helpgrowchange

Hope In Your Darkest Hour

How do we all get up each day and fight through the hard times? The times when we feel it’s all about to end. Situations where we are certain there is no way out, nowhere else to go. It doesn’t matter if those situations are life or death, poverty, or crappy jobs.

One thing gets us through.

Hope.

A few years back, I worked in a really bad job. The hours were long, the commute was tiresome (as well as travelling during the day), and the pay average. Those things I could live with. But the worst part of the job was my boss.

She was both the best and the worst boss at the same time. You wouldn’t know who you were getting when she walked into the office every morning (never mind switching moods during the day). She would be the sweetest person trying to find homes for kittens or doing charity work, then immediately switch to fiery dragon, flying off the handle at anybody who looked at her funny.

This work environment seriously affected me and my willingness to work. I loathed coming into the office every single day. After four months of employment I decided to move. But my boss upheld the 3 month notice period, which seriously affected me and my opportunities – as no other company wanted to wait that long.

When you’re down in your lowest, darkest place, it is hard to see any good in this world. The Universe is against you, testing you. You think to yourself ‘Why can’t it test someone else’?

Each day in the job got harder and harder. Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore. With no job opportunities, I took the plunge and resigned. I risked my livelihood (well, a steady income) to not be in this prison anymore. I believed in my ability and experience that I would find new employment before the 3 months were up. I hoped each day that someone would reply to one of the résumés I had sent out.

Maybe I’m naïve, but I believe there is always hope.

Making a big, risky, decision for you to better yourself or your situation, there is a renewed vigour within you. You are able to pull more resources together knowing that the end is near – there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I find it amazing, too, that things seem to ‘fall in to place’ once that decision has been made. With your new resolve, you take more action. With more action, more opportunities present themselves. About halfway through my notice period, I received a job offer that would eventually lead to me gaining valuable experience and opportunities to get me where I am today.

What I learnt from my bad work experience is that no matter how bad the situation is, it can always be worse. I learnt that I can take risks, and still be ok in the end. I learnt that work is not everything, and being happy at the office is a huge part of our lives.

If you’re in a tough situation at the moment, don’t be afraid to take that first step towards the light. I know it is difficult, and it might not be life threatening, but your vitality and well-being is hampered if you don’t take that first step. The initial step is the hardest one of them all. Find the tiny glimmer of hope within you. Grab it, hold on tight, and use the crap out of it to initiate the vital change to get you where you want to be, where you need to be.

[Featured image: Steve Spiers Photography]

Dream it, do it

I dream way too much. I dream of a new phone, more money, a holiday on some remote Pacific island. You’re dreaming about it too – the white sandy beaches, the crystal clear water… maybe one day we will get there.

You and I always fall into the same trap with these dreams. One day I will be able to afford a holiday. One day I will get a top-of-the-range phone. One day, when I get a promotion, I will get that money I’ve been dreaming of.

One day will never come about. Your dream will always be exactly that – a dream – until you make them into plans.

Take action

Instead of dreaming about one day, why not start planning today. Take action and begin the journey to reach that dream. I’m not saying put the island holiday on the credit card and book flights tomorrow (that’s a bit crazy), rather begin to formulate a plan.

Write it down

While you are dreaming about that phone, holiday, or training course, write it down. It doesn’t matter what format, just whip something out and start writing the ideas down. Things like what time of year would be good, what is the actual price of the item, why do you need it?

Slowly, a picture will form. A picture showing you what is required for you to attain your dream. When I’ve done this before, I have found that I think of other factors that I would not have thought of if I were simply dreaming about one day. For a holiday, necessities like passport requirements, currency, or even local hazards such as earthquakes or volcanoes. For a phone, I would think about specs and data speeds that are compatible with the phone. And even for more money, it’s a matter of what do I need to do to get there?

Plan it

Once notes have been made and a little research done, you will feel a sense of achievement. That is because action was taken, something was done, a step was taken towards that dream.

When you physically note something out of your head and onto paper (or a screen), you have taken your dream and made it a plan. You make your dream more real, more feasible, more attainable. You have something tangible you can work with. You can mould it, shape it, and work with it to reach that dream.

You can also decide where you will go next. Do you need to save money? How much? For how long? Do you need to compare products, services, providers? What area do I need to focus on to improve in order to get that promotion?

All these questions can be answered with a little planning and action.

[Featured image: Thomas Galvez]

What Is Your Next Step?

You have been sitting in the same job for a few years, you know the tricks of the trade, you are the grandmaster. What next? Where can you go from here? What is the next step? Is there even a next step?

Let him that would move the world first move himself. – Socrates

Review your success

I am frustrated at the moment. I have a feeling that I am falling behind, not yet achieving what I am meant to be. I feel I should be working harder, constantly trying new things, pushing the limit to achieve the next level of success – whether it be at the office, or with my writing. I’m working hard, tapping away at the keyboard, or leading my team. Always striving to reach the next step, but never quite reaching it.

But then I look back over the past few months, review what I have achieved, and I realise that I have, indeed, been reaching that next step. The fault has been mine in that when I reach the next step, I’m already looking at the one after that.

I believe this is essential in achieving your purpose. Always looking to the next step – always moving, always improving.

Move forward

In order to attain our version of success, we must have a ‘next step’. That next step can be anything, as long as it’s something to work towards. Authors want more readers, minimalists want less stuff, or spiritualists want to be more content. They are successful at achieving these goals if they are continuously working towards the next step, the next level in achieving their vision.

If you are where you have always wanted to be, then kudos to you. But life is always changing, you are continuously evolving. On the other hand, what if you are not where you want to be. You are stuck in a rut, and don’t quite know where to go from here. That is actually the easier position to be in. In my experience, it’s easier to work towards getting to the top, than it is to stay at the top. How will you do this, though?

All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move. – Benjamin Franklin

Don’t stop moving. Move in any direction, do anything that matters (that fits your goal). What is essential to keep in mind is to learn, adapt, and improve. Achieve one thing, and move on to the next.

Don’t follow your passion

The theme of today’s self-help media and content is ‘find your passion!’, ‘do what you love!’, or ’you can do whatever you want to do!’. That doesn’t really work in the real world. We still need to pay the bills, eat food, and have a roof to sleep under. Simply ‘doing what we love’ gets us nowhere (my passion for watching T.V., for example).

My take on these messages is to rather find something that you enjoy doing. You enjoy it enough to work with it every day. Focus on that, learn more about it, and take action. Make bold decisions (any decision is a bold decision) to get it out there for people to notice. Whatever it is, it is you.

I get up every morning thinking about a positive impact I can make on my small area of the world. I may write about this passion, I enjoy writing about it, but writing certainly isn’t my passion – it is the action I’m taking to make my impact. The writing is the means of implementing my passion.

Grow confident

As you become more confident, take it to the next level, and ask yourself ‘What is the next Step?’, ‘what should I be doing in order to make this bigger, or maintain where I am now?’.

My own next step is to continue focusing this blog on the self-improvement and self-growth path, as well as gain further exposure through guest posts and building strong relationships with good people such as you.

Have a think about your next step and work towards it. Any big steps you want to share?

[Featured image: Wesley Eller]

Don’t Let Fear Hamper Your Growth

A few years back, I was offered the opportunity to lead a newly formed team in another part of the company I work for. I had proven myself to be competent at leading an on-site team, ensuring service was delivered to a customer. This new team, though, was different. It would challenge my leadership style and experience, as well as take me to the next level.

There was much uncertainty within me around leading this new team. Uncertainty into how it would run. Uncertainty into how the members of this team would react to me as a team leader (as I had worked with them as a peer before). And still further uncertainty into whether I was the right person for the job. I pondered on the decision to move to that team for a while. I let the fear hamper my ability to make a decision quickly.

I would think to myself, who am I to be leading these team members, who have so much more experience than I do? How would they react to me assigning tasks to them? Would they simply just disregard me – eventually leading our team to become a drifting boat without a sail?

Be nervous, but not too nervous

I finally decided I would take the opportunity, but it was a nervous start. I saw myself as a lesser, inferior person to my team members. They had many more years experience than I did. I stammered when I spoke, I was overwhelmed with the new workload, and I believe this lack of confidence could be seen by the team members, and filtered through into other aspects of the job. Every time I made a mistake, I would lambaste myself profusely.

Through the year, though, things changed. I grew as a leader, my confidence began to shine. The more confidence I had, the more I got to motivate my team. The more motivation there was, the more confidence they had to perform their jobs, initiate innovative ideas, and make a difference in our company.

As a team we lead the way in innovation, standard of work, and a team other people want to work with, and join. All this led to me being offered the opportunity to do this all again in another team…

Challenge yourself

When you are offered an opportunity that has an uncertain future, fear comes home to roost. Fear instils ‘what if’ scenarios that will attempt to turn you away from success and fulfilment.

Lean into that fear. Embrace it. Use it to build life experiences that will help you grow, make you stronger, and enable you to take on bigger challenges.

By all means, be nervous, be fearful, but don’t let it hamper you on your path to being the best you can be.

I didn’t hesitate in taking up this newer challenge. I am nervous again, but this time I know not to let that nervousness let me down.

[[Featured image: Paxson Woelber]

Do one thing today

When you wake up in the morning, once the grogginess of sleep has left you, there is a thought that appears in your mind. A thought of something that you would love to achieve that day. One thing that you’re excited about and will make your day feel like an achievement. It could be painting a picture, tinkering with the bike engine in the garage, adding a feature to your website, or even washing the car.

But then the day begins. We get bogged down by tasks that have to be completed, or emergencies that must be dealt with now. The children demand food and attention, the boss wants his report by tomorrow, or we need to buy bread on the way home.

And as we lie in bed that night, we commiserate that we never did that one thing we really wanted to do. We lambast ourselves for not being good enough, we bemoan that life is tough, and that it sucks not having the chance to do the things we want to. Why does life have to get in the way?

Think

Life will always get in the way. It will never cease to hamper our plans, throw curve balls in our direction, and crush our aspirations. We cannot let ‘life’ run our lives (ironic, I know). We have to be smart about it, devious even. We cannot wait for life to make time for us, we have to make our own time, shove a wedge in there to create space in order for us to do the things we want to do.

The only way we will be able to achieve that is to change the way we think and the way we go through our day.

Make time

When you wake up the next morning, and you think of that one thing you want to do, make it your purpose of the day to actually do it. Find the time inbetween the children and the boss’s report. Squeeze just that little bit of extra time to do what you want to do.

It’s hard, there will be sacrifices you will need to make, but you need to do it for you. I know you want to help everyone, making sure they are all tucked in to bed at night, but it is all no use if you can’t look after you. If you’re burned out, angry, and depressed, nobody will be able to benefit from your compassion.

Do it

So, instead of doing the umpteenth thing that absolutely has to be done today, scrap it and do one thing that you want to do. You don’t even have to complete it, but if you worked on it, you will get excited, elated, and feel that you’ve done something you wanted to do. Life won’t feel so bad, and you will have confidence when you get up the next morning. Confidence that will be vital to tackle the hardships of the next day, but remember…

Do one thing you want to do.

[Featured image: Alexander Shustov]

Be you, be awesome

Do what is right for you.
Follow your heart.
You can do it!

These are a few examples of those crappy standard clichés that we have been told all our lives. Quotes that we’ve seen on motivational posters on the walls of the manager’s office, a doctor’s waiting room, or more recently, sprawled all over the web from your friends and other strangers.

They all sound nice. We share them with our friends, or post them on Twitter (I am completely guilty of this). But until we live these quotes, we won’t truly understand them.

You are fake. I am fake. We live our fake ways to please other people. We don’t need to live this way. You can be you, I can be me, and we can be awesome together.

We go through our lives living for someone else. Our bosses, our clients, our spouse, our children. We are pulled in every direction trying to attend to their whims. At the end of the day, when you lie in your bed at night, you don’t feel you have achieved anything for you. You feel used, trodden on, and ‘fake’.

Being likeable

I used to be a people pleaser, keeping everyone happy, always smiling, never showed that I was vulnerable, or even had a strong opinion. I used to feel stretched before. I would change who I was based on who I was talking to, just to be likeable and nice.

My wife called me out on that a while back, and it caused me to be more aware of who I was and where I was going. I discovered and followed my own values. I began to interact with people in a more consistent manner, a more personal manner. I would voice more of my opinion, schedule more ‘me time’, and simply be me.

Discovering value

The weirdest thing started to happen. People still spoke to me (Shock! Horror!). If anything, people started to trust me, and talk with me more. The more I opened up, the more others would open up to me. The relationships became more meaningful.

When I entered the working world, I was always told you have to look professional, be business-like, and don’t show your personality. Personality is for artists and weirdos.

So I did that. I put on this professional, bulletproof face while at the office, and was a different person when outside of it. It didn’t feel right, but it was what everybody else did, so it must be true.

It took me 10 long years to discover that living like that is not healthy at all. Twofaced, bi-polar, fake – no wonder we all hate going into the office. When we are there we are not ourselves.

Over the years, I slipped the façade a few times. My personality filtered through. It didn’t go down well with the big wigs at the company. A discerning eye, or fend off of the subject would be the order of the day. So, I would patch myself up again and hide who I was.

Be human

As I got older, I became more comfortable with myself, and started to not really give a crap about what other people thought. I showed my weaknesses at the office, I stood up for what I thought was right or wrong, I voiced my opinion. And people started listening.

I am ‘me’ at the office now. I follow my values and stay true to myself. I am still only a lowly team leader in the business world, but I lead my team with me as the leader – not some head honcho uber-manager, but a person. A person with flaws, who makes mistakes, and is simply trying to make this world a better place. I am consistent in who I am between the office, my wife, social media, and this blog.

I am nervous when I post these thoughts to the web, or when I try and help my team members. Sometimes, I even feel like a fraud – like I have no right to give people advice. But, I remain true to myself, and try to genuinely help that person, whatever that advice may be.

Be you

I am writing this story for you, to show you that it is possible. Possible to be yourself and still get where you want to go. You must live and breathe who you are. Your values should get in the way of the company you work for, or the friends you hang out with. You are you, and nobody should stand in your way.

[Featured image: Elias Carlsson]

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