Follow your Problems

How many times have you heard that you should follow your passion?

But what if you don’t know what you’re passionate about?

Well I want to suggest an alternative. Follow your problems.

We’ve all encountered situations in our lives where we’ve wished that there was a better way to do something.  What if that’s the starting point of finding something you’re passionate about.

You see, if you find a problem that’s bothering you then there’s a great likelihood that others are encountering it too. And if solving the problem comes easy to you then you have a skill that is valuable. And although you might not be passionate about solving the problem, if you can solve it for others then you will find meaning.

There’s nothing wrong with following your passion especially if you know what it is, but keep in mind that passion can wane and change with time. Problems on the other hand are endless and if you can infuse a little bit of passion in to solving problems then you might just have a winning formula.

Cultivate self-fulfillment

What is keeping you from feeling fulfilled in your life?

We have all experienced this feeling of, if I could just have this one more thing or if I could meet this special person then I would feel fulfilled.

The truth is that deep down we know that relying on external factors to provide a sense of fulfillment leaves us wide open to disappointment.

What if we shed this notion of looking outside for fulfillment and begin to cultivate it internally?

When you take steps to be responsible towards your own sense of fulfillment you begin to experience a feeling of calm and control. You will experience an unwavering security in yourself.

Cultivating self-fulfillment starts with being present to your inner self. It requires you to stop and listen to your thoughts and feelings so that you can learn to identify who you are at your core and it will also give you clues about the gaps you are trying to fill within you. It is not easy. But over time the rewards will be much greater than anything you can find outside of yourself.

The Perfect illusion

When will you feel that everything is perfect?

When it all works out for you?

When you have everything under control?

When it all looks perfect?

When do you think this will happen?

Perfection is an illusion that you can chase forever but will never catch. It something you see in books, movies, and artificially structured moments and environments.

Even the most ‘perfect’ endeavors such as going in to outer space and life threatening surgeries have degrees of imperfection. It’s just that you don’t see them because all you see is the end result.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t aim for good or even greatness in your life, however be aware that true perfection is an illusion.

Inspire Someone

Think of a time when you were inspired by words someone said to you. How did it make you feel?

When was the last time you intentionally set out to inspire someone?

The word inspire originates from Latin and means breathe in or breath into, so when you inspire someone you breathe life into them. And how many people do you know that could use some inspiration?

A few simple inspirational words said with sincerity can make a huge difference in someone’s day or even their life.  So why not do it more often? Inspiring someone will not cost you anything but your action will be priceless.

Your Calling

What is your calling?

What do you feel compelled to do?

What’s the thing you hear or see other people doing that excites you?

I know these are big questions but they are really worth thinking about.

Somewhere inside you there are clues, little signals that are giving you messages about what you’re interested in. Don’t ignore them, explore them.

You don’t have to start out by making a full-fledged commitment to any of your interests, you can dabble at will. With all the resources available to you today a few hours of committed research can tell you so much about anything you feel you might be interested in doing.

The key to answering the big questions is giving yourself permission to look for the answers. When you find yourself drawn towards something that you think you might be interested in doing, don’t smother the feeling, fuel it. You owe it to yourself and the world.

Small Changes

What’s the next thing about you that you plan on changing?

Oh, wait. You hadn’t planned on changing anything? Well that’s okay because change is going to happen anyway, regardless of if you’re ready or not. So why not decide which changes you want to make?

You’ve probably heard that the only thing constant about life is change and this is so true, but what if all the changes weren’t random. What if you could choose some of the changes?

Making big changes is a difficult endeavor because usually the bigger the change the longer it takes for you to adapt to it. One of the keys to making effective change is making a small change as possible. If you doubt that small change is effective then the next time you’re driving turn the steering wheel just a little and see what happens.

When you get in the habit of intentionally making changes in your life you’ll have a greater sense of control over yourself. And this sense of control will give you peace of mind and a feeling of power when you encounter external change.

Highs and Lows

Imagine listening to a piece of music that only has high notes. What would it sound like?

The beauty of high notes is clearer when they are contrasted with low notes and this same phenomenon applies to life too.

In every aspect of life, your career, finances, health and relationships you will continuously experience highs and lows and just like music it’s the constant wave that that makes life enjoyable.

You may not see it but everyone is experiencing highs and lows on a continuous basis. The ones that don’t seem to be affected by the lows are the ones that have learned to handle them or not show when they are experiencing them.

Just like music, the tempo of the highs and lows will constantly change, sometimes from minute to minute and other times it can be days. Enjoying and appreciating the highs when you are experiencing them, even if momentarily, will help you gain perspective when you experience the lows.

Your way?

How much energy do you put in proving your way of doing something is right and others are wrong?

What do get from your effort and where did ‘your way’ come from?

When you choose to argue because you think you’re right you are only doing so based on the information you believe to be correct and so is the other person. So, essentially you’re both correct in in your own way.

If you research any profession you will find that even information that people have considered factual and founded on scientific evidence has changed over time based on new information.

Now there’s a big difference between being correct and having a preference for how you want something to be, and when you realize this your life will change. It will change because you will no longer be attempting make the other person feel inferior for their preferences.

The question of being right or being happy is a popular one and perhaps your happiness is tied to you being right. However, that also means that you’re invested in saying others are wrong. So the next time you find yourself in a situation where you’re attempting to impose what you think is right ask yourself if you’re really right or is this just your way, and how you’d like things to be.

Relationship Budget

What is your relationship budget?

Do you have one?

How do you allocate your time and energy to the people that mean the most to you? Do you give them the left over time you have at the end of the day or a week? Or do you prioritize them and invest in them frequently?

Relationships that aren’t prioritized will naturally erode over time. The unfortunate thing is that they will dissolve not out of malice but lack of attention.

If you wouldn’t expect your bank account to magically accumulate money over time then don’t expect the same from your relationships. Invest intentionally in your relationships by being present and undistracted. You can choose how much time you want to invest based on your experience, and then get in the habit of setting aside that time to nurture the relationships that are important to you.

Your Days

This is your day.

It’s the one you’ve been waiting for your whole life. It’s the day you commit yourself to achieving everything you want to.

Or maybe it’s not your day. Perhaps it’s the day you decide to give away? It’s the day you decide to give to all the other distractions vying for your attention. It’s the day that will disappear like all the other days.

I know, you’re busy and you can’t commit an entire day for yourself.

What about the next five minutes? Can they be yours? Or will those too become part of another lost day?

Carving out small chunks of time just for you doesn’t have to be an all or none proposition. As little as 30 minutes of uninterrupted time will make a huge difference in your life.

Don’t let all your days slip away with the misguided notion that you don’t have time. Find your time, make your time, fight for your time. These are your days.

What are you moved to do?

Is there a particular vocation or hobby that you’ve always sensed that you might be good at? Are there one or two things that you’ve always been curious about but have never taken the time to explore?

If you really don’t know what moves you  or have buried it so deep that you have forgotten, then a good question to ask yourself is, if there were no financial or time constraints what would you spend your time doing? Then using pen and paper write down the answers to this question.

Creating space and opportunity is an excellent first step for you to discover or even re-discovering a passion on interest that you have. And once you do, you can begin to align your life in a way that allows you to spend at least a small amount of your time doing what you are naturally driven towards.

Aligning yourself, even for short periods of time with things that interest you is one of the best things you can do for yourself and for those around you

Greener grass

Do you know what it takes to maintain the metaphoric ‘greener grass’ that you admire?

How much time and effort it took to grow the grass? And, what if the grass is not as green as you think it is? What if it just looks that way?

The tendency to want what others have has been linked to a deep seeded survival mechanism that was prevalent when resources were scarce for humans. However, nowadays it’s more likely to be tied to self-esteem. It is the measuring of one’s self-worth against the imagined life of others.

When you see someone’s life that you admire consider the tradeoffs of time, money, education etc. that they have made and ask yourself if you’d be willing to do the same. And if the answer is yes, then go for it.

It’s easy to fall in to the feeling of seeing other people’s lives as better than your own, especially in today’s hyper connected age. But keep in mind that there’s also someone out there looking and wishing they have the life you have.

Mindless accumulation

What do you have that you don’t need?

Why do you have it? Why does it occupy space in your home?

Do you keep it ‘just in case?’ How many times has there been a ‘just in case’ when you’ve needed to use it?

The mindless accumulation of things is a symptom of a deeper problem. Mindless accumulation is tied directly to temporary, in the moment happiness. If you think about you will realize that that a thing, an inanimate object rarely holds the power to give you happiness. If it did then every time you walked into your home everything you owned would make you happy.

There are probably a handful of items that provide pleasant memories but most of what you own just takes up physical space and even worse, sometimes it even occupies your mental space.

The constant need to possess is a vicious cycle because ultimately you become owned by your possessions. So, the next time you feel the need to buy one more thing, really ask yourself, why am I buying this and what need am I looking to fulfill? Perhaps you’ll end up with less stuff but more answers.

Yet

When you’re challenged with a difficult task or problem how do you respond? Do you balk at the first sign of a challenge because you immediately question your abilities?

Is your usual response an ‘I can’t do that, or I’m not good at that?’

What if you ended your self-doubt by adding ‘yet’ to the end of your thought?

So your new response would be, ‘I can’t do that yet or I’m not good at that yet.’ How would this one small change in vocabulary affect your approach?

The word yet can be life changing. Get in habit of using the word yet in your thinking when you doubt your ability to meet a challenge. It will signal to you the possibility of progress and increases your confidence when tackling new challenges.  It will help you transform how you see yourself and your current set of abilities.

Heroes

Who do you think of when you hear the word hero, movie stars, athletes, musicians? What about everyday people that walk among you?

Last week I met someone that I would consider a hero.  I met an individual whose spirit, determination and attitude that I admire and seek to emulate.

As we started our conversation we exchanged the usual, how are you? And I responded with ‘any morning I wake up is a good day because above ground is always better than the alternative.’ He responded with a similar answer but ended it with “especially since I’ve experienced almost dying.” So I asked him to elaborate.

He shared that he was in the second Gulf War and was shot 5 times. As if that wasn’t’ shocking enough he then went on to share that he was shot as he jumped out of a plane attempting to parachute in to enemy territory and that they also shot his parachute, causing him to fall 800 feet to the ground as his parachute spiraled out of control. He hit the ground bounced a couple of times and then lay there for several hours before being rescued. It was a miracle that he survived.

Fast forward 20 years and he’s earned 7 degrees and is working on his 8th. One degree being in ballroom dancing, against all odds because he had been shot in his knees and was told he would never walk again. He’s also started several businesses and now he is giving his time back by mentoring business owners.

I was inspired by him and this post is dedicated to all the other everyday heroes that that we encounter in our lives. The ones that have endured more than most could ever imagine and have now found pursuits bigger than themselves. The ones we should all aspire to be like.

ROI

What do you expect from the time you invest in a relationship?

What do you expect from the love you invest in your children?

What do you expect from the money you invest in a business or the stock market?

What do you expect from the investment in your health?

What do you expect from all of your investments? What do you expect from them, and what happens to you after you make the investments?

The good news and the bad news is the returns you expect are rarely the returns you get.  Sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down.

Does this mean you shouldn’t invest time, emotions and money? Well, it might. And that will depend on your tolerance for uncertainty and how you respond when things don’t go as expected.

If returns and results were guaranteed in any area of life then the world would be perfect, and boring. The one guaranteed return from your investments will be your experience. And how you respond to your experience will dictate your future investments.

Influence your thinking

Who or what do you think influences how you think, family, friends, the media?

Your thoughts are influenced by whatever you put your attention on. So whatever you expose yourself to on a daily basis will overtime drive your thinking, whether you admit it or not.

Your brain absorbs so much information in a subliminal manner and you’re often unaware of all the information being stored. That’s why advertisers keep showing and playing the same ads over and over, because they know that even though you think you’re ignoring them, your brain is in fact storing them.

There will be times when you cannot avoid information or stories that lead you to think about things that bring you down. However, if you want to experience strong, positive uplifting thoughts then you should make a conscious effort to expose your mind to information that will help you lead such a life.

Self-care

Do you have a self-care program? A system where you take time to prioritize yourself or have you chosen to sacrifice your well-being for others?

You’re probably familiar with the overplayed airline message of ‘put on your own mask before attempting to help others,’ but there is so much truth to this.

If you don’t take invest time in self-care then not only are you less effective for yourself, but also towards those whom you want to help.

When you prioritize caring for yourself not only will you benefit mentally and physically, you will also reap psychological and emotional benefits too.

Self-care doesn’t have to consist of hours of self-indulgence; it can be accomplished in just a few minutes a day. A few minutes set aside to breathe, to think, to move, to eat right all in order to replenish and rejuvenate your mind and body which will ultimately do wonders for you.

Inspire others

Do you actively find ways to inspire others? Do you use words of encouragement do drive them towards their goals?

If you’ve ever been inspired by the words or actions by another person then you know how good it feels, so why not seek out ways to inspire others?

Inspiring others doesn’t mean being fake and supporting them in their every endeavor. However it does mean that you take time to listen and you learn to deliver constructive criticism and provide them with confidence to move forward.

You can also inspire other by genuinely celebrating their success and just as important, being there when they fail and not being the one to say, I told you so.

Inspiring others is ultimately a selfish act because when you make others feel good you too feel good about yourself and there is nothing wrong with that. The definition of the word inspire is to ‘breathe life in to,’ so why not be the on that breathes life in to those around you?

Not good enough

Do you hesitate to try something new because you think you’re ‘not good enough?’ Well, you’re probably right, and that’s okay.

The feeling of not being good enough to even try something is like an invisible cage that prevents you from experiencing new and exciting things.  And the thing about this feeling is that it never goes away, it will be there every time you think about trying something new or different.

The trick is to embrace the feeling, acknowledge that you’re not good enough and that is exactly why you are going to move forward realizing all the while that even when you get better you’ll still feel as though you’re not good enough.

Don’t let the feeling of not being good enough hold you back. The truth is you’re already good enough to start anything.