I thought it would be nice to round off the year with some highlights from my musings over the last 12 months. I’ve extracted, what I think are, the most interesting, useful and/or amusing words that I’ve put down on virtual paper.
The title of each snippet is linked to the original so you can always click through to read in full if something takes your fancy.
What have you done today to make you feel proud?
We all seem to find it hard to dwell on the positive things we’ve done, much more tempting to analyse and invest time/brain power in the things that remain work in progress. I don’t think I’ve ever really had the balls or the discipline recently to push myself out of my comfort zone to enable me to achieve something which I could easily recognise as worth as self-pride.
What if we can understand that the real magic and the true pride for yourself is contained in all the little steps that you take along the way?
We can live more in the moment, we can feel that nice sensation of pride a bit more often, we can get our head around or get our arse in gear to do something small…..which might just lead to something big.
As modern day humans, we seem to have two pretty amazing abilities: 1) to worry endlessly about changes which are yet to happen and over which we may have little control and, conversely, 2) to cope remarkably well when we’re actually face to face with the reality of being up to our eyeballs in it.
Often, it isn’t the really big change that we actually need. It can actually be quite easy to totally change how we feel about a situation by making some quite small tweaks and by choosing to adopt a slightly different mindset or lens through which to view the situation.
Even if you are convinced that it’s a big thing that needs to change in order for you to move forwards and be content, the very best thing that you can do for yourself is work on breaking it down into chunks and from there down into the very smallest parts which can, relatively easily, be turned into actions and hence quite quickly give you the sense that you’re moving forwards.
You don’t have to take a giant leap to cross over the raging river and get to the peaceful bank on the other side. You just have to work out how to build a bridge.
Based on a 40 hour week, a 40 year working life, an average life expectancy of 81 and 7 hours sleep a night, we will spend over 500,000 hours and around 15% of our waking lives working.*
Therefore, it’s surely very worthwhile to try to maximise our chances of a) enjoying what we do for work and b) feeling we get value back for the effort we put in.
Come up with your own list of ‘what work means to you’ by trying to complete the sentence:
“I work because I need…..”
Think about the best job you’ve ever done or imagine how you’d feel about your ideal job and finish the sentence:
“I particularly love(d) this job because……”
Work is a really fundamental part of life which gives us a sense of self-worth, a purpose, connection to others, enables us to add value to the world and have many great experiences, inside and outside of work.
But if you haven’t ever explored what work means to you or what aspects of work bring you pleasure, then the likelihood is that, at some point, you’ll find yourself in a job which does feel like a lousy way to earn a living.
To assume something’s going to go well? Naive at best. Fanciful lunacy at worst.
The critical questions that I needed to work through before deciding to leave the corporate world to start my own business were:
- Will I become destitute and homeless if I do this? No.
- Do I really have anything to lose (considering I hadn’t found prolonged satisfaction in work for several years)? No.
- Do I believe that I have a good idea which both meets a need and plays to some of my strengths? Yes.
- By getting opinions from all and sundry am I tuning into my own internal compass of values and priorities? No.
- Will anyone ever be able to tell me with 100% certainty that this is the right thing to do? No.
- Do I want to do nothing and still be working in this type of job in 1/2/5/10/20 years time? ABSO-BLOOMIN-LUTELY NOT.
- Can I give myself permission to try it for a year and see what happens? Yes.
If you’re cash rich and time poor, get someone else to do it for you. If you’re time rich and cash poor then have a go at doing it yourself.
My final, and most important, piece of advice if you’re thinking of becoming self-employed and, particularly, if you plan to work from home……
Get a dog!
We’re all different – hurrah for that. We all have something different to bring to our relationships and I feel like our lives can only be enhanced by surrounding ourselves with lots of different types of people, with different strengths, skills and opinions.
But when it comes down to the wire, when we’re facing a challenge or a tricky decision, when we’re suffering with some serious low mojo, I can’t help but feel that it’s super important to be really selective and purposeful about who we choose to share our stuff with.
I definitely believe in the power of saying things out loud. But that doesn’t have to be to everyone.
Quite often when you’re feeling a bit out of sorts, sometimes seemingly for no particular reason, there’ll have been something going on in the background of your life which has gradually knocked one or more important things off balance.
The idea that each day you wake up in the morning with a unique supply of energy to be used throughout the day – some days you have more than plenty and others it feels like barely enough to get out of bed (hopefully most days somewhere in between).
How much attention do you pay to your daily energy and motivation quotas and how could you work with them, rather than against them, to live a more contented and balanced life?
Why do you find brushing your teeth twice a day so easy and why do you never talk yourself out of bothering to do it in the same way as you might do for other activities which benefit your well-being, like going to the gym?
The beauty of habits is that, once you’ve done the difficult bit of investing the energy to repeat them enough times (depending on who you believe, somewhere between 21 and 66 days), they become unconscious. They become something that you can do on autopilot, without using up any of your precious mental energy, and without wasting time procrastinating about whether to bother or not or what rationale you might be able to justify for not doing it right now.
Many of you will know that the decision to do something is often far, far harder than doing the thing itself.
A few things that I believe about my internal monologue:
- On one hand, I believe there’s something to learn from all of my thoughts.
- But, in contradiction, I also know that my inner voice doesn’t always tell the truth – it unreasonably extrapolates and catastrophises situations.
- I know that, if I’m not careful, then my negative inner voice can drown out everything else and end up totally running the show with quite horrendous consequences for my well-being and general experience of life.
Be wary of comparing your inside to someone else’s outside, of lining up your very worst self with the very best of someone else.
On at least a weekly basis, I find myself talking to clients about ‘conscious choice’. Often this is in the context of their perception of what’s ‘right vs wrong’ or ‘good vs bad’ – whereas my view is that anything (within reason) can be the right thing to do, as long as you’ve thought about it relatively careful, evaluated it based on your priorities and preferences and have, therefore, made a conscious choice about what you’re going to do.
#1 DITCH WHAT YOU’RE NOT
#2 SPEND MORE TIME ‘IN FOCUS’
#3 FORGET MOTIVATION
#4 USE YOUR ENERGY WISELY
#5 THERE IS NO WAGON
#6 PRACTISE, PRACTISE, PRACTISE
To my mind, purpose is an underlying framework which can help drive our lives along a personalised, fulfilling and deliberate path.
Here are few questions to start thinking about:
- What are your values?
- What are your core priorities? (distinguish short-term and long-term?)
- What are your strengths? What comes easy for you? (ask a few trusted people?)
- What do other people value you for? (could be different to your strengths)
- What are you fascinated by?
- What subjects/studies/activities take you to a place of focus, absorption and flow?
Listen for the little gems, the small sparkles of interest and passion which could blossom into something greater.
Look for the threads which tie together your priorities and interests – these can become the themes for your personal story.
Pay attention to things which sound and feel ‘most like the real you’.
The difficulty with defining ‘happiness’:
- It’s not simple – it’s multi-faceted, layered and textured
- It’s not static – it ebbs and flows
- It’s not easily within our control – we can’t just ask for it or buy it and it may not even be simple to work towards
- It’s not ours to keep – once we’ve got it we can’t just grip tightly to keep it in our possession, we can’t own it
- We can’t see it – there’s no certain manifestation, a person can look sad on the outside but be happy on the inside, and vice versa
- Turns out it’s highly subjective – we all have our own happiness barometers which have unique triggers, sensitivities and tolerances
The closest I can get to a decent definition is an individual’s evaluation that they like their own life – as it is right now, but probably also with a glance to how they anticipate it to be in the future.
[blockquote cite=”Daniel Gilbert”]You may think that it would be good to feel happy at all times, but we have a word for animals that never feel distress, anxiety, fear, and pain. That word is dinner.[/blockquote]
2016 has been a funny old year. Crazy stuff going on in the wider world and plenty of unexpected events closer to home too. All the more reason to make some peace before it comes to a close and we start afresh with 2017.
These six simple questions will help you reflect, acknowledge, take stock and feel some gratitude for the experiences you’ve had and the things you’ve achieved in 2016.
1. What can you congratulate yourself for?
2. What have you overcome?
3. What have you learned?
4. Who has touched your life this year?
5. What can you forgive yourself for?
6. To wrap it up, find your magic moments.
Feel like you need a bit of help to prioritise looking after yourself in 2017, The Mental Movement is ready to be at your service. Read more here about what I do and how you can work with me.