Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What If?


Life is full of "what if" questions. What if I try this and can't do it? What if I don't like it? What if I just can't do it? What if no one cares? What if it doesn't work? What if people hate it/me/you? What if they laugh? What if it is the wrong decision? What if...what if...what if.

Everything we do can be preceded with a what if question. Stop. Stop asking them right now. The best answer to each and every one of these questions is "Who cares". Seriously, who cares if people laugh or hate something or if you get it wrong this time. Who cares if you make a mistake or choose a hard path or do something weird.

Each time you find yourself asking what if, instead ask yourself:

Is this something I really want to do?       
                                                                                          
If the answer is yes, do it. If the answer is no, then don't. Stop worrying about the possible outcomes and just keep moving forward. What if doesn't matter. What matters is not letting the fear of what happens next stop you from doing what you want.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

What Do You Want?

It can be tough figuring out exactly what you want. We have all these conflicting ideas and feelings floating around in our heads and we have the ability to rationalize in ways even we can't comprehend. All options are available and we can convince ourselves that each is what we really want. When we start to wonder what the right answer really is, many times we just won't know. Too much info going on in our heads...we have to take the time to reflect before choosing.

In nearly every situation, the answer that feels comfortable is often the easy way out (even if it doesn't really look like it). The one that scares you the most is usually the one you should choose. Most likely, it's what you really want, even if your mind won't admit it. Embrace the fear...choose the scary. It's not going to be easy, but it is going to be right. Isn't that what really matters?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Limits

The only limits are the ones you put on yourself. Said another way...you can do anything you want to do. It's not going to be easy. It will take work, often a lot of work, but if you put in the time and energy, you can accomplish anything.

Stop listening to the naysayers. Pay no heed to the soul suckers. Forget about the doubters. Ignore everyone around you who doesn't support you. Believe in yourself, especially when others don't. Rise above the day to day bullshit and follow the path you want to follow.

No matter what you do, there are always going to be people who think you are crazy; people who will tell you no; people who will doubt you; people who just don't understand you. If they are going to be there no matter what, shouldn't you focus on what you want to do? Find people who will support you and surround yourself with them, then hit the ground running. What do you really want to do? What's really stopping you?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Your Life Is Your Life

As you go through your day, what is holding you back from doing exactly what you want to do? If you look around you, how many of the people who work with you are doing what they want to do? How many have settled? How many are just looking for a paycheck? How many are feeding their ego? How many are truly excited to get up in the morning and attack the day? What causes us to work jobs we really don't like to buy shit we really don't need or want?

You are probably sitting there thinking that you aren't one of these people...you love your job and are doing good work to advance a great cause. Are you really? If you were completely honest with yourself, would you be doing exactly what you are doing now? If the answer is yes, then great! You are one step further along than most of us.

Hell, most of us don't even really know what we want to do. So, we settle and work a job we like, but don't love. We do work we convince ourselves is important or make money to help fund the things we think are important. What if we can do both? What if we can make enough money to fund the life we want while doing work we think is important? Is it even possible?

For some, yes, I think it is. It's not for everyone, but not everyone has the need to do this. Not everyone feels frustrated when they are only content. Not everyone continues to search for something more and better. Not everyone has the same urge to continue to push forward. Some people are happy doing whatever will pay the bills so they can have the house in the suburbs, the 2.3 kids and the family dog. There is nothing wrong with this and deep down, I envy these people. I'm just not one of them and since you are still reading, I would guess you aren't either.

What can we do? Keep wandering. Keep searching for the answers to your questions. Keep looking for what you need. Stop following other people's dreams and desires. Be different. Be who you need to be. Stop listening to the fear in your mind. Start following your heart more. Don't settle. Try new things. Don't let others try to mold you into something you are not. Forgive the people who don't understand. Be a nomad, if only in your heart. Know the constructs of society don't have to be followed. Your life is your life, live it as such. Be bold...be brave...be free.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Analyze This

It's a strange feeling, sitting at home on a Monday morning---not having anything to do and not having anywhere to be. It's been a long, long time since I could sit, relax, slow down and spend time on me. It has also been a while since I wrote anything on a regular basis. I have gotten so caught up with work and exercise and I just stopped writing. While I may never get back to blogging on as regular a basis as before, I will be writing more in the upcoming months...

The sad part is it is only 8:00am on the first Monday I have had off this year and I feel like I haven't been productive enough. I have a really hard time slowing down...I feel like I always need something to do. Part of this could be from school...getting busy work to "utilize" time. Part of this could be from previous jobs...the need to make sure the boss doesn't catch you "slacking". Part of this could be because I don't always like where my thoughts go when they wander...questioning why I do or don't do certain things. While reflecting and analyzing are good things to do, they can also be very difficult.

Did I make the right decisions? Did I do the right things? Am I living the life I want to live? What would have happened if I did things differently? Are things going to work out the way I hope? Will they work out at all? What could I have done differently? Did I give it my best shot? Did I give it enough time?

Asking these types of questions is both difficult and important. While we don't want to dwell on everything we do, we should take time to reflect. Some of the questions you aren't going to be able to answer...some have no real answers as we can't know about things we didn't do. Some are questions to help guide where you go next. Some are there to help you learn.

We're going to make good decisions and we are going to make bad decisions. There is nothing we can do to change this. By reflecting on the decisions we make, we can gain knowledge to use as we move forward and make more. The key is to keep moving forward, no matter what. Sometimes we have to just embrace the chaos going on around us. Sometimes we have to jump and get as far away from it as we can. But, more often than not, we have to do both (though doing both will often mean different things to each of us). What chaos do you need to embrace? What will you do today to keep moving forward?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

It's Never Too Late


It's been nearly three months since I posted anything here and I am not sure how regular my posts will be, now that I have started again. I would love to say I will post three times a week or daily, but I just don't know. I started this blog a couple of years ago as a way to remind myself (and you) of the things that are important in life and how we should be doing them/living in a different way from what I am. I'm not sure if this blog was serving it's purpose or if the purpose has been transformed into something else. Only time will tell...

These last couple of months have been a little crazy. Lot's of things have changed and I have let some of the changes bother me more than I should. Have you ever had the type of change where you felt as if you went from being part of the team to being on the periphery? It's hard not to let this feeling bother you, but the best thing you can do is just let go. Change is always going to happen and it only has the control we give it. Emotion has a place in our lives, but it shouldn't run our lives. Anytime we are feeling frustrated or angry or sad over "little" things, we have to find a way to let go and move forward. These emotions aren't going to help us advance and will only cause us to dwell on things we don't need to dwell on.

I just returned from helping in Oklahoma City after the tornado. Helping with disaster response always reminds me of how quickly our lives can change. How many of us are living the life we actually want to live? How many of us are doing the things we want to do? How many of us are putting up with way too much shit because we are afraid to make changes? If you knew catastrophic change was going to happen in the next day or month or year, would you continue to live the life you currently lead?

Don't feel despair for what you haven't done, but make changes to live the life you want. If the people around you can't help you lead the life you want, then find new people and surround yourself with them. (I guarantee there are already some people around you who can help...you have been surrounding yourself with them without really knowing it). It's okay to change. It's okay to be different. It's okay to do what you need to do to live the life you want. No matter what you do, you aren't going to make everyone happy. Knowing this, doesn't it make sense to live your life in the ways that make you happy?

Change happens. We can't let change drag us down. Embrace the change and use it to live the life you want to live. Find the people who bring out the best in you and hold on to them tightly. Let everyone else go. Life is way too precious to be unhappy. Start doing what matters to you and stop worrying what everyone else thinks. Be the person you want to be and do the things you want to do. It's never too late to start.    

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Think Differently


Happy people are happy because good things continue to happen to them. Or, do good things happen to happy people?

When you are happy, do you notice the good things more than when you are not? Maybe it's not about the things that happen at all, but being happy is based on how you perceive the things happening around you. What would happen if you looked at difficulties and challenges as stepping stones and building blocks towards making you a better person? What would happen if you viewed problems as opportunities to grow? 

What will happen when you change the way you look at the world around you? Maybe trying something new is exactly what you need to become the person you want to be...

Maybe it's time to think differently.



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Some Things Are More Important



Some things are more important than being right. Some things are more important than being wrong. Some things are more important than what other people think of you. Some things are more important than getting credit. Some things are more important than your ego. Some things are more important than the money you make. Some things are more important than your possessions. Some things are just more important than everything else.

What's more important to you? If you have trouble coming up with answers, then you need to spend some time figuring out what really matters to you.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Things Happen


I was speaking with a woman the other day who had been laid off by Sprint in 2009 during a time when they had mass layoffs. Looking back on it in 2013, she said it may have been one of the best things that ever happened to her. I am sure it didn't feel that way when it happened. In fact, I am sure it probably felt like the end of the world.

Off the top of my head, I can think of some times in my life when I felt the same way. When my first marriage ended, I thought my world was ending. I didn't know what to do with myself and I didn't know how I was going to go on. I did continue to live and if that wouldn't have happened, I would have never met the amazing woman I now get to spend every day of my life with.

A little over three years ago, I finally admitted I am an alcoholic and I made the decision to quit drinking. I had no idea how I was going to live my life without alcohol. I was scared and worried and didn't know who I was going to become. It really felt like the world I knew and loved was ending. Three years later, I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made and has led me along an amazing path I wouldn't have been able to follow otherwise.

I'm not religious, but I believe things happen for a reason. We can take whatever happens and build upon it. While some things may make it feel as if your world is falling apart, it only is if you let it. You can be sad. You can be angry. You can be devastated. But, you can't let it stop you from living. It may be difficult to get up every day, but you need to get up, nonetheless. You need to keep pushing forward and finding whatever it is in this world for which you are looking.

You see, things happen for a reason...even if we can't see the reason right now. Difficult things are going to happen...you may lose a marriage or a relationship or a job or a friend or any number of things. We can't let these times destroy us, no matter how hard they are. Don't confuse the fact that you don't know the reason something happens with there not being a reason.

Things happen to all of us, both good and bad. There are reasons for everything that happens. Sometimes these reasons are visible to us at the time and sometimes they aren't visible until later down the line. But, the reasons are there. I know this is of little consolation at the time and no matter what you believe, "bad" things are hard to handle. Just know, somewhere in your mind and heart, that things will get better and in a few years, you can look back and point to a "bad" thing as something that was actually good.    

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Smooth Sea


All too often, when the going gets tough, we quit. Think about it...we live in a society where it is easier to give up than work to do something we want to do. It happens around us every day. How many people are still going to the gym, even though their New Year's resolution was to do just that? We are only 66 days into 2013 and look how many people have already given up.

We give up on relationships and friendships and marriages and losing weight and quitting smoking and reading and watching less television and exercising and volunteering and learning languages and going back to school and cooking more and applying for new jobs and changing careers and saving money and organizing and cleaning and honesty and drinking less and doing more and writing and creating and anything else we claim we want.

Lean into the pain. Embrace frustration and difficulty. Cope with stress. Enjoy the challenge. Just don't quit as soon as the going gets tough. There will still be times you should move beyond whatever you are doing, but the reasons should be more and better than it being tough.

The difficult things are usually the most important in life.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tough Days


Some days are just going to be tougher than others. It matters how you handle these difficulties.

No one cares what you can get done when things are going well and everything is lined up for you. People will notice what you can get done when the shit hits the fan, nothing is working properly, everyone is under pressure, the tension is palpable and everyone wants to run away and hide. What you do during these moments really defines who you are. The tough days make us the people we are.

Embrace the tough days. You will learn more about yourself when things are tough than you ever will when everything is working properly.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Simple Questions


What are you doing to make today better than yesterday?

What are you doing to grow in to the person you want to be?

What are you doing to help others reach their potential?

How much more can you do?

What's stopping you?

Simple questions, but not so simple answers. What would happen if you actually answered these?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Talk Is Cheap


On this blog, I write a lot about doing great work. You can find numerous other blogs and books that also talk about the importance of doing great work. We can talk about taking chances and not fearing failure and not caring what other people think until we are blue in the face, but talk really gets us nowhere. Once we are done talking, it is difficult to actually make changes to who we are and what we do. Without making changes, the only thing we will be able to do is continue to talk about doing great things.

I know it is hard to change the way you do things and how you think. I have the same difficulties myself. I'm not as productive as I would like to be. I don't always do the things I want to do. There are times I let fear control me. I don't take risks as much as I should. I don't speak up. Sometimes, I just try blend in with everyone else. I don't always volunteer for the tough projects. I don't stick my neck out enough.

In all honesty, this frustrates the hell out of me. I urge others to do all of the things I don't do as much as I would like. This makes me feel like a hypocrite, but I know these feelings of frustration and disappointment are not productive. Instead of these feelings, I need to use this as motivation for living the life I talk about. If I want to do more, then I need to make sure I am doing more. I am the only one responsible for my actions, just as you are the only one responsible for yours.

You see, no matter what, life isn't about perfection. We are going to have our ups and downs and we are always going to strive to be or do something more than we are right now. We all have room to grow and we all have the ability to improve. Feeling down about the things we aren't doing isn't the way to grow. Instead, celebrate the things you are doing well and learn from the things you are not doing as well as you would like. Make changes to try to improve the areas where you think you need improvement, but don't beat yourself up over what you view as shortcomings. Just keep working towards doing better.

You are not perfect. You are not going to do everything exactly like you think you should every time. You are not always going to take the right risks or do as well as you would like. You can learn to do more of the things you want to do. You just have to be conscious of the things you need to do and force yourself to do them. Force yourself to speak up in a meeting and share your idea. Volunteer for the next project offered. When you feel fear holding you back, do exactly what you are scared of.

Be cognizant of what you aren't doing as well as you would like. Don't let this frustrate you, but recognize what you need to do, acknowledge the things holding you back, then overcome them. As I said earlier, you are the one in control of your actions. If you don't want anything to hold you back, then don't let anything hold you back. You can accomplish anything you want to accomplish. It's going to take work. You have to hold yourself accountable. You know what you must do to overcome whatever has stopped you in the past.

I know I will never be perfect, but I can be better than the person I was yesterday. I will continue to work on the things I want to do better. I will be more productive. I will not let fear stop me. I will take more risks. I will speak up more often. I will volunteer for the tough projects. I will stick my neck out. I will do more than I ever have. Will you?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reputations


Instead of worrying about your reputation, shouldn't you be more worried about what you create? It doesn't really matter what other people think of you, if you are happy with what who you are, what you do and what you stand for.

Before you can create, you have to get your priorities straight. Spending time worrying what other people think will only lead you to produce mediocre work. Take chances, do crazy things and stop caring so much about what you think others think. They only have as much control as you give them.

Reputations change. Being able to constantly produce great work---now there is something to strive for. It will matter far longer than any reputation you may achieve.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Life Is What You Make It


I have been thinking about the idea of life is what you make it. I know we often talk about being in control or taking control of your life or doing what you love or anything of the sort, but how often do we really do any of these things? How often do we actually take control of our life instead of reacting to the stimuli constantly occurring around us? How often do we head in the direction we want, instead of following the path the winds are blowing us towards?

Some things are out of our control and it is important to make the best out of what happens around us (and to us). You may lose a job or a relationship will end or a manuscript will be rejected or you will be passed over for a promotion or any number of bad things that can happen to you. Don't dwell on the bad things when they happen. We've all heard the sayings: "there's more than one fish in the sea" or "when a door closes a window opens" or "everything happens for a reason". While we all know these are true, we have to do whatever we can to really make the best out of things that happen.

There are times, though, when you just can't make the best out of what happens. Instead of falling into an abyss of depression, sometimes you just have to shake your fist (often with your middle finger extended) to the heavens and use the anger as the fuel to learn as much as you can, pick yourself up and move forward. Not everything is going to work out in the end. That's perfectly normal and okay, no matter how many people mention a cute, little quote like the ones above. Sometimes shit just happens and we have to continue to get up in the morning and live life. We don't have to make the best out of these situations, but we do have to keep moving forward doing the best we can.

It would be great if someone could just give us a shortcut on making life exactly what we want it to be. We look around and we see people who seemingly are living the life they want and we just want to know how to get there. The real answer and the one most people don't want to hear is they worked their ass off. Yes, they may have had some lucky breaks along the way, but they still worked their assess off. I know, it's not the answer I wanted either. I was hoping for an easy way too...but everything you really want is going to take a lot of hard work. There really aren't any shortcuts on this journey, unless you don't really care about the outcome.

As you are trying to make your life what you want, remember no one really has all the answers. If they act like they do (or actually think they do), they are going to do more harm than good. You can read tons of books or listen to people speak or subscribe to all the self-help blogs and podcasts out here, but you are never going to find all the answers externally. Part of life being what you make it is knowing what you want with your life. Other people have their own agendas and ideas that probably don't mesh with yours. The only way to get all the "answers" from other people is to give up your own ideas. No matter how you spin it, this sounds a little too cultish to me (and trust me from experience, no matter how smart or well-known a leader is, they aren't going to be right about everything).

This life is what you make it. The good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the anger, the joy...everything rolled into one. While we are never going to have control over everything that happens, we do have control over ourselves. We can react to the things that happen and we can work towards the things we want to happen. We can fight. We can get angry. We can work our asses off. We can get lucky from time to time. We can have things ripped from our grasp. We can try to make the best of the shitty things that happen. We can just dust ourselves off and push forward when the really shitty things happen. We can curse the gods. We can thank the heavens. We can learn and dream and hope and pray. We just can't stop trying.