Posts Tagged ‘life purpose’

Today is the day

September 4, 2015

 

Finding your personal starting line

Finding your personal starting line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is your starting point.

Yes, now. Today it all begins; right now.

Past failures, indiscretions, mistakes or false starts are not important.

They’re a learning curve, life experience and the foundation that allows you to be better now.

This is not a ‘living in the moment’ speech, it’s reality. If you can’t change the past, then you need to make peace with it. Very few people wake up brilliant, super fit, a business genius and have all the answers day one. I haven’t met any!

The people who do succeed are the ones that try and fail, and try again, each time getting better than the last.

Sometimes you can feel like a monumental failure, the sort of person that you wouldn’t entrust to have any success in a new project. So it’s easy not to start. But you can also think better than that.

Because giving up is no fun. It certainly doesn’t allow you to reach your potential, live the life you want or enjoy the satisfaction of breaking old habits and being successful.

And how sweet would that be?

However, don’t set your bar too high. Do what’s right, today, for you. It doesn’t matter what others think or have achieved, or how long it has taken them. They don’t care; most people are too wrapped up in their own ‘stuff’ to give your experiences a second thought. Or even a first one.

Forget about them, and forget about your own ‘stuff’ (those past failures and indiscretions) too. You have a free pass to the future. You know what you do well, so focus on that.

Give yourself another chance, learn from what has gone before and make a start today.

 

Advertisements

Ready, Set, Start

August 26, 2015
Push past inertia ...

Push past your inertia …

What are you waiting for?

I can tell you.

Permission from others to be who you want to be.

Why should you need that?

You don’t.

Then why haven’t you acted to make the changes you know you need to make?

Whether you admit it or not, you’re probably waiting for approval, encouragement or a helping hand to get you started. It doesn’t come because most people are so concerned with living their own lives.

I was talking to a colleague about his plans for further study and how, once again, he had put it off. He clearly felt bad about it and was, I believe, looking to others to make the decision for him.

The sluggish resistance of inertia is powerful. But you must resist. You can’t wait until you feel like doing it. You can’t wait until others do it. You can’t wait until others do it for you.

There’s something in the human psyche that believes that if something is hard to do, or doesn’t feel comfortable, it’s better not to start it yet. Perhaps it won’t feel so daunting tomorrow, or in the summer, or perhaps next year, or when I have more time.

The point is, many things that will create positive results and change in your life will be hard to do at first. When you do them, they will almost always be worth it – that’s the payoff. As a society we value the ‘self-starters’ and ‘go-getters’ but rarely do we self-start ourselves.

It’s a strange phenomenon that life seems to take a natural drift toward what we don’t want, toward what will actually steal life from us. Easy is easy, but easy is rarely best.

It’s easier to sit on the couch and watch TV than to spend time talking with your family, or to read a book that will stimulate your mind, or to start that project that you beat yourself up for continually putting off.

If you push yourself to do, it’ll feel really good. Accomplishment is a reward in itself. But at first, change won’t be easy. In fact, getting yourself out of your rut may be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, even if in theory it should be simple.

Push hard against the inertia holding you back and create the life that you want.

The Power of Personal Perceptions…

July 14, 2015
Do you care what others think about you?

Do you care what others think about you?

Last weekend we caught up with friends and were discussing their daughter’s wedding, held the month before. It was a very pleasant event with an enjoyable reception and nice meal. They told us how I had inadvertently caused a last-minute panic on the seating arrangements, which they confessed was very strange.

A friend of theirs, whom I’d met infrequently over the years, expressed a vehement dislike for me and didn’t want to be seated anywhere near me. He also expressed the same sentiment to someone else at the wedding (who later shared that with me in amazement).

I was bemused by this. I’d rarely spoken to this man and never perceived I’d been in a position to create this level of distain. There’s the rub. For years he’d professed to be the best at everything; he had the fastest car, was the best sportsman, and owned an established business. He surrounded himself with sycophants who worshipped his every move.

I don’t buy into that game, and I guess that must have annoyed him. He wanted to make life a competition and I didn’t feel the need to respond. I prefer to take people on face value: who they are, rather than what they have.

Recently he’d been caught cheating on his wife, his business faltered and he had to sell the fast car. That doesn’t change who he is, but it certainly changed his outlook. He now saw me as ‘winning’ in his game, by his rules. So he found reasons to belittle me to others. He failed to notice (again) that I wasn’t playing. I feel sorry for him; he has some challenges to face.  He’s created benchmarks that define who he is and now, at fifty, they can’t be maintained. Clearly he is unhappy.

As for me, as much as I say I don’t care what others think about me, I don’t think anyone likes to be disliked. But I can’t change this guy’s opinion. And I don’t need to try. I just won’t focus on it.

In a timely post, Seth Godin this week said ‘We can choose to define ourselves (our smarts, our brand, our character) on who rejects us. Or we can choose to focus on those that care enough to think we matter. Carrying around a list of everyone who thinks you’re not good enough is exhausting’.

Keeping the faith

June 30, 2015
Find your own way

Find your own way

I love listening to children’s wild ideas about life; what they want to create and what they want to be. Young children are so much fun; they aren’t yet tainted by the naysayers who decry anything beyond the usual as ‘impossible’.

I like a big dose of impossible. We’d be lost without it. Many people say ‘Dare to dream’ but in the next breath tell you why your dream is impossible. We see the results of the out-of-the-box thinkers all the time. We see how they drive the advancements of the world.

So why, as a society, do we expect everyone to conform? My son was telling me how he wanted to make a difference in the world and get rich doing it. He’s a clever boy and I don’t doubt him for a moment.

An older relative who was visiting said ‘That would never work in the real world’ and followed this up with ‘It’s not very nice to say that you want to be rich when there are so many people struggling in the world today’.

Now there’s a massive dose of lack mentality! She didn’t mean to be negative; she was trying to protect him from disappointment by telling him not to set the bar too high. That’s an opinion that’s more common than you think – and one that gives us ‘permission’ not to try.

This ‘real world’ sounds like a depressing place. A place where new ideas, different approaches and enthusiasm are checked at the door. Where real-world inhabitants are filled with negativity and despair. They expect new ideas to fail and change to be rejected. Worse, they want to drag others down with them.

Don’t believe the naysayers. Their world may be real for them, but it doesn’t mean you have to live in it. The real world isn’t a place, it’s an excuse. Don’t go there.

 

Do we matter?

June 22, 2015
We have a lot to be thankful for

We have a lot to be thankful for

I was walking through the city yesterday and it, despite Melbourne’s cold weather, was alive with people rushing to their next destination. Does anything they do actually matter? Or are we filling time lost in jobs going on day in day out whether we’re there or not?

Of course there are the lucky ones that make a difference, enjoy their work and, as Tony Robbins says, ‘Live with passion’. It’s a great goal but by the look of most people on the street, quite a way from reality.

Now that I’m on the high side of 50, I spend more time assessing the world and my place in it. I’m somewhat over the corporate system, having ‘played the game’ for nearly thirty years. I’m too young to retire and know that I would be quickly bored and want a challenge.

I pursue hobbies and have the resources to enjoy them more now. I want to live my passion and make a difference but I also have bills to pay. Sometimes that makes me feel trapped. And then guilty because I have done very well out of life. And then resentful because the years just fly by. Why am I here and does it matter?

I found a picture of my grandfather and his work colleagues from the City of Melbourne dated 1917. In essential jobs, most were disappointed that they couldn’t go to war; they missed the ‘Great Adventure’. In hindsight they were the lucky ones. Had things been different, perhaps I wouldn’t have been born. They’re all gone now. What was their legacy? What did their lives mean?

Then I realise how hard my grandparents worked to raise a family, to achieve a level of success, and how proud they were of their achievements. The stories my grandfather told me, the values my family embraced, I now teach to my grandson half a century later. I realise that we all make a difference when we work to leave the world just a little better than we found it.

 

Flight to clarity

April 29, 2015
Still cruisin'

Still cruisin’

Sometimes life sends you a message to make sure you’re awake.

Last week I was heading away on a customer incentive trip to the Kimberley in far north Western Australia. It’s one of Australia’s most remote locations; far from mobile and internet connections, electricity and the comforts usually associated with corporate travel.

I was looking forward to it; a new place, a new experience: fishing with Barramundi, Queenies, Cod and a variety of other species sharing the waters with crocodiles, sharks and stinging box jellyfish.

Swimming was off the agenda but fishing and trekking to caves with 40,000-year-old Aboriginal cave paintings was the order of the days ahead. Leaving from Melbourne, we had four flights and over twelve hours of travel – further and longer than many overseas destinations.

We made the first flight to Perth and transited to Broome, two and a half hours up the WA coast. From there, we transferred to a Cessna and then we would take a helicopter for the final leg.

The Cessna took off on schedule and save minor buffeting we settled in for the two-hour flight to Mitchell’s Plateau. There was a buzz on board with the boys and making predictable jokes about small planes crashing into crocodile-infested waters.

It was a hot day and forty-five minutes into the flight we were relaxing with the gentle drumming of the engine and the staccato of the blades making us sleepy. This was abruptly disturbed by the shrill of warning alarms and an acrid smell in the cabin, followed shortly by the cabin filling with smoke.

The plane had an electrical fire. The pilot banked sharply and dropped from 6,500 feet to just over 1,000. From the tight bank, I could see the landscape rising quickly. I assumed the pilot was in control but he was looking worried and calling ‘Pan-Pan’ into his headset, the precursor to a mayday.

I looked at my colleague in the next seat and said, ‘We could be in a bit of trouble here’.

The silence on the plane was eerie, no panic, no calling out; just a stunned silence, hoping we were going to make it.

The fire extinguisher was at the back of the cabin so the pilot shut down the electrics to contain the situation. As the plane levelled out, I felt great relief. In the distance I could see a small landing field, one of very few on the journey. The plane roared across the tree-tops, flaps inoperable so we were coming in hot, at more than double the normal landing speed. The pilot kept the revs up and put the plane down hard.

We evacuated rapidly while the pilot hit the console with the extinguisher. We went into a small shed and were told to stay there due to the number of crocodiles in the area. By now the tension had eased and the boys were joking again.

A few minutes later we had police, ambulance, fire brigade and SES roll in under full noise and lights. The paramedics rushed in to find eight blokes drinking coke and looking bewildered, none of us appreciating the seriousness of a fire on a plane.

‘Bugger me; that was close’, said a police officer.

The pilot came in to talk to the police and received a rowdy round of applause from our group of very appreciative passengers.

He had done a great job and we asked him if he was going to take us the rest of the way.

‘No more flying for me today’ was his response, and we settled in for the two-hour wait for a replacement plane from Broome. Thoughts of work were far from our minds and we were relieved to find we still had phone reception and everyone rang home.

Now that’s a business trip that really put our priorities into perspective.

Commitment and success

January 20, 2015
Commitment means taking action

Commitment means taking action

This is my 200th blog post so a very opportune time to talk about commitment.

We all know that some people find it easier to commit than others – taking action to move into a committed, full and happy life – while others find commitment to anyone or anything a struggle.

The usual explanation of the uncommitted is that something ‘better’ might be just around the corner. This can only be part of the equation because it’s not only what you commit to, it’s how you commit that defines your success.

Only the smallest part of committing is the passive process of ‘deciding’ what you have committed to; the main factor that will make the choice successful or not is the work you put into it. ‘I will start a blog, I will start exercising, I will improve my education’ – all count for very little unless you take action.

The key determiner of how you commit (or not) is the script that dictates how you live your life. Often the positive self-talk or initial excitement of the challenge isn’t enough. There’s a difference between what you want to believe (‘I can change’) and what you actually believe (‘It’s no use, I will never change’). Compare this to an internal belief system that supports ‘I always finish what I start’ to ‘It’s no use, I always give up or fail.’

Perhaps the best response is to prove it to yourself. Make small changes and keep at it. Don’t try to change everything all in one go. Set small tasks that you know you can achieve and build on them. Set achievable stepping stones that support your progress and build your belief system.

 

 

Good enough now

December 9, 2014
Stay focused on what matters now

Stay focused on what matters now

One of the reasons we try to manage the future is we think we’ll somehow be better, understand more and avoid the challenges that get in the way of our success. Of course, the problem with avoiding our challenges is that we also avoid the opportunity to grow. We avoid the lesson.

It’s through our contact with the fullness of the present moment and who we are that we recognise our gifts and our purpose. This is where freedom lies. Not down the road, but in the reality of the now.

When we stop running from ourselves, and what we fear is failure, we have an opportunity to experience worth and success. We’ll always be wrestling with something. But we don’t need to arrive somewhere to find it. No matter what it looks like, we’ve already come a long way, and this is what we’ve been waiting for. Embrace it. And then … do it again.

No regrets. Well, perhaps just a few …

November 26, 2014
Living your life

Living your life

My last post discussed regrets and how we process them. It got me thinking about how we handle them and what we can do differently.

I read an article about a hospice nurse who recorded the common regrets of the dying patients with whom she worked. The two top regrets are interesting and relatable. First, people generally wished they’d had the courage to live a more authentic life. They looked back on life and realised the many occasions in which they had capitulated to external pressure. They wished they’d taken more opportunities to follow their hearts.

The second regret was wishing that they hadn’t worked so hard. In a world where success is often measured by what we do and how well we do it, the correlation between job and identity appears not to be fulfilling in the long run. If deathbed wisdom is any guide then people would prefer to have taken off more days and spent more time with friends and family or to pursue their passion and purpose.

In this regard, life really can get in the way of living. Most of us can’t simply ‘chuck it in’ and live a life to our own rules and pursuing our passions, regardless of how inspiring that sounds. But imagine we made space for some of that now, rather than doing nothing or putting it off until retirement or when we have time? Plan some time to make a start. Even a few hours a week will make you feel better, provide more balance and allow you to deal better with the not-so-inspiring requirements of life.

When you think about your regrets, consider what you might do to avoid them in the first place. Are you willing to take a day off occasionally to spend time with those you care about? Are you willing to take it a little easier at work and leave a little earlier? What would happen if you left work at lunchtime and turned up at your child’s sports day?

Where does God sit on the question of life’s meaning?

September 30, 2014

Life's meaning

The question ‘What is the meaning of life?’ may have seemed as strange to generations past as the question ‘Do you believe in God?’, because it was considered the same question.

Somewhere along the line, we began to question God and separate the concepts of religious and spiritual belief, which, perhaps, makes the question of the meaning of life a more modern one. This isn’t to say that people didn’t ask themselves why they were here; rather, it seems for the most part that they had a readymade answer in religion.

If we are created in God’s image, then the blind following of doctrines may not express our individuality or allow for spiritual growth. Does that mean that God wants us to question the meaning of life? Either way, I believe we are free to question all we want.

Previous generations may have been less plagued by the meaning-of-life question, not because their religious beliefs were any less up for question, but because their social practices offered less scope for contemplation. The meaning of life in such times consisted of doing more or less what your ancestors did, as well as the age-old conventions society expected of you. Religion and precedent were there to instruct on such matters.

The idea that there could be a meaning to life that was unique to the individual is unlikely to have gained much support, when the meaning of life consisted of its function within the community as a whole.

In these times outliers were not consider helpful at all. I was reminded recently that the word ‘individual’ originally meant ‘indivisible’ or ‘inseparable from’ and even today being part of the community or a ‘team player’ is considered a positive attribute. Together we can achieve anything; anything, so it may seem, other than a robust sense of self.

So where does God sit on the question of life’s meaning?

If we are to move past allegory we must accept that meaning is no longer exclusively a spiritual essence buried beneath the surface. In my opinion, we’re free to question life’s meaning while remaining faithful to our beliefs.