How To Be Prepared For Anything

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There are various ways to prepare yourself for what might come your way, whether that’s a tough work project, a crisis, the loss of a loved one, an argument with your partner, or the zombie apocalypse.

One way is to get everything ready for anything that’s likely to come: get all your survival equipment, prepare your skills, plan for your work projects, get your affairs in order, think through your arguments, and so on.

The trouble with this is you don’t know what’s coming. And so you’ll spend your entire life preparing for various things, and not really be ready. And who wants to spend their life just preparing?

Another way of preparing is learning some skills that will have you ready for just about anything that might come.

This is the survival kit of living, as featured on Zen Habits.

First, the philosophy: you can’t prepare for the details of every single possible thing that might come your way in the future, because the future is uncertain. Instead, realize that the external events are just details … the real thing to prepare yourself for is what happens internally. And it’s pretty much the same thing. So we’re going to learn some internal survival skills that will help us deal with anything the future holds.

Second, a little prep before you prep: I’ve found that while the external details aren’t as important as what you do internally, it’s still good to have your house in order as much as possible. That means have your finances in order — get out of debt, or at least have your debts listed with a plan to pay them off as soon as you possibly can, have an emergency fund, spend less than you earn, invest as much as you can. That means simplify your possessions and your time. Get your health in order — focus on eating more whole foods (especially vegetables) and less processed foods, get active. Once you have these things down, the rest of life is much, much easier.

The Survival Kit

If you learn these things, you’ll be ready for anything — from regular work and personal events to crises of all kinds, to major losses and life changes.

  1. Mindfulness. This is the foundation — without practicing mindfulness, you won’t be able to do the other skills regularly enough for them to be useful. You can practice mindfulness simply by meditating — focus on your breath for a few minutes every morning, to start with. As you get better at mindfulness, you will get better at noticing what’s going on inside you as external events happen. For example, if someone is yelling at you, you might be mindful of your body at that moment and notice an increased heartbeat, a panicky feeling in your chest, a hot flush in your face, or something like that. Mindfulness of your body’s responses alert you to what might be going on in your mind.
  2. Watch your internal response. As you start to notice your mind’s responses to external events, you can begin to guide your response. For example, if you are given a large project at the last minute, you might notice your breathing getting shallow and your chest tightening, or your jaw clenching … you can then see that you’re extremely anxious about this, maybe resentful that you’re being asked to do this on a short deadline. You can then examine those responses — anxiety, resentfulness — and decide how to act, rather than being controlled by them.
  3. See what you’re holding onto. When you have a difficult feeling, like anxiety, anger, resentfulness, fear (including procrastination) … there’s something you’re attached to that’s causing the feeling. It can be difficult to spot this at first, but with practice you can see it in an instant. If you’re angry or resentful, there’s an ideal situation you would like, and are holding onto, that doesn’t match up with reality. For example, maybe someone has said something mean to you … you might be angry because (ideally) they shouldn’t treat you that way. It doesn’t matter if you’re right or not — if you want things to be different than reality, you’ll be angry or resentful or frustrated. Noticing what you’re holding onto is an important step.
  4. Let it go. It’s impossible not to ever hold onto certain ideals … but if you see that the ideal is causing you pain, you can be compassionate with yourself and let go of the ideal. Sure, people should treat you nicely, but that’s an ideal that’s not always going to be true. Letting go of the ideal means embracing the reality that there’s a wide range of behaviors that people will have, and that’s a part of life. Humans don’t always act ideally. We need to accept that, and not force an ideal on reality.
  5. Respond appropriately. Acceptance of reality doesn’t mean you do nothing. It means you let go of the ideals causing the painful feelings, and then figure out how to respond without the anger, frustration, anxiety, resentment. Responding to a person or situation in anger or resentment (for example) doesn’t usually result in a skillful response. If you can let go of the ideal and let the painful feelings go, you can respond more skillfully. When my child breaks a dish, for example, I can get angry (“They shouldn’t break dishes!”) and yell (not skillful), or I can let go of that ideal and the resultant anger, and see if the child is OK, and then calmly and compassionately talk about how to avoid that in the future. That’s a more appropriate response. When we respond in anger or frustration, we only compound the problem. Responding calmly and compassionately means we’re going to be able to deal with anything that is in front of us, whether it’s a crisis or a loss or an angry loved one.
  6. Stay in the moment. We make situations worse when we replay the past in our heads (“How can they have done that?”) or think of all the things that might go wrong in the future. In the present moment, things are OK. We can meet the present moment with calmness and compassion, if we can stay in the present. That means being mindful of when our mind is stuck in the past or speculating about the future, and returning to the present as much as we can.
  7. Be grateful & accept the moment for what it is. Reality can suck, if we want it to be different … or we can accept reality for what it is, and be grateful for it. This takes practice, because it’s hard to be grateful when you feel you’re being treated badly, or you’ve lost a job, or you’ve lost a loved one, or you’re battling illness. But this is the reality you have, not the ideal you wish you had. And it’s a reality that contains beauty, if we choose to see it. This skill makes us much more at peace with whatever we need to deal with.

It might seem overly simplistic to say that this survival kit of dealing with life will help us be prepared for any situation. And it is. But there’s nothing wrong with simplifying things, if only to help us focus our efforts on what’s most important.

In my experience, these skills matter. They make a huge difference. Practice them, and see how you’re able to deal with life in an entirely new way.

Social Media Week

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Marketers Not Prepared for Negative Feedback: New Research

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social media research Do you have a plan to handle negative feedback?

Do you know how to measure your engagement?

These issues and more are faced by many social media marketers.

In this article, I’ll share research and tips to help you overcome common challenges social media marketers face.

#1: Marketers Lack Plan for Negative Comments

When it comes to dealing with negative social buzz, more than half of marketers still aren’t sure what to do.

Research published on eMarketer shows only 45% of marketers currently have an effective strategy to deal with negative social media posts; 23% don’t have any kind of plan; 25% are working on getting a plan; and 8% have a plan that doesn’t work.

emarketer strategy statistics

Remember the old saying—no one plans to fail, they fail to plan.

Dealing with negative social media posts can be time-consuming and uncomfortable, particularly if you don’t have a written policy for handling them. Rather than waiting until disgruntled customers or anonymous haters (you should be able to tell them apart!) show up, make a plan for handling those situations before they arise.

Create a comment policy and make it visible on your blog and social media profiles. Define the kind of language or comments that are unacceptable and may cause users to be blocked from your community.

Always moderate comments, but be selective about what you delete, hide or block. It’s bad form to delete a post just because you don’t like it; there are some conversations that need to take place even if they’re not pleasant. Sometimes you should let people vent, especially if they have a valid reason.

Ignore trolls to the best of your ability, but always respond to all others, all of the time. If an issue escalates, ask to connect with the commenter privately so you can resolve the issue.

It’s important to create an open and respectful space where customer feedback is valued and sincere conversations can take place (even when they’re unpleasant). That’s easier to do when you have a plan in place.

#2: Marketers Don’t Understand Facebook Ad Options

There’s a difference between Facebook desktop ads and Facebook mobile ads.

According to research from Socialbakers, when asked to rate the types of Facebook ads they found most effective, marketers were unable to distinguish between desktop news feed ads, mobile news feed ads and desktop plus mobile news feed ads.

In short, marketers have yet to figure out the advantages of crafting mobile-specific content and calls to action.

socialbakers ad placement statistics

Marketers’ feedback for three very different types of Facebook ads was almost identical.

Reaching consumers across many devices—whether desktop or mobile—is crucial to social marketing success.

So what’s the difference between Facebook desktop ads and Facebook mobile ads?

If your primary goal is to target a huge audience (reach), then desktop ads are your best bet.

If your primary goal is to ramp up engagement with more likes, comments and shares, then allocate a bigger budget for Facebook mobile ads. Facebook’s free Power Editor can help you set up mobile-only ads.

istock facebook likes image

For more likes, comments and shares, focus on Facebook mobile ads. Image: iStockPhoto.

There are now 1 billion people accessing Facebook from their mobile devices. Because of this huge shift to Facebook mobile, it’s worth your time to learn about and invest in mobile ads as part of your overall Facebook marketing strategy.

From a user’s perspective, Facebook mobile ads tend to feel more personable, unlike desktop ads, which feel like they’ve been mass-produced for a large population. So if you’re a small business trying to build trust and relationships, Facebook mobile ads are a good choice.

Keep in mind that Facebook mobile ads have higher click-through rates and they cost less, but they have limited ad options and the environment is not as feature-rich as desktop ads. For these reasons, consider managing your desktop and mobile ad campaigns separately.

#3: Marketers Struggle Managing and Measuring Online Engagement

The eMarketer report also found that while 86.2% of marketing executives say online engagement is a priority for their brands, only 45.8% of them are actually able to manage it.

Four in 10 believe engagement is important, but don’t manage it; and 13.8% don’t believe engagement is important at all!

Among those who measured engagement, 85.7% cited interaction rates as the most important metric, followed closely by reaching influencers (82.9%). Yet less than 42% said their brands were able to quantify engagement.

emarketer poor engagement statistics

A variety of metrics are used to measure engagement.

It’s scary to think that 58% of marketing executives (i.e., decision makers who give overall marketing direction) can’t quantify engagement. It’s not enough to understand the importance of measuring social media, you need to actually do it!

One big mistake many brands make is focusing on acquiring large audiences. While it’s great to have a large audience, it doesn’t do any good if that audience isn’t listening to you. You have to hold their interest in order to influence their buying decisions (and measure those actions).

Instead of worrying about accumulating fans, focus on trying to get the fans you already have to interact with your content. Use these tips to ramp up engagement and make it a priority to understand and measure your brand’s effectiveness.

istock measurement image

Want to know if your brand is effectively engaging your audience? Measure it! Image: iStockPhoto.

If you’re trying to engage with influencers, get an approved target list and measure your influencer outreach activities based on number of emails written, calls made, meetings scheduled, demos presented, etc.

Watch and measure the number of brand mentions in blogs or feature articles originated by the influencer and measure your website traffic generated by those mentions. Finally, measure sales leads or actual sales generated from influencer mentions.

Quick Wrap Up

Tackling social media marketing challenges is something most brands have trouble with at one point or another. Don’t be like the 40% of marketing executives who understand the problem, but aren’t doing anything about it. Implement the advice in this article to solve problems before they arise and improve your overall social marketing tactics.

What do you think? Did you find this research helpful? Do you have advice on managing social ads, negative feedback or measuring engagement? Tell us in the comments.

Images from iStockPhoto.

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Social Media Examiner

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