Questions that haunt my career change

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The thoughts that haunt me are:

Is my ‘dream life’ right for me?
Can I make it a reality?

I feel I’m in limbo land trying to answer these questions. In search of the answers, I read books. I listen to podcasts. I do exercises that are said to help guide the way. But still I am lost.

I share summaries of the books I have read here so that others may save time and find their answers sooner. But until I have reached the place I want to be, I can’t tell you whether they will help.

Perhaps one day soon I will look back at this period of transition in my life and realise it was necessary, if not vital, for the wonderful outcomes that lie ahead. I hope so. I am grateful for everyday and I don’t want to waste any of them treading water. But once I set off, how do I know I’m swimming in the right direction?

I may not be going to work in the traditional sense tomorrow but I sure am going to work on something. Myself, an idea, a future. I hope I can make it count.

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How to discover and live your calling

Wisdom from ‘The Art of Work’ by Jeff Goins

As someone on a mission to live a more purposeful and rewarding life, I read ‘The Art of Work’ by Jeff Goins with interest. Jeff believes that we each have a calling in life, which should be of benefit to ourselves and others. This calling is our life’s work and won’t truly be answered until the day we die. But there’s no time like the present to get on track. Here I’ll share some of the wisdom from the book, and hope it is of benefit.

Your life is already calling you

We can all get hung up on ideas of the fancy things we deem worthy of the title of a calling. I could be called to become the yoga guru who brings joy to the masses, the minimalist who finally triumphs over consumerism or the chef who convinces every single person to eat only local wholesome foods. However, when thinking on such a grand scale it’s pretty easy to deter yourself through overwhelm at the outset. Jeff provides practical exercises to help us gather insight.

“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am” Parker Palmer

The clues to our calling are already all around and within us, just waiting to be identified. Jeff asks us to read our lives; to reflect on the peaks and difficult times and note the lessons within them.  What means a lot to you? What hobbies have you kept up over the years? These clues to our strengths and passions may point in the direction of our respective callings.

“You don’t ‘just know’ what your calling is. You must listen for clues along the way, discovering what your life can tell you. Awareness comes with practice.” 

Your calling evolves over time

Understand that every moment of your life is part of your calling. Don’t worry about so-called mistakes or even having a lack of direction. When you live consciously, and believe that your life matters, you will constantly be building a life you can be proud of. Then one day, you can look back and know you did what you were called do.

“You don’t need a specific address to begin…You can always change direction once you get in the car”

Think of your life as a story, but don’t get so lost in the thinking that you forget to act. It is only with action that your story gets interesting!

Don’t let fear quieten the call

We can be deterred from following our calling because we are scared it will turn out badly. Perhaps changing career will reduce our salary or make us look unreliable to future employers so we stay in a job we hate. The tendency to stick with the devil you know is a decision made from fear. As Jeff notes, “we want the journey to be safe. We want it drawn out for us – no surprises or setbacks, just a clear beginning and end. Unfortunately, that’s not the way the process usually works.” Instead Jeff encourages us to,

“lean in, realising that failure is inevitable, but it’s also not a legitimate obstacle. We can keep moving, albeit sometimes in a different direction.”

Jeff wants us to be aware, to have faith and to get busy. Fear can do so much to keep us trapped in the status quo, but I have found that an unwanted status quo is a place of depression. Feel empowered to recognise that you are either preparing for a new journey or happy with the journey you are on. Do not feel pressured to change course or feel bad about your life because it doesn’t feel grand enough to be a calling. You may be living your purpose in exactly what you are doing and there is wonder in this. Just be aware.

If you are embarking on a new journey and making changes, know that hardship brings many opportunities to learn and there are many people around who are there to support you through it. My hand is raised for this role-just leave a comment!

Stay the course

So what happens if you are living a successful life but feel unsatisfied? “You have to pay attention to passion and beware of the temptation of success.” If the life you are living does not bring you joy or feel purposeful, yet you are making good money and ticking certain societal boxes, break out. Do the awareness exercises and take steps towards a life that brings you joy and purpose.

If you have already reached your goal in life but are starting to feel flat, Jeff advises that you take action. A personal favourite quote of mine from the book reads;

“Anything less than proactivity is a cheap imitation of the life you were meant to live” 

Every action brings a reaction so the more you do, the more you invite into your life. Open the door to opportunity.

The art of a life well-lived

We don’t know what the future holds but if we live in awareness and believe that what we do is of importance, we will end up somewhere we are proud to be. If you learn at every step, you build an arsenal of skills, strengths and experience with which to attack any problem and thrive at life. Because in the end, “Your calling is not your job, it’s your entire life.”. The Art of Work is, in the end, the art of living.

Let yourself glow – a review of ‘Ask and It Is Given’

I must admit I was skeptical when reading the Law of Attraction related book, ‘Ask and It Is Given‘ by Esther and Jerry Hicks. There is much about it that screams mystical mumbo-jumbo, or ‘woo woo’. The fact that the authors claim to receive the words from the ether, the mystical ‘Abraham’ for example…hmm. Nah. However, here are some of the ideas I found most valuable to help you get more of what you want and, most importantly, feel good.

Find your joy

‘Ask and It Is Given’ shares the yoga philosophy that the primary and most natural emotion for all humans is joy. They believe that being able to recognise and live at peace with this idea is fundamental to living a successful, happy and abundant life. However, after years of advertising brainwashing and Hollywood movies this concept feels alien. Of course we need external things to feel joy, otherwise what do we do with our time? What do we buy? Who do we idolise? Hicks encourages us to question this philosophy and realise it is something we can feel all by ourselves.

Get ready to ask

The Law of Attraction, as presented in this book, decrees that we ask for what we want through the giving of our attention. Notably, we also ask for what we don’t want just by focusing on it. The way to tell whether we are attracting something positive or negative is based on our feelings; if you feel good, you’re on to a winner!

Until we reach a joyous state of being, we will not feel more joy. The same applies to wealth or adventure. We must feel adventurous before adventure will come our way. For example, I would never have gone to India to study yoga if I hadn’t spent months reading and preparing myself to become an adventurer. I had a far off scary daydream but slowly and purposefully convinced myself that I did have what it takes to make it a reality. I was slowly climbing a ladder, strengthening the emotion I wanted to feel with each rung.

Raise your spirits

I don’t know about you, but when I’m worrying about something, it’s hard to turn it around to a positive emotion. For this purpose, Hicks has provided exercises to increase our happiness, enthusiasm and interestingly, creativity. Each exercise corresponds to a different emotional state, from no will to live to jumping for joy, and you are encouraged to choose the range that suits you at the time. I appreciated that we aren’t shoe-horned into a one exercise fits all situation here, and did find many of the exercises inspiring.

For example, the first exercise is called ‘The Rampage of Appreciation’. To try it, look around your immediate environment and let your eyes rest on something that pleases you. Take in everything you like about the object and really feel glad to be beholding it and enjoying it. Now notice how good you feel and be appreciative of that. Look for something else and repeat the process. Hopefully you will feel your whole mood lift, climbing up that ladder, to a place where you are buzzing with gratitude. Imagine how much happier we could feel in life if we took this mindset wherever we went!

Let the good times grow

Once we feel better, Hicks believes we invite a better life to us. They call this ‘allowing’, highlighting that it is not something we must struggle towards.

“Success is about a happy life, and a happy life is just a string of happy moments, but most people do not allow the happy moments because they are so busy trying to get a happy life.”

For many (well me anyway!) this is a big reminder to enjoy the journey. According to Hicks, the best thing you can do when feeling stressed or hopeless is to daydream and play. I haven’t quite got this down pat yet, but I am trying to step back from a stressful situation and look for the positives around me. This is a new take for someone who would typically work and work at a problem until it goes away – either through conquering or dismissing it.

“Success is not about getting it done. It is about still dreaming and feeling positive in the unfolding. The standard of success in life is not the money or the stuff – the standard of success is absolutely the amount of joy you feel.”

Let yourself flourish

The importance of not feeling guilt in prioritising your own joy also aligns with yogic values and is at odds with popular sentiment. Hicks emphasises that there is enough joy, wealth and wellness to go around and it is up to you to embrace yours.

“It is only in your thriving that you have anything to offer anyone. If you want to be of help to others, be as tapped in, tuned in and turned on as you can possibly be.”

So take care of yourself, have fun and daydream about all the good things coming your way. And if you’ve read the book, let me know your thoughts!

 

6 Steps towards a Miracle Morning

Are you looking for big changes in your life but not sure how to make them? Or, more specifically, when? If so, ‘The Miracle Morning – The 6 habits that will transform your life before 8am‘ may help. The author, Hal Elrod, asks us to wake up from living unconsciously and believe in ourselves enough to take steps towards a better life. It’s a concept that’s hard not to get behind.

Hal found his way out of a rut, and into his fortune, after combining all the most powerful self-development tools he had heard of and bringing them together into a morning routine. He calls these tools together Life S.A.V.E.R.S and it stands for:

  1. Silence
  2. Affirmations
  3. Visualisation
  4. Exercise
  5. Reading
  6. Scribing

Hal found that using all of these tools everyday made him feel fantastic and allowed him to reach his definition of success.

Hal encourages readers to do this routine first thing in the morning, waking up earlier if need be, so that you start each day with positivity and direction. You decide.  I have found that it’s the first 3 SAVERS that were missing from my life so doing these first thing, and then making sure I have the other 3 scheduled into my day, works for me. I also have seen others add more feel good or productivity steps to the list, such as 10 minutes of cleaning, which I think is a great idea. The essence is do whatever will give you residual smugness throughout the day. I must say that even after 1 minute of jumping jack type exercises, I do feel that bit better about my level of exercise that day. And if I feel better, I might just be kinder to myself for the rest of my waking hours.

The 6 Steps to the Miracle Morning

Silence

Mindfully take control of your day by taking a few moments of silence first thing. You can meditate, pray, reflect, practice gratitude or simply breathe deeply. The most important thing is to not let you mind run away with you in these precious first minutes of the day. Take control now and you will feel better later.

Affirmations

“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. Once that belief becomes deep conviction, things begin to happen.” Muhammad Ali

This is your time to announce to the world (or at least yourself) what you really want, why you want it, who you are committed to being to create it, and what you’re committed to doing to attain it.

Considering how much time the majority of us spend in negative self-talk, this may be the hardest step of the SAVERS. It just feels a little weird…but something about it does seem to make sense. I’m going to recommend a podcast by the kindest Life Coach on the circuit, Bruce Van Horn, called Affirmations for Abundant Living so you can learn more. If you’re finding it hard to be nice to yourself, Bruce will be nice enough to make up for that! However, if you’re open to giving affirmations a go, I recommend just thinking of something you want to achieve, and then give yourself some motivating words towards that goal. Something like, “I will achieve this dream because I really want it and I know that I can work hard enough to achieve it. I’m so dedicated and on course to make this happen!”. If it helped Muhammad Ali become the greatest, it might just help us!

Visualisation

This ties in with Affirmations and I find it goes better before them, so that you can be fired up by the vision before telling yourself you’re going to achieve it. There is a lot of information out there about Vision Boards and you can read more in this Huffington Post article. My meagre attempt was saving some inspiring pictures into a word document, but it still gets my juices flowing. Those images remind me of where I want to be in life (French villa anyone?!) and from there I close my eyes and imagine living that life. It certainly feels nice so, why not? Worth a shot!

Exercise

Exercise as part of my SAVERS routine so far has usually just been some jumping on the spot for a bit, or a couple of mild stretches while I wait for the kettle to boil. Hal puts on a yoga DVD and feels that that adds to his morning. Find what works for you and don’t stress if exercising isn’t usually in your vocabulary. I believe that any conscious movement is exercise so just go for whatever suits you.

Reading

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body and prayer is to the soul. We become the books we read.” Matthew Kelly

I must say that this is my favourite step, but I tend to enjoy it so much that the rest of the routine goes down the toilet! However, whether you love to read or not, just pick up something inspirational and get to it. If you only have 1 minute then reread the quotes on this page and hopefully you’ll feel that little bit more motivated. You can even have daily inspirational quotes delivered directly to your inbox by following the link. Be conscious about what you let into your brain but actively seek new ideas. It can really be life changing.

Scribing

Hal admits that he only used this word to fit the acronym and it covers any sort of writing or journaling. In this section Hal introduces the concept of ‘gap focus’ and I thought it so insightful I’ve included the text here:

“Human beings are conditioned to have what I call ‘gap focus’. We tend to focus on the gaps between where we are in life and where we want to be, between what we’ve accomplished and what we could have or want to accomplish and the gap between who we are and our idealist vision of the person we believe we should be.

The problem with this is that constant ‘gap focus’ can be detrimental to our confidence and self-image, causing us to feel like we don’t have enough, haven’t accomplished enough, and that we’re simply not good enough, or at least, not as good as we should be.”

Your journal is a great place to ignore that gap and take stock of what you have achieved. This is the idea of the ‘To Done’ list and there’s a great Life Hack article about this. If gap focus isn’t your problem then you can also use your journal to write about what you are thankful for or set a plan for your day. All of these methods of ‘scribing’ will be beneficial to you, and interesting to look back on as you develop.

Now to give it a try…

So there we have it, our Life Savers. Having consciously worked through the steps this week, I’m particularly enjoying the positive feelings that come from affirmations and visualisation. It’s like a small step towards the Law of Attraction (which I’ll address in a future post). If you are new to personal development, this could really be life changing. It certainly has been for many in the huge Miracle Morning community. The book itself also offers a template for implementing a 30 day trial and reaping the benefits so make sure to take advantage if you read the book. You can get hold of it through Amazon below, or, as I did from, from your local library. Let me know how your miraculous mornings develop and just shout if you want to know more!

Other quotes…

“Our level of success is always going to parallel our level of personal development.”

“If we don’t consistently invest time into our self-improvement, our life will not improve”

“Where you are is a result of who you were, but where you go depends entirely on who you choose to be”

“Remember, the moment you accept total responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you claim the power to change anything in your life.”

My takeaways from the 4 Hour Work Week

This topic may be a little ‘retro’ since the original edition of  ‘The 4 Hour Work Week‘ by Tim Ferriss was published in 2007, however having only just gotten around to reading it, I wanted to share my takeaways with you.

The book presents how Tim managed to streamline his online sales business to such an extent that he only needed to work 4 hours a week while still making stacks of cash. Tim shares valuable technical insight in to improving your processes (whether self-employed or otherwise) and launching your own digital company. I skimmed these parts.

Defining your fear

What really got me interested was Tim asking us to define what we are scared of when it comes to a particular decision. What is the absolute worse outcome of doing the very thing you are considering? What would the permanent impact be and how likely is it that this will actually happen?

Putting my vague fears into words put an end to procrastination and inspired me to realise that I am OK with the possible outcomes I feel faced with at the moment. What I really need to do, no matter what, is (insert keyword) *hustle*. I feel sure that if I can’t make a living doing something I love, I will work hard enough to avoid absolute destitution, which is pretty much my worse fear in this equation. If I knew I had given the process my all, at the very least I would feel content with that. As long as I can be happy with who I am, the external factors don’t seem to matter as much.

I also appreciated Tim’s question, “If you quit your job to test other options, how could you later get back on the same career track if you absolutely had to?”. This is a question I only recently addressed before leaving my job in alumni relations, so I definitely recommend it to other would-be career re-inventors.

Dream big enough to inspire action

Tim got me jumping out of my seat with interest at the section headed, “Doing the unrealistic is easier than doing the realistic”. Having spent years daydreaming about what a new career (let alone life) could look like, 2015 was the year that the day dreaming turned into research and my notice letter was eventually handed in. This terrifying step was only taken due to a pretty big dream. For me it focused around becoming a yoga teacher and running retreats from my (imaginary) villa in France. However, back home from achieving my yoga teacher training certification overseas and unemployed for the first time since I was 13, the BIG dream began to feel silly. And then my motivation began to wane. And then I did what, to those who know me well, raised a big old red flag. I switched on the TV and glued myself to the sofa. Granted I watched ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt‘ and hoped her insanely big grin would rub off on me, but binge watching TV it was. Day 3 of this scenario was when I read this section of the 4HWW and, as mentioned, got my ass off the sofa.

I had been implementing very small steps towards a very vague and teensy tiny version of my dream. Of course I didn’t feel enthusiastic about doing more – there wasn’t much more to do. Moving towards something mediocre, and therefore already done, also put me up against the death knell of any personal development; comparison. So Tim’s words, “Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself” were well timed.

“Having an unusually large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and tribulations that go along with any goal…If the potential payoff is mediocre and average, so is your effort.”

So maybe I need to get that big hairy audacious goal back on the table. And maybe even make it bigger. To be continued!

If you’ve read the book or have any comments, I’d love to hear them. What’s inspiring you right now?

Quotes and Notes

Here are some other quotes and notes from the 4HWW that got me thinking or going:

“The level of competition is fiercest for realistic goals”

“Your goal, and what you want ‘to do’, must excite you”

“Boredom is the enemy, not failure.”

“The existential vacuum manifests itself mainly in a state of boredom.” Victor Frankl

“To have an uncommon lifestyle, you need to develop the uncommon habit of making decisions, both for yourself and others”.

“Am I inventing things to avoid doing the important?”

“What 20% of sources cause 80% of my problems and unhappiness?”

“There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant” Ralph Waldo Emerson

And finally…

Learn to ask, “If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied?” Especially good as a pop up reminder online!

The Power of the Unexpected Gift

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Just over a year ago I was promoted at work and a kind colleague gave me a very special gift. At the time I didn’t realise this, and my quasi minimalist tendencies made me  wonder if I would ever make use of the present. What was the gift? A set of notebooks by the designer Caroline Gardner.

The thing is, I have received many notebooks as gifts in the past, and they all reside in a drawer in my living room. Blank. Or worse still, partially blank, with their use now dictated by the lists or journals I had started in them years ago. I just rarely wrote anything on paper anymore. Even shopping lists were held on my phone, avoiding the waste paper that comes after the items are bought.

However, I kept the pretty notebooks and as often happens, a use arose. I began to read about personal development, and the wisdom I was learning needed a suitably inspiring home. Beautiful notepad number 1 found its purpose.

Throughout 2015 my interest in personal development grew, and so did my use of notepads. 3 now full, 2016 has brought more notebooks into my life.

I now realise that the gift had a purpose, just waiting to be realised. I was just not ready to see it. Where else might this apply in life?