How to really create change in your life.
What is life??
Does anyone else ever worry that they are just strolling through life without a clear plan or goal for the future? I know there are a lot of “I’m just taking it day by day” types out there, but I just get the feeling some folks might be ignoring that life has a way of just passing you by without you even realizing it. At the same time, living day by day doesn’t mean living in oblivion does it? One can choose to live day by day and still develop meaning and purpose in their lives.
A life with meaning and purpose is a life worth living. It’s your WHY. So many people go through life without these two things, constantly searching for the next big thing that will make them feel seen, heard, and grounded in life. Your version of WHY can be many different things, or just one thing. I know my mother’s WHY are her children and her family. My WHY is the love and appreciation I feel for my family, my community, the planet, the people on this planet, the other living things on the planet. Once you gain clarity around your WHY, you will start developing a life with meaning and purpose that is centered around your WHY. Here are some concrete habits you can develop to live your WHY.
Practical Exercise- Start a Gratitude List
Gratitude is the feeling you get when something brings you happiness. You feel gratitude because you are thankful for whatever happened to bring you this happiness. Keeping a gratitude list is a visual representation of all the things you are thankful for. After a while, you will start to see patterns. I am always thankful for the love and support of my family— could they be a part of my WHY? I am always thankful for my dog Lucy— is the love of animals part of my WHY? In this way, we can start to see clearly the things that are important to us and the things we should be focusing more of our time and energy into. If you want to go the extra mile, you can start a gratitude journal. This will help you capture in greater detail why certain things give you gratitude and in what circumstances. Similar to a gratitude journal, you can start a habit tracker. This is for those who know already what brings joy and satisfaction to their lives and what to make sure they are incorporating those things everyday.
Make Definite Decisions
This is hot off the press in my life. I just came across this idea of making definite decisions as I was listening to my audio book by Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich. His main argument is that those who are indecisive (i.e changing their minds frequently) are less likely to get anything done in the end, in which case, indecisiveness and procrastination are one and the same. Hill gives several examples of successful people who made a definitive decision and stuck to it, only to reap the benefits of their persistence. This is something I personally struggle with because I seem to overthink things to the point that I can’t tell which is the better option. One way to get over this is to realize neither might be better than the other and just pick a course and stick to it. Otherwise, inaction will stunt your growth and leave you stuck in place.
Practical Exercise- Start a Hobby and stick to it
Often times hobbies are things we like to do…often times. Sometimes we pick hobbies that we know will challenge us, or make us grow in ways we deem necessary. Which ever the case, I’ve found that sticking to your hobbies is closely related to making definite decisions. It’s a small thing, in the grand scheme of things, but an area where you can practice the art of making a definite decision. Sticking to a hobby that you like and enjoy is easy and can have the added benefit of making it to your gratitude list, but what’s even better is sticking to a hobby you realized you don’t enjoy as much or a hobby that makes you uncomfortable. For example, I signed up to play softball on a social league a few summers ago and initially I thought it would be great! When the season was about to start, all of my anxiety and suppressed feelings of athletic inferiority came rushing back. But I stuck to it, and I stuck to it (mostly because I had a friend doing it with me, if I’m being honest!), and once it was over, I was really proud of myself for accomplishing something despite my discomfort. In the end, I became more confident in my ability to deal with adversity (I still can’t play softball, but alas!) and I felt great about following through on something I’d committed to doing.
The Bottom Line
Self-care and self-improvement are essential to showing up for yourself. When you show up for yourself, you free up the space that uncertainty, ill-feelings and no direction took in your life, allowing you more room to show up in other ways. That is one of the reasons why personal development and professional development are related but different. Aligning your everyday life with your WHY, building consistency, confidences, and resilience in your personal life are all things that will make you a better leader, expert, and professional, but even more important, they will help you live with intentionality.