FINDING YOUR PURPOSE

My last post was called “LIVING YOUR LIFE FOR YOURSELF”

It was about a big change in my life that I have made in order to follow my dreams.

In this post I received a question from “TheFourthIdiot” owner of the blog http://inspiringinfinity.wordpress.com/

His question was essentially this:
How do yo proceed down your path if you are not even sure if it is the right path? How do you develop the unshakable faith required to take great leaps towards this dream in the face of risk?

First, I will speak about my general perspective on finding life’s purpose and then I will give practical tips to help you find out what your purpose is, or build confidence in the purpose you already feel.

I have always struggled with the idea of a single purpose or dream.

I wrote an article about this some time ago when I was contemplating the future in a panic, wondering if I’ll ever figure out what I want to do with my life.

I had tried so many things and failed spectacularly at every single one of them. I had gone deep into different paths and realized that none of these things were right for me.

But what I didn’t realize back then was that each path had led me to the next. Not only that, each path gave me new tools to carve my way through the next.

Learning drums taught me the universal truths to learning anything. Being in a band taught me how to get people to work together towards a goal. Doing sales taught me the ability to articulate myself more efficiently and convincingly.

Alas, none of these paths were right for me. I’m writing this blog and doing these videos right now and I still can’t be sure if this is my life’s mission.

But now I have confidence that moving forward down this path will give me new tools and lead me where I need to go.

Your dream will change as you grow.

This is inevitable. You aren’t meant to just do one thing with your life.

But you are meant to pursue things in your life that are meaningful to you. If you aren’t going after any dream then you won’t be lead to the next one.

My main point here is that you should never fear whether your path is right or wrong.

You will never have to retrace your steps on this path and start over.

If it isn’t meant to be, a new path with appear somewhere down the road when you are a new person with new tools and different perspectives.

But you have to start somewhere.

So here are my practical tips for figuring out what you should be doing right now.

Some questions with some important answers.

Answer this list of questions over the period of a week. Keep them in the back of your mind and write down anything you come up with throughout this time.

What are you hobbies/passions?

I don’t just mean flying kites and collecting stamps. Write down anything you do that you don’t get paid for and enjoy nonetheless.

Blogging, video games, gardening, meditation, yoga, fitness, dieting, helping people, building, drawing, photography, knitting and a world of others can fall into this category.

What are your talents/skills.

What have you learned throughout your life that you are good at?

Can you play an instrument? Are you good with your hands? Are you good with words? Do you have a knack for organization? What have you shown an aptitude for in your current and previous jobs?

Write down all of your talents because more than likely some of these things will be incorporated in your path.

When have you been happiest?

Think back to your past jobs, experiences and hobbies to further define what makes you happiest. These things will be clues to what the overarching theme of your life should be.

What do you want to be remembered for?

This is a question that gave me a lot of insight into what I wanted to do with my life.

After much thought I realized that I wanted to be remember for helping people. I didn’t know how I would help people or who I would be helping, but I knew that I wanted to make people’s lives better.

How do you want to be remembered? As a millionaire business guru? As a creator of beautiful works of art? Or as someone who raised a beautiful family that will go on to improve the world?

Combining these answers with the next exercise will get you that much closer to knowing what you should be working towards.

Invigorate or debilitate?

Write down everything you do for a week, even the boring tasks.

Breakfast, showering, playing video games, projects, work, social life, everything.

Once you have done this I want you to create two columns on a “T Chart”. One for things that invigorate you, giving you energy/happiness, and one for things that debilitate or drain you.

Split everything you have done that week into these two columns.

You will often find that the path you should be working towards involves things you are already doing. Look through the list of invigorating things, combine it with your list of passions and your list of skills.

Lay it all out in front of you and look at it every day. Let these things cultivate in your mind.

Now that you know what you enjoy, what you are good at, the things that invigorate you in your life, the times you were happiest and the way you want to be remembered, I am confident that your next path will appear from the fog.

No one can tell you what your path is.

And you can’t even be sure that you will stay on the same path for the rest of your life.

But follow the path that lies before you now, one that leads you to a dream, and you will gain new tools and perspectives that will open new paths in the future.
That is what will give you the confidence to move forward.

You never have to worry about failing. I’ve failed a million times, but moving forward towards a dream has always lead me in the right direction.

But being afraid to follow a dream, that will only lead to nightmares.

With love,
Steven Farquharson, 2HG.

DESIGN YOUR DAYS TO DESIGN YOUR LIFE

Here is a secret.

I don’t know where my life is going.

I have goals, hopes and plans, but there is no way to know whether any of them will work out.

There are a million situations that could arise at any moment and change the entire course of my future.

Even if nothing life changing happens externally, in six months I could be a different person with different goals.
You never know.

You might think this is a negative way to view life, but I find it to be freeing.

When you are looking too far forward into the future the uncertainty can seem daunting.

But every marathon is finished step by step, every wall is built brick by brick and every life is lived day by day.

If you live your life trying to get as much out of each individual day as possible, you can rest assured that you have done all you can to achieve a life that makes you proud.

You have to design your days to design your life.

Here are three things you can do to ensure that you get the most value out of today.

days count

Do something that moves you forward.

This is anything that improves you physically, emotionally, spiritually or intellectually.

It is important to try and improve yourself at least marginally every day.

Read a book, go for a walk, meditate or hit the gym. Whatever you have to do to feel like you are a slightly more balanced and stable person than you were yesterday.

When you get into the habit of doing something that moves you forward every day, you will never be stagnant.

You will feel like a completely brand new person every six months.

Do something you haven’t done before.

Without novelty in our lives the days seem to blend together in a mix of early morning coffee spills and beaten up alarm clocks.

It’s hard to notice when your life has been going on autopilot. You look back in shock as you realize that you haven’t done anything new in months.
Where did the time go?

Novelty is the spice of life. Go to a film festival, check out a farmers market. Do something you’ve never done before, go somewhere you’ve never been before.

Add some colour to your life to prevent it from becoming a symphony of greys and blacks.

Do something selfless.

There is no better way to have a meaningful day than to devote some of your time to something other than yourself.

There are more than seven billion people on this planet but we often only think of life from our own perspective.

Devoting some of your time to others can help you see life in a new light.

Spend some time volunteering, reach out to a friend you haven’t seen in a while or show some love to your pet.

Any time spent on someone else, is time well spent.

You may not know what will happen in the future, but decide what happens today.

If you consciously try to get value out of every day, you will have a valuable life.

A life with meaning is a life well lived, but your whole life doesn’t happen at once.

It’s built brick by brick, step by step, day by day.

As always, I’ll see you next Sunday.

FORGET MOTIVATION, REMEMBER DISCIPLINE

Motivation is overrated.

With every goal I try to reach and every habit I try to internalize, I always start off motivated and eager to climb the ladder to success.

But where is my motivation three months later at 5:45am, looking up at a long day of work after a sleepless night?

Where is my motivation during a horrible week, wrought with upsets and disappointments?

I curl up in bed, knowing full well what I have to do, but my motivation is no where to be found.

Motivation is a feeling. It is sand in your palms, sensitive to even the slightest breeze.

So what force do we use to accomplish our goals if not motivation?

Discipline.

discipline

Courage is not the absence fear, but the ability to go on despite it.

Discipline is not the absence of avolition, but the pledge to push forward regardless of it’s presence.

Discipline is the force that will be with you no matter what you are thinking or how you are feeling at the time.

No matter what you try to achieve, you will need it. From dieting, to writing a book, to cutting back on your swearing, discipline is the greatest force behind all improvement.

Here are a couple of things I have learned about discipline and how to cultivate it.

Discipline is one day at a time.

I have a little green book in the drawer beside me that I haven’t opened since last august, until today.

This book was my first conscious attempt at developing my discipline, although I had no idea what I was doing at the time.

It has a check list. Read, Write, Gym, 10 Ideas, 8 Hours of sleep.

When I started this book I hadn’t turned any of these things into concrete habits. I tried doing it all at once.

Every day I would put check marks beside what I did and rate myself out of 5.

It started off well, but quickly got ugly.

What I didn’t know at the time is that it is impossible to completely change your life overnight.

Developing your discipline is a life long pursuit. One that most of us don’t consciously pursue.
We aren’t all monks.

Every day try to exercise your discipline just one time. Pick the smallest habit you can and start there. Mine was making breakfast every morning.

That single habit, that single discipline workout every morning, changed my life.

For best results, treat your body with respect.

Everything that you accomplish in your life will stem from your mind. Your mind and the various states you put it through can decide whether you get closer to a better life, or slip further away.

If you are hungry, tired or stressed it will affect everything you do.

You should always make it a priority to get the proper amount of sleep and eat regularly. If you treat your body with disrespect, you will not get anything good from it.

Eating breakfast changed my life because it gave me energy in the morning and encouraged me to get more sleep so that I could wake up early enough to cook.

Your body doesn’t need to be a temple, but don’t let it turn into a garbage dump.

Forgive yourself and move on.

This is another major theme in life. If developing your discipline is a life long pursuit, then it only makes sense that every once and a while you are going to falter.

If you beat yourself up, you are more likely to spiral out of control and end up right back at square one.

Getting angry at yourself will solve nothing. If you fall, get back up as soon as possible and move on.

Today was an exercise in discipline for me.

I didn’t really have the motivation to write today. I have two days off, I’m tired, and it’s thanksgiving. If I wanted to I could have used these things as excuses to skip writing.

But this is where discipline, that little muscle that could, comes in. I know the exact moment that I don’t want to do something when I know I should, is when I have to call upon that little friend.

I have a lot of other things I plan to do today. Some of them will get done, but maybe I’ll miss a few.

That’s okay. I’m not perfect. But I’d like to believe I’m better than I was yesterday.

Happy thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians.
As always, I’ll see you next Sunday.

GETTING OUT OF A FUNK

I’m in a bit of a funk.

Something is off, though I am not sure what.

When something happens and it upsets me I can figure out how to solve the problem, and then the bad mood will go away.

When I don’t have a reason for being in a weird mood I become frustrated. Everything piles up on me without explanation.

I feel lonely and empty. I start to view everything from a negative light. I’m not like myself at all.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

How do we escape these feelings if we don’t know where they come from?

I prefer to focus on solutions rather than the problems so let’s ignore the thousands of hours we could spend figuring out the why, and instead focus on the how.

These are four tips I remind myself of every time I get into one of these moods. I hope that they help you as much as they have helped me.

Life lessons

Write your grateful list.

You don’t have to be surrounded by family eating turkey to be grateful.

You will be beat up, tired, lonely and heartbroken throughout this life. During these times being grateful for whatever you do have can be the only thing that saves you.

I jump to this tip as soon as I feel even a slight funk coming on.

Write down ten things you are grateful for, or twenty, or thirty. As many as you need to remember that there is always something in your life worth feeling good about.

The worse off you are, the deeper you will have to dig. But if you find something to be grateful for at rock bottom, you’ll never have to worry about falling again.

Change the channel.

If you are in a bad mood, think back to a time when you were happy. What was really all that different?

You still had troubles, worries, fears and problems. You were still the same living, breathing person you are today.

I remind myself of this to remember that my mood isn’t who I am.
It’s just a channel I’m on.

Do anything you can to change that channel. Don’t give in and listen to that sad music, instead watch a stand up special.

Instead of writing your sad poetry try playing chess online, meditating, reading or anything that is outside of the norm for you.

Shake things up and change your channel.

Focus on others.

Being upset requires a certain degree of selfishness. “Why are things so bad for me? Why don’t they love me? Why can’t just catch a break?”

I’m not saying it’s wrong, that’s just the way I look at it.

To get out of the funk, you have to switch your focus to others.

I prefer to do this by messaging someone I haven’t spoken to in a while out of the blue. I don’t try to get their advice or burden them with my problems. I tell them that I miss them. I try to express how much they mean to me regardless of how close we are to each other.

There are many ways to shift your focus though. Anything from volunteering to spending some time petting a cat will help.

It’s hard to feel down on yourself when you are focused on someone else. I guarantee if you make another person’s day brighter, you will catch some of that light as well.

When all else fails, decide to reset tomorrow.

Sometimes I am in a funk, I’ve tried everything, and there is no way out.

At this point I remind myself that this is just a feeling, not who I am. Maybe today is a write off, but tomorrow is a new day.

You will be happy again, and unfortunately, you will also be sad again.

But every day ends, and every new morning will begin. Focus on restarting tomorrow.

Writing this has helped me with my funk. For that, I thank you. By doing this I have focused on others and changed the channel.

I think today is a bit of a write off, so I’ll go to bed now.
And tomorrow… well, tomorrow is another day and I am grateful.

Appreciation and Gratitude

I have big news.

I am going to be moving out soon. Most likely on the first of august. It’s a big step in my life that I am very excited about.

Whenever big changes are happening in our lives we tend to reflect on what we are leaving behind. I’ve realized that I have a greater appreciation for things while looking back than I did in the actual moment.

I have a love/hate relationship with my cats, but now that I am moving I know that I will miss them. I don’t always appreciate my family, but now that I know I won’t be seeing them as often, I consciously put in more effort. It makes me wonder why I didn’t have this attitude the whole time.

It seems we appreciate everything more in retrospect.

The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them. -Gilbert K. Chesterton

I want to give my family and the people around me the appreciation they deserve. I came up with an exercise to keep things in perspective and encourage myself to show my gratitude to those who deserve it.

Imagine you are retired.

Your memories seem so distant, you’ve let go of any grudges and you reminisce every once in a while in a nostalgic state. Even the small moments, laughing with a co-worker forty years ago, are cherished gems that have so much emotion attached you could shed a tear just thinking about them.

You laugh to yourself when you realize that so many of the things you were so preoccupied with, weren’t really that important.

You wish you could reach out to certain people, you wish you could tell them how much they meant to you.

Are there people in your life you aren’t appreciating enough?

Visualizing myself being older and looking back helps to keep the important things in perspective.

The more I think about it the more I realize that the memories I will cherish the most are the times I exchange gratitude and appreciation with the people around me. I don’t want to look back and feel like I didn’t give my whole heart to the people around me.

If you feel the same, tell the people in your life that you appreciate them.

people_will_forget-131296 That’s all you have to say to give someone a memory that will last a life time. Just say “I appreciate you.”