Over the past year I have been working consistently to feel and behave better and to be more ‘me’. I monitor my progress via my morning pages and it’s amazing to see how much I’ve improved my outlook, even though some of my personal circumstances actually became more rather than less challenging during the first half of last year.
This post is a reflective summary of some of the key skills I have learned and endeavor to practice on a daily basis. I believe these are universal and achievable for anyone.
I have struggled with decision making since I was young and I couldn’t seem to be able to set and stick to priorities.
First of all, setting priorities and decision making are separate skills so keep them separate. However, they are solved with similar actions.
Big decisions are big because there may not be a clear answer. Priorities can be hard to set for all kinds of reasons. Maybe they are conflicting or require extra effort to implement. In any case, decisions and clear priorities result in change, which can be scary.
Confidence comes from preparedness so don´t let yourself feel overwhelmed for too long. Do some research and try things out. Write down the pros and cons. Seek answers to your most pressing questions and canvas opinion. Break it all down into smaller steps. Stand still and think things over.
Plenty of research, planning and rest help us to face change. The benefits and possibilities of our options become clearer and decisions can made more easily. Contingency plans feel more possible if things go wrong. Setting reasonable priorities requires the same.
If you’ve done what you can and all things considered it’s a tie between two choices, pick the one you want most.
Speak up and wait
On the one hand, I don´t think it´s helpful to for us to verbally spray our emotions all over everyone, especially when they are not actually involved and just have to put up with it. On the other hand, it´s extremely important and useful for us to express our feelings to those directly involved or affected.
The key is to speak or act before we reach a point of volcanic explosion (or debilitating misery). Burying or ignoring feelings makes them more likely to erupt because of a small, insignificant irritation when you just can’t take it anymore!
If I have a feeling that I can’t immediately decipher I try to put it aside for a few of days. Sometimes it goes away because it turned out to be nothing. Emotions are transient so if it doesn’t stick, let it go. Give yourself time to reflect. Give others time to think things over too.
Much pain can be caused by assumption and misunderstanding. Do not assume anything: ask. If you can voice your doubts or feelings they may be confirmed or disproved. Sometimes just saying something out loud is enough to see it differently.
Remember; some questions can never be answered. Some people don’t really know how they feel and that can make them hard to reach. Painful but true.
Actions not words
It’s important to believe what people say to you. However, it’s what people do that really matters as communication isn’t all in words. For example, if I say I want to go out more and what is do is cancel every time, there’s something up. If we are living well, our words and behavior mostly match up.
Watch and listen and try to believe what you see, even if you don’t want to see it.
The perfect moment
I used to wait for the perfect moment, mood or circumstances to do things. Now I aim for progress not perfection (just like the inspirational quotes tell us). ‘Done slightly poorly’ is much better than ‘I'll do it later.’ Action creates mood more than the other way around, so if you can’t get in the mood, the perfect mood is more likely to descend when you get started. Do something really badly for a change!
A little boredom can lead to a lot of creativity but a lot of boredom drains energy and deadens the brain. It’s up to us to keep ourselves stimulated.
I never thought of myself as energetic and often compared myself with others. It turns out I have plenty of energy; I was just overspending it all the time! Don’t do that! If you do, you’ll get really tired!
It really is true that if you are well rested you’ll feel happier and more able to tackle and enjoy life. You’ll also be able to relax more and sleep well which will keep you energized, and so the healthy cycle perpetuates. Don’t underestimate how long it might take to recover from a burnout…: months… years…?
Be careful how you spend your energy. It's the most precious resource we have.
I am enough
I always wanted to be more this or less that. Now I realize I am already all of it (more or less) and it fluctuates depending on the week, day or even the hour. It’s a matter of focus, clarity and self-awareness. What are you saying? How are you acting? How are you spending your time? What are you thinking about all day?
For example, I thought I wasn’t living creatively enough until I looked at how I spend my time. I wasn’t acknowledging all the creative things I was doing literally every week!
To sum up
If I was going to sum up what I learned it’s basically this:
- Be prepared
- Speak up
- Act like the person you want to be
- Progress not perfection
- Work then rest
- Accept yourself
Personally, I find these kinds of posts quite annoying to read. They are vague and deeply personal on a weirdly superficial level and it’s impossible to get the message across to anyone who isn’t already busy with the same kind of stuff.
All I can say is, as I continue with my plans and routines, as I note my feelings without letting them hold me back and as I follow ideas I’d paid enough attention to learn, I did start to understand the annoying blog posts: "Oooooaaahwah, it’s like that. I get it now."
So to really sum up all I want to say is:
If you know what you want and start working towards it, step by step, over time, it will get better.
Wishing you all a wonderful 2018!
Co-founder, The Clean Sheet