Choose Your Future

Choose Your Future

Time to pull out our crystal balls. Let’s look into the future. Twenty years hence. Look at all the things you’ve accomplished.

Is that project you were so intent on finishing done?

Did you even start it or did you let the excuses you usually fall back on get in the way?

Don’t say you don’t know what will happen in twenty years. It’s easy to surmise. Your present is an extension of your past. Your future in turn is an extension of your present.

How do you spend your days now?

How do you spend your time now? Do you plan for your future or leave to it to another day? Are the accomplishments you say you want to achieve real or are they just words? If they’re just words then go ahead and keep talking.

If however they are things you actually want to do and you’re not already in the process of accomplishing them, what’s stopping you?

All the fears

Fear takes up so much space in our lives. We all know about the fear of failure and the fear of success. What about the fear of missing out?

That’s the fear of missing out on the end of that Netflix series you suddenly got so invested in. Or the fear of missing out on time with friends. How about the fear of missing out on leisure time? Another name for that one is laziness.


So that’s present you and all your reasons for not getting on with whatever grand plan you have for the future.

Back to the future

Now let’s go back to twenty years in the future you, the one staring back at present you through the crystal ball. What are you going to say to present, excuse making you?

You will say, Success or failure, the fears of doing were always greater than the actual doing. Along with that you will say you don’t remember or care about whatever you were wasting time with in the past, but you do care about the things you didn’t manage to accomplish. You will tell yourself you wish you expected better of yourself when you had a chance to follow through on your goals.

Use every day to make your future-self proud. Looking back into the past twenty years from now the words you want to be saying are, “Well done.”

The Fine Balance of Life

The Fine Balance of Life

As life passes from day to day, we get caught up in the business of creating a life for ourselves. Earning enough to live comfortably and take care of the ones we love. And from in the middle of all that striving sometimes it’s easy to forget the things that mean the very most in our lives.

Once we’ve taken care of the essentials, for most of us the most important thing in our lives isn’t the car we drive or the square footage of the house we live in or the designer labels yelling out from our clothing. It’s the other people we share our lives with.

Greatest impacts

When you think about it, what made the greatest impacts on your life? The things you got or the things you did? Most people would answer, experiences. Times we shared with others.

Who are the people who stand out most in your memory? We’d be willing to bet it’s the ones who helped you in some way, along the way. Which means the people you impacted most were most likely the ones you helped.

The balance between give and take

Life is a fine balance between give and take. On the take side, are people who have helped us. Given us letters of recommendation. Introduced us to others who could benefit us. Paid for a year of our tuition. As we go through life, we balance that against the give side. All the people we in our turn, have helped.

The people who helped us and the ones we were able to help are the ones who make the house of our lives a home. We don’t give and take because we are keeping score or out of obligation. We do it out of a true desire to help. Because it makes us feel good. Because we can.

Use Yourself as Your Benchmark for Success

Use Yourself as Your Benchmark for Success

Sometimes I look at the people I admire and think about how much I’d like to be like them or if possible – better than them? What would that be like?  To have even more success than the people I aspire to emulate. Other times I think about people who I’d really actually like to better. The ones whose success I resent because I’m pretty sure I’m more competent than they are.

 

Wasted energy

Aspiring to be like the people who inspire us is a good starting point as we set out on our quest for success. Setting ourselves into competition against those whose talents we believe we surpass can certainly fuel us forward. The problems start to show up when those other people we are working to emulate or beat take up too much of our mental space.

 

The time you spend thinking about other people and dwelling on what they did/are doing/will do is time you could have spent thinking about what you should be doing. Why waste energy thinking about someone else when you could be using that valuable commodity (your mental energy) thinking about yourself?

 

Make your future self the person you aspire to become

Imagine yourself already having achieved everything you aspire to. Future you has all the qualities you envision for current you. Current you is the person you want to better, the one you want to beat on your way to reaching future you.

 

By casting yourself as the hero of your story AND the person you are competing against, the person you end up focusing all your energies on is YOU. You are constantly thinking about ways to better yourself to reach tomorrow you. About ways to get to your destination faster than yesterday you.

 

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to better yourself every day, on the way to becoming your best self.

“To overcome difficulties is to experience the full delight of existence.” Arthur Schhopenhauer

"To overcome difficulties is to experience the full delight of existence." Arthur Schhopenhauer

Some projects are so difficult they make my brain hurt. There are hard deadlines that have to be met. Other people that need to be coordinated with. Details that can’t fall through the cracks. Lists. All dancing around the actual work itself. Dancing around all of that is the rest of life. Family, exercise (that I remind myself must be squeezed in) eating right.

 

The desert island of my imagination

When the going gets particularly difficult I imagine what it would be like to pick up and leave everything behind. I revel in the joys and peace of solitude on a desert island. However, since desert islands are out of my snack bracket I push through. And day after day things manage to get done.

 

The domino effect of accomplishment

As each part of the project falls into place, the next piece feels slightly more doable. Accomplishing leads to more accomplishing. Light begins to illuminate the way through the darkness of I’ll never get through this. The half way point is reached and inevitably the project is complete.

 

The delight of existence

The feeling of accomplishment of a completed project is better than the imagined joy of the desert island. It feels as great as the thought of everything involved in doing the project in the first place felt terrible.

 

That’s the thing about life. You cannot really understand light unless you understand dark. Happiness is far more tangible and strong when compared to sadness. The thrill of achievement is much stronger when set against the difficulties traveled through to get there. No one likes overcoming obstacles. Going through difficulties is stressful. We are not here to say difficulties are a good thing. What we are here to say is that there are benefits to going through them in terms of learning and growth. And that the taste of success is sweeter for the bitterness ingested along the way.

“There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.” Thich Nhat Hanh

"There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way." Thich Nhat Hanh

How often have you said, I will be happy when I achieve such and such a goal? Or, Once this is over I’ll be happy. According to those sorts of statements one achieves a state of happiness through something.

 

Unhappiness factors around the goal

The problem is, the dedicated quest for happiness through accomplishment is so stressful and consuming that it sucks the current happiness we could be feeling if we weren’t so focused out of our awareness.

 

Yes, achievements feel great. They prove your abilities and increase your self-worth, but do they actually make you happier? You will most probably feel happy immediately after you achieve that goal. But how long will it last?

 

Everyone has a general set point for happiness. Meaning for the most part, no matter what fabulous new job you get or beautiful new house you move into, after a while you will re-set to your natural happiness level.

 

The mouse wheel of happiness

Trying to achieve happiness through doing or acquiring things is a race that will never finish. It’s as perpetual as a mouse on a wheel. The slight bump in happiness fades and we’re on to the next thing to get it back – feeling less happy in the process of achieving.

 

Be the happiness

No matter what you achieve, your new job, your new house, you are still essentially the same person. That’s why we always return to our set point for happiness. Your set point of happiness is always underneath whatever else you’re doing. That means we can choose to acknowledge it and be happy while we go about achieving our goals. While we are living in our current location.

 

Happiness is a question of noticing the details. The warmth of sunshine on your skin. The colour of the sky. The music playing in your vicinity. Happiness isn’t the goal. Happiness is the way.

 

We’ve talked a lot about the happiness set point today. Although everyone does return to their general happiness level there is a way to re-adjust that set point and it’s through helping other people. Help other people feel better and you end up feeling increased happiness yourself. Like the saying goes, The more you give, the more you get.

How Much Love Do You Think You Deserve?

How Much Love Do You Think You Deserve?

What do you do when someone gives you a compliment? Accept it graciously? Take it to heart and believe yourself worthy of the praise? Mumble something about not deserving it? Nod your head and tell yourself the person is just being nice or doesn’t really know what they’re talking about?

 

How you feel about yourself

The fact is, no matter how sincere the compliment, your capacity to accept it is determined by how you feel about yourself. If you feel worthy of praise and love then you will accept what is given to you at face value. If, however you feel inadequate then no amount of validation will help you feel better about yourself.

 

Self compliments

No matter what, every single one of us is deserving of love and encouragement. In the Huffpost article, The Scary Reason You Can’t Accept A Compliment they say, “You’re bad at taking compliments because you’re out of practice; you never compliment YOURSELF.”

 

Quiet your inner monologue for a while and write think about some of the things that make you special. You can frame your compliment to yourself as, “I love myself because,”. Don’t think about reasons for anyone else to love you. This is a compliment from you to you. What makes you unique? Why are you a good person? What makes you proud of?

 

“I love myself because I care deeply about other people and this planet we share.”

 

“I am really good at making small children laugh.”

 

Don’t worry, no one else is listening. This is a small gift you are giving yourself. A little reminder that YES you are worthy of love and attention for these reasons.

 

Deserving of love

Every one of us deserves love. If you have trouble accepting it, start by finding one small part of yourself to love. Open door a crack and the light will shine in!

All Moments Past And Future Are Now

All Moments Past And Future Are Now

How much of your time do you actually spend fully dedicated to the moment you are living? On one level we are all always in the moment. Physically anyway. There’s nowhere else for us to be. But on another level we are too often in another time and space entirely. Being somewhere physically and being somewhere mentally are two very different things.

 

Most of us spend inordinate amounts of time dwelling on the past or thinking about/planning for/worrying about the future. Yes it’s important to learn from the past, so we have to check in there sometimes. And if we want to be successful in the future we have to think about it to plan for it. But checking in with the past and future and living in them are not the same thing.

 

Fear of the now

The reason so many of us don’t live fully in the present is because all that future and past thinking is has created deep anxiety about the present moment. I’m going to use this moment to fix the past. Or this moment can never compare to what I did/achieved/saw in the past.

 

Or through this moment I am going to make the most of my future. Or this moment will never create the future I’m after. That’s a lot to put on the shoulders of a little moment in time.

 

Avoid judging the moment you are in

Instead of judging the moment you’re in against the past or future try focusing only on what it has currently going for it. Start by breathing – deeply and fully to center yourself. Pay attention to the details of your surroundings. Notice the people around you, how you feel physically. Ground yourself in now then let go of judgments. This moment neither has to fix the past nor the future. It only has to be the best it can be in the here and now.

 

For more tips on making the most of your current moment check out The Art of Now: Six Steps To Living in the Moment from Psychology Today