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Episode 14: Be specific

Be specific to achieve more and have better relationships

What does being specific mean and why is it important? How can you use this to your advantage?

Being specific is the difference between a good life, and a great life. You are able to measure what you’re doing and therefore work out how to do it.

So the first way that being specific helps you is when it comes to achieving your goals.

For example, if your goal is to eat a healthy lunch, it doesn’t tell you much. However, if we specify exactly what it is we will eat for lunch, say a healthy chicken and walnut salad with balsamic dressing then achieving this goal becomes more realistic.


Specificity becomes the difference between achieving and not achieving because being specific means that you know what to do and when.

I have a client who is experiencing difficulty managing her work/life harmony. When she is in the flow with her work, she doesn’t want to stop for a break, and so skips lunch, which has negative follow on consequences for her afternoon. She doesn’t want to stop for a break, but knows that a break creates a better afternoon.
The first thing I wanted to explore was the flow. Why was it an endless passage of time rather than a time slot with a defined outcome?

If you plan to finish something in a time slot it makes space to transition to the next thing.

So let’s say you are written a blog on a Monday morning – your goal is to finish half the blog, or the blog research, or the full blog, in the time you allocated. It ties the ending up neatly so you are clear on the end point.

I read somewhere that the difference between millionaires and billionaires is the level of detail and specificity in the goals.

There’s a second important benefit of being specific – you have better communications.

Being specific avoids confusion, conflict and saves time.

I have lost track of the number of times that people I know have ended up in conflict because they haven’t been clear upfront about what they want or what they going to do. For example, someone says they are going to come over and fix your fence. When? You ask. Next week. So you hang around home all week waiting for the fence guy to turn up. The it’s Thursday night and the guy says, oh, I am too busy can we make it next week?

This kind of stuff happens in personal and business relationships all the time.

They have a loose and vague agreement up front and then down the track, they feel hurt, indignant, neglected or ignored – and it’s all because they weren’t clear up front.

Being specific avoids confusion, conflict and saves time.

The third thing that specificity allows is that it saves time.

Have you ever asked someone a simple question and then had 10 text or email messages to find out who is coming or on at what time, because nobody answers the question directly?

Here are some examples about being specific.

I’ll go walking on Tuesday at 5pm for 30 minutes.

I’ll meet you at the shopping centre at 10am, out front of the cafe next to coles.

I’ll spend the next hour doing blog research and will finalise a draft blog plan by the end of the hour.

My vision is to help individuals to be their healthiest selves by eating well and getting their motivation, self talk and self discipline in order.

See how crystal clear those statements are? There’s no doubt or confusion.

This is the approach you need to take if you want to achieve your goals, communicate effectively, to be punctual or to be accountable.

Ready to be more specific?

You’re invited! The Habitology Membership is the perfect tool if you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut. I encourage you to check it out. Learn more here:

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How to Get Whelmed – an Update

How to Get Whelmed | Melanie J White

In my last post, I talked about being whelmed this year.

That is, overwhelmed, not underwhelmed – just whelmed.

It’s a bit like the story of the three bears and their porridge. Remember in that story, it was all about temperature control and to be patient instead of rushing into hot food.

There’s nothing worse than a hot porridge blister.

But as usual, I digress. Back to being whelmed.

I wanted to share a progress update with you.

One of the secrets to being whelmed is to maintain focus and avoid distraction. That’s because overwhelm partly comes from losing focus and allowing yourself to be distracted.

Next comes procrastination, irritation and then stagnation. Probably some other ‘ations’, too.

The other part of losing focus is over committing because you think you can do it all, have it all and be it all. Or because you think you ‘should.’ Sorry, I tried those lines of thinking (repeatedly, like a good scientist) but they didn’t actually work.

What DOES work is a practice of creating focus, which keeps you FAR from distraction.

Here’s how you get whelmed (the step-by-step process).

1. Write down all your shoulds, especially the guilt-laden ones.

Write them like this: “I should vacuum the stairs.” “I should get this page written by 5pm” etc


2. Change the s in should, to a c for could. Now, instead of a bunch of futile rules, you have created the opportunity to be more discerning within your time and energy.

Like this: “Hmmm, I COULD do the vacuuming….but then I won’t get that page written.” I bet you can see where this is going. You are trimming your to-do list and making it more realistic.


3. Split your list of coulds into this week and next week based on urgency. Now you are spreading the load and diminishing the pressure.

At this point you might feel a little scared….like you aren’t doing enough. That’s ok, sit with the feeling for a few moments and let it pass.


4. Make sure you have no more than 10 hours worth of tasks for this week.

I know, right? Way too underachiever. Wrong! Stick with me on this.


5. Spread those 10 hours into discrete slots in your calendar and 1 hour units.

Yes, even split up a 4-hour task this way. Put 15 minute breaks between each contiguous hour of work.


6. Consider the worst case scenario.

Every task you allocated takes 3 or 4 times longer than planned. In this case, you meet your tasks for the week in 30-40 hours.


7. Consider the best case scenario

You meet your goals and get it all done extremely efficiently. In this case, you have STILL met target but with time to spare. Yay!


This is where whelm sits.

Notice that in either case (6. or 7.) you get the same amount of work done. You win either way.

And THAT is the secret to achieving whelm – it’s about planning and reflecting so you can set yourself up for success, no matter what.

Try this step-by-step process and let me know how you go!