Plan Your Life EffectivelyWritten by Charlotte Burton
Big Changes, Little Changes
Magazines these days are filled with articles on how to plan your life well in advance, but which don’t necessarily take fact into account that LIFE can, and will, get in way. What do you do when everything around is changing at a pace that even you can’t keep up with and your life plan certainly can’t? With all that has happened in world economy and decisions made by certain countries regarding terrorism and war, it is not a good idea to stick your head in sand and ignore it all.
What about when change happens at a more microcosmic level, i.e. what happens if you are one of casualties of recent ‘downsizing’ of firms in City so your life changes in a far more immediate fashion? Or what if your life changes in a positive way? You get married, get promoted, have a baby - you could even win lottery!
Reactive to Opportunity
Life plans are a good idea but for them really to work, they must be flexible so that they can still be useful when situations change. It is important for them to be not quite so specific as to ignore any opportunity that just presents itself because it is ‘not quite what you wanted,’ or if you feel that opportunity has come along too early or too late. There is a saying that "opportunities are viewed as more important with vision of hindsight" but this can be flipped to say that opportunities when they first present themselves can be seen as risks too large to cope with.
Bring Your Dreams to Life
So how do you plan your life in first place?
There are so many techniques that you can use for planning your ideal life, but one that works best is when you really and truly know inside and out what you want, how it would look and what it would feel like to be there.
Imagine Who You Want to be
You can start simply by imagining what you want to be doing on a specific day in future, for example 1st January 2020. Flesh out daily tasks - where are you living, who with and how busy is your day? What do you look like, how do you behave with others and what are your relationships like? All areas of your life should be included within your plan: Career, Friends and Family, Physical Environment, Health, Personal Growth, Money, Significant Other, Fun and Recreation.
This is not an exhaustive list - if there is a significant part of your life that is not included above, add another category or rename one.
Pay Attention To Detail
Once you know what you want, it is essential that you break each goal down into smaller ones that you can work towards on a daily basis. For example, if you wish to be healthy enough to run a marathon next year, you could sign up to your local gym today and start going regularly, or find a local running group to join, and then start doing smaller sponsored runs until running is a daily part of your life. Of course, just doing physical exercise is not only thing you can do to make this dream come true - for a goal of being healthy, you must also eat healthily, sleep well and enough for you (sleep amounts vary from person to person), be able to manage stress, among many other things.
Life Comes Around To Play
But what happens when you get sucked into day-to-day drag of life and end up realising that a year has gone by and you haven’t done anything towards your goals and you can barely remember what they were in first place?
So what CAN you do with your plan when life gets in way?
Be an Effective CommunicatorWritten by Charlotte Burton
Humans are not only species to have some form of communication. Yet we do have most complex forms of communication extant. Hundreds of differing spoken languages and dialects, several visual languages, and several different alphabets, not to mention various codes based on tones, beats etc, exist all of which are there for purpose of communicating with other people. Human beings are social creatures - communication amongst ourselves is part and parcel of everyday life. Yet many people have "poor communication skills". Why is this so, when we seem to have developed an extraordinarily complex system able to convey a multitude of different purposes?
The Purpose of each Communication - Differences in Style
All communication has a purpose, be that talking to clients over phone, chatting with friends or presenting a report. What are purposes here? In all cases there are a variety at work: maintaining or building relationships, answering specific questions, giving an expert opinion, reframing events in light of previous experience to make them seem more normal, exchanging news to satisfy curiosity, teaching others by grouping seemingly separate pieces of information into a cohesive whole, list could go on for a very long time from just three different situations in which communication is main part. The important thing to realise here is differing variables of communication depending on situation. The main variables are: amount and mode of information received (voice, body language etc), role being played, number of people being communicated with at once (and thus amount of differing sets of information being received), vocabulary set being used.
This all seems very complicated: so how are we meant to learn this so subtle skill of communicating effectively? In actuality there are a few separate skills, all of which can improve your communication abilities and that are relevant to all situations you can possibly face. It is not some strange and unintelligible science that is out of reach of most people, but rather it is accepting that to be an effective communicator you must change your communicating style to match that of person you are communicating with: it is no use expecting them to change for you.
Communication Part 1: Listening/Observing
Communication can be separated into two parts: first part is being able to listen and observe. People speak at 100 to 175 words per minute (wpm), but they can listen intelligently at 600 to 800 wpm. Since only a part of mind is paying attention, it is easy to let mind drift. The cure for this is active and effective listening - which involves listening with a purpose such as to gain information, obtain directions, understand others, solve problems, share interest, show support, etc. By defining your purpose in listening you can moderate your responses to accomplish your purpose.
Active & Effective Listening
So how do you listen actively? First of all, you must be able to yank your mind back from wherever it might drift during a conversation: being able to concentrate exclusively on someone else can be quite difficult for any length of time. With practice you can listen to others without having random thoughts intrude - many people find that meditation helps with this skill as it trains mind in exactly this fashion. The second way people are distracted during a conversation is by thinking up reply while other person is still speaking - a really easy way to miss point of what another person is saying! Thirdly, you can focus on many different things to make this more interesting so as to prevent your mind from wandering. Concentrating on body language can do this: see how your correspondent is sitting/standing - is it closed or open (closed is turned away or blocked by another part of body, such as crossing arms, open is facing you and arms and legs not blocking body). Are they looking at you or are they avoiding eye contact? If it is latter, they may not be interested in conversation, they may be lying, and they may be uncomfortable. Are they acting nervously by tapping, twitching or fiddling with something? Are they appearing happy/sad/emotionless? Are their facial behaviours matching or contradicting their bodily behaviours (e.g. nervous tapping of foot yet open body language and happy appearance)?
Build Rapport through Mirroring
Building rapport is vital in ensuring effective communication and while you are listening you are able to do this by mirroring or matching what your correspondent is doing. For example you cross your legs in same way as them, and put your arms in a similar way, this puts you on same wavelength as your correspondent and will make them be more receptive to what you have to say when you do get around to saying it. Mirroring can also be done through use of specific NLP type vocabulary. Notice any clues for NLP type, for later use in responding. An abbreviated explanation of NLP types: visual type uses words "I see what you mean" and similar, while auditory type uses words "I hear what you’re saying", and kinaesthetic will use words "I feel I understand this". If you note down what kind of vocabulary is being used, and then use this with them you are more likely to be understood, as well as being more able to be in rapport with them. Try noting down what types your colleagues or your family are: then try deliberately using wrong type of vocabulary in what you are saying and seeing (visual vocab) what difference can be to when you use correct type for person you are talking to, it flows (kinaesthetic vocab) very differently and you can hear (auditory vocab) discord.