There is something great about each one of us. The fact that we were born suggests there is something special and unique we have to offer.
It’s quite incredible that even though there are over seven billion people in the world, everyone is different. Even so-called identical twins are different even though there may have a lot of physical similarities.
The reality is most people are disconnected from what makes them great. Our early life programming, experiences and environments has a major influence on what we believe to be true about ourselves, which in turn, affects the choices we make in life.
When we’re disconnected from what makes us great, we:
- Go through life not being true to ourselves.
- Settle for a life we have rather than design a life we want.
- Don’t feel our best consistently.
- Tend to do things we’re expected to do rather than what we’re passionate about.
- Don’t make any significant difference in other people’s lives or the world.
I once heard a mentor say that a graveyard is the most valuable place on earth. This is because within the graves lie dreams that were not followed, ideas that were not implemented or decisions that were not made. People tend to die with their music still within them.
If we don’t want to live a life of regret, we have to connect to what makes us special and unique — our greatness.
There is a saying, “The older we get, the wiser we become.” Have you experienced your priorities changing as you’ve gotten older, and hopefully, much wiser?
I know when I was in my early twenties, fresh out of university, having career success was something I thought was important. Also, acquiring material things was something I also pursued, but as I have gotten older, it has become less and less important.
Why Does Our Priorities Change?
What causes us to change what we believe to be important as we get older?
One explanation could be that as we start achieving the things we think we want, we find that we are not satisfied or happy as we thought we would be.
If we do the things we do in order to feel happy, and if we don’t feel the happiness we thought we would, it makes us question what is truly important in life.
This may be a reason why we hear of middle-aged and older people making big changes in their lives because what they were doing previously was not making them happy.
Rather than wait till we’re much older, wouldn’t it makes sense to pay more attention now to what will matter more later in life? We can either be making a living or designing a life.
A common excuse we hear as to why people aren’t doing the things they really want to is that they don’t have enough time.
This excuse of not having enough time has become a story we constantly tell ourselves which results in:
- Poor planning and productivity.
- Our health, relationships and work suffering.
- Lack of ambition or drive.
- Lower levels of motivation, self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Disconnection from our dreams.
The truth is we all have the same amount of time each day. How we use our time determines the quality of our daily experiences.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we all can find time daily for things that matter most to us.
Consider this scenario: say you have 30 minutes to spare because you’re between tasks or appointments, or you simply don’t have anything planned — how can you make better use of that time?
It’s easy to do things for others first before taking care of our needs. All too often, those who do things for themselves first are labelled as being selfish.
Is it so wrong to do things for ourselves before doing things for others?
One of the best metaphors I’ve come across to explain this is to imagine being in an emergency situation in an aeroplane. The pilot’s voice comes over the announcement system saying cabin pressure has dropped and he has released the oxygen masks. His instruction is to put on your mask first.
In such a situation, it’s vital we put on our mask first before helping others with theirs. This is because if we’re running out of oxygen, it won’t be long before we’re in a serious situation, that could cause us to pass out, or even worse, die! If we’re incapacitated, we’re of no use to anyone else.
The Costs of Not Taking Care of Yourself First
- Feeling run down mentally, emotionally and physically.
- High levels of frustration and resentment towards those we deal with regularly.
- Not being at our best consistently.
- Taking a lot longer to get things done.
- Not being able to serve those we care about as best as we can.
Doing things for ourselves should be considered as selfless rather than selfish.
Whenever we’re in a situation that is unpleasant due to someone being difficult or uncooperative, it can trigger a number of emotions.
These emotions can include anger, resentment, discomfort, fear, embarrassment or disappointment.
While it can be easy to let others affect our emotional state, if we have adequate tools to deal with difficult people or situations, we’ll have a much better chance of managing our emotions appropriately.
Since we interact with people all the time, knowing what to do or what to say whenever we’re dealing with someone difficult, will allow us to focus on what we need to do without getting caught up in the other person’s drama.
In my previous manufacturing career, the company I worked for had a sales manager who would get angry whenever there were delays with customer orders. It didn’t matter if there were valid reasons for delays such unexpected machinery breakdown, or if there were traffic delays on the road while delivering products to customers.
This sales manager had a reputation of being difficult to reason with and he wasn’t the most approachable person in the company.
On one occasion, there was a delay with delivery to a major customer and resulted in the customer giving him a call to find out why their delivery was delayed. The sales manager called the delivery manager at the time to find out what was going on.
Goals give us meaning and direction in life. Those don’t have goals usually lack the motivation to achieve things that matter, and often settle for the life they have drifted into.
While setting goals is important, achieving them often requires more focus and commitment.
Common advice related to setting goals include:
- Set goals that motivate or inspire you.
- Ensure goals are measurable and have a due date.
- Write down your goals.
- Create a plan to achieve your goals.
- Take consistent action.
While those are valuable advice, there is more we can do to give ourselves a better chance of achieving our goals.
We’re constantly interacting with people and sometimes, it can be difficult to start a conversation with someone, if we don’t know them well.
What do we say to start a conversation that is meaningful?
If we’re interacting with colleagues in a work or business environment, it can be easier to have a conversation because we’ll have things in common to talk about.
If we’re meeting someone for the first time, either in a social gathering or in a more formal setting, having something intelligent to say is important if we want to make a good first impression.
There are some simple things we can do to appear to be more willing to have a conversation with others, such as:
- Having a handshake or a hug, if appropriate.
- Maintaining good body language.
These are things we can do before we say anything. Starting a conversation worth remembering takes a lot more.
It’s highly unlikely anyone wakes up in the morning and says, “I wish my life was harder.” We want our lives to be easier.
We also want the process of making our lives easier to be easy as well. Sometimes we get caught up in the buzz around a new product or gadget that promises to make us more efficient, only to find that it actually requires more work use the product or gadget correctly to make our lives easier.
The ideas suggested here are not related to new products or gadgets. It’s about simple practices or things we can do right now to make our lives easier.
The Benefits of an Easier Life
- You will feel happier and less overwhelmed.
- You will have more time to do things that matter to you.
- You will have a better outlook on life.
- You will experience more progress or growth.
- You will have less things that can take you away from doing things that are important.
The good news is we can start doing things today to make our lives easier.
How we operate daily is a reflection of the habits we have. The more good habits we have, the better our lives will be.
As we all desire to improve and have better lives, sometimes we struggle to follow through and stick to doing the things we know will be beneficial to us.
While having an intention to make a positive change, such as exercising a few times per week, drinking plenty of water daily or getting enough sleep each night, is a good starting point, sticking to the new habits is challenging.
One of the reasons why people abandon their New Year’s resolutions is because they are not able to lock in their new habits over the long term.
The Costs of Not Sticking to Our Habits
- It generates feelings of disappointment, regret and resignation.
- We lose trust in ourselves as we’re unable to keep our commitments.
- It lowers our self-confidence.
- We’re reluctant to try something that requires a long-term commitment.
- We don’t progress as quickly as we’d like to.
It’s one thing to identify a new or good habit we want to have, but it’s much more challenging to actually stick with it.
Failure can be our greatest teacher in life. It’s inevitable we’ll have our fair share of failure as we pursue bigger goals in life.
It’s often said that if we’ve never failed, it means we’ve never tried anything new or stepped outside of our comfort zone.
If what we do or don’t do is driven by our desire to avoid failing, we will struggle to get to higher levels of achievement.
Winston Churchill said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
Reasons Why We Fail
- Lack of persistence.
- Lack of knowledge.
- Lack of effective plans.
- Lack of self-belief.
- Giving up too soon.
- Not learning from past mistakes or failures.
- Not taking personal responsibility for our results.
- Not taking effective action.
- Not being clear about what we want or where we want to be.
- Not willing to ask for help when we face challenges.
If we want to achieve more success, we have to embrace failure and view it differently.