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8 Ways to Turn Your Guilt, Shame and Procrastination into Better Health, Finances and "Done."

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It was the best of times for productivity advice. It was the worst of times for productivity. Despite an endless stream of upbeat self-help books and articles, the great majority of us simply can't change our lives completely overnight. Gradual change is harder, but as always, necessary. There are no shortcuts, we are always told, but this is only partly true.

The algorithms that run our lives - from ingrained habits and routines to Google searches and our Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIN feeds - have all been optimized and tinkered with by someone else. Remember when you had no email, Facebook or the news to check first thing when you woke up?

On top of the time wasted, there is always guilt and shame - and often awful stress - over procrastination, both at work and home. That's how decision-making and our productivity become so warped and clouded by reaction, not proactive thinking.

Before I got my act together in my twenties, I drifted for a good long while until the status quo became impossible to keep. I had to get my act together or risk losing what I had. The chaos had become impossible to manage. I started meditating everyday and taking better care of health, took pains to understand and learn to manage my finances. I broke the vicious cycle of perfectionism and disappointment over unfinished projects.

Here are the strategies I used to turn my negative emotions into high performance:

1) Lower the barriers to making decisions easily and gaining the habits to get things done. Each night, I would prepare my lunch and work clothes and the tools and conditions I needed for my mediation. This took away the need to make decisions in the morning, so I could get things done (eat better, meditate, get to work on time, etc.). This took the guilt and shame out of the equation.

2) Turn my guilt about letting others down into the habit of waking up early to meditate. I would be exhausted from the night before, but because I felt guilty about letting down the other guys in the synagogue that needed me to make 10 for morning services, I would drag myself up and go to pray with them each morning.

The fear of bad appearance meant maintaining an “expensive” look on a very limited budget. This turned into a Negotiation Mindset backed by budgeting, seeking better prices and negotiating big purchases. This forced me to overcome a fear of negotiation and led to multiple raises and better benefits at work, among many other financial and other rewards.

3) Make myself accountable to someone else (my wife, best friend, mother, etc.), using the shame of disappointment as a force for productivity. Before I met my wife, I was writing my first novel on and off for 5 years without much progress. When she told me, "finish or I'm out of here," it got done within a few months. My second novel was finished in 7 months because of a fellowship deadline.

4) Use my guilt about not eating well consistently (thanks, Mom!) or following through to create simple good habits for my diet. I set easy and clear conditions for myself. If I wanted to eat breakfast, first I'd have to pray/meditate. Then, in order to get to breakfast, I'd have to drink water first to start my digestion. Then, it turned into a glass of water before every meal and eventually other small, but critical changes for better digestion.

5) Channel my procrastination on Facebook and LinkedIN into set time windows during the day to read important industry trends and health, personal finance and productivity tips. Guilt over procrastination never diminished the amount of time I spent on social media. So, I filtered my news feeds to get rid of distracting, annoying and useless posts from "friends." I "liked" the FB and LinkedIN pages of publications and people and companies I actually wanted to read and left out all the rest. This way, when I would go in by habit, I would spend my time wisely and improve my life tangibly, even while “wasting time.”

6) Automate as many things as I can relating to good habits of health, personal finance and productivity. This meant leaving my phone in another room when having dinner with family and overnight, to get me awake and out of bed irreversibly. I automated 401(k) contributions to maximize the company match, my student loan payments (getting back a quarter point in interest charges) and monthly transfers into savings (Digit.co and my bank app), as well as credit card payments to take advantage of "you won't spend it if you don't see it," of credit card points and frequent flyer miles, cash back and other card perks.

I started using apps (Asana, Mint, Credit Karma) to check in each week to see my full professional and financial pictures. Most of all, I automated my Negotiation Mindset during purchases to save a lot of money and think more creatively about my partnerships with people and derive more benefit for family, my boss and others in my business and professional contexts.

7) Train my (quite rational) fear of appearing to be a hypocrite when criticizing others into making sure I was always (or as much as my flawed human nature allowed) on time, presentable and prepared, positive, on message, concise and in some way helpful to whomever I met. Since I hate it when people waste my time when they are late, unprepared, un-presentable, off-message, long-winded and unhelpful to me in any way, it made only perfect sense that I take care of all these things myself first.

8) Channel my laziness when it came to stopping to eat more healthy food during the week. Since I started being more religiously observant, I had to do a washing and prayer ritual before eating bread and then again after. Since I was too lazy to do this, I effectively eliminated bread from my diet during the week.

Now go and turn your fears into success! And if you're feeling really inspired, head on over here and here to learn how to start good habits and eliminate bad ones, once and for all. Start your journey up and forward today. Time's a wasting.

**And, as ever, if you have any questions at all, please do get in touch!**

Are there other proven strategies you’ve used to channel your negative emotions into better health, wealth and productivity? Please share them with the Community in Comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

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Like what you see? Visit BlueprintToThrive.com for more great strategies and tips for better health and wealth, plus improved productivity.

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Yuri Kruman is a Healthcare Product Manager, published author and contributor to Money Magazine, blogger at BlueprintToThrive.com and health tech entrepreneur based in New York.

*The views expressed herein are his own*

 

MIND (4 of 10) - MAKING MISTAKES, ALONE WITH FAITH, CRITICISM, PATTERNS/DATA, AUTOMATION

***MAKE MISTAKES*** - LOTS of them and regularly. Now's the time. If you're not, you are playing it safe too often and likely won't amount to much but the cookie-cutter self for your demographic. (The worst mistake of all. Will bring regrets in droves later - look around ;) You'll never make such flavorful, interesting, painful, stupid or instructive mistakes when you grow older. Don't change a thing! Especially if you love someone, love them without a hair of difference from how they are, especially if you care for them. Same goes for you (while not discounting everything else in this section!!)

Don't waste so much time thinking! Go do things! Make those mistakes already! Don't waste so much time on stupid things and worse, stupid people! Waste your time constructively - learn something new, take a walk and think, meet new people, do something - don't just stew in your own juices all day!

Be alone constructively. Don't be alone with just your fears and the cudgel of your guilt all the time. Be alone for good reasons - to reflect on all parts of your life, to write (and write often - the best therapy!), to cook and experiment in the kitchen (so you can invite friends an dates), to plan, to learn. Use the time wisely, PLEASE!

An iron faith and unreasonable optimism will get you through the toughest times. True friends and ones, with all their rough edges, will help a great deal, as well. Choose them wisely!

Don't be intimidated by very successful or famous people - they're just as human, with the same foibles. Don't lionize them. Learn how they overcame their human problems and character flaws to get where they are today.

Don't wear your complex(es) on your sleeve or face! Everyone can read you much more easily than you think.

You can fool some of the people all of time and all of the people sometimes. but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

Don't be ashamed of yourself or anyone close to you. It's a poor reflection on you, much more than them.

When you're angry, ashamed or annoyed by someone, you're usually projecting some problem of your own. Have enough presence of mind to realize this and work to correct the problem in you.

Don't criticize someone unless you have basis for it, have taken care of your own shit first, it's strictly necessary to correct a problem and it's for the good of that person or the enterprise or humanity. If you criticize, don't cretin-ize.

-- Look for patterns in everything. How does your GF/BF behave? How does your boss behave at certain times of the day, week, month, quarter? What do they have going on outside work that's bothering them? How can you help make their life easier?

How does the job market function? Are more jobs posted after quarter-end results are in? After the Fed announces interest rate policy?

Look for data on anything you need to understand. Try to see the patterns in the data. It's a gold mine. Not all data is on a spreadsheet - the best is in your brain.

Observe people, observe trends in politics, finance, psychology, history. Form your own opinions, run them by people, argue your case, lose, improve.

Iterate. A-B test yourself constantly. Refine, repeat. Induce, deduce, repeat.

Automate your life and thought processes even while expanding and learning new things. It will just make the process easier and more efficient. At least make an effort and do your best. Otherwise, you'll just get hopelessly lost.

Learn to integrate knowledge and information effectively. Organize ruthlessly - into folders, compartments, niches, etc. Make sense of what you observe.

Once you start seeing patterns, you can contribute a great deal more than others who work thoughtlessly. You can improve processes and create and invent based on this process of pattern-seeking.

Creativity is a critical (but of course not only) component to your individual success.