Every Monday when I sit down to organise my week ahead, I also take account of anything notable I learned over the previous 7 days. Whether it’s in the professional or the personal realm I list it, then copy it into a Word document I’ve created to note all of the “Aha!” moments I experience throughout a given year.
Because it’s one thing to learn something new- we’re always learning new things. But what makes the difference is if we remember what we learned. If you can do this, you may save yourself making the same mistake over and over!
So now here we are- coming to the end of another year. And for my last article of 2018, I’ve chosen one revelation from each of the 12 months just gone- something that really stood out to me along the way- something that just might be of great benefit to you in the coming 12 months…
“There are circumstances beyond my control, granted- but aside from that, if I focus first on my own attitude and output, push emotions to one side and face each day with stoicism and a “get it done” attitude- then this year will make itself great.”
It was a typically muggy New Years’ Day and I was down at the beach, walking along the rocks- then it occured to me: How often do people wonder aloud what the coming year is going to be like for them? It’s like they’re just a passenger, and whether 20 – – ends up being a good year or not is entirely out of their hands. But instead, why not do the best we can with what we’ve got and keep aiming to do a little better each day? If we focus on that instead, chances are the next 12 months are going to contain a tonne of highlights- in spite of the unforeseen challenges. Meanwhile, the year will take care of itself, just as it always does…
“Push your feelings aside and just do it!”
Working in a creative field, there can be a temptation to put too much emphasis on getting “in the zone” before you work. In other factors of life, you can avoid doing something because you don’t feel like doing it right then. But how reliable are feelings? So I decided that instead of procrastinating, I’d do what needed to be done and my feelings about it would be irrelevant. And I’m glad I did- because (surprise surprise) more stuff got done- and then I didn’t have to think about doing it anymore!
“We can choose the bottle of wine- it intoxicates us but leads us nowhere and leaves us thirsty and with a headache, or we can choose the bucket that contains the water of life- much more subtle and it has no intoxicating effect, but it gives us what we need and ultimately it satisfies us.”
As I explained in this article (What Paul Kelly Teaches Us About Success), things of real value rarely come easily. I’ve found that doing what’s difficult or dull (but constructive) often leaves a subtle but longer lasting pleasure than doing what’s easy and feels ‘better’ in the short-term.
“We accept the love we think we deserve”.
Not just love, either. We also accept the friends, clients and opportunities we think we’re deserving of. I’d rather aim higher and travel light a while, instead of settling for lower and paying for it with the frustration and “what might have been” that follows. If getting what I think I deserve means having to improve, look inward and learn more? So be it.
“In order to be a leader, live as if you already are one and setting an example.”
On a long enough time frame, people are going to come to you for guidance- and if you dream of leading people one day, it’s pointless waiting for that time of “When I become that person”. Why wait? Start living it now, do what’s required to be in that position- and it all comes much easier…
“We learn to fight and win the smaller battles in order to conquer larger battles later on in life- and to show others how to win them.”
I think of this like martial arts training: If you want to get a higher belt, you have to first learn the basics. You move up through the belts, learning new skills and more difficult techniques- and behind those challenges and the frustrations, you become a better fighter who’s capable of winning bigger battles against better opponents. Bigger tasks and bigger opportunities wait on the other side of mastering smaller tasks and opportunities- and you can then show others how to win the fights you’ve already won.
“Meditation is a small thing that causes subtle (yet notable) changes to well-being and our state of mind”.
I first delved into meditation a couple of years ago, but didn’t follow on with it. Looking back, I wish I had! It’s like working out- you may not see a difference in the mirror after one session, you might not remember every time you train- but give it a few months and you start to notice real transformation. It was the small things that occurred to me after meditating for periods of time- that’s what made me realise why it’s such a valuable habit to get into. But try it for yourself, be consistent- and see what manifests…
“Expecting and preparing yourself (mentally and physically) for good things to come, even when they’re not (yet) present in your life, has great power for them to show up. So: act and attract!”
This is NOT some easily digestible “Just think of it and you shall have it” mantra. This is about being it until you become it. Yes, you must act towards the outcomes you seek- but you also need to think towards those outcomes. In order to achieve and receive, we first have to be aware and prepared.
“When deciding on a course of action, all I need to remember is what I would do if I was somebody I aspired to be.”
Sometimes the decision we make turns out to be the wrong one- it’s an inescapable fact of life. But even so, those wrong decisions won’t feel so regrettable if we look back knowing we made the best choice with the knowledge we had. There are times it’s best to play it safe, then other times where you should aim big- even in spite of the risks. But whatever you choose, consider the future and ask yourself “Regardless of how this turns out, would I be proud of the decision I made? If I was (insert the type of person you look up to) what would I do?”
“When we step to a new level or find ourselves in a great situation we haven’t experienced before, don’t get flustered by the occasion and act based on excitement or nerves. Instead, keep calm, be steady and persistent and keep doing as you have done up to this point in time even though the setting or situation may be a new one. But be prepared to keep learning. A team wins the Grand Final not through doing things differently or letting the occasion dictate how they play- a team wins the Grand Final with the same mindset and doing the same things that brought them there to begin with.”
As Pete Godfrey put it “It’s one thing to get your foot in the door- it’s another thing to walk through that door altogether.” Same reason so many people win the lottery and then blow it all. They have the money they dreamed of, but they don’t know how to handle it when they get it. Or think of the quiet, nerdy guy who lands that beautiful girl with plenty of admirers- if he’s too insecure and won’t dare to rock the boat for fear of losing her, any attraction she had for him fades out pretty quickly! If you’re aiming for a new level or a particular goal- make sure you’re ready to handle it first- before it comes…
“Life’s too short to waste it being a grouch or waiting for things to happen. Be positive, be present- and make it happen.”
“Life is short”, people say. In fact, life is literally the longest thing we ever experience in this world! Like I said back in January, waiting to see what happens to you is the passive approach. Grumbling about what happens to you is the passive approach. Instead, we have to be positive about our future. Enjoy the time, the moment for whatever it brings- and do whatever it takes to bring the good things into our present!
“We control ourselves and set our own boundaries, or somebody else will control and set boundaries for us. Our choice.”
Self-discipline is saying a lot of small ‘No’s on your way to a much bigger ‘Yes’. To enjoy true freedom and peace of mind, we also have to limit ourselves and stick to boundaries. To welcome new opportunities into our life, we have to say ‘No’ to some things. Ignore our feelings and just do it. If you can do this, then you’re on your way to being the one in full control…
The Last Word:
There were plenty of other realisations I had this year- but the ones I’ve shared above are the ones that really hit home. Some of them have served me well already, while others I await to show their true worth in the years to come. Feel free to tell me what ones stand out for you in particular- otherwise I wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!