Be in control of your thoughts by designing how you think.

You’re the only person who can truly control your thoughts so it makes sense to put some planning into it. Want to think more positively? Or maybe you want to be more present in the moment? More decisive? Or how about a stronger appreciation for what you have? It’s important to first know what you want your thoughts to be and why, then you have a goal to focus on. Next, make a plan for how you’ll achieve it. For some, meditation will work, for others it will be a matter of consciously checking in with your thoughts at scheduled times of the day, or a small reward for when you find yourself thinking in line with your goal. You may need someone close to you to help monitor your actions, body language and words since those things are telling signs of what’s happening in your mind.

Take action: At various times through today, note what kind of personal thoughts you have, write them down and before you go to sleep, review what thoughts you like, and those you want to change. Then figure out what you want to change them to, and why.

Inspired by Carrie Green’s TEDx Talk, Programming Your Mind for Success

Thought starter (no pun intended): Share with us what new sorts of thoughts do you want to start thinking?

Do what you’re good at, the passion will follow.

The phrase “Do what you love, the money will follow” has sent many people chasing unrealistic dreams and feeling lost when they don’t come true. Maybe you love playing baseball, but there are very few of us who have the ability to actually turn that passion into a successful career. On the flip side, finding something that you are good at, and that you enjoy well enough, has a better chance of turning into something great. As you develop your ability and become more skillful, you are likely to enjoy it more and more, you may even become passionate about it.

Take action: Make a list of about 20 things that you are good at, such as analytical thinking, socializing, planning, or creating. Ask people who know you to help – they may see strengths in you that you under appreciate. Then circle the ones that you enjoy doing long term, as in you could happily do it daily, for years. Take what stands out and think about what project you could work on with these skills. Start small and grow your ability in that area, if your passion starts to follow, keep going. If you don’t like it, tweak it and try again, and again until you feel you’re on a good path.

Inspired by Cal Newport’s book: So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Thought starter: Are you doing what you love? Did you love it from the start?

Efficiency is not the same as effectiveness.

Finding efficiencies is important to enhance your productivity, but will only enhance your life if they are also effective. Getting a lot done is worthwhile if those things are in line with your goals, otherwise you may just be busy for reasons that are not very important. Before you put your energy into accomplishing a task, question what that task is for, and if it really needs to be done (done by you or done at all). So many people run around trying to get on top of everything they need to do, and it’s possible that many things they accomplish aren’t very important.

Take action: The next time you go through your emails, put thought into which ones align with your goals. Instead of reacting to everything in front of you and trying to get through it all as efficiently as possible, focus only on what will be effective for your future.

Inspired by Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Thought starter: Have you focused on being efficient and accomplished tasks, that in hindsight, aren’t very important? Where should you be putting your efforts instead?