When I was something like 20-year-old, I wrote an e-mail to myself into the future (via futureme.org). “Dear Future-me” was to be received in 20 years, so I still have some time. Without recalling anymore what the letter was exactly about, yet remembering myself at that age, I must have asked my future-self if Continue reading Dear Me: What would I have told to my 20-year-old-self?
If you are following my page on Facebook you might have seen me post a picture of the weeds that completely covered our beautiful lilac bushes at the end of the garden. I spent a whole morning pulling those things out and still I only managed to do just one side. Tedious job, but necessary. In the process I remembered the quote from “The Little Prince” about the nature of baobabs and thought about how often we forget that baobabs unattended happen to grow very fast.
A baobab is something you will never, never be able to get rid of if you attend to it too late. It spreads over the entire planet. It bores clear through it with its roots. And if the planet is too small, and the baobabs are too many, they split it in pieces… (Antoine de Saint-Exupery “The Little Prince”)
Whether we are talking about the actual weeds or about metaphorical baobabs such as the negative thoughts or bad habits the advice is the same: take care of them as fast as possible before they ruin your garden, your personality or your life.
Let’s take negative thoughts as an example. Continue reading The Nature of Baobabs: Don’t let them split you in pieces
Have you ever heard somebody ask: “How do you have energy to do all that?” Have you ever asked that question yourself to somebody else? It’s not even a matter of having enough time. You can always find time if you are actively searching for it. “I have no time” is just an excuse. On the other hand, “I have no energy” is a problem. Luckily it is usually a problem that has a solution.
To begin with, if you constantly feel as if somebody “pulled out the plug”, it might make sense to check your health. Pay attention to your levels of B12 vitamin, vitamin D, check your thyroid and bowels; as well as eliminate diabetes. Just to make sure. If everything is fine with your body, then the problem must lie in your head. The good news – it is solvable; the bad news – there is no magic pill, you have to work at solving it yourself.
It is normal that energy levels fluctuate as long as you make sure you are not completely drained out. I have touched upon the importance of having a balance between what gives you energy and what takes your energy away in my previous post Work-life balance when you don’t have a salaried job. There I also gave some examples of how I replenish my energy. I will not repeat them, but today I would like to focus on what I do to make sure that my energy is not drained in the first place. So here we go:
- I choose my battles. I cannot emphasize this hard enough! I don’t waste my energy on having arguments for the sake of arguments, or on trying to persuade somebody that he or she is wrong and I am right. We all have opinions. Things are rarely black and white. However, if you have a strong opinion about something it is very easy to get overly emotional about it and literally put all your energy in trying to persuade someone. The catch is – most of the times that someone will not change his mind irrespective of your arguments. So next time you start a lengthy heated debate about, for example, politics or breastfeeding or anything else, think about how much energy you are now going to waste and to achieve what? The same with – next time you get frustrated with your kids making a mess in a room that took you 2 hours to clean, just relax and make yourself some coffee. With a chocolate. And don’t share the chocolate.
- I don’t compare. I don’t compare my kids to those of other people. I don’t waste my energy worrying that my kids don’t fit some strange norms for example.I don’t compare my own life to somebody else’s. What’s the point? Related to that number 3
- I stand by my choice. If there is something I haven’t decided yet, I will of course spend time and energy on it (though trying to make that decision fast so that energy is not drained for too long). However once I have decided, I don’t come back to doubting. And which is even more important – I don’t regret.
- I know what I want and I know my values. I might still have some not completely clear issues or vague time frame, yet overall I already took my moment (and still take it on a regular basis) to ask myself the question to which “port” am I “sailing to” and why. And if I have the answers, which I do, then see the previous two points! No comparing and no regrets.
- I keep a positive focus. There are moments in everyone’s life when all things seem to be falling apart. There are those days when you are under the impression that everybody just conspired to make you explode. Vent and move on. Don’t allow one bad afternoon to turn into a bad week. Try the positive game, try to notice every time there is a negative thought and consciously eliminate it. It will not be easy until it becomes easy (giggle).
I get physically exhausted on a regular basis and there are days when my two little ones make my life “very difficult”. Still, I will be physically tired, but not emotionally empty. My energy levels might drop but will never drop to zero just because I always pay attention not to waste my energy and to replenish it on a regular basis.
“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable” (Seneca)
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” (Coelho)
Whether you believe Seneca or Coelho, or none of the above, in order to achieve something in life you need to know what do you actually want. In my previous post about dreams – Protecting wings from being cut – I promised to separately talk about writing a “Life plan”, what to put in it and what to do with it afterwards, and that’s what I am going to write about in this post.
When I started writing my own “Life plan” at first I’ve read quite some psychology articles on whys and hows to understand if I need one and how to get to it. There are different approaches out there: you can go for a dream board, or a vision board, or a list, or anything in between – you pick. As long as you take a moment to reflect on your personal values and dreams and then find a way how to fix them be it in writing or in capturing an image, it works.
Having had a general dream board for a while, I decided to try something more structured, so I opted for a list divided in 6 categories –
- emotional well-being,
- personal development and vocation and
The next step was to think about my values and a vision of what I want with respect to each of these categories, and then to write all that down in positive form and in present tense.
Why do you need to write things down? First, it pushes you to clarify for yourself what you want. Second, it motivates you to act. Research in the field of psychology has repeatedly proven that people become more committed to what they write down versus what they say. Third, it allows you to track the progress and thus get an additional motivation.
I wrote down what I want to be able to do, where I want to go, what I want to have, what I want to improve, enhance. I thought about what type of lifestyle I aspire, what do I want to be doing. What do I want to spend my money on and how much money do I actually need for that. The goal/dream: “I want to have a lot of money” is actually flawed, as money is just means. Unless you collect paper or coins you in fact want not money itself but things and experiences money can buy.
After 6 pages of my “Life plan” were filled up, I identified my top 5 per category and wrote down a to-do list which I am currently actively working on, getting me closer to the realization of my dreams.
I understand skepticism some of you might have – that what is the point, for example, of writing down that you dream to travel around the world if you don’t have any money to do it? Well, if travel is really your dream there are hundreds of ways how to realize it with limited finances and thousands and thousands of people who already did it. If it’s not really about travel but rather about staying in fancy hotels around the world it is a different story, but also here you have options. Whatever it is – everything starts with identifying what do you precisely want in this life. Just be true to yourself.
As a final note, there are two “laws” that are to be taken into account :
- the law of self-fullfilling prophecy – you become what you strongly believe in; and
- the law of attraction – you attract into your life what you focus your mind on.
It works both ways – if you focus on negative all the time, if you nag and whine that nothing will ever work, that you will never achieve anything – you will program yourself to exactly that. However, if you focus on your dreams, focus on “how” rather than on “why not”, if you see the good, the positive, the bright, that is what your life will become. Confirmed by experience.
You hear it a lot: get out of your comfort zone! In order to succeed, you should step out of your comfort zone! You see motivational pictures with circles drawn where your comfort zone is depicted as a small miserable circle and just there – at a just slight distance – is a big bright circle of magic that is supposed to happen the next moment you step out of your comfort zone. Yeah right…
I don’t argue that you need to stretch yourself from time to time and that you do need to face your fears (especially given that most of them are actually nothing but an illusion), and that you do need to step out there and dare to follow your dreams and so on. But what a lot of people forget is that you cannot step OUT of your comfort zone if you haven’t first stepped IN there. That is somewhat linked to one of my previous posts about norms (link) – there is way too much pressure from the outside telling you how you should live. However, people do have different pace in life and different circumstances, different experiences they went through. A lot of people at this very moment are struggling to find their comfort zone!
I was there, I know what I am talking about. When you move to a foreign country, when you change your career, when you just gave birth to your child, and in many-many more situations you feel so vulnerable, you are so damn out of your comfort zone already! And somehow the “big bright circle of magic” is also nowhere to be seen at that moment.
So if you already have a lot falling on you, before you boldly follow Baumgartner and jump from the stratosphere, take a deep breath first and search for your “small miserable circle of comfort zone”. Get in there, get yourself a comfortable pillow and heal a bit.
Give yourself a permission to push the pause button from time to time and take a moment to reflect on who you truly are and what you truly want. And then, and only then, when you are back to being a strong lioness (or a lion) with a shiny, iridescent hair instead of a ragged, tattered kitten, then you can, and then you actually should, step out of your comfort zone and head towards your dreams. But not before. Whatever everyone says.