone a minimum of once a month. You can even create a private Facebook Page for this group to discuss ideas. In this group, you can brainstorm with one another, talk about your current goals, plans for the future, and the stress that is bothering you at the moment.

10. Look in the mirror and talk to yourself like you’re a champion.

There are two types of people in the world. There are those who tell themselves they are a victim, and those who tell themselves they are not a victim, but rather, a champion. This brings to mind the great Muhammad Ali who died last week after many years of suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. He was the grandson of a slave, but did he let that define him? No, he saw something greater in himself. He proclaimed himself “The Greatest” before anyone else did and spent a lifetime living up to this statement. Instead of negative self-talk, Muhammad Ali created empowering self-talk.

11. Tap into the power of meditation and solitude.

When I finally decided to give meditation a try, I became instantly hooked. Practicing meditation on a regular basis can not only drastically minimize the effects of stress, but also help you live a more fulfilled life. I recommend an app called “Calm” aimed to help newcomers practice meditation. Solitude goes hand-in-hand with meditation because you need quiet for both. Amazing things begin to happen when you shut off the noisy and distracting world and listen.

12. Resolve to finally complete a project or task you have been begun.

Take a look at your important projects and tasks to see what you have been putting off for quite some time. Pick that one thing and work until it’s completed. You’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride.

13. Sleep more.

If you have been sleeping six hours, sleep seven. If you have been sleeping seven hours, sleep eight. Find 20minutes or so throughout your day to close and rest your eyes. Sleep matters and a lack of it is a major contribution to the negative effects of stress.

14. Leave the office for lunch.

Take a walk or eat outside. Force yourself to leave the office for lunch if you can. This will help you to redirect your focus and come back even stronger for the second part of the day.

15. Be of service to someone

How many times have you helped someone today? It doesn’t have to be a huge gesture – it could even mean just listening to a friend tell you about their day. Asking others how they’re doing is a way to be of service. We get wrapped up in our own worlds far too often. There’s a whole world out there that’s waiting for you. Want to feel instantly better? Go be of service and make someone else’s day.

Originally Posted on Fortune.com

3 Ways to Win the Morning and Save the Day

20160407210106-GettyImages-511073553Image credit: Getty | jean-marc payet / Contributor

I am a firm believer in how we start our day determines how the rest of our day goes. If you go to bed late, hit the snooze button multiple times, roll out of bed later than you were supposed to, get stuck in traffic, and then end up being late to work, that’s a good indication to how the rest of your day will go.

Most people are the furthest thing from being intentional about how their mornings go and what they do first thing when they wake up. Jim Rohn famously said, “Either you run the day or the day runs you.”

Unfortunately, there aren’t enough people who run their days. Instead, they let their work, other people and technology rule their every move in the morning. They neglect themselves and forget about the self-love that is needed in the morning to set yourself up for a majorly successful day.

I am fortunate that in being a former athlete, I am ridiculously obsessed with structure and having a plan for my mornings before I do anything else.

Here are three simple ways to dominate your morning.

1. Don’t check email for the first hour upon waking.

For some of you, this may seem like an impossible task to follow through with, but I promise that it will completely shock you at how it makes you feel over time. What do you do when you check your email? You respond to what everyone else wants from you or is asking you to do.

Instead of being proactive and setting the tone to how your day is going to go, you are spending precious and valuable time being reactive to everyone else’s wants and needs. I put this practice into my own life two years ago, and I was blown away by the results.

It’s amazing what can happen when you leave your phone alone in the morning and don’t check your email while you go to work on yourself doing things such as meditating, working out or reading before doing anything else.

2. Give your body the fuel that it needs.

The second thing that most people do in the morning after waking once they have checked their email is consume a ton of sugar and drugs to get their day started. Scarfing down sugar and caffeine first thing in the morning believe it or not is not the most beneficial way to start your day. You may feel energized and ready to go, but that same feeling is the main culprit as to why so many crash and feel sluggish after lunch and later in the day.

Give your body the fuel that it needs. I start each morning with a glass of warm lemon water to jumpstart the detoxification process, a green juice from Suja Juice and hydrate myself with water before I do anything else.

I’m not telling you to not drink coffee or indulge in your favorite drink, but I am encouraging you to give it a try in giving your body the fuel and energy it needs to sustain peak-performance all day long.

3. Work on yourself before you start your workday.

Working on yourself could refer to exercising, journaling some sort of spiritual practice or reading, among many other things. Find a routine that works best for you and execute on that routine every morning. The only requirement is that it involves working on yourself somehow, someway before you begin your workday. To me, this is the ultimate game changer that can be included to anyone’s morning routine.

When you set aside the time to work on yourself before you start your workday, you not only will begin to grow as a human being, but you will increase happiness levels, drastically decrease stress, anxiety and other negative emotions that rob so many of us from keeping a peaceful and healthy mind.

Find something that fits well with your schedule and goals, and then formulate a plan to follow through with that every morning. Over time, the results will be astonishing. Working on ourselves is something that so many of us forget to do in this fast paced and strenuous world that we live in. Self-care, self-love and self-growth are three wonderful gifts that you can give yourself each morning — and you do just that when you work on yourself.

Instead of talking about specific morning routines which has been written about so much, I wanted to share three practices that have added great value to my mornings and life since I have incorporated them. They are extremely simple things to do, but pack an incredible punch of excellence when you religiously follow through on them. Remember, when you win the morning, you win the day.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Want to Defeat Stress, Anxiety and Worry? Exercise, Say ‘Thank You’ a Lot and Use The Calm App.

20160329134106-calm-appImage credit: Calm

Stress, anxiety and worry are three things that drastically interfere with millions of people unleashing their best work and tapping into their full potential. Some are better than others at minimizing the negative effects that stress, anxiety and worry can have, but at one point or another, all of us will experience some sort of discomfort from the killer three I like to call them.

I call them the killer three, because they not only stop people from unleashing their best work and tapping into their full potential, but over time they actually do a whole lot more than prevent us from achieving success. Heart attacks, strokes, suicides and many other social and physical impairments can be brought upon by the killer three if we aren’t intentional about practicing mindfulness each and every day and working to defeat stress, anxiety and worry.

Here are three ways to help you defeat the killer three.

1. Start incorporating meditation into your life daily.

Meditation is a complete game-changer when it comes to defeating stress, anxiety and worry. Not only does it do a fantastic job of minimizing all of the side effects from the killer three, but the other benefits you reap when you invest in daily meditation is extraordinary.

At first, I thought I could never be someone who would sit down and relax for 20 to 30 minutes to meditate. There was just no way. I had too much to do, and there were never enough hours in the day to accommodate my strenuous workload. However, when things eventually became too hectic to function efficiently, I looked to meditation as my last resort — and never looked back.

We hear about how important mediation is for brain power and overall health, but there are still too many who are reluctant to try it. A great way to get started is to use The Calm app, which has been invaluable, as I have it with me everywhere I go. It has guided and unguided mediation sessions and I really think it can add value to your life as it did mine. If you feel overwhelmed from your every day workload or stressed with life in general, meditation is a must.

2. Exercise.

There are plenty of productivity apps and all sorts of different gadgets that promise to increase productivity levels, but the most powerful productivity tool there is isn’t an app or gadget. It’s exercise. Not only does exercise release endorphins, positively impact your mindset and take your productivity to the next level, but it is an absolute must if you want to decrease the amount of stress, anxiety and worry in your life.

When I was an athlete, I never had the worry syndrome or let stress get the best of me, even though there was so much doubt and uncertainty looming ahead. When I analyzed what the difference was between the two, I noticed that when I was an athlete, there was never a day that went by without me investing back into my body and exercising.

Sure, that was a major part of my job as a professional athlete, but you don’t have to be a professional athlete to exercise regularly. I took major notice as to how I would feel when I would go weeks or even months at a time not paying much attention to exercise or making it a priority in my life.

I made excuses, and in return, I felt like complete crap physically and mentally. Your health is your livelihood, and convincing yourself that you don’t have time to workout or exercise for at least 30 minutes a day is adding more harm than benefit to your schedule. I promise you that you aren’t freeing yourself up to get more work done or get ahead professionally. I don’t know about you, but I am all for increasing productivity levels, defeating the killer three, and feeling wonderful all day long. Daily exercise does just that — and much more.

3. Say ‘thank you’ more often.

Saying these two words with conviction on a regular basis can powerfully change the direction of your life. It’s important to set goals, create visions and think about what you want for your future, but often, we let what we don’t have get in the way of all that we do have.

We spend time worrying and stressing about where we want to be and forget to have an attitude of gratitude for having the opportunity at all. There is nothing more harmful to our health than forgetting the importance of being grateful for what we have and getting in a daily routine of saying “thank you” more often.

I have a note card that I carry in my briefcase with the two words, thank you, written on it. Everywhere I go, I’m reminded to give thanks for waking up, experiencing life another day and having the opportunity to work towards my dreams.

When you really think long and hard about it, it’s truly remarkable what a privilege and opportunity that each and every one of us has to wake up and live another day. It’s up to us how we shape our minutes, days, years and lives. Saying “thank you” more often minimizes the negative effects of the killer three and increases your sense of fulfillment every moment of your life. It’s so simple — yet so important.

Practicing mediation, exercising daily and saying thank you more often will not only reduce the amount of stress, anxiety and worry that you have in your life but also change the way you work and go about your every day life. I urge you to incorporate these three simple tasks into your everyday life, and see how they reward you over time.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

 

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