The First Thing You Need to Do If You Want to Change Your Life

“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” ~Eckhart Tolle

There are two ways to live life.

One is a more reactive approach, where you fight back when you encounter challenges in your personal or professional life. The other is a more proactive one where you are mindful of the trends within you and around you and ready with your surfboard whenever a big wave hits!

The only difference between the two is awareness.

Awareness empowers you to make conscious choices based on an understanding of yourself and the situation, to notice what your choice created, and to then choose again. This is why awareness is powerful. By becoming aware, you are snatching control back.

Merely observing your thoughts and behavior can spur positive action.

Big words. How am I so sure?

Just by tracking my sleep, I was able to gain insights into what aids my sleep and what disrupts it.

When I started tracking my food, I realized calories don’t matter but macros do. I then changed how I consumed food.

Journaling allowed me to observe my mental chatter and learn from it. It made me aware that most of my anger and frustration stems from lack of sleep, food, or water.

Tracking my finances made it easier to make tough calls with my spending.

I didn’t make these changes overnight. They took days and months of being aware before the changes actually happened.

Awareness is knowledge. Knowledge gives you power. Power makes it easier to change.

In the absence of awareness, you react mindlessly to your surroundings because all you have is the movement of thought. Your reaction will then depend on your past experiences and conditioning.

If in the past, you dealt with stress by eating, you are going to reach for your favorite snack. If your past experience taught you to raise your voice to get heard, you will easily shout when you are being ignored.

You start to believe what you are experiencing is reality when actually you are experiencing the narrative your mind created as a reaction to what is going on around you. Without awareness, you confuse what is happening in your mind with reality. You are at the mercy of the conditioned mind.

“Awareness is all about restoring your freedom to choose what you want instead of what your past imposes on you.” ~Deepak Chopra

Most of us are clueless about why we do what we do, how we present ourselves, and how others perceive us. And we get stuck in negative patterns as a result.

Here are some ways you can improve your awareness so you can improve your life.

Practice self-reflection.

This allows you to take a step back and ask probing questions of yourself. As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Ask yourself: Why did I react this way? Why is this making me sad? Why am I so against this viewpoint? Where did this belief come from? 

Doing this will allow you to make stronger connections. It will make your convictions stronger and give you the fuel to argue your viewpoint in a civil manner. It will also make you aware of your bad habits and thought patterns.

For instance, self-reflection has taught me that I have a tendency to eat unhealthy food when I haven’t gotten enough sleep. I also have a tendency to shut myself off from people when I am angry instead of talking to them calmly. Knowing this about myself, I am able to catch these unhealthy habits and choose healthier responses.

Journal.

Journaling is a great tool for self-reflection, since it helps you understand and challenge your thoughts and beliefs, and it’s also an stress reliever. It acts as a brain dump. Think of this as a parking lot for your thoughts. Just like your back feels lighter when you take off your heavy backpack, your mind will feel lighter and less stressful once you dump your thoughts on a piece of paper.

You can do this once a week, once a day, or even once every fortnight. All you need is a diary and a pen to get going. Trust me, nobody is so busy that they cannot take five minutes in a day to journal.

Take personality and psychometric tests.

Whereas a personality test can give you insight into why you do the things you do, a psychometric test can help you asses your skills, knowledge, abilities, and characteristics. I am not a big fan of these, but there are scores of free tests available online. You might find yourself agreeing or disagreeing with the results, but they will give you some food for thought.

Since they’re all based on some sort of questionnaire that you answer, I would recommend taking more than one to get a broader understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, and behavior patterns.

Ask for feedback.

There is a catch to this one. You need to be willing to take the feedback someone gives you without being offended or getting into an argument. If you can ask probing questions from them to dig deeper, even better!

If you are uncomfortable with people pointing out your mistakes and shortcomings to your face, you can ask through email. This way you have time to digest what people write before responding and will be less likely to react defensively.

Step out of your comfort zone.

Once you become aware of your limitations, the next step is to push them and face your fears.

I used to hate talking to large crowds or presenting in front of people. Nothing made me sweat faster!

Since I was aware, I decided to tackle this by joining a student organization in college where my role was to go to different classes and present about the organization in efforts to recruit more students. It wasn’t easy, but within a year, I wasn’t sweating anymore!

For you, this might mean setting a boundary with someone after recognizing your habit of letting people take advantage of you or applying for a job you’ve been interested in after recognizing that you usually hold yourself back with fears of not being good enough.

This is how awareness changes your life: when you not only recognize what you’re doing and why but consciously choose to do something different.

Awareness makes you stronger. With awareness, you are able to bounce back faster after adversity. You are conscious of your insecurities and shortcomings. You have gone through the cycle enough times to understand what triggers them and how you can recover from them.

For example, in my case, when I am feeling sad and depressed, I know I can recover if I take a nap or go workout. It helps me shake off the bad mojo.

Awareness allows you to empathize with people. You can relate to the other person because you know the signs, having experienced them yourself. It becomes very easy to step into the other person’s shoes instead of judging them. In fact, it will come naturally after a while.

Your agility increases because of your awareness. You can pluck yourself in and out of any situation when you want and are able to adapt and pivot as needed on much shorter notice. In other words, you are able to move, think, or act quickly.

The pursuit of self-awareness also leads you to your blind spots. It uncovers the unknown and makes it known, so at least you are aware of it, even if you are not able to act on it right away.

When I look back, I have been blessed to have experienced many moments of awareness discovering things either by myself or because someone in my trusted circle caught it. I am pretty sure when you look back, you will also be able to spot those moments where your transformation first began because of the awareness bringing it to light.

The wheels of change begin to move with the first sign of awareness.

6 ways to promote professional growth during the pandemic

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In times like these, it can be easy to feel as though you’ve run out of options for furthering your career. The economic fallout from COVID-19 has forced many young entrepreneurs to feel as though they need to slam the breaks on their journeys, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Today, many business people are simply looking for ways to make ends meet, but those that have managed to gain their footing should be looking one step further. Developing the right professional skills now can help you fend off against potential downturns later on — an invaluable opportunity for many.

Kickstarting professional growth, however, is always easier said than done. If you’re looking for a way to take your career to the next level, try starting with these tips:

1. Find a mentor or a group

Even in the calmest of times, it takes a village to raise an executive — nowadays, you’ll want as much support as you can get. Your drive and skills play a major role in determining whether you succeed, but so does the support of the people around you. Cultivate relationships with mentors and join professional groups to find like-minded people who can help you get through the bad times and celebrate the good. Deliberately growing your network puts you in contact with a variety of smart people who can provide you with advice and recommendations at different stages of your career.

“Support from a network is one of the most critical aspects of professional success,” says Ritch Wood, CEO of Nu Skin. “You might make it on your own, but your chances of success increase dramatically with a network of support at your back.” People are more active online than ever, so simply reaching out on LinkedIn or shooting someone an email is a great place to start.

2. Read stories of successful people

“When I was in my early 20s, leadership development was not a blip on my radar,” says Marcel Schwantes, founder of Leadership from the Core. “It wasn’t until much later that I realized how much transformation could come from reading.”

People are always saying they’d read more if they had the time, and now more people have the time than ever. Get yourself in the right mindset by reading books written by people who have achieved the same goals you have set for yourself. Don’t be fooled into thinking business books only feature enterprise CEOs — you can find books written by and for all kinds of people, from retail frontline workers to executives and everyone in between. Set a reading goal for yourself, grab a few works by people who inspire you, and start with chapter one.

3. Talk to your boss about your vision

“Your boss may know you do a great job, but her plate is probably completely full with her own obligations,” says Job Success Lab founder Lea McLeod. “If you’re interested in a new promotion or assignment, ask!”

As many businesses find their very foundations in flux, consider this an opportunity to carve out a new opportunity for yourself. Take some time to prepare materials that back up your case for a promotion, then schedule a conversation with your boss to make it happen. If you haven’t quite earned a shot at the next level, have a talk with your boss about what you need to do in the upcoming months to make your case. Check-in regularly to ensure your progress does not go unnoticed.

4. Start an active hobby

Endless commuting from the couch may sound good on paper, but your brain needs more activity in order to function properly. Give it the fuel it requires by staying active, outdoors if possible. If you aren’t naturally inclined toward athletics, try something less competitive, such as hiking or yoga. Whether you want to join a digital fitness group or go at it solo, it’s the activity that matters. Remember, your goal is to become a more well-rounded person.

Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip, found scuba diving to be the perfect escape from his everyday grind. “Learning something entirely new, without the pressure of it being directly correlated to my career, refreshed my mind and helped me think of things differently,” says Wong.

5. Learn when to unplug

As the lines between home and office become more blurred than ever before, unplugging has become an absolute must. “Time spent away from work should be time to unwind and recharge,” says psychologist Kurt Smith. “But if you’re constantly checking work emails on your cell phone, you never let your brain turn off and you risk getting burned out.”

To achieve your professional goals, you must be ready to give 100% when you’re on stage. That means you can’t maintain a slow burn of semi-work status when you’re off the clock. Be fully present when you’re on the job, but unplug completely when it’s time to punch out. Your performance will improve thanks to your more effective, more sustainable schedule.

6. Attend a digital conference

“Networking is only awkward and difficult when you approach it entirely cold without any shared context, values, or ways of entering a conversation,” says Zak Slayback, networking advisor and author. “Choose an event with a shared, value-driven context and you’ll find that networking and connecting with new people becomes considerably less awkward.”

As conferences the world over are canceled or postponed, some organizations are filling the gaps with exciting digital events. Those who take the time to attend these conferences will be those most dedicated to their paths in life, so they pose a great opportunity to connect with people who can help you along your journey.

Just because the world seems to have stopped turning doesn’t mean that your career has to as well. By honing in on the aspects of your life that could use the most attention, you’ll emerge from the pandemic a more well-rounded professional than ever before.

Autumn Serenade

Autumn Serenade – song by a beautiful Armenian voice and her name is SONA RUBENYAN. “Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.”

Sona Rubenyan / Autumn Serenade – SONA RUBENYAN / Ashnan serenad

Elita Harutyunyan, Author of the speeches

Author of music, Vazgen Koloyan

Lyrics in English:

The day dusk slowly, when you were away from me,

Life became futile, lost the dung, became one-on-one.

She was dumb, relaxed, faded, and brought her autumn.

 

And that autumn bloomed me in colors, bewildered me,

My heart took him.

And that autumn serenade played me,

And the mild bridge took my wind …

 

In the rain, I will tell the story to my ears,

And I will ask him to leave you lost my dream,

The slow, thin whispers came autumn.

 

And that autumn bloomed me in colors, bewildered me,

My heart took him.

And that autumn serenade played me,

And the mild bridge took my wind …

 

Return to my sun in the autumn,

Bring me colors, bring a dream.

 

The autumn yellow colors barked me, bewitched me,

My heart took him.

And that autumn did not care for you anymore,

My love took away …

My love took away …

=========================

The Lyrics in Armenian Language:

Խոսքերի հեղինակ՝ Էլիտա Հարությունյան

Երաժշտության հեղինակ՝ Վազգեն Քոլոյան

 

Օրը մթնեց դանդաղ, երբ ինձնից դու հեռացար անհետ,

Կյանքն անիմաստ դարձավ, կորցրեց խինդը, միագույն դարձավ:

Խամրեց, հանգչեց, մարեց, իր հետ աշուն բերեց:

 

Ու այդ աշունը գույներով ինձ կախարդեց, կախարդեց ինձ,

Սիրտս իրեն վերցրեց:

Ու այդ աշունը սերենադ ինձ նվագեց,

Ու քամին մեղմ սերս տարավ…

 

Հորդ անձրևին կամաց կպատմեմ ես պատմությունը իմ,

Ու կխնդրեմ նրան քեզ թողնել կորած երազը իմ,

Դանդաղ, մեղմ շշուկով եկավ աշունը թով:

 

Ու այդ աշունը գույներով ինձ կախարդեց, կախարդեց ինձ,

Սիրտս իրեն վերցրեց:

Ու այդ աշունը սերենադ ինձ նվագեց,

Ու քամին մեղմ սերս տարավ…

 

Վերադարձի՛ր իմ արև դու աշնան,

Բե՛ր ինձ գույներ, բե՛ր երազանք:

 

Աշունը դեղին գույներով ինձ կախարդեց, կախարդեց ինձ,

Սիրտս իրեն վերցրեց:

Ու այդ աշունը չնայեց այլևս քեզ,

Սերս տարավ անհետ…

Սերս տարավ անհետ…

 

Dance me to the end of love ~ Geetha Balvannanathan

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

“Never Thought (That I Could Love)”

love-more-than-before1

Can I touch you?
I can’t believe that you are real
How did I ever find you?
You are the dream that saved my life
You are the reason I survived
Baby…

I never thought that I could love
Someone as much as I love you
I know it’s crazy but it’s true
I never thought that I could need
Someone as much as I need you
I Love You…

Can I hold you?
Girl your smile lights up the sky
You are too beautiful for the human eye
You are the dream that never dies
You are the fire that burns inside
Baby…

I never thought that I could love
Someone as much as I love you
I know it’s crazy but it’s true
I never thought that I could need
Someone as much as I need you
I Love You…

You are the sunshine in the sky
You are the sparkle in my eyes

I never thought that I could love
Someone as much as I need you
I know it’s crazy but it’s true
I know it’s truelove
I never thought that I could need
Someone as much as I need you
I LOVE YOU

 

 

Monolith

Monolith

At the foot of a northern pylon of the Harbour Bridge
I have kept my vigil since the mighty span was built.
I come early in the day from worn-out corners of the area
and sit when the sun is out until the waning afternoon,
thence to another role, another manifestation of duty.
On my way I pass a cavern echoing with traffic noise.
When the sun is setting it blazes up like a testing tunnel
of the cosmic fire at the beginning and ending of universes.
It reminds me we are not that far in time from a kalpa’s ending.
More than four thousand million years in the lives
of the starry and the planetary entities
who influence us and are never truly seen.
At the pylon’s base I meet with seeming fools and sages,
more of the former, alas, but it was ever the same
at the other Thebes. The great towering stone columns could fittingly house
the troglodytic priests and harbour an inward turning flame
in bifurcated flowering for the known and unknown god
and my own dilapidated dispensation.
The only way the scene differs now
is in the lack of overt piety,
the thinning out of conscious pilgrims passing by me
here upon the seasonally withered grass.