Archive for February, 2011

The end of days…beyond zero

February 25, 2011


End of days or something more?

When we look back at mistakes we’ve made in the past they feel like outstanding examples of stupidity, impulsiveness, and poor judgment. We kick ourselves for our lack of foresight; for not slowing and being more cautious, for letting our emotions push our reason into the background.

We hear the inevitable ‘What were you thinking?’ or ‘Where was your commonsense?’ and feel the rush of embarrassment at not having a good answer. Yes, what was I thinking? I don’t have a good answer. I know when I’m doing it but I just can’t stop…

When we add them up, the list of failures can leave us feeling our lives are more half-empty than half-full.

This applies equally to relationships, businesses, our career, sporting endeavours, weight loss plans or that bestselling novel just waiting to get out. The list can be, unfortunately, limitless. And if we’re really trying we can select more than one item from this depressing menu.

Most of us at some point have set a goal we would really like to achieve; a goal that requires time and effort for a great pay off. We set a goal because it’s something different. It involves change, doing things differently and often with great effort. It’s easier not to do it.

We start out with a sense of excitement and passion, with the best of intentions and visions of success, but then we lose sight of where we’re heading. The challenges of our life distract us.

Our vehicle to success begins to veer ever so slightly off the road, so slightly that we scarcely notice. But suddenly one day we find ourselves sitting in a ditch, unable to move. We realise the momentum is gone, the dream has faded and that we’ve failed…again.

Those around us shake their heads, full of hindsight wisdom. They said they knew it was a mistake, and said it wouldn’t work. We’re not back to square one, worse, we’re beyond zero. We are reinforcing our self belief that we ‘can’t do’ or we are a ‘failure’. ‘Why bother, success is obviously not for me. I’m destined to be stuck here forever.’

But the other way of looking at failures is to not see them as failures at all. Yes, the intentions were sound, the judgment good. Yes, there are always mistakes to trip us up; regrets that remain and burn. But the problem was not stupidity or laziness or other labels we readily impose on ourselves. 

Perhaps we can try again. Perhaps we can reassess what we’re chasing. Or perhaps we can look at what we did achieve and see it for the success it was. We can feel good about trying and in doing so create inertia that changes our world, even briefly, for the better.

Life’s not static. Thing change; nothing lasts forever. Perhaps we just came to the end of this particular road. What did we learn, what was the benefit? There can be excitement in the unexpected if we allow ourselves to enjoy the process, savour the journey. Life may serve you up something different to what you expect. It may even be better. Will you allow yourself the peace to see that?

(c) Work Life bank Balance 2011


Finding the time to follow your path

February 18, 2011

Finding the time for success

Finding the time to work towards success can be difficult.

We all have full lives, so freeing a block of time takes effort. So does making the mental change to accept this as part of your ‘new’ life. Something you enjoy may need to be removed, reduced or replaced. This comes down, ultimately, to the importance you place on your success.

It’s the same for anything that involves change – deciding to go to the gym 3 days a week to get fit, spending 30 minutes a day more at work to do the extra that will lead to a promotion and spending 30 minutes a day practicing a musical instrument or attending a class in the evenings two days a week. And so too with your vision. What do these changes have in common?

They are all swapping immediate gratification for longer term benefit. They all take time and build to a significant benefit but it’s easier to say ‘later’ and sit on the couch and watch TV or fill the available time with the busyness and urgency of life.

Too often our important-but-not-urgent tasks get put on the back burner. When we get busy with urgent tasks we feel pressured to finish those first before we can justify doing anything else. When we do have some time it’s easy to fill this with the not-urgent-and-not-important tasks. These are the ones that don’t require much effort. This pattern can continue for years, with the important tasks never quite reaching the action phase. ‘Life’ gets in the way if we let it.

We must accept that much of life lies outside our direct control, and external influences impact our action towards our vision. Of course we don’t just give up … but to follow our original plan no matter what is to ignore the unpredictability of reality. This requires flexibility and ingenuity.

What’s most important is not that you follow the letter of your original intention but rather the spirit of it. This is why knowing the ‘why’ behind your actions is so important. When you encounter obstacles you can find other ways to satisfy the same intent.

Integrity in the moment of choice does not mean making excuses, it means adapting your plan to the situation at hand while honouring the true spirit of your original intent. It can be frustrating and difficult but having clear vision and commitment allows us to find a way. We cannot allow ourselves to fall at the first hurdle.

Perhaps this is why we admire Olympic athletes so much. They are absolutely passionate and focused on their dream, make it a priority and take massive action to make it a reality. They find the way. Many have full-time jobs and commitments but they are up before dawn training and focusing on their diet, their performance and their skill every day.

We admire their skill and commitment and wish we could be the same. And we can for our own goals if we make them important enough. It does involve life change and that is difficult – all change is difficult – opening up part of our day to make pursuing our goal a regular part of who we are, so it becomes a habit and something we look forward to.

Following the path to success – it’s not easy!

February 10, 2011

Which path will you take?

There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is

definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and

a burning desire to possess it. — Napoleon Hill

 In my last post I described the path to success. We can state it in a single sentence:  Success comes to those who have clearly defined their vision, established their goals and committed themselves to their achievement through disciplined and consistent action.

Or even more simply: to clear about what you want, decide you’re going to pursue it and work towards it every day.

But if the formula is simple; the execution is not.

Our world is filled with distractions and competing opportunities for our time. That is why you must be very on your goal, your definite major purpose.

If you divert your focus and energy in many directions you will find yourself without the time, energy or motivation to achieve what you consider to be the most important.

When I talk to people about success many complain about not knowing what they really want to do. It usually means that they are spending most of their time doing what others want them to do. They conform to the norms of convention, never daring to leave the path of the expected, rational and accepted.

They have not learned to say no to anyone, and they take on commitments that divert their energy from their personal goals. You can’t allow others to take the responsibility for directing your life. Be selective in saying yes and don’t feel guilty for saying no. It can be hard as we naturally want to help and please others but many will take advantage of your good nature to your detriment.

When you say no to others you free up the time and energy to follow your path. Of course there are priorities in life –work, family – so not all our time can be our own. However, you can say no to many secondary things and with some imagination and creativity find time for you. It may only be 30 minutes a day, so allocate this time as a priority, not as a last resort when everything else is done.

This requires strength of character and this too can be learned. All it takes is practice. As well as not allowing others to set your priorities you must not let them discourage you from your dream. If you take advice and begin to doubt yourself all will be lost. The more you believe that you will not succeed the more likely you are to fail. Negative expectations result in failure because they become self fulfilling.

Once you become actively engaged in your vision you will create a positive momentum which will propel you along. Starting is the hardest part but when you become used to this as an enjoyable and regular part of your day you will find many opportunities and much to do and you will become aware of new capabilities within yourself.

Discovering these new capabilities is one of the most rewarding parts of following your vision. The steps of progress can be enjoyed every day. Do not defer your happiness until you reach your goal, live your life through the lens of your vision and enjoy the journey in the present moment. Living your vision is not only about reaching your goals. It’s about enjoying the journey and the satisfaction of achievement along the way; living your life in a more meaningful and personally rewarding way, a life of purpose.

Living this way and working towards a ‘higher purpose’ gives your life a sense of meaning and provides benefits for all aspects of it. We all crave purpose and meaning in our lives and this helps us to understand the question ‘Why am I here?’ and avoid the feeling of ‘Is this all there is?’

Purpose helps us to move beyond the boundaries of our self concept, where we are trapped by the results of our past, the expectations of others and fear of an unfulfilling future.

So success becomes living life fully engaged in the present moment, not in a reactive way but allowing it to flow as a natural expression of our true self and our higher purpose. The more we want to move towards our vision the more we must accurately define and understand our present reality.


A successful life – the path to success

February 8, 2011

Follow your own path to success

A successful life does not result from chance or simply good fortune. It comes from the active pursuit of a worthy purpose. Active pursuit means focused and deliberate action every day. Action that becomes a part of who you are. And success doesn’t happen in a day; rather a succession of active days where you move towards your goal.

Sitting back waiting for divine intervention or waiting for success to find you will not work.  Success is like fitness; start easily and over time increase the intensity until you reach your goal. Once your goal is achieved it’s necessary to keep exercising to maintain your standard.  When you stop it’s quickly lost.

To start your journey you must know where you are going. This requires developing your personal vision and understanding what success looks like to you. With vision you can overcome confusion, conflicting values, contradictory priorities and the ‘helpful’ advice of others. The more you can define success the more empowered you will be.

Successful people are those that have defined their vision, established their goals, and committed themselves to their achievement. The moment you decide on an objective and commit all your energies to that objective, you can achieve more than you ever believed possible.

You have now taken away the choice of not doing it. So start. If you believe that your goals are worth working for and you focus your mind on achieving them, your chances of empowering your life will dramatically increase.

The secret of success is consistency to purpose. A key attribute in achieving results is discipline. In today’s fast food, instant gratification world of wanting everything yesterday, discipline is a dying art. The other key is action. That too is required but often lacking. And all the positive affirmations in the world or attempts to manifest your desires through a positive mental attitude won’t help if you don’t actually do something.

Those who enjoy success make a disciplined effort to systematically and consistently pursue their goals rather than to drift aimlessly without focus or action. They are also very clear on what that goal is. Are you clear on exactly what it is that you want?

Many people describe their goals in vague, indefinite terms such as to be happy, rich or successful. This doesn’t work. A vision must be specific with clear goals and defined objectives that you wish to achieve. If you can determine what you want you can then determine how to achieve it and importantly how to live each day in the pursuit of your vision.

Specific means being able to clearly state what it is you desire. Many people chop and change from one activity to another without any focused or directed purpose in the misguided assumption that once begun things will somehow take care of themselves. Of course they won’t. We all get distracted by life; our careers, friends, family and the many commitments we find ourselves responsible for. But we also have the ability to maintain our focus on what is most important.

When we hold our goal in our mind, even when we are required to do other things, we allow our subconscious to go to work and often a solution or idea will pop into our heads.

The more we keep it in our mind the more likely we will see opportunities that come to us through the perspective of our vision and the more you we empower ourselves to make it a reality. Once you have set your vision you can determine specific goals and create actions that are consistent with it. It’s now up to you – go for it!

Enjoy what you want by removing what you don’t need.

February 4, 2011

Do you really need it to be you?

This weekend was the hard rubbish sort at our place. The once a year opportunity to throw unwanted or unused things onto the front nature strip for the council to come along and collect them. This is a great service and it’s very easy. Certainly preferable to loading up the trailer, driving 20 minutes to the rubbish tip, making two trips as green waste goes to the recycling plant, and paying $50 for the privilege.

I love the idea of simplifying life through decluttering. Yet it never seems to work that way. I understand the concept that ‘if it hasn’t been used for 12 months then you don’t need it’. I do find it easier to donate things to charity than throwing them away but of course not everything is suitable for that.

At the end we kept most things for a variety of seemingly very good reasons. We cling to possessions because they have been a significant part of our past and hold a special place in our hearts. It’s very difficult emotionally to assign a big chunk of our lives to the scrap heap.

Do such attachments enrich or enslave us? Are we better off unencumbered with the past? Is it memories or mementoes that are important?

I struggle with this. I like things but I hate clutter. I need to be selective. I have family heirlooms and photos that easily fit on a single shelf. I’m fully aware that the time will come when we have to let go of all of our belongings. Our world inevitably shrinks as we age.

When my grandmother moved to a nursing home at the end of her life all she could take with her were a few family pictures, a few changes of clothes and her favourite vase. I was struck by the starkness of it all. Her only ‘thing’ was a vase that now had tape around the base with her name on it. And at the very end, of course, she couldn’t take any of her possessions with her. She left the same as she arrived, 94 years earlier.

I went to her home and watched her life being assembled on the drive, awaiting the local charity collection. Yet it wasn’t her life, only possessions she no longer had use for. It made me sad and I filled my car with things I hoped would maintain the bond between us now that she was gone. Things I remembered from my childhood; things of no monetary value but priceless to me. They were more about my past than hers but I’m glad I have them.

It’s true that the ego drives the relentless pursuit of material possessions as an indication of success, wealth and status. Yet the ego never has enough; we always want more. 

How can we resolve this? I’ve realised that, for me at least, I can have things I like without the attached guilt, and still have inner peace.

This involves knowing yourself. Is the art on the wall there to speak to your soul or to impress your friends with its monetary value? What do you own purely as an indication to the world of your status in life? What is for you and what is for them?

We all accumulate too many things and have to let go of some of them to create space for living. We can give away whatever we don’t need to those who might need it. Then pass on to our children whatever they find meaningful. In giving what we can’t keep, we receive what we can’t lose. Contentment. Then what we have left is more valuable to us.

How objectification devalues us all

February 2, 2011

Objectified, who us?

When we first meet someone our natural reaction is to quickly categorise them and mentally compare them to ourselves. This can dictate if we take a superior or submissive role and even if we have anything in common or want anything to do with them at all.

This is seamlessly woven into new conversations. What do you do for a job? Where do you live? What car do you drive? Are you married? This is in addition to the visual cues of age, gender, physical characteristics and presence.

It is very unlikely that you will get too far into a conversation until these questions are asked. It is human nature to do so. I choose not to ask (it’s fun, try it) and wait and see how long until my new friend volunteers the information and then follows with the inevitable ‘and yourself?’

Why do we have to tick the boxes? This takes on a new perspective when we seek to find someone to lead us; our personal guru – someone to whom we are prepared to hand over our freewill in return for the success, prosperity and peace we believe they can provide.

From limited information we create a story of who we think our guru is by virtue of our preconceived idea of what we expect them to be. We may assign positive characteristics that don’t exist based on assumptions that aren’t valid.  

When we objectify others we diminish them and remove their individuality.  In some ways this does make sense as we gather the information that feeds our social construction of reality. What qualities are we assigning our guru?

Where we fall short is in confusing the person with the object, the reality with the ideal. The reality is that the person we’re looking for is usually the one we want to become.

We cannot be driven by the quest to find and place on a pedestal any single person, guru or otherwise, who will make everything right, take responsibility, show us the light, bless our decisions, and remove our uncertainty.

You can be your own guru and accept others with the open heart of a spiritual mystic.

You can even wear robes. It’s all up to you!