Live Your Life Inside – Out

Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life…Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it

Viktor Frankl

Everybody is unique.  Everybody has different drive, purpose, passion, wants, needs and desires. That is what makes life so beautiful. Most of the time. Different people coming together and living happily. Think about how boring life would be if we were all the same and lived the same way? Boring, to say the least. We would cease to be human, and become living, breathing robots.

So, now that we agree that we are all different and this is a good thing, that raises another question…Why do we try to copy others and live their lives? Or, why do we let others dictate our lives (parents, friends, partners…)? It makes no sense. You can study Bill Gates, Warren Buffett or anybody else as much as you like, but no matter how hard you try you will never be able to copy their lives and achieve what they have. What worked for them will not work for you, because you are different people and your circumstances are different. While it’s great to study successful people and look for lessons which you can apply to your own life, blindly copying them will only lead to frustration and failure. The same is true when it comes to letting loved ones influence or dictate our lives. Live your life as they want you to, and the only person who you make happy is them. Instead, learn from their experiences, and see whether you could apply any of it to your own life. Rather than waste your time and talents trying to become somebody else, why not look inside yourself, figure out who you really are, what drives you, where your passion lies and what your purpose in life is?!

Live your own life, and live it as best you can. Compete against yourself only, aiming to become better today than you were yesterday. That is the key to happiness. Living somebody else’s life will only lead to disappointment.

It’s easy to read these things and nod, but what does this mean? In order to live your own life, you need to really know who you are. This starts with some honest self-reflection. Ask yourself;

  • What do you value?
    • Family and Friendships
    • Integrity and Honesty?
    • Health and Fitness?
    • Accomplishment and Success?
    • Influence?
  • What are 3 non-negotiable things which you need to do every day in order to feel happy and a sense of achievement?
  • What does a perfect day look like to you?

This is just a start on the road to self-awareness, but an important first step to discovering who you really are and what you have to offer the world. Once you know who you are, you can start living accordingly. Most of all, self awareness allows you to take control of your life by taking responsibility for your decisions and actions.

Taking responsibility for your own life, or being proactive, is how you discover more about yourself. It’s also how people become successful, because they don’t wait for good things to come to them, they get out there and work for them. Every day. When you take responsibility for your life, and become proactive rather than reacting to situations and circumstances, you gain a clear idea of what you want to become and do in life. Moreover, you better understand that the power to make this happens really is in your hands.

Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognise that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life, and he can only answering to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible

Viktor Frankl

Man Vs Machine

Usually, with a title like the above, an article will describe in detail just how far technology has advanced in a relatively short time. There are also the inevitable questions about what these advances could mean for our jobs and what the future could look like.

Today, however, I want to look at a rather different aspect of the relationship between man and machine. That aspect, is all about what machines can teach us.

Humans are creators of their own destiny. Our lives are fluid, spent continually experiencing things, learning and growing. We decide who or what we want to be become, and if we put the work in, we have a good chance of making this happen. We have countless opportunities open to us, as well as freedom of choice. Machines are very different, though, but they have an awful lot to teach us.

This key difference is in the way machines are created. Unlike humans, machines are created for a specific purpose. Machines are made to fulfil a particular role, or solve a problem. Trains, cars, planes and buses are made in order to effectively transport people from one place to another. Smartphones are made to enable effective communication and instant access to information. Kettles are made to boil the water with which we make the coffee which powers us through the day. I could go on, but you get the idea. There is a very specific job which these machines and equipment perform. A kettle can’t decide to become a bicycle and transform itself. The purpose for which these machines and gadget are made is often very specific.

As with machines, purpose is what we need too. Purpose gives your life meaning and direction. It provides all of the motivation and drive which you will ever need. This is the big lesson which machines can teach us – find your purpose, and then go after it. Of course, we have the power to achieve and become whatever we want, but without purpose your life will be aimless. After all, if you don’t know what your purpose in life is, and what you were put here to achieve, you will set goals which will leave you unfulfilled and drifting through life. There is power in purpose, and you need to reflect on, and find, yours before even setting your goals. Define your purpose first, and then set goals and take the actions that will help you to live according to it.

Machines suffer breakdowns and malfunctions, but they can be repaired and put back to work. Machines are resilient, suffering setbacks but getting fixed and put straight back to work.

In much the same way, we experience setbacks, problems and roadblocks on our journeys. As with machines, we need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and keep going. While machines can prompt us to find our purpose, they can also teach us the value of resilience and perseverance.

So, perhaps, it wouldn’t hurt to be a little more machine-like. After all, when your life has purpose it takes on a new meaning, and when you’re resilient and persistent you will achieve great things because you’re still going strong long after everybody else has given up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Money and material wealth is not the answer

“I wish everybody could get rich and famous and have everything they ever dreamed of, so that they will know that it is not the answer”

Jim Carrey

Too many people view the money as the key to leading a more successful, fulfilled life. The reasoning behind this is that the more money they have, the more comfortably that they will be able to live. The truth is very different though. Money doesn’t bring happiness. It can’t, because money itself is simply a tool with which we exchange value. Money is either given or received in return for services or goods. Simply put, we provide a service to an employer (otherwise known as work) for which we are paid. This money is then exchanged for goods and services which can range from mortgages and household bills to cars, holidays, clothes or whatever else takes your fancy.

Far from bringing happiness and satisfaction, the pursuit of money can often bring the opposite. As we earn more, we crave more. This is because our tastes change. For example, a person may be earning £30 000 and living comfortably within their means. They have a house with an affordable mortgage, a decent car and enough money to live well but also save a little. All in all, life’s good but they feel that if they earned more, life would become a little easier and they would be able to do more.

Later, an opportunity arises for professional development which is taken advantage of, and now they are earning £50 000. In theory, if they continue to live within their means, this extra money will make life a little more comfortable. Some do adopt this approach and live well. However, too many people get seduced by the images of luxurious living which they are bombarded with in glossy magazines and on social media outlets. They then decide that, as they are earning more, they can buy those things and that lifestyle, and when they do they’ll be happy. When happiness doesn’t come, after all, they chase more money with which to buy more. And so it continues…

It is worth repeating that fame and fortune do not bring happiness. The more we have the more we want, so are never fulfilled.

Rather than chase financial gain and the lifestyle which it can buy, you need a goal, a purpose or something which you strive for and gives your life meaning. In setting goals and chasing after them, or leading a life driven by a sense of purpose you will learn, grow, develop and bring value to the world. Fame and fortune may very well come to you, but as a consequence of the value you provide. As I stated before, money is a tool with which we exchange value. So, if you find yourself in a position to provide value to others, they may well be prepared to pay you for your time and services.

Aim not to earn the highest salary possible, but rather aim for continuous personal and professional development. Pursue an increase in knowledge, not your bank balance, and do your best daily to become the best, not richest, version of yourself.

 

The secrets for a successful life

If you’ve been reading some of my previous posts, you will know that I don’t believe there to be any real secrets when it comes to success. Of course, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of motivational speakers and gurus who claim to have all the answers if you sign up for their programmes, but I respectfully disagree. That is not to take away anything away from or discredit their work, though. The work which they do, and businesses which they run, help countless people take control of their lives and futures. The problem is that success itself is very personal and therefore difficult to boil down to a general set of rules and guidelines.

The definition of success, and what it means to live a fulfilled life, varies from one person to the next. This is because each of us has different dreams, goals and priorities. One person’s idea of success might involve having multiple houses, expensive cars and financial independence. For another person, success may be centered around spiritual development. For this reason, if you are to seek help on your journey, you should seriously consider working individually with a coach or mentor on a personalised programme to help you reach your goals.

Before you seek the help or professional services of others, though, here are a few things which could help you. In and of themselves, they may not bring you success and fulfillment, but they can certainly help to lay the foundations upon which you can build later.

  • Practice self-reflection. This will help you to better understand your dreams, purpose, strengths and weaknesses. You will gain a clearer idea of the direction which you would like your life to take, the goals to be accomplished along the way and how to meet the potential obstacles and challenges which you will undoubtedly face.
  • Practice gratitude. When you learn to identify and focus on what you have to be appreciative of, magical things happen. Expressing gratitude, whether publicly or in a private journal, improves your mood. Your mindset becomes positive and optimistic which in turn attracts positivity, but it also gives you the confidence and mental strength to keep going even when times become tricky.
  • Embrace life-long learning. Life is a journey of discovery so it makes sense to remain inquisitive. In order to keep moving forward, keep reflecting and learning. Reflection will identify areas for improvement, which you can address through learning. As you learn, your mind develops and grows through new experiences or knowledge gained. This means that you will be become better able to meet challenges in the future because of your new knowledge or experiences. Furthermore, it will also open up your mind to new possibilities.
  • Take care of your wellbeing. We have long been told that a healthy mind needs a healthy body in which to exist, which stands to reason, so we need to look after our physical health. This doesn’t mean that we should live in the gym, but there is a lot we can do to help ourselves, from getting enough sleep to trying to ensure that we eat foods which will provide us with the right nutrients. And of course, it helps to become more active. Just as important, though, is our mental health, which can be greatly helped if we surround ourselves with people who inspire us and challenge us to grow.
  • Pay it forward (wherever possible). We all have our own strengths and talents, and it would be a shame if we kept these hidden from the world simply through self-doubt. In sharing your gift, you can not only help and inspire others to follow their own dreams and passions, but you might also get some constructive feedback which could help you in your own development.

Experimenting with the above suggestions can help to lay the foundations upon which you can build a successful life by helping you to adopt a growth mindset.  This list, however, is far from exhaustive, and I would love to hear from you if you have anything further to add.

Profiting from your passion

Turn what you love into a successful business, and quit your 9-5 job!! This is the new dream which we are being sold. It’s everywhere we look from magazine articles to social media. Is it really possible, or just too good to be true? I am not about to try and find fault with this proposition, but rather urge caution. So yes, I do think it’s possible, but you need to be smart about it.

We read and hear of plenty of success stories in which people have turned a hobby or passion into a very successful and profitable business. They subsequently quit their jobs and are now wealthy entrepreneurs. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who gave up everything to pursue their dream only to be brought back to Earth with a vicious bump. Countless people are staking everything on their passion project and losing badly. This begs the question, as to why there are such extremes.

Having helped a number of people launch small business over the years, I would like to share a few pointers on what I have learned. I’ve said it before, the world needs more beauty and positivity, so we should create art and music, or launch businesses which will bring value to people and brighten their lives. However, too many people are rushing in to their new ventures blindly and leaving too much to chance, and it is this which. I would urge against

Your passion must be mixed with practicality. You must also be realistic about your expectations. Yes, you dream that you will take what you love and turn it into a very successful business. You can envision it. You can reach out and touch it. You can taste it and smell it BUT in order for it to go from dream to reality, there will be a lot of hard work involved. Your passion needs to be mixed with a strong work ethic, a well thought-out plan, a strategy of how you it will unfold, resilience and an incredible amount of hard work.

If you are serious about profiting from your passion and turning it into a viable business, there are a few things to bear in mind;

  • Research and Plan. You need a well-researched plan. Look at the market and who you might be competing with. Look at consumer trends and research the forecasts for the future within your chosen market or industry.  Use this information to plan wisely for the future.
  • Be financially savvy. Save enough money, or secure enough funding before you take your first step. It is a hard fact that many business run at a loss in their first year. This is because it takes time to establish yourself and build a customer base. Naturally, there are exceptions, but I would strongly recommend that you plan for this outcome. Plan for the best and work to make it happen, but have enough money in the bank to support yourself if it takes longer than expected for success to come. The last thing you want is to have to abandon your business and take a full-time job to pay the mortgage and bills. Worse still, you might keep your business only to be maintained by funding from an investor who pushes you to compromise your values. Give yourself a financial safety net, and remove one of the big pressures when starting a business.
  • Determine your strategy. You have a plan, a financial safety net and the drive to succeed. Next step? Work out how you will go about launching your business. Who is your audience? How will you grab their attention? What is your story? What value will you offer them? What is your marketing plan? How will you promote your business?
  • Hard work. You are now clear on what you want to do and how you will go about it. Now, just put the work in. Give it your full focus and attention and put in the relentless work. Take advantage of any networking opportunities and use social media to raise awareness of your brand. As you work, though, you must also reflect on your journey. Learn from the positives and negatives and use this knowledge to adapt and grow. This is a fluid process, and as you work towards making your business a success you need to keep learning and adapting. You need to have a plan and execute on it, but you also need to be able to respond quickly to any challenges or expand on what is working well.
  • Perseverance and resilience. There will be bumps in the road, challenges and rejections. This is unavoidable. The key is to keep going. When disaster strikes, reflect on it and see what you can learn from the experience. Learn from it and then get yourself back on track, stronger and more determined than before.

Having witnessed the struggles of people as they launched their new ventures, I would ask you to please reflect on the above so that you can avoid the same challenges. Research thoroughly, plan well, develop an effective strategy and go for it. Give it your full focus and attention, but don’t forget to take advantage of any learning opportunities on your journey and use them to adapt and grow. If the entrepreneurial route is the one for you, I wish you the very best and pray for your success.

Duty

“Man’s happiness lies not in freedom, but in the acceptance of a duty”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Duty is a word which we often hear in our daily lives, from the workplace to the church and everywhere in-between, but struggle to define. What actually is it? It’s sometimes interchanged with the terms purpose or responsibility, but is it really the same ?

There are a lot of similarities. Responsibility, as with duty, can mean being accountable for someone or something. It can also mean an obligation to successfully carry out an action. While there is a lot of interchangeability here with duty, the difference is that I regard duty as being the more powerful driving force of the two. Duty is intrinsically motivated. With a sense of duty, you become involved in an activity not out of self interest and gain, but rather out of compulsion, commitment and a drive that comes from deep inside. Duty is stronger than purpose too. Purpose illuminates the path towards a goal or aim, on which you will focusing your thoughts and actions. Purpose helps you to remain focused when things are going well and to get back on track when faced with challenges. A duty, however, runs deeper.

Duty is something which we feel morally obliged to do, but it is born within us only after we become more self-aware. In essence, duty comes from a clear understanding of the principles by which you will live your life. To be able to fully understand and define those principles, however, you must first have a good understanding of who you really are. If you truly hope to embark on a journey of achievement and discovery, at the end of which you fulfill your potential, inward reflection is the logical starting point. Once you have a good idea of your strengths and weaknesses, what drives you and what you hope to achieve from life, you are then in a good position to define your goals, purpose, duties and responsibilities.

In defining our duties and devoting ourselves to them, we can find fulfillment and a sense of inner peace. Subordinating and sacrificing ourselves to our duties can also give a deeper meaning to our lives, or simply make us happier.

 

 

 

 

Don’t hide your talent from the world

All of us have our own special skills or talents, unique to ourselves. The problem is that the world doesn’t get to experience much of it, because we are often reluctant to share our work for fear of rejection or ridicule. Today, I want to ask one thing of you;  please, just put your work out there. The world will be a richer place for it.

Whether your burning passion is to write, draw, dance or whatever else it may be, that is not important in the grand scheme of things. What matters, is that you share your passion with the world. In the current climate of fake news, and the fear and scaremongering peddled by the media, we need more beauty in the world. We need more people to have the courage to introduce the world to their talent.

This is not easy. At all. In publishing your work, you open a window to your soul. You expose your true self to the world, and this is scary. Nobody likes rejection. and in putting our work out in the public domain, that is exactly what we open ourselves up to. Moreover, as we are exposing our true selves through our work, it can feel like a personal attack if our work is not initially well received. This is actually a good thing, though, because, as we learn to overcome rejection we become resilient. When we become resilient, we develop the ability to better recover from setbacks but we also become more confident in ourselves and our abilities.

Putting your work out there can help you to connect with people who share your passion, and get feedback. It can inspire others to follow their passion too. Or it might just bring a little happiness to someone who was having a bad day before they came across your work. Yes, the response might not be overwhelming once your work is in the public domain. Just be patient. Some people may even be unkind in their feedback, but you have a choice, and can choose to focus on those whose feedback is positive and constructive instead. Who knows, your work might be viewed by someone with a wealth of influence and experience, and in turn could open new doors for you. Unless you try, though, you will never know for certain.

You may even hope to turn your passion into a new career or business. Again, i’d plead with you to put your work out there. Let people see and understand who you are and what you are passionate about. Give them a sample of what you can create and keep them hungry for more. Then, slowly expose them to more of your work, and if all goes well, you may find yourself able to scale it up and get paid to do what you love. Even if, after doing your homework, you feel that the market/ public is not ready for your work, put it out there anyway. Opinions change. Markets move. People embrace new ideas. You might find your work gaining popularity among the general public, or it might be welcomed by a niche market. Either way, you have to put your work out there and see where it leads. Don’t wait for others to dictate when you should share your passion. If nobody else is doing what you do, then put yourself out there and be the first. As business guru Peter Drucker once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it”.

We have previously looked at planning and preparing for success. We have also looked at the benefits of taking action. I strongly believe that you need both in order to succeed, in healthy balance. Plan and prepare, but be careful of overthinking or waiting too long. Sometimes it pays to be bold.

Discipline

“In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory was over themselves. Self-discipline with all of them came first”

Harry S Truman

When exploring the multitude of factors which have the power to influence or contribute to our happiness and success, there is one which reigns supreme. Discipline. Mastery over the self, and a certain level of control over our emotions and impulses, can bring serious benefits to all areas of our lives from our health and fitness to our relationships with others, our professional lives and everything in-between.

There have been a number of studies over the years which have explored the power and benefits of discipline in depth, and if there is one common theme, it is that those who practice self-discipline are often happier as a result. Better yet is the fact that discipline is a learned behaviour. It is not something that you are born with, but rather it’s within reach for all of us. So, if you want to become more disciplined, it is entirely possible as long as you put the effort and hard work in. And hard work it most certainly is. In order to become disciplined, you must master the self. This means becoming more aware of who you are, what motivates you, your hopes and fears and your vision for the future. Furthermore, you become more acutely aware of your emotions and what triggers them, leading you to becoming more effective at controlling them as well as your impulses. This culminates in a person developing a sense of balance and becoming more able to make better informed and more rational decisions, which are not governed by impulse and emotion. Your decision-making process becomes proactive and guides you towards your goals as you spend less time and energy simply reacting to the world around you.

Becoming more disciplined requires constant practice and reflection, but the results are more than worth the hard work and effort required. Alongside the increased self-awareness and impulse control, as you work on becoming more disciplined, you will find bad habits being broken and replaced with healthier, more productive ones.

When it comes to the “how” of becoming more disciplined, there is no singular, winning formula. This stands to reason, as we are all unique and on our own individual journeys towards our vision of success. There are, however, a few proven and popular methods, and i’ll end with my top 4;

  • Expressing gratitude. We live in an age of consumerism and are relentlessly bombarded with messages about things that we need to buy in order to be happy. The result is that we spend a ridiculous amount of time and energy focusing on what we lack, and how important it is for our future happiness to have it. Essentially, we are allowing our impulses and actions to be manipulated by clever marketers and salespeople. If you want to become more disciplined, you need to take control here. This starts with a shift towards appreciation and gratitude. Focus, instead, should be switched to what you already have and are grateful for.
  • Eating healthier foods, sleeping well and exercising regularly. Fighting temptation and cravings in order to lead a healthier lifestyle will build a healthy mind as well as a healthy body. As the saying goes, “Mens sana in corpore sano” or “a healthy mind in a healthy body”.
  • Organisation. This is one area which you can practice at work, as well as at home, in order to become more disciplined. In becoming more organised, you become better able to prioritise tasks and manage your time effectively, as well as your emotions and energy levels.
  • Resilience. Discipline is also about willpower and mental strength, and the one area where this guaranteed to be regularly tested is in our response to setbacks. As you develop the ability persevere through hard times, you will find yourself becoming more disciplined. This, in turn, will help you to develop the strength to bounce back from challenges and get yourself back on the path towards your goals.

 

 

 

 

Humility

It is becoming increasingly popular for people, in social media as in real life, to want to show the world the trappings of their success. These are essentially the designer clothes, jewellery and cars which give the outward appearance of wealth and achievement. The original meaning of the word trappings was the bridle and saddle decoration which riders would put on their horses to show how powerful and privileged they were. In modern terms, however, trappings has come to mean  peacocking and showing off. In short, people are tying their sense of self-esteem and self-worth to material goods and this needs to stop.

We need to stop feeding the narcissism and over-the-top self confidence of these people and deny them the attention which they crave. Of course, everyone should be able to celebrate their successes, but as with all good things it should be done in moderation. Instead we should be glorifying those who achieve greatly yet remain humble. The humble achievers. These humble achievers are not just found in the business arena, but in all areas. These are the people who have discovered their motivation and inspiration, determined their goals and set out on a journey to achieve them. They share their journey with others , so that they might in turn learn from them and be encouraged to define their own goals and embark on their own pursuit of them.

The humble achievers are those who choose to document their journey and process, with all its ups and downs, rather than the end result. They are as open about the hard work and challenges which they face on a daily basis on their journey towards their goals, as they are about the fact that they do not know everything and occasionally make mistakes. They are not driven by fame or social status, but rather their “why” and their purpose.

Here are a few more traits which the humble tend to have in common;

  • They engage with others and listen to their opinions
  • They accept that they have limitations and are open about them
  • They are considerate of others and their needs
  • They are open about their mistakes, taking responsibility for them and sharing what they have learned.
  • They reflect on what they have learned, how far they have come and how far they have yet to go. They are driven to keep learning, growing and developing.

I’ll leave you with quote from Laszlo Bock, Head of People Operations at Google;

“Without humility, you are unable to learn,”

What is your driving force?!

You may have heard of it referred to as your “why” and if you want to lead a successful and fulfilled life it is important that you know exactly what it is. Everybody has goals and dreams but it is your “why” or reason for being that has the power to set high-achievers apart from the crowd.

Your why is your purpose. It’s your reason for being. It’s a cause that you believe in deeply, to your core. Furthermore it’s a source of inspiration and motivation which will help you to rebound strongly from setbacks and problems and keep you going when times get tough. When you know why you are doing what you do, and find yourself on your chosen path, there is less likelihood of becoming disheartened and quitting when faced with adversity. On the other hand, it also keeps you grounded, humble and focused when you do start to make real progress.

There is a catch, though. I can’t tell you what your why is. Nobody can. For every individual it will, of course, differ. Only you can figure that out for yourself through honest reflection. There are, however, some questions which anybody can benefit from asking themselves;

  • What does success look like to you? Before you embark on your journey, you must know what it is the you are aiming for. If you don’t know where you are headed or what you are aiming for, you can’t possibly know when you are making progress. What does the end result look like? What do you want to achieve through your journey? Are you driven to bring about social change? Are you looking to start a business? Are you looking to strengthen your personal relationships?
  • What issues are you passionate about? What motivates or inspires you? What keeps you up at night, occupying your thoughts? What is the burning question that you want to answer, or change that you want to bring about?
  • If money were no object, what would you do? Put aside the pay check for a moment and the bills which need paying. If your finances were comfortable and you were in complete control of your destiny, how would you spend your time? What would you focus on?

Your why is your mission. Use the 3 questions above as prompts to help you find your own. It gives you strength in testing times and keeps you humble and focused when things go well. Find it and you will discover strength and ability which you may not have realised that you possess. Coupled with a deep belief in what you are doing, and a dogged determination to succeed, you will soon find yourself on a journey through life which is as fulfilling and meaningful as it is successful.