To be honest, this article is all about common sense put into a perspective which might get you to think about some important stuff. Read on, because it changed my thinking and as a result, I made better choices, which led to a much better quality of life.
It started in a place where I thought I knew how to be grateful and humble. Doing whatever it takes to make my life better, I was willing to invest in myself and make sacrifices. In other words, I was committed to success.
I wanted to experience the lifestyle of a winner. I wanted to feel what it’s like to be an achiever and made everything possible to do so. Even making sure I looked that way. But at some point, I started losing it.
I began telling everyone I met about how I co-founded a travel company and how I was consulting entrepreneurs, charging a lot of money. I was too involved in “cool” projects and was travelling a lot. I was trying to let people know what an intense and exciting life I lead.
Damn, I had lost it.
What’s the point I’m trying to make with this?
Read on and find out.
Self-compassion is huge
My humbleness disappeared. It led to things such as self-deception, personal dissatisfaction, financial obligations, and worst of all, it affected my marriage. Basically, I had the whole package to deal with.
After realising what had happened, I started blaming myself. For a few good weeks I criticised myself, thinking, “Oh gosh, I have lost so much precious time for nothing”, “How could I be so blind?”, and “How on earth did I get into this position?”.
I knew I had to stop this. I had to go back to basics. I turned to some advice from Eric Barker, in his book, ‘Barking Up The Wrong Tree’ (I’ve lately been recommending this book, a lot).
He writes that according to navy seal, James Waters, the way to build self-compassion is to talk to yourself with kindness. There is no need to use motivational language you won’t believe. You’ve just got to stay true to yourself.
Well, if a navy seal says so, then I certainly should try, right?
I sat down with myself and objectively put things into a different perspective. I started asking questions such as:
- If I didn’t need to prove myself to anyone how would I feel?
- What is really important for me in life?
- What do I want to change about my life this year, month, or week?
I have been revisiting these questions almost on a daily basis. And I am no longer surprised why I “lost it”.
You don’t have to experience what I have gone through. The most practical thing you can do is to dedicate a certain amount of time every day to think about the questions I wrote above.
It really is important. Nobody else will hand these answers to you, so it’s completely your responsibility to identify them.
The most challenging thing in this type of situation is to remain in control — not to revert back into the ‘blame others or myself’ mode.
Remember, humbleness has never damaged anyone’s success.
A strategy that will make a real and long-term difference
Self-compassion is one of the tools you can use to overcome and recover from difficult challenges in life. But what do you do in order to take your life onto a new trajectory?
You start with the end in mind. Now, this is the time to plan out what you want. You might not be able to get it crystal clear but you should have an idea of where you’re going.
What is it that you really want in life?
Until you answer this question, you’ll most likely be experiencing confusion, unfulfillment, depression, and desire for immediate pleasures. Is this how you want to live for the rest of your life?
I certainly don’t.
Here’s what helped me to get clear on what I want.
Last year, I re-read the book, ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, by Steven Covey. It had a completely different influence on me the second time round. In one of the chapters, Covey talks about the principle of two creations. As airy fairy as it may sound, there is depth and substance to it. Everything is created twice. First, you plan out what you want, second you make sure it’s being executed.
Common sense, you say? Yes, but let’s see how you, smart ass, will make it all happen!
Now, this exercise is to really help you create a long-term vision for your life. It requires you to have some undisturbed time alone.
Now, sit down and imagine that you’re at your own funeral and your friends and family members have gathered to say goodbye. Imagine that your spouse, closest friend, business partner or colleague, parents, or children are about to give the speech.
Imagine and write down what they would say:
- What kind of husband or wife have you been?
- What kind of business partner have you been?
- What kind of son or daughter have you been?
- What kind of friend have you been?
- What character and qualities have you developed?
- What achievements have you made and what legacy have you left?
If you did this exercise with all honesty then the answers should have shown you what your heart really desires.
For example, I realised that the top three qualities I admire and want to embrace are authenticity, creativity, and humour (a year ago they were hard work, leadership, and gratitude). I also began thinking of things I’d want to create: a community, a world-wide project or an organisation, or books.
Let your answers to these questions rest in your mind for a week or so. After, get back to it and make sure it feels right. Now you have the full responsibility of taking action.
If you don’t, and let yourself to fall back into your previous habits, I will politely inform you that no one will care.
You make the choice.
If you liked this article, then you might enjoy the next one. Just make sure you don’t miss it!