helpgrowchange

New limits are set when you disregard your current ones

How often do you find yourself saying “Oh, I can’t do that”, or “That is so out of my league”? I’m guessing pretty often. Don’t worry, we all do it. We downgrade our abilities before we’ve even started – before we’ve even thought about starting.

We look at others, and see them running for miles, selling up a storm, or climbing mountains. We are happy for those people, and we congratulate them on their achievements. But we never actually think about doing it ourselves because we’re not as fit/charismatic/courageous/(enter appropriate word here) as them. I may not have achieved much in my life (yet), but there is one thing I can tell you – and that is you can achieve as much or as little as you want.

Most of the barriers we face in our lives are self-imposed limits.

We limit ourselves in our quiet comfort zones. Those places where we know what we are doing, what will happen, and we feel ‘safe’. We become used to this lifestyle and soon forget we can achieve more. We forget there is so much more to enjoy, if we only just test our current boundaries.

Testing your limits isn’t easy. You have to figure where your limits are, how you will test them, and then the hard part comes into play – actually taking action to push past the barriers. For me, the toughest battle I fight, is internally with my own mind. My mind tells me I can’t do something (like having the audacity to ask or running 5km in under 25 minutes). I believe my mind’s words to be true, but persist in trying anyway.

New limits are set when you disregard your current ones.

When reading motivational messages, the consistent message seems to be ‘YOU CAN DO IT!’, ‘DREAM BIG, REACH HIGH!’, ‘JUST GO GO GO!’. This creates a perception in our minds that we need to go big or go home. Take this advice with a pinch of salt. There is some truth in these messages, but they are creating a false future.

You’re not going to be blazing a 10km run tomorrow, or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro next week, or even making dozens of sales by the end of today. If you believe this, you are setting yourself up for failure.

You need to courageously test your limits through tiny little incremements. We are all operating at different levels, with different mindsets and skills. Set yourself challenges to improve – small enough to be achievable, and large enough to be just outside your comfort zone.

Every time I run, I increase my distance a little, or run a little quicker. Even if it is a few hundred metres more, or only a few seconds less – it is better than before. Similarly, you can do this by testing yourself ‘just a little more’.

There is more in you

This simple saying really helps me test my limits just that little bit more. It implies that we have the energy to take one more step, we have the mental power to practice one more time.

As you test the limits of your comfort zone, you will find the boundaries begin to shift outward. Those limits you thought you had, have long since disappeared. You now know what you are capable of, and soon you will be testing your new limits again.

You may not move mountains today or tomorrow, but you are one step closer and that’s what counts.

How to rekindle your passion on a lazy Sunday afternoon (Part 2)

This is part 2 of my 3-part blog series on how you can rekindle your passion on a Sunday afternoon. In my previous post I challenged you to dream. In this one, the challenge will be to draw out as much detail as possible from your dream and onto some paper.

Have you ever thought about your life dream? The one you deeply want to live, but find yourself not really moving towards it? Maybe you’re bored or not sure if your current actions align with your dream. Even if you and I do have a dream, how do we know if we’re doing the right thing? How do we know what we want?

The best way I’ve experienced this is to ask ourselves some hard questions. We find, and re-connect with, our ‘why’. Reconnecting with why we want our dream enables us to re-evaluate how far we’ve come, and what we still need to do.

So, here’s the thing, on your lazy Sunday afternoon (it doesn’t have to be a Sunday by the way), grab a pen and multiple pieces of paper.

Ask yourself 5 important questions.

  • What is my dream?
  • Why do I want this?
  • What do I want to achieve?
  • What can I offer?
  • What can I do?

These aren’t easy questions. It took me quite a bit of time to answer them, as well as a shedload of mental energy. Yet, I highly recommend and encourage you to answer them as best you can – you will reap the rewards later. Answering these forced me to really define what I was thinking, hoping and dreaming.

As you fill out your story behind these questions, an amazing thing happens, you begin to feel the small feeling of butterflies in your abdomen, and excitement build in your chest. Commonalities will begin to emerge between your answers, and ideas begin to flow. Ideas for plans, ideas for business products, ideas on the route you need to take to reach your dream.

Remember, this is your dream, your purpose, where you want to be in your future. This isn’t a goal you want to achieve, and there aren’t any right or wrong answers. Just your dream, in your words.

Let’s go over the questions in a bit more detail.
(To make this more ‘readable’, I’ve focussed only on the two most important questions in this post. The remainder will be covered off in part 3)

What is my dream?

Write a story of a typical day of your future self. For simplicity, put a timeframe on it. I found 3-5 years was far enough in the future to be beyond a goal, but not too far that it became too farfetched.

As you think about your special day, relax…Feel the emotions you think you would feel. Fall into the dream, concentrate on as many details as you can.

Try to immerse yourself as much as you can. Ask yourself important questions such as; Where am I? What am I feeling? What am I doing? What do my surroundings look like?

As an example, I wrote about how my dream was centered around me being at home, working on this blog, preparing for a meeting in one of my businesses, and enjoying the simple pleasures of family time. For you it might revolve around being an author at a book launch, or a photographer in your studio, or even a manager in an executive meeting of some kind.

Write it all down. Don’t worry about how silly it sounds, the format, or even spelling errors. Just write it down.

It’s great to have a dream and something to aspire to, but there is a more important question to answer…

Why do I want this?

While it’s all well and good knowing where you want to go, you will struggle to get there if you don’t know why you want it.

Knowing why you want your dream is crucial in ensuring you can make it real.

Identifying why you want your dream brings real clarity. It defines your overall purpose, and allows you to focus on what you really want. When I defined my ‘why’, it hit me like a freight train. In the time since I did this exercise, I’ve gained more traction on my dream in a few weeks than I did in the last year!

How do you answer this question, you ask? Keep your dream from the previous question in your mind. Focus on that story, immerse yourself in it as much as you can. Now, what are you feeling? Why are you feeling that way? What has happened to make you feel this way? Write your anwers down – no editing, no thinking about structure, just your raw emotional thoughts straight onto the paper.

At the end of it, you will have your reasons for your dream. If they are truly your ‘why’, you will begin to feel a sense of purpose deep down. Your mind and heart will be cleared of indecision on where you want to be.

What’s next?

The next few questions will cover further on how you can identify what you need to do to make your dream a reality. Stay tuned for part 3 next week. But don’t go just yet. There is still your challenge for this week.

I challenge you to think and re-think your answers to What is my dream? and Why do I want this?. The more you think about it, the clearer the dream will be, and the stronger your sense of purpose will grow.

If you are not feeling this, you haven’t found your why, and that’s ok. These are difficult questions, and the answers will come with enough thought and emotion.

Answering these questions brought me clarity to why I’m doing what I’m doing – and that is family and flexibility.

What is your why?

Be sure to look out for part 3, where we will figure out how to begin the journey to achieving your life dream.

Improve your decisions with one simple mind trick

We make decisions in everything we do. In the way we brush our teeth in the morning, when we decide to buy coffee, or where to sit on the train. Every single one of these decisions impacts our lives in ways we cannot imagine. Each decision moves us towards a destination we may, or may not, have set for ourselves. We need to make our decisions count.

So often, I see myself and others faltering on their decision making. Some folk make rash decisions (I’m guilty of this), while others find it difficult to make a decision on much of anything. We go about our lives rueing the decisions we’ve made – or not made.

So how do we change this? How do we become better decision makers? Well, there isn’t much we can do, really. Yes, there are a plethora of options available, ranging from gut feeling to the Kepner Tregoe Decision Making process, but the trouble is we can’t go about performing a problem analysis for every decision we make – especially if it a subconscious, sub-second one made in the spur of the moment. Neither can we simply go on gut feeling when the decision requires more thought. The trick is to find balance between the two.

One method that has worked for me is to focus only on the object of the decision. For example, I’m trying to make better decisions when I’m thirsty, specifically drinking water instead of Coca-Cola. I focus only on the area I want to change – drink water. I consciously bring that decision to the front of my mind when I’m thirsty, or every time it crosses my mind. I replace the thought with the object, like ‘Water, water, water‘, ‘drink 2 litres of water a day‘, or ‘drink water now before you want something else, you lazy bastard!‘. I find the next time I am thirsty, I choose water instead of Coca-Cola.

This method has worked for me in other things too, such as;
– exercising each morning (saying ‘Drop and give me 20!‘, instead of ‘I’m tired‘),
– focussing on tasks (saying ‘Another one knocked off‘, instead of ‘I have so much to do!‘),
– and even showing my family appreciation (saying ‘These people are my foundation‘, instead of ‘Where is my time going?‘).

Many decisions we make are due to habits we instil in ourselves. We’ve made these habits consistent enough to move to our sub-conscious. Once there, most of the decisions we make are automatic. Because we’ve made similar decisions before, our brains move the mental processing out of the way so that we can make these decisions quicker.

Changing these auto-decisions requires you to fuse new thought patterns and habits into your sub-conscious. No easy feat, but certainly possible. And it is easier than you think. It all starts with a little focus, and some habit forming.

What will you change about your decision making process today?

[Featured image Ashley Batz via unsplash.com]

How will you make 2015 better?

The trouble with life is that it just gets in the way of your dreams. It sits there and sniggers when you haven’t achieved a goal you’ve set for yourself. It constantly intervenes to hamper your progress towards bigger and better things. Life laughs in your face, especially when you’re down.

The truth is, it’s not life that gets in the way, it’s us. We are the ones that allow distractions in. We are the ones that lose the momentum when the going gets tough (or too easy for that matter). We are the ones that allow our end goals to slip away.

Last year, I experienced just this. The year started off with a bang. I had started my newsletter, my work was being posted on other blogs. I was gaining exposure in the right places. But then I got lazy. I lost focus, and the year just fizzled out into mediocrity. I was extremely disappointed with myself.

I learnt something important during that time. I learnt my limitations and what I need to do to exceed them. I learnt more about myself and what I want to do with my life. I learnt I am not as awesome I as I think I might be. Finally, I learnt humility.

It seemed to be a recurring theme. I needed to find a way out of this habit. Thanks to my beautiful wife, that path may have been found. During Christmas my wife bought Leonie Dawson’s 2015 workbook, and I found Michael Hyatt’s free introductory videos for his best year ever course. Both are about setting goals and achieving them. They offer a system you can use to effectively and confidently achieve your goals. I am intrigued at how similar these methods are, and I believe there is some common sense in them.

My wife and I worked our way through Leonie Dawson’s workbook. It had us thinking long and hard about what we want to achieve in our lives this year. I’m excited about what opportunities will present themselves – if I can stick to my guns. I’m confident that by using the methods learnt through Leonie Dawson and Michael Hyatt, my work life, home life, and life in general will be changed for the better.

What about you? Have you thought about what you want to achieve this year? How are you going to do it? I highly recommend implementing a system for you to achieve all you can.

The calm before the storm

I’ve been away on a family holiday for the past two weeks. It was a great time away from the office, away from home, away from life in general. There was much needed reflection on where I am today, where we are as a family, and where we want to go.

But as I sit on the train, ricketing its way into the office, I can’t help but feel that this holiday was the calm of the storm. Almost like the slow motion effect you get after ramping off a hill and calmly floating through the air for a few seconds before slamming into the surface to continue racing downhill.

We all need these periods of calm bliss to get away from it all. To take some time to go see and experience some place new. Just something to get out of the daily grind. And when you do have the opportunity to do so, take some time to simply stop and think.

Think deeply about many things.

Think about…

where you are in your life.
Are you where you want to be? Are you happy with the person you have become? Celebrate the successes you have achieved. Reminisce about the past handful of years and see just how much you have gained, lost, or changed.

what you have.
Appreciate the little things you have that make your life easier. Appreciate the people in your life. The abundance of food, clean water, or even a roof over your head. Being able to afford pension fund or medical insurance. Do you really need everything you have? It might be time to let go of some ‘stuff’.

the future.
Where do you want to be in your life? What does success mean to you? How can you get there? Start to formulate a plan of how you can achieve your dream, or become the person you want to be. It doesn’t need to be super detailed. You will know what you want to become by using the first thought that comes into your head when you ask yourself that question.

My reflection

I’m not the type of person to tell you how to do things without doing it myself. I thought a lot about the three things I’ve mentioned in this article. I am more than comfortable in sharing it with you.

Overall, I am happy with the person that I am today. My family and I have achieved a lot over the past few years (the last 7 in particular). I want more of it. A stronger family bond. Success for my wife. More positive impact at my workplace.

More and more do I find myself appreciating what I have in my life. My healthy family, my house, the opportunity to afford the little pleasures in life. I am an extremely lucky person to be able to have all of this around me.

Get away

I encourage you to take a break from your daily grind – whether that be an amazing getaway or staying with family in another city. Holidays can be expensive, but I believe the experience that you or your family will gain will make it well worth your while. Just the act of getting away from monotony of daily life helps the process of reflection, planning, and eventually, the action you need to take to get the life you want.

Where will you be going?

Want something so bad, it hurts

Have you ever wanted to do something so bad that it hurts? That one thing that you think about every other minute of the day; when you wake up in the morning, while you day dream at the office, while you wait in the queue at the grocery store.

For me, that something is making a positive impact to the people in my life. Every day, I get up and think of the possibilities. How can I make my wife’s life easier? How can I create opportunities for the individuals in my team to grow? How can I increase the positive impact I am making?

Whenever I think and dream about this, a strange sensation sets in. A sense of excitement and determination all in one. Some sort of force that needs to get out somehow. All I ever want to do is solve the problems of the people around me. Help them change. Help them realise their own potential. Help them grow.

For you, this internal desire – this passion – might be something else entirely. It could be creating dolls, sailing on open water, or writing inspiring poetry. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as there is something that you want to do. Something that you need to do so badly, everything else can wait.

Who cares about the chores, or the missed TV shows, or the latest Facebook status update? When we’re filled with passion, nothing else will suffice. Bigger and better things await when we follow our passion. More fulfilment and enrichment in our lives. And a deeper sense of achievement when we do accomplish goals associated with the passion.

For example, the time I allowed my wife to follow her passion gave me happiness. Or the colleague that came to me for guidance, took the suggestion I made and is making progress in their career. That simply invigorates me to do more of the same. I can’t wait to have the opportunity to do these things again.

It may be the same for you – you’ve created that amazing doll, you sailed further than the day before, you wrote a truly meaningful piece of poetry from the heart.

I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have a passion. Living a mediocre life, having a ho-hum attitude to everything. Simply waking up, drifting along the day, and sleeping again. Wallowing through weeks, months, years of average achievements and no direction.

That is not living, a person living that life is already dead.

I offer you a challenge: Find that something that gives you a flutter of butterflies in your gut. Feel like playing a guitar? Find one and do it. What about mountain biking? Start off with a cheap bike and go for a ride. Always dreamed about dancing the Tango? Sign up to your nearest dance studio today.

Your passion won’t come to you. You have to find it for yourself. That means going on a journey of discovery. Only you can take the steps necessary.

The beauty of doing what you want to do, is that you will want to do more of it. You will enjoy it more, get better at it, and who knows where it might take you.

[Featured image: Daniel Ruskwick]

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