helpgrowchange

See the constant in everything

There is no discrimination when it comes to the cycles of nature. The Sun still rises every day, Winter still arrives in an icy chill, and the tide still wades in and out to its perfect timetable.

Ever notice how events seem to come in waves? There are periods of time where very little is happening, then it feels like everything is happening at the same time.

"Why is that?"

It is the constant in everything.

Everything, and I mean everything, is in a cycle of some sort. The planet is orbiting the Sun, water is constantly making its way to the ocean only to be evaporated and taken back to the mountains, we are waking up in the morning – every morning – starting a new day. We breathe in, we breathe out. Life itself is but a cycle. From the day we are born we are already on our way back to where we came from.

Within these cycles are more cycles. Constant cycles within cycles. It's all around us, constantly working.

"So life is happening. What's the big deal?"

Once we realise this and learn to accept that we're in a cycle and everything around is in constant motion, we can grasp a very important concept. No matter what we are doing or where we are, it is only temporary, and things will never stay the same.

If we're happy, sadness will come. If we're sad, happiness will find a way back. If you're sick, you will get well (unless of course your cycle of life is returning to the beginning). After your shower, you will get dirty. The fully-charged battery on your phone will run flat.

No matter what we do, we cannot stop this continuous motion, these constant cycles in our lives. We can influence and delay them, but the completion of the cycle is inevitable. It is the Way of things.

"How does this help me?"

Learn to accept that the situation you're in is only temporary. You can't control what will happen. Yes, you can adapt to certain conditions and control your own emotions and thoughts to the situation. But you cannot control the outcome – it is inevitable.

Remind yourself constantly that your situation will pass (both good and bad). Rather than try control the situation, why not live it? Be in the moment and take comfort that change is around the corner.

Life is passing you by, and you don’t even see it

As you sip your cup of tea this morning, while you get ready for another monotonous day, have a think about this; Your life is passing you by, and you don't even see it.

"What?!" You might say. Bear with me for the length of this article, and see if you have the same reaction when you reach the end.

How does your day look today?

During the work week, it might look something like;

  1. Wake up, get ready for work. Be groggy. Mope around the house while dreading the day ahead.
  2. Commute to work. At the same time every day, following the same (or similar) path.
  3. Perform said work. Deal with the same political crap each day. The same feeling of being overloaded and underpaid. Dream about how you would rather be home.
  4. Commute home. At the same time every day, following the same (or similar) path.
  5. Perform the same nightly chores. Make dinner, bath the kids. Watch mindless T.V., read a book. Ask yourself whether it's the weekend yet.
  6. Go to bed.

What about the weekend?

  1. Wake up.
  2. Feel too lazy to do anything productive, so go shopping instead.
  3. Feel guilty, do house chores anyway.
  4. Do an activity you enjoy like biking, hiking, sewing.
  5. Visit friends, watch a movie.
  6. Go to bed.

For some of you, that might seem ok. It's about taking life one day at a time, right? Doing what needs to be done, rather than what you want to do. It's the right thing to do…

I say bollocks to that!

Why? Why do we allow ourselves to be restricted like this. We are naturally curious beings. We love to create, to learn, to understand the world around us. Yet we have been trained and guided into submission.

You are living your life with a false sense of achievement. Take a few seconds and think back over the last 6 month to a year. Ask yourself what have you achieved?

Maybe you finished reading a book? Watched a season of Game of Thrones? Achieved level 100 in the game you're playing? What have you actually achieved? Ultimately, not much.

A whole year has gone by, and you're still in the same place you were before. Doing the same thing, with the same concerns, fears, and worries.

I used to be like this – I still am. I get lulled into a false sense of achievement when I have a slight change in schedule, performed an extra house task, or even wanting to buy a newer phone.

These are not achievements.

They still sit within your comfort zone. And before you know it, months have passed – years have passed. How often do you hear people say that the years are flying by? It is because we are stuck in a monotonous rut.

What happened to your dreams of the future? How have you tested and pushed yourself? Have you taken action on them? Or come up with excuses.

I performed this little exercise on myself. 2 years ago, it would have looked rather mediocre, with the only real difference being me starting this blog and doing some freelance writing.

In the last year, though, my life has changed. My family's life has changed. Our eyes have been opened to the possibility that we can break this mould we're in.

To give you some context, I've run 2 10km races, I've studied social psychology, Neuro-linguistic programming techniques, and social media marketing, I've changed my eating habits to cut out sugar (mostly), and spent more time with my boys than ever before. My wife and I are starting businesses (which is extremely new to us).

Although these are only small changes, I've had to push myself mentally and physically. It's surprising to see how far we can go when we step out of our comfort zone.

What is really interesting, though, is by experiencing all these new factors in my life, this past year has felt longer. I've enjoyed each day a lot more. I am paying more attention to what's in front of me, rather than waiting for a T.V. show tonight or the lazy weekend.

I urge you to change something in your schedule today. It could be the spark to break you out of the monotony you've been feeling for a while.

You are more than the chores you need to do, or the work you need to attend to. Take the plunge and do something you're not entirely comfortable with. You won't regret it.

It’s disappointing to not have made a difference

I recently took on a new role at my workplace. Through all my efforts in the previous role, I could not make the difference I wanted to.

For years, I tried. I attempted to organise movements, convince management, or influence certain decisions I knew would benefit the wider group. But I just couldn’t get to the point of making the intended difference. And it has killed me.

Sometimes it is better to accept we cannot change a situation. We must accept failure and come back another day. We must realise when it’s time to move on to something we can change.

It’s crap. It’s difficult. But it’s the hard truth. People will only change when they are ready for change.

No matter how hard we hit their wall of resistance and indifference, we will not (cannot) bring it down. We cannot control the outcomes of their decisions, or convince them of the damage they are causing around them.

What we can control is how we react to their whims. We can control how we make a positive difference to our own surroundings. Finally, we need to learn when to let go…

Sometimes holding on...

At the end of the day, we have to realise this is only business. Thankfully, we can take our influence, our skill, and our passion elsewhere. Somewhere where it might be better suited.

Don’t give up the fight, just focus your energy in the right place.

Climb out of your past to face your future

Sometimes we are stuck in the past. We go about our routines and habits because we have always done them this way. It’s safe, comfortable, and we don’t want to ‘break something that is not broken’ as some people say.

This is where the problem lies.

If we are stuck doing the same thing at the same level, we will never grow – you will never grow. There will be no improvement, no joy of discovering something new, nothing to stimulate your mind or soul. But you know what? You can change it. No matter what some of your naysayers might say, you can change all of what you can control – which is a lot more than you believe it is.

You have the power to change your own future, and it’s time you claimed your own life back.

This is so much easier said than done – I know. There are many things to worry about like finances, skills, life in general. The biggest hurdle of all, though, is you. You need to decide that you want to change your life. No-one can change it for you. Sure, they can offer you opportunities, but it all comes down to you wanting it and deciding to take action.

We all have dreams, yet so often that is how they remain – dreams. From when we were children, we may have dreamed of changing a person’s fate on the operating table, or testing the boundaries of human discovery in space. Let’s face it, some dreams are unrealistic (possible, but unrealistic).

For your own sanity and confidence, you need to be serious about what you want and what you can achieve. If you’re like me, a 30-ish person stuck in a desk job, the odds are we are not going to be an astronaut any time soon. We’re not going to be working on a critical procedure on the operating table, unless we are the patient. You might still want to achieve those dreams, but you have to let them go for now.

You need to focus on what you have right now, and what you can change for your future.

I still dream of being some hotshot owner of a popular technology company, but as the years roll on, I’m accepting the fact that I’ll probably not achieve it. So, I’m looking for alternatives. I might not be owner of something big, but I can be an owner of something that provides value. I’m looking at options in my current situation where I can help, grow, and change other peoples lives.

This blog is my first example of such a change. My wife is starting something of her own. There are a couple more things we’re working on as well. Our excitement is building about the future opportunities presenting themselves.

The changes you make don’t need to be drastic. Small ones here and there make massive differences further down the line. How about investigating the possibility of some free studies, such as Coursera or Codecademy? Start a blog about your expertise? Volunteer in your local community? As you make one small change, I promise you it will become easier to make more changes. Bigger changes that will truly change your life.

The past cannot be changed, but you can still prepare for your future. What will you change today?

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.

How to rekindle your passion on a lazy Sunday afternoon (Part 1)

We are all passionate about something in our lives. Some of us love to write, others love to sew, while others love to sell. Whatever it may be, passion is a rollercoaster ride of emotions, where one day ideas are flying and excitement overflowing, then boredom and frustration the next. You have the power to get out of this rut by simply day dreaming.

It was Sunday, the weather was fantastic outside with the sun shining and just a hint of a breeze to cool the heat. I was feeling frustrated with a lack of progress in multiple aspects of my life. Career progression, house maintenance, and financial inflexibility to name a few.

I had thoughts and plans running around my head about what I should be doing, what I wanted to happen, and how great it would be to have a life of freedom. The passion I had before was being replaced with scattered thoughts and random tasks. I could feel I was moving in a general direction, I knew what I wanted to do this year, but what about the next? Or the year after that?

It was time to clear the picture.

So I sat down at my dining room table for a couple of hours and really worked out where I wanted to be in 3-5 years. I really locked the picture in my mind, mapped it all out, and came out at the end with a real sense of long term purpose. I knew what life I wanted, why I wanted it, and how I could get there.

Many of us go through similar situations where we’ve lost the dream of the project we started. We are beavering away at short term goals, gaining traction on some of our ideas, but we just feel something is missing. Something isn’t quite working out, or the picture of the future is just not clear enough.

Clarity is critical

I am completely guilty of being busy without purpose. When an idea sparks in my mind, I tend to jump all in. It’s what happened last year, and I don’t want to get there again.

Having a dream is fantastic. It’s what gets us up in the morning, ready to take on the big project we started. But those dreams tend to be hazy. We have this lovely feeling of excitement and start doing something, but then lose focus again.

There is a step that needs to happen between thinking about your dream and taking action – and it mostly consists of writing it out. Take a couple of hours out of your day to plan for your future (it can be a lazy Sunday afternoon).

Think hard about that dream. Truly immerse yourself in it. Ask yourself as many questions as possible; Can you see yourself sitting in the picture? What are you feeling? If there are windows, what is the weather like outside? What colours are the walls?

Really focus on the details of your dream. The more crystal clear the dream, the more purpose you can gain out of it.

What are you busy with? Are you working to a schedule? How far in the future is the dream? Are you with anybody?

As I did this process with myself, I found a growing sense of excitement about my future. A sense of purpose and a rekindling of passion began to emerge – especially after I followed the next few questions, which you will see over the next few weeks.

In the next part of this series I will explain how you can draw out the details of your dream and align it with your purpose.

I have a challenge for you before the next article. Have a think about your life in the next 5 years. You know which one I am talking about. It’s the one you think of daily – the book you want to publish, the house you want to build, or even the way of life you want to live.

Think deeply about it, gain as much detail as you can, and we’ll put it all together in the next post.

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