Growth, not perfection

Regret comes from looking back at what we could have done differently.  In a lot of situations we are in, in hindsight we could have handled them better. Now that’s not a negative, that’s how life is. Knowing that, we need to learn to take our past learnings and apply them to the future and not beat ourselves about what happened in the past. There’s a few things we can keep in mind when putting this to practice.

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1. Perfection Isn’t The Goal: Doing our best and constantly learning should be the goal. Knowing this we can take some of the pressure off of ourselves. Going into any situation we should be giving 100% and if the result was less than what we desired, we can take comfort knowing we did all that we could do. We can take those learnings, move forward and achieve better results next time. A lot of people get wrapped up in the end game and forget about the journey. But the journey is where we are spending all of our time, it’s our whole life! We’ll never be perfect but we can strive to be better. Even the best of the best in any industry are always looking to improve. There’s always more room for growth which is why we shouldn’t aim for perfectionism but always aim for growth.

2. Don’t Beat Yourself Up: We should be critical of ourselves to a certain extent but there comes a point when it becomes too much. We need to be critical of ourselves, identify where we made mistakes, look for ways to improve and move forward. Ultimately the past is in the past and we can’t do anything to change that. If we are beating ourselves up about what we could have done better, that’s just unhealthy. Think about if you were a runner in a race. You spent hours and hours training and finally the day of the big race arrived. You give it 150% but still end up in second place. Would you go about physically beating yourself? NO! That would be ridiculous. You would take it in stride and get back to training because that’s all you can do. We can’t beat ourselves up because it does nothing to help, it just hurts us. We need to give ourselves some slack.

3. Live In The Now: Now is all we have, nothing we can do will change the past (unless you have a Dolarian that can go back in time or a Time Turner!) so what’s the point of dwelling and getting stuck in it? There is no point, it can only result in regret and feeling sorry for ourselves. We need to look at the now and at all the things that we are blessed with today, not what could have been. Does it help wishing you had a millions dollars? No. Does making goals, a game plan, starting a business will that help make you a million dollars! Yes! We need to take action today to make a better tomorrow.

4. Keep Looking Forward: as cheesy as it sounds, the saying “today is the first day of the rest of your life” is so true. Each morning we are blessed with another day to live. We can spend it looking at our mistakes and wishing things were different, or we can make things different. If we don’t like how things are now based on previous decisions, we can make better decisions, not get caught up in the past and carve out a better future. Yes the past plays a part in our lives, but it does not dictate our future. We dictate our future by working on the now.

Honestly, what it comes down to is sometimes we just need to give ourselves a little slack. We aren’t always going to make the right choice so let’s just learn from our mistakes! Growth is the goal, not perfection so let’s remember that next time we want too be too hard on ourselves. Hindsight is 20/20!

 

Just Breathe

As I’m writing this I’m on a shuttle bus packed to capacity due to no service on a large portion of the subway. There were probably hundreds if not thousands of people scrambling from the subway platform down to ground level where the shuttle buses were. It was a sea of people. Not what most people were expecting in sure on their morning commute to work…

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I find it interesting seeing how people react in these situations. There are people on different levels of the spectrum. There are the people who are completely miserable complaining nonstop about how there should be more buses coming in faster and how flawed the system is. Then there are people who are clearly annoyed and you can tell because it’s written on their face, they just aren’t verbalizing it. You’ve got the eye rollers who roll their eyes and just deal with the situation. Then there are the people who take a deep breath, smile, almost as if it’s funny and just make the best of it.

Now everyone is in the same boat, everyone is going to be late for work or school, going to have to deal with huge crowds of people and be squeezed in on an over packed bus. This very well could put a dampener on most people’s day. It’s something that none of us can change, we can’t do anything to make it less crowded or get to work/school faster.

The rare few people who can take a deep breath are the exception because they are the only people in the sea of faces smiling. They are in the exact same situation but do one major thing differently. They don’t let their circumstances get to them. The situation is beyond their sphere of influence. And that is the key, they can still have a good day despite the lousy circumstances. Maybe they look at it as a way to catch up on reading, or more time to listen to podcasts, or even a time to reflect and be thankful. After all, it could be worse. While most people go crazy when there’s subway or traffic delays, there’s a lot of things in life that are far worse by comparison, cancer, abusive relationships, unhealthy work situations, just to name a few.

Sometimes we need to look at things from a big picture point of view. It reminds us that we aren’t in control of anything really, except our attitude and how we deal with the things that are out of our control. Looking at the big picture can also put things into perspective. Sure you might be late for work, but there’s things in life that could be way worse.

So next time some unexpected annoyance manifests itself in your daily routine, stop and take a deep breath. No matter what is going on in your day, we can still have a great attitude and not let our circumstances drag us down. Have a great Friday everyone!

Getting Out Of That Rut

It happens to the best of us, life can be going really great, and then before you know it,  bam, you’re stuck in a rut.

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That phrase “stuck in a rut” brings to mind a lyric from one of my old school favorite pop punk bands, Relient K. It’s a line from their song Be My Escape and goes like this…

And I’ve been housing all this doubt and insecurity and

I’ve been locked inside that house all the while You hold the key

And I’ve been dying to get out and that might be the death of me

And even though, there’s no way in knowing where to go, promise I’m going because

I gotta get outta here

I’m stuck inside this rut that I fell into by mistake

I gotta get outta here

And I’m begging You, I’m begging You, I’m begging You to be my escape

That tune brings me back to being 16 again, but we all go through this no matter how old we are. No matter how all put together people look, there’s often a lot of doubt and insecurity on the inside and that can really keep us down. So when we are feeling stuck inside a rut that we fell into by mistake, how exactly do we get out?

1. Keep Moving: Which is ironic because that’s the last thing in the world that we feel like doing. Whether it’s because we’re faced with something that seems overwelming, scary, new or even just have that blah feeling, our tendency is to stop, to freeze. And that only makes things worse. When we keep moving, we don’t get stuck on the obstacle in front of us, or get trapped in the feelings we are experiencing. When we keep moving, even if we don’t know where exactly, as long as we are going in an upward direction, there’s room to grow, to push out of that rut. We don’t feel like moving, but we must. And how do we do that?

2. Take Small Steps: This makes moving as easy as possible, by taking small steps in the right direction. Because when we don’t feel like moving, taking small actionable steps is key. A few weeks ago I was with my parents and we parked on the grass because that’s where the parking was. The weather was mild so when we went to leave, our van got stuck in the mud. My dad tried flooring it while I pushed, we tried putting branches under the wheels, but it just dug a deeper hole. It was only when my dad barely touched the petal and I pushed that we slowly but surely got out of the mud. Sometimes when we try to do too much or too big or too fast, it just makes the present situation worse. Sometimes very small steps are needed, could be as small as watching 1 less show a night and reading something productive in it’s place.  1 small step can be enough to get the momentum moving in the right direction

3. Get Into a Routine and Maintain: Routines force us to be consistent. A big danger of falling into a rut is the danger of falling out of routine. Routine is a way we can force ourselves to take those small steps and forcing ourselves in the right direction. Sometimes a new routine is needed, but scheduling out a plan of attack can ensure that we are doing the right things to help ourselves get out of that rut. Even just the act of scheduling means that we are thinking about productive actions that we can do. By working on a routine and scheduling those actions it means that we are taking action.

4. Don’t Listen to Your Doubts: I guarantee you that we all have those doubts and insecurities running through our heads, it’s a pretty universal thing. I’ve talked about this before, but it’s key to getting out of a rut. Those negative thoughts need to be silenced and ignored because they don’t mean anything. They aren’t truths, they are thoughts, and thoughts can change. We can push beyond those negative thoughts to what we are truly capable of. The mind is an important aspect in success. If you think you can or can’t, you are right. That’s why when we start thinking negatively about ourselves, it’s a good time to stop listening to ourselves and start replacing those thoughts with positive truths.

5. Look Beyond Yourself: Sometimes we think we need to be Superman and carry the weight of the world on our shoulders alone, but even Superman has the Justice League to help him out. Yes I’m a huge Superman fan and just  saw Batman V Superman TWICE over the weekend and had to throw that reference in there:) But seriously, we can turn to friends and family for help and encouragement, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not always easy asking for help, but just sharing what we are going through in and of itself can make a huge difference. For me the verse Phillipians 4:13 is huge, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” because it’s a reminder that I don’t have to figure it all out by myself because Christ has my back and sometimes (all the time) I just need to remember to rely on Him more.

So we started off with an old school pop punk tune and ended with Superman, really does have a lot of throwback elements! 16 year old me would be proud. But seriously, it sucks being in a rut, but there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. We can take practical steps and say goodbye to that rut!

 

Start Now Saturday’s #10

Happy long weekend! This week’s Start Now Saturday’s is going to be a little different. Since it’s Easter this weekend, I wanted to reflect on the greatest act of love the world has ever know. It’s an act of pure grace and love that the God of the universe came down to became a man, die on a cross for the sins of the world to make a way for us to have a personal relationship with Him and truly experience what it is to live a life of joy and fulfillment in Him. As we go into this weekend and Easter, let’s remember to really reflect that love into the lives of the people that we interact with. Have a great weekend everyone and happy Easter!

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Don’t try and read minds…it doesn’t work

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We as human beings do this funny thing. We think we can read minds. Now obviously we don’t think we physically can read minds, but we think we know what other people are thinking based on what we think.  We tend to do this often, thinking the world looks through the same glasses that we do. 2 people can watch the same movie and 1 of them might think it’s the greatest thing ever while the other thinks the movie is terrible. Too often we get in trouble or burn bridges because we don’t clue into that not everyone thinks the same way as we do. Using this knowledge we can do a couple of things that can help us relate better with people:

Assume the best: This one is tricky because most of us, myself included, usually assume the worst. Maybe we meet someone for the first time, we’re charming, funny and seem to be doing all the right things but the other person appears cold and distant. We typically would assume “oh, that person doesn’t like me” but we don’t know if that really is the case. That person could have had a terrible night’s sleep and is just extremely tired, nothing at all related to us. Since we don’t know what people are thinking, might as well assume the best!

Motivations may not be what they appear: This builds off of assuming the best. We don’t know what is going on inside a person’s head  what the motivation is behind the action. Going in with the attitude of “this person is out to get me” right away makes us negatively biased towards the situation.  There can be a million different motivators and just because we think we know the motivation, we can’t assume. Just because we felt hurt, angry, frustrated or a list of emotions, doesn’t mean the other person was intending for us to feel that way. Assuming just hurts us.

People think differently: Everyone is different, that’s a given, so obviously everyone is not going to think the same as you. For example, someone who is very straightforward and doesn’t like beating around the bush might come across as blunt or insensitive. Doesn’t mean they are trying to be insensitive, they just want to get to the point and might not be aware that that could potentially be viewed as hostile to some people. It’s a matter of understanding that people think and act differently and then calibrating ourselves to where they are at. For example, with an extrovert, having fun as a big group would be a great way to build the relationship while with an introvert, one on one time might be better. Obviously cases differ, but the bottom line is people are different so we can’t automatically assume that our way of thinking is the same as theirs.

There will be times when people do have negative intentions for us and are trying to get under our skin, but by not jumping to that conclusion right away can save us from burning bridges. And for the times that people do have ill will towards us, we have the power to not let that affect us. That’s a whole other post for next time. But until then, let’s stay away from trying to read minds:)

Monday’s don’t have to suck‏!

TGIF, such a great feeling as the weekend is about to kickoff! Saturday is packed full of things to do, people to see and it just whizzes by. Sunday comes around, usually a little more laid back but then before you know it, it’s Sunday night. And that’s when it hits you… the Sunday night blues, that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach knowing that the glorious weekend is now over and it’s back to work/school Monday morning…

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Sunday blues suck, believe me I know! But it doesn’t have to be that way, we can banish those blues forever. How you ask? All that’s required is a little attitude adjustment and some action steps.
#1. Each day is a gift
Imagine if you were told you had cancer and only had 3 months left to live. That kind of news changes the way you look and approach life. Each day is a gift, every second is  precious. No matter how you spend your day, you are grateful for that time. Now imagine your doctor told you that miraculously the cancer was gone, that you had a new lease on life. Imagine that surge of joy, what that would feel like…you wouldn’t go back to living the way you used to, you would have a new appreciation for life, even when life was difficult! Truth of the matter is, every second is precious, there’s no guarantee that we’ll have another day to live. But we as human beings take things, including life, for granted. If we look at our lives, our weeks, our Monday’s as an incredible gift, how can you dread waking up to a new morning, a new day to live? You can’t!
#2. Look for the awesome
It’s so easy to see all the negatives that Monday has to offer, but what if we were to do the opposite. If you are reading this you have access to a computer, or phone or tablet. That already puts you in a better position than a lot of people in other parts of the world. Even if Monday is going to be a rough, maybe early mornings, long commutes, stressful meetings, the fact is, there are still a lot of good things that we tend to forget about.  It’s not easy looking for the awesome when you are feeling down I know, BUT I can almost guarantee you that right now, you could make a list  of all the things that are good in your life and have a fairly sizeable list.  If we focus on the good instead of the bad, we have a better attitude about life. Looking at life from a positive perspective, we will begin to automatically see the silver lining and see the little pieces of awesome that we might have missed before.
#3. Change your circumstances: This one is more action oriented and might take a little more time. If Sunday night comes and you are dreading work the next day and everyday after that,  this could be a sign that it might be time to start looking for a new job. Obviously there will be days when you have to do things that you aren’t looking forward to and having fun on the weekend would most definitely trump whatever comes on Monday. I’m not talking about that, I’m talking about living for the weekend and finding no enjoyment and purpose out of your job. Life’s too short not to living each day to the fullest and being trapped in a job that you hate that is not a stepping stone to where you want to go is a dangerous slope. Time flies and before you know it, looking back at the pat 20 years, will those years be filled with regret? While your dream job might not be happening now, we should be making choices to get us closer in that direction or in the direction of having a job that gives us the time and freedom to do what we truly love. It won’t happen overnight, be we need to be mindful of the situation we are in now and ask ourselves if it is going to be beneficial later down the line.
So moving forward let’s make Monday’s awesome, along with every day! It won’t always be easy, but life’s too short not to enjoy and be thankful for everyday!