I suppose reaching 60 years of age the other day prompted me to think about past work and previous jobs!
There are many aspects in our lives that help define who we are and how we feel. By default when we leave education, we start out with the real intention of working for around 40 years or so. After this time we will probably sit back and reflect – what did I really do?
Perhaps that's me right now – reflecting on everything I have done post leaving school.
Did I enjoy it, did I make an impact and did I really leave any type of legacy? Well, rather than me answer those questions, I throw them back at you to take a moment of self reflection.
There are some simple questions that you need to ask yourself regarding the current job you do. Do you enjoy your work or do you just slog away to earn the money you need to survive? Does your work leave you with a sense of fulfilment or does it seem to suck the joy out of your life?
You may (or may not) be surprised to know that a large percentage of people work just to earn money and take no pleasure in what they do. This in itself is not always a bad thing because money earned can be used to buy some enjoyment such as funding holidays, hobbies, buying a new car etc. On the other hand, people who work only for remuneration may not know what they are missing. True fulfilment can really only be achieved when all areas of your life are balanced and compliment each other.
Keep in mind that most of the hours of every day are spent working. If you are truly unhappy in your job, you may spend this time thinking about other things you could be doing or where else you could be. This means that not only are you making yourself unhappy going to work every day, but that you are not giving your job the focus and attention it may deserve. Finding yourself in this position does not mean that you should just quit and find something new to do. In some cases, for some people this may be a good option, but loosing an income in the current economy may leave you worse off than you are now.
There are however other actions that you can take to improve your work life, and here they are:
In any aspect of personal development it is important to take your happiness and well-being into your own hands and gain/regain the power that you deserve.
So take control of your work life by making better choices that leave you more fulfilled.
As a final note, after 40 years I still do not know what job I really want to do – the only thing is that I have generally really enjoyed everything I have done so far!
Personal happiness and life balance do not necessarily have to depend on being successful and earning more money. There are other things with much bigger impacts on our lives than just success in business or work.
‘Life-stage’ and our age are some of the things that affect our personal life and happiness. They make us balanced and happy. However, there is another thing that affects our life balance and happiness. Our habits and life mistakes have a strong influence on our happiness and personal development. And let us be fair and honest to ourselves, we have all made life mistakes!
One habit I have managed to get out of recently is leaping out of bed when I first awake to rush down and look at emails and messages at the start of the day. Now, I take time and stay in bed to meditate about my day to come and to clean my chakras. Its made a big difference to how I approach my day now, and I love it!
If your habits are affecting the quality of life you are living, personal development and overall happiness, here are some tips that can help you break out of repeated mistakes/habit and make changes to your life for happiness and development purposes. How do you break from a negative pattern?
First, notice the repeated habits pattern
Maybe you engage in endless cycles of bad habits that leave you feeling guilty and overreacting. The challenge with bad habits, they can turn into a negative pattern. The negative pattern is unconscious. However, learning how to train our minds to recognize the bad habits and patterns by paying attention to the emotions and pain we feel, makes us notice the bad habits and ask ourselves why.
Know the cause
Noticing our bad habits and failing to know what causes the bad habits won’t help much. We cannot face the reality if we keep returning to the same habits, hoping that thing will be different. If we don’t know what causes our bad habits, we are doomed to repeat the same mistake, and this affects our personal development and happiness. The saying goes, “if you always do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got”.
Face your fear and exercise your willpower
It’s not easy to face your fear even if you know what your bad habits are and what causes them. That’s the only way you can conquer your repeated habits is facing them. Don’t dismiss them, face them. Start by picking a new destination and start exercising your willpower, use it to start the change process for personal development, life balance and overall happiness. I like using the acronym, FEAR: Face Everything And Respond.
Refine your goals
Continue the process of breaking from your repeated pattern by setting new goals. Set goals that will help you reach higher purposes and something that will help you go beyond what you expect to do.
Believe in yourself
We can’t achieve much by losing confidence in what we can do. You have to believe in your capabilities and possibilities. Believe that tomorrow will be better than today when it comes to exercising what is right. There isn’t a skill that you can learn without believing.
Manage your environment
The use of technology has influenced the way we are working nowadays, but it can also cause harm to the way we live and the habits we develop. Technology can also affect our personal development. It is fine to use things like mobile phones, emails, laptops and even social media network. However, you need to be wary of what you do and how it affects your habits. If technology affects your repeated habits and pattern, it’s better to learn to manage your environment to avoid relapse.
Forgiveness clears the residue of the past and opens up a way to the future. Until you are able to forgive yourself for the bad habits, you won’t stop yourself from repeating them. When you forgive yourself, your mind becomes clear of shame and guilt and you will be ready to move forward.
Manage others expectation and demands
We often find ourselves engaging in either negative or positive habits to fulfill the expectations and views of other people. Other peoples’ demands and expectations affect us emotionally and time resources which are significant to change, life balance, personal development, and happiness. You need to manage peoples’ expectations on you and focused on the changes you want to make.
Construct a self-based new approach to life
Life changes fast. Beliefs and conventions of the past may not make sense in the present and future. If you want to change your negative habits and be on your way the personal development and happiness, you need a rethink, plan and construct your own goal. Make sure you challenge what other people imposed on you.
Finally, when you know what you are doing now, what we’ve always done and what you need to change, stop in the moment and ask yourself what are you going to do next and why? After you have the answers, focused on the present and fight what is right.
So, there you are, some ideas to move away from repeated poor or unwanted habits. Hope some if not all work for you!
“Humility is not thinking less about yourself, it is thinking less of yourself” C S Lewis
Humility and inner peace go hand in hand. The less compelled you are to prove yourself to others, the easier it is to feel peaceful inside. However, ask yourself the question, how often are you trying to prove yourself in front of others?
Humility makes us aware of our personal limitations and the limitations of humanity more broadly. We acknowledge that there is much we do not know, that certainty is impossible and that our understandings of the world are provisional at best. Humility opens us to growth and love and to accept change where necessary by going with the ‘flow’ as a normal everyday occurrence. We most certainly do not need to be anyone else other than true self.
Proving yourself can be a dangerous trap. It takes an enormous amount of energy to be continually pointing out to others about your accomplishments, bragging or even trying to convince others of your worth as a human being. Bragging actually dilutes the positive feelings you receive from an accomplishment or something you are proud about. To make matters worse, the more you try to prove yourself, the more others will want to avoid you, talk behind your back about your insecure need to brag and at worst perhaps even resent you.
I personally got to learn about humility following my abortive attempt with a colleague to row across the Indian Ocean nearly 15 years ago. We did alright, in that we rowed unsupported for almost 2000 nautical miles from Western Australia en route to Africa, until a tropical storm damaged both me and the boat. This meant we had to stop and abandon our world record attempt. Up until that point, I will admit, I was full of it – telling the media and anyone else in my earshot how great a feat this was, and therefore how great I was! And that lack of humility lasted after we returned to the UK, and accompanied me throughout the next couple of years giving public talks and chatting to friends and strangers alike. Then one day, I realised that I was fooling myself and started to look at the deeper messages of that expedition and how they had changed my outlook on life. Lessons like tolerance, awareness of the world around me and a good dose of humility developed my inner being and ultimately my inner happiness.
Ironically, however, the less you care about seeking approval, the more approval you seem to get. People are drawn to those with a quieter, inner confidence, people who don't need to look good, be ‘right’ all the time or steal glory. Most people love a person who doesn’t need to brag, a person who shares from his or her heart and not from their ego.
The way to develop genuine humility is to practice. Practicing is good because you get immediate inner feedback in a way of calm, easy feelings – in other words you feel good about yourself. The next time you have the temptation to brag about something, resist it. Instead, listen hard to what the other person is saying and calm your inner talk.
So, when we are humble, we can laugh at our self importance and sometimes, even set it aside. We can see our own faults and the strengths of others, and we recognize how much we have been given, unearned. It is but one step in finding out more about yourself and finding an inner peace that leads to a much happier being.
Here is a story that I use often in my leadership training as part of the ‘knowing thyself’ modules (you may have already heard of this, but a reminder is always blessed):
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
What wonderful messages for us, the key one being that whatever we tell our brain will manifest in front of us.
What’s the difference then between two capable people with different lives?
Why is it that some of us live up to our potential while others don’t? Is it something to do with what they are telling themselves?
These are interesting questions, and there are no blanket answers. It would be naive to reduce the complexity of different people and their circumstances down to a singular and easy solution. Still, let’s dig a little deeper.
Let’s eliminate things like genetic differences and general luck factors, and let’s pretend that we have two people with similar ambitions, similar opportunities, and similar skills. Will they both be equally effective in life?
The answer is usually no. There is something more, and it’s often the biggest differentiator between those who get what they want and those who don’t.
Grit, determination, willpower, mental resilience and motivation are all terms commonly associated with success of any kind. Much of the recent research has come to that conclusion, and broadly speaking, these things matter quite a bit.
In different contexts, they may mean different things, but overall, being able to harness each of them comes down to one thing — the ability to control your own mind and align it with what you need to do.
There are no shortcuts to do this, and I’m not going to pretend to provide one, but foundationally, there is a simple mental habit, that if mastered, will give you a disproportionally large return on your investment of time and overall happiness.
But first, let’s look why controlling your mind is so difficult to begin with.
The Mental Battle
Most of the psychological issues we face can be attributed to a single conflict.
We have two prominent and largely opposed parts to our brains. An old reptilian part that was programmed to help us survive and reproduce in harsh and varied climates thousands and thousands of years ago, and a modern part that allows us to operate in a world suited for longer term thinking.
The reptilian brain is incredibly efficient, and it’s very quick to respond to stressors in our environment. That’s where it primarily takes its cues from. It’s emotional, and it enables us to stay in motion without thinking.
The modern brain is less efficient, but more calculated. It takes its time, and its deliberate in evaluating the circumstances of our surroundings before it decides to act. It takes its cues from the rational mind before it responds.
By default, the reptilian brain is in charge. It allows us to function on autopilot, and it requires less effort than deliberate thinking and planning.
However, in order to exercise control over your mind to get it to do what you need to do, you often need to put the modern brain at the helm. That’s what will guide you to take on short-term disappointments (pain) to meet your long-term goals. That’s how grit, determination, willpower, and motivation are harnessed.
But if the reptilian brain is in charge, what can we do to consistently inspire the modern brain to take control? The answer is practice, practice, practice.
A Simple Question
The primary driver of the reptilian brain is your environment. It’s reactive to the cues in your surroundings, and it then follows a comfortable pattern.
The modern brain, on the other hand, has to be driven proactively. It has to be called upon. It certainly can be influenced by your surroundings, but only if something out of the ordinary occurs. Otherwise, it takes the backseat and is unwilling to act.
For many of us, there are a lot of easy distractions in our environment that guide our mind into reactive behavior to derail us from doing what we need to do. A temporary solution would be to remove those distractions.
Over the long-term, however, you want more than that. You want to be able to resist things not because they’re not there, but because you have the mental control to do. That’s where the following question comes in:
“Am I being mindlessly reactive or am I being proactive?”
Next time you start to procrastinate, ask yourself this question. Next time you begin to feel unhappy, ask yourself this question. Next time you think you’re ready to prematurely quit on something, ask yourself this question.
Almost every time, you’ll find that your initial response is reactive. Something in your environment nudges you into these feelings and they catch on.
When you make a habit of asking yourself this question, however, you stop and pause right before you dive into the spiral of despair. It won’t always inspire you to suddenly change your behaviour, but when you acknowledge that you’re being reactive, you make a choice to either stick with it or not.
Most of the time, you’ll take control and think purposefully and nudge yourself towards the desired behavior. Sometimes, you’ll stay where you are. Either way, you’re activating a part of the modern brain to make a deliberate choice, and that’s helping you practice a sense of control over your mind. Even just a feeling of control is one of the biggest motivators to be better.
If you make this a habit, over time, you will also see quite substantial results.
Which Will It Be?
When you’re reactive, your environment decides for you.
When you’re proactive, you get to decide because you’re in control.
A reactive person lets the world shape the outcome of their life. A proactive person takes the world as it is and shapes it into the world they want.
If you can successfully train your brain to deliberately question the state of mind it’s in and use that question to give you more control, you can do almost anything. You can quite literally reprogram yourself.
This is not a quick fix, and it will not happen overnight, but with one small step at a time, you can slowly align your mindset with your potential.
The choice is yours. Get feeding the good wolf…
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