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.

6 Things You Should Never Do First Thing in the Morning. The perfect morning routine–for you–should also include a ‘not to do’ list.

The perfect morning routine–for you–should also include a ‘not to do’ list.

6 Things You Should Never Do First Thing in the Morning

 

Morning routines. Everyone has them. Everyone wants a better one.

But instead of adding items to your morning in hopes of starting your day more productively, consider eliminating a few things from your routine. Consider it addition by subtraction.

What should go on your not to do list for first thing in the morning?

1. Don’t plan out your day.

Instead, make a to-do list the night before. That accomplishes a number of things.
One, you’ll sleep better. As David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, says, “Your head is for having ideas, not holding ideas, and it’s certainly not for filing things away. Without exception, you will feel better if you get stuff out of your head.” Deciding what you’ll do tomorrow — especially deciding what you’ll do first — instantly relieves a little stress and anxiety.

And ensures you don’t waste time deciding what to tackle first. Or mistaking the seemingly urgent for the truly important. Or wasting time gathering up whatever you need to actually work on what you want to tackle first.

Try it.

Before you end your workday, list what you need to get done tomorrow. Then determine the single most important thing you need to get done tomorrow.

Then, before you step away, set up your workspace (which, if like mine, is simply your computer’s desktop) so you can hit the ground running first thing in the morning. Have the reports you need open. Have the notes you need handy. Make sure you have answers to your questions.

Starting your day with a productive bang creates natural momentum — and provides the motivation you need to move on to whatever is next on your to-do list.

So, yeah: Don’t make a plan. Have a plan.

2. Don’t make unimportant decisions.

Malcolm Gladwell only drinks five kinds of liquids: water, tea, red wine, espresso, and milk. Why?

As Gladwell says, “There are so many other things I would rather do with my time than agonize endlessly about those kinds of trivial decisions.”

Plus, we all have a finite store of mental energy for exercising self-control. Some of us have less, some have more, but eventually we all run out of willpower steam.

That’s why the more choices you need to make during the day, the harder each one is on your brain — and the more you start to look for shortcuts. That’s when you get impulsive. That’s when you make decisions you know you shouldn’t make.

The fewer decisions you have to make, the better the decisions you will make when you do have to make a decision.

Maybe you’ll start having the same thing for breakfast. Or always working out before you start work. (More on that in a moment.) Or scanning the same key metrics.

Or, as President Obama once told Vanity Fair, “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Automate as many decisions you have to make in the morning as possible, especially when they don’t improve your efficiency and effectiveness.

3. Don’t forget to exercise.

Research shows that as little as 20 minutes of moderate exercise boosts your mood for the next 12 hours. (Keep in mind “moderate” means an average heart rate of between 110  and 120 beats a minute. So, no: You don’t have to go all HIIT on yourself.)

Not only will a short workout increase your energy level afterward, it will also put you in a better mood for up to 12 hours.

Which means exercising first thing lets you take full advantage of the “happier” 12 hours that science says follow.

4. Don’t forget to include protein in your first meal.

In The 4-Hour Body, Tim Ferriss recommends consuming 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up. At least one nutrition professor recommends consuming at least 30 grams of protein for breakfast.

Why? Protein tends to keep blood-sugar levels steadier. Protein tends to help prevent hunger spikes. Most important, research shows dopamine regulates motivation, helping you to “initiate and persevere.”

Which is exactly what you need to do first thing in the morning: get started and keep going.

Granted, knocking out 30 grams of protein might sound daunting, so try a protein bar or protein shake. That’s what I do: My first meal is always a protein bar and a glass of water.

Decision already made, protein consumed. Win-win.

5. Don’t forget to take the right breaks.

Generally speaking, we can only focus on any given task for 90 to 120 minutes. After that, we need a 15- to 20-minute break so we can recharge and be ready to perform at a high level on the next task.

So do this: Split your day into 90-minute windows. Instead of thinking an 6-, 8-, or 10-hour workday, split your day into four or five 90-minute windows. That way, you will have, say, four or five tasks — or chunks of tasks — you will get done a lot more efficiently.

Just make sure you take the right kind of break. Sitting and chilling is fine, but taking a break to knock out a few relatively mindless tasks could be just as useful (and leave you feeling a little more productive).

Think of it this way: Momentum is everything. Breaks should reinforce your sense of activity and accomplishment. So take a quick walk. Grab a drink or a snack.

Or, if you feel the urge to stay Type A, pick a few productive tasks you like to perform — and gain a sense of accomplishment from — and use those for your “breaks.”

6. Don’t stick blindly to the same morning routine.

Maybe you’ll need to wake up a little earlier to take advantage of “quiet time” to complete your first task. Maybe you’ll need to wake up a little later so you’ll feel more rested.

Maybe you’ll need to exercise later in the day after all, or adjust what you eat, or change a few of your other “automatic” decisions.

To be more productive, you can’t do what you’ve always done.

Nor should you slavishly stick to the new routine you create. Every once in a while, take a few minutes to evaluate what’s working and what’s not. And adjust as necessary.

Because the key is to do what makes you most successful.

Which, over time, is likely to change.

So make sure you change with it.

Thank You for Condolences

Hello Everyone –

“I was very sad and heartbroken by the death of my uncle, but reading the fine words that you wrote on my wall I felt some relief.  I thank the Lord for helping me find comfort and every one of you for joining me at this very sad time. “

“Someone very special was gone forever from this world and I feel an immense pain, however with your display of affection and affection you have made my heart rejoice. I am grateful to all of you for your special messages that have helped me find peace and tranquility I needed. “

 

 

Spend all your time waiting for that second chance
For the break that will make it ok
There’s always some reason to feel not good enough
And it’s hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction oh beautiful release
Memories seep from my veins
They may be empty and weightless and maybe
I’ll find some peace tonight

In the arms of an Angel fly away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
You’re in the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here

So tired of the straight line, and everywhere you turn
There’s vultures and thieves at your back
The storm keeps on twisting, you keep on building the lies
That you make up for all that you lack
It don’t make no difference, escaping one last time
It’s easier to believe
In this sweet madness, oh this glorious sadness
That brings me to my knees

In the arms of an Angel far away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
In the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here

You’re in the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here

“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

 

 

Much Like Me

Much like me, you make your way forward,
Walking with downturned eyes.
Well, I too kept mine lowered.
Passer-by, stop here, please.

Read, when you’ve picked your nosegay
Of henbane and poppy flowers,
That I was once called Marina,
And discover how old I was.

Don’t think that there’s any grave here,
Or that I’ll come and throw you out …
I myself was too much given
To laughing when one ought not.

The blood hurtled to my complexion,
My curls wound in flourishes …
I was, passer-by, I existed!
Passer-by, stop here, please.

And take, pluck a stem of wildness,
The fruit that comes with its fall —
It’s true that graveyard strawberries
Are the biggest and sweetest of all.

All I care is that you don’t stand there,
Dolefully hanging your head.
Easily about me remember,
Easily about me forget.

How rays of pure light suffuse you!
A golden dust wraps you round …
And don’t let it confuse you,
My voice from under the ground.