How to Find Personal Success – Part 2 (4 min)

Hi there peeps, last week I talked about finding personal success in my post here. We delved into what it can, and what it should, mean. The key part of it was actually thinking about personal success in the context of you, near the end of your life. It is a bit morbid, but it is effective in revealing what we is truly important. As Steve Jobs once said:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.

Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. “

This week, we’ll delve more into how you can specifically uncover what personal success means to you.

Who are you?

It sounds like a stupid question, but think about it. Are you a mother, daughter, teacher and student? Are these roles something you want to pursue further? Well obviously you don’t have much of a choice when it comes to being a mother or daughter! But when you think about old, frail you, in your deathbed, how do you want to be remembered by your parents or by your children?

photo-1427243713560-583403bf9987

What roles do you play?

Are you a husband, son or manager? How do you act and live up to the expectations that these roles have? Would you be happy if in your final hours of life, the people closest to you had heartfelt things to say?

Who you are now as a community leader, a mother or a brother is the basis to defining who you want to be, and therefore what it means to be successful. When you reflect on this, you may find that you are in roles you may not want to be in, which is completely fine. This could then mean, you make specific action to divorce yourself of responsibilities of that role and move towards areas of life that are important to you.

This is the very material that sets the standard for your personal success across the different parts of your life.

So, right now I want you to write down all the roles that you fulfil now. List them down. I want you to think about each one of them and how you see yourself fulfilling those roles in 20, 30 or 40 years time. How do you want to be remembered in those last days?

Who do you want to be?

So you should have figured out who you are to people, and thought about which of those roles are important to you in the context of your twilight years.  If you’re a mother, then you may have imagined your children giving a eulogy at your funeral. They could be recounting the support you gave them during some of their hardest years, and how you attended their football games every Saturday without fail. They might even have said that they couldn’t have asked for a better mum. If you’re a manager, you might have imagined your closest work colleagues, describing how you helped them and the company grow to where it is now.

14474556164_1b4542da45_c

You now can translate these thoughts into actual qualities and attributes that you want to fufil. For example, if I’m to be described as a caring and supportive father at my funeral, then I need to be a dad who is attentive, responsive and caring to my family.  This is the very material that sets the standard for your personal success across the different parts of your life.

Related: Defining Ourselves

Achievements are just the road signs

When you define who you want to be, you then need to think about how you’ll get there.  And getting there, is very much about what you need to achieve that will eventually lead you to becoming that person. For example, if I’m to be a manager that brings people together to create innovative solutions, what do I need to do now to start moving in that direction? What will I need to have done in six months time, to start living up to that expectation?

Related: The Road Trip to our Goals

Success isn’t what other people think it is. It’s how you define it, in the context of what is truly meaningful to you.

What you’ll realise, is that becoming the great dad or supportive mum, isn’t the end of the journey, but just signs that you’re heading in the right direction. You might have thought abundant riches was the definition of success, but now success might mean helping people. And that money is just good feedback that what you’re offering is helping.

Defining success is figuring out who you are and how you act. Once you determine that, you can then set goals that will lead you to becoming that person. This process is an ever changing and evolving one, because who you want to be, changes throughout your life. Success isn’t what other people think it is. It’s how you define it, in the context of what is truly meaningful to you.

Have you gained more clarity on what success means to you? Comment if you have, or haven’t!

Photo credit: Hans Olofsson

Advertisements

How To Find Personal Success – Part 1

If you’re reading this then you definitely want it, and you could probably tell me what it means. But have you actually sat down, thought about it with the future in mind? Oh btw, when I say ‘it’, I’m talking about personal success, not whatever dirty thing you’re thinking of! I will show you how to define personal success in such a way that you’ll know what you’re after and when you achieve it, it’ll actually be fulfilling to YOU.

What is Personal Success?

Yes, this does sound obvious but think about it a bit more! Is your definition of personal success defined by society, your parents or your friends? Do you compare yourself to other people who you think are ‘successful’?

Related article: Claw Yourself Out from the Comparison Cave

I know my parents define personal success as literally having a home and food on the table. They’re humble people! My brother probably defines personal success as wealth and riches, a lot of people do. Before I properly thought about it, personal success was probably closer to my brother’s definition and it involved respect from my colleagues. It’s all well and good knowing this, but the question is, ‘do you want this definition you have, to be THE definition of personal success to you?’

Begin with The End in Mind

This is something I’ve stolen from Stephen Covey’s book ‘7 habits of highly effective people’. Read the review here.

Your definition could be fine but have you thought about how you’ll feel when you achieve it? Some people define personal success as climbing the corporate ladder but when they get to the top, they’ve realised they’ve sacrificed family and relationships. Something they never wanted. Other people have money as a primary measure of success but realise once becoming wealthy, they were actually after significance and importance, not money.

Finding personal success is about who you want to be, and ensuring that what your achievements bring, are actually important to you and truly what you want.

Here’s the good stuff. Finding personal success is about who you want to be, and ensuring that what your achievements bring, are actually important to you, and truly what you want. Imagine yourself at your death bed. Who is around you, how do they feel about you, what are you remembering about your life that makes you happy at that moment?

26726130715_beb2aac05b_c

If you imagine this deeply enough, then the key points of YOUR definition of personal success will bubble up. For example, at that point, I want to have a wealth of family memories of going on trips and having experiences that we as a family, all share. Personal success on this point, would mean being able to create these moments. A lot of people might think money is the definition of personal success which is fine. However, it’s more likely what they want is what money can bring: significance, control over their future, or relationships. Some of these things can be achieved without piles of cash.

In part two of this post, I’ll go into more detail as to how to translate these thoughts into something tangible and actionable. Stay tuned!

Finding personal success is easy, it just requires you to think deeply about what is truly important to you. We all aspire to be certain types of people, or to fulfil the roles in our lives, in a certain way. Defining what these roles mean to you is also a big aspect to finding personal success.

Now that you’ve thought about your definition of personal success, is it the same as what it was? Comment below!

Photo via Visual HuntvirtusincertusCC BY

The Top 9 Definitive Reasons Why You Blog

Hi guys and gals, I have completed my research and come up with the 9 reasons why we blog.  I challenge you to come up with a reason that can’t be reduced to any one of these! I think it’s important to remind ourselves why we started in the first place so that we continue on. And if we’re not sure why we started, being able to bring that reason to our conscious level of thinking, can be really self-affirming.

We can distil these reasons even further by saying that they are based upon the human desire of fulfilment. It is all to some extent, a search for meaning; what is it we bring to this world.

So here it is, my top 9 (no, there’s not 10!) reasons why we blog.

9. A way to express ourselves

We all express ourselves in our own way!

Every person is unique, and we express this in equally unique ways. Blogging is obviously a means to express our uniqueness, and hence why the blogosphere is filled with such variety. From popular topics like social psychologymen’s lifestyle or women’s fashion to slightly niche topics like baby animals, brand packagingGarfield humour and Lego creations; they all declare in some way, “this is who I am.” Expressing ourselves is also expressing our passions, which links into my next reason…

8. To share our experiences 

We are social creatures and so we innately want to share our experiences, and often helping people is a primary driver of this. Many blogs are based upon helping people through traumatic experiences that the blogger has suffered themselves. This blog for those dealing with ADHD and depression, is a prime example of that.

7. To express our creativity

photo-1466784828399-9a9921e8bdfd

Who’s gonna clean this up now?

I think it’s very much part of human nature to have a desire to create. The right side of the brain wants to express it’s colourful, whacky and random way of thinking. Even in areas where you might not normally associate creativity, successful blogs exist on coding, financial advice and neuroscience which show creative solutions are needed for even the most left brain of topics.

Creativity is also tied to just simply having fun, trying new things, experimenting,  and that’s what blogging can be.

6. It’s a form of catharsis

I wrote a few posts on the topic of musings, and I for one can declare that blogging and writing in general can have a cathartic, an almost therapeutic effect. Being able to process your thoughts and externalise your emotions, affords you a clarity of thought. It also allows you to achieve a more objective view of yourself, which can stop you from being trapped in a world of negative thoughts. Something I’ve talked about here.

5. Influence and persuade on specific topics

photo-1453738773917-9c3eff1db985

Yes, this is how some people try and persuade.

As part of being passionate about a certain topic, people will inevitably want to convince you of their views or opinions. I think that generally comes from a good place, where people are compelled to share their view because of their experience, or their beliefs in what is good or right.

Part of this is a human desire to contribute to something beyond one’s self. The feeling of significance can be a great motivator in wanting to make a difference to either loved ones, or to the greater community.

4. Promotion, branding or marketing

Blogs are a great marketing tool to show that you are an authority on a topic. It legitimises your expertise by simply demonstrating your knowledge on a topic, and it therefore builds credibility in the eyes of the reader.

Blogging also creates brand perception in the target audience. You choose what content to  publish and how that is presented, therefore curating an image of who you are and what you’re about. Take this lifestyle blog, the colour palate, the personality in the writing, the photography, even the font, is all cohesive, and appealing to the target market: young, hip 20-something females either living or wanting to live in a city.

 

Promotion and branding is also about spreading awareness on topics for either non-profit or commercial purposes, which is a great lil segue (if I do say so myself), to the next reason.

 

3. Making money

Make sure your Benjamins don’t look like this

Blogs can be a real money spinner. Through advertising, book deals, online products or services, or even affiliate marketing, riches can be made. Sites that started off as blogs like SlashGear, Lifehacker, Mashable are earning upwards of $60k a month!

2. Connecting to other people

I don’t recommend this as a way to ‘connect’ to people.

Another innate human desire is connection. Socialising, communicating, sharing common interests, are things we do in day-to-day life with work colleagues, family and friends, but doing it online has added benefits. There’s so much greater reach in who you can talk to, and so you can connect to like minded people to share your quirky likes for sausage dog photos, or have a rant over political views; these things you might not be able to do so easily with immediate social connections.
And so, that brings us to THE number 1 reason why we blog….ok, it might be MY number 1 reason but it’s…

1. Fulfil our human desire to grow and learn

C’mon girl, they have pots for that (they’re girl hands right?)

We all do want to grow and learn; some people may consciously know this, some may not!  Blogging helps us to improve our writing, it makes us more confident in expressing our opinions and views, and it creates discipline by creating a habit of writing. The process of blogging helps us grow because we learn about our capacity to learn, we can acquire a deeper appreciation of how we think and what we feel, and we learn to connect to our audience by appealing to what they want to read.

Well there’s the top reasons as to why we blog.

Do you agree with these reasons? Have I missed some out? Do you think there should be a different number 1? Go on, comment below!

If you got something from this post, please follow or share with one of the buttons below.

Rewire your Habits – Part 2

Hopefully you read part 1 of my ‘Rewire you Habits’ post where I talked about some really useful ways of decoding these automated behaviours. Some key takeaways were:

  • Habits are formed from the unconscious mind and therefore you should emotionally detach yourself from the bad ones.  
robot copy

A habit is simply our inner mindless robot coming out, and taking over

Why get upset at yourself if you find it extremely difficult to resist continually checking your email?

  • A habit is made up a cue, craving, routine and reward. Understanding this structure and breaking down our bad habits accordingly, gives us power over them. 

When you start seeing you behaviour through this framework, you’ll notice how habits can very easily be changed.

  • Belief is required for long lasting change. 

Think about this one. What’s the point doing exercise everyday if you don’t have a belief that it will make you healthier or slimmer?

  • Developing a single habit can lead to great change.

This one is harder to see. But you might have come across people who have taken one habit like running, and they change other aspects of their life. They might become more confident and outgoing, or they end up having new relationships.

What I didn’t talk about last time was the topic of pre-commitment. Doing this links in nicely with the basic structure of a habit: the cue, the routine, and the reward. We’ve all actually created a pre-commitment at some point in our life. We might be really motivated to make sure something happens, like we have a job interview the next day and we can’t miss it, so we set an extra alarm, we have the suit ready to go, and we have the exact directions printed out. The same thing applies with making a pre-commitment. If we’re motivated to make sure we get up early to go to the gym, we’ll have our gym clothes ready, the alarm is set and we’ll go to bed a little bit earlier than usual.

b27a876bd6a5a10379de18834018317e

When I first started getting up early for the gym.

We can use this concept of a pre-commitment to create new habits or to override old ones.  For example, if we want to create a new habit of drinking less soft-drink, there’s a few pre-commitments that can be tried. The simple option is throwing out the soft drink or replacing it with a flavoured water. If that’s not possible, some people will carry a bottle of water around.

To go a level deeper, you could analyse when you have a craving for a soft-drink and attempt to short circuit it. For example, you might find you get that soft-drink craving in the afternoon because you’re tired and you need a energy boost. You can create a pre-commitment by going for a walk just before the usual afternoon slow down.

Pre-commitments are a powerful way to rewire an old habit or create a new one. Depending on your situation, it might require some creative thinking but if you try different things, you’re bound to crack the habit code.

Try it and let me know how it can help you.

Do you think this article could help someone you care about with a bad habit? Click on one of the share buttons!

 

Claw Yourself Out from the Comparison Cave

Don’t be dragged down by thoughts of comparison! Comparison in the sense of seeing the results of others and judging myself, often negatively. I suppose its a fairly common thing to deal with but with most things like this, its a personal battle. Sometimes I share the battle with friends and loved ones, but mostly it’s me versus those negative thoughts.

I’m usually pretty good in realising when these thoughts start to arise and I can objectively put them aside, realise the folly in them and move on. However, sometimes I lack the sensitivity to see them gathering steam, or maybe the will to battle them isn’t in the tank. And so it can become a spiral, an unpleasant downward spiral where I feel the only way to get out of the funk is to sleep on it and awake with hopefully a fresh mind.

Oracle_plane_downward_spiral_smoke

Be like a pilot and pull up

There are better ways to deal with this. I imagine that the best way to handle this is to create a habit in not letting the mind ‘indulge’. Intellectually, I know all the reasons against comparing myself to others and there’s a million memes and quotes to help me see the logic. But emotionally, there’s still some work to truly align my values so that the concept is barely a blip on my radar.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards.” – Steve Jobs

Everyone is on their own journey, and much like each child progresses with basic things like walking, talking and reading at their own rate, adults too advance in their own unique way. What seems difficult now, will inevitably seem easy or straightforward in hindsight. However, to be in a position to have that view, we have to continue and push on, and have faith that the struggle will make sense. As Steve Jobs once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards”. The struggles of today will make sense tomorrow, so just bash on.

Letting your mind wander into such thoughts of “Why haven’t I achieved this when this other person has” is very much a reminder and lesson I spoke of here. Keep your mind focussed on what it needs to do now.

Comparing yourself to others is just your mind wandering to negative thoughts to protect yourself from failure and disappointment.  Objectively see the foolishness of it, appreciate that you have your own journey to follow, and just bash on!

How have you battled these thoughts before?

If you enjoyed this post, like or click on the share buttons below.

Rewire your Habits

 

I’ve finished listening to Charles Duhigg’s ‘The Power of Habit. Why we do what we do and how to change’ and it’s great insight into how habits are formed and what we can do to change them. I’m a big believer in how habits shape who we are, as you might tell from this post and I would absolutely recommend this book. It’s worth spending the time to think about how your own life is composed of habits and which of those you would want to change for the better.  Having read it and analysed my own habits, especially the bad ones, here’s some takeaways:

Habits are formed from the unconscious mind and therefore you should emotionally detach yourself from the bad ones

Studies have been done on individuals who have suffered brain injuries to the memory centres or the pre frontal cortex (which is where much of our conscious thinking arises) but not to the basal ganglia.

basal ganglia

Image credit:kevinbinz.com

The basal ganglia is responsible for the automated nature of habits. There have been individuals who have lost all short term memory, so much so that if they feel the need to use the bathroom, they are able to do so, however, if you were to ask them where the bathroom is, they cannot tell you.  These studies demonstrate that habits are developed and maintained in completely separate parts of the brain compared to memory and conscious thinking.

We are creatures at heart and our evolved, thinking brain still coordinates with the survival mechanisms developed during our cave-man days.  Habits are one of those mechanisms, where tasks that are simple and don’t require complex processing, are off loaded so that our attention can be directed towards more important tasks. When we create habits, like eating junk food, these become engrained in the basal ganglia and so we almost subconsciously follow them. If we attach negative feelings of our self worth or confidence to our bad habits,  we should realise that they are products of our human nature and not of our developed brains.

A habit is made up of a cue, craving, routine and reward. Understanding this structure and breaking down our bad habits accordingly, gives us power over them.

Habits are made up of components and the routine and reward are primary ones. For example, if we have a habit of eating a hot jam donut on the way to work, then the routine is going to Krispy Kreme, purchasing it and the reward is the pleasure of the doughy and warm sweetness. Anyone hungry yet? In this example, the cue  might be walking past Krispy Kreme on the way to work and smelling the baked doughnut or the sweet smell of jam. When we get a waft of that, we start thinking about that pleasant swell of emotion when we bite into the donut’s soft centre, and that becomes the craving.

krispy kreme jam donut

If we can accurately break down our bad habits, then we have the power to change the routine and make it a better or healthier one. For example, the type of  breakfast I have is laden with fat and sugar, it’s peanut butter and honey on toast with banana and a sprinkling of chocolate powder. It’s pretty good, you should try it! If you make it just right, you’ll have crispy toast with a gooey, sweet middle and biting into that, is definitely the reward. The thought of that gives me a craving, even as I write! The cue was simply getting up and walking into the kitchen and obviously making and it eating it was the routine. I was able to change that to a far healthier breakfast which gave me a similar reward.

Belief is required for long lasting change.

We never really lose our bad habits because they sit dormant in our mind, so they can return quite easily if the cue arises. But these bad habits can be fought off and long lasting change can occur if we have enough believe. Studies were done on individuals who attend Alcoholics Anonymous and they had shown that those who believed in God or a higher power, were far more likely to stay sober.  In the same vein, individuals who join dieting groups, like what you might find on Facebook, have a far greater chance of keeping the weight off because they believe if others can do it, so can they.

Developing a single habit can lead to great change.

The type of habits which can achieve this, are ones that create a framework for other new and positive habits. These habits, known as keystone habits,  create ‘small wins’. These small wins give people a small advantage which trigger momentum for other small wins. A good example of this is waking up early in the day, especially to do exercise. This habit can empower people because it makes them feel productive that they’re awake whilst everyone else is asleep. That feeling itself is a small win. Then using that time to do exercise creates a number of small wins due to the various benefits of doing exercise: improvements in mood, energy, a slimming body shape, a better mental body image etc.  Other small wins are created as well, for example it might free up time later in the day like at lunch and after work.  All those things can amount to a pretty big change in a person’s life.

There is one other aspect to habits which I think is really powerful, but i’ll leave that for another day. Stay tuned for that!

Habits are a huge component in our day-to-day lives. They can kidnap our brain into doing things we know aren’t good for us, but because we enjoy the reward so much, it feels like we don’t have a choice. We shouldn’t feel bad about ourselves because of where some of our bad habits lead us because the development of them is just human nature.  However, we should seek to understand what the cue and reward is so we can change the routine for the better.

What’s a bad habit you want to change?

If you enjoyed this, please share or Tweet this!

The Road Trip to our Goals


Do you set goals? If you fall short of them, how do you react? We should think of them not as ends to themselves, but more like lights on an airplane landing strip.  In this post, I want to encourage you to reflect on how you review whether you achieved those goals or not.

The way I see it, there are three main parts to goal setting. How we set them, how we strive towards them and how we review them. I think we’re quite familiar with the first two and there are plenty of strategies on the Internet that focus on them. However, what is missing from many of these articles is the thinking process we should have when we achieve them or not. It can be very easy to feel disappointed if we don’t reach our target, and setting goals that are S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-based) certainly help. However, it’s inevitable that we’ll fall short of our goals, even if we invest time in accurately setting them. If we miss our target, we shouldn’t be disheartened or feel like a failure. We should critically and unemotionally, analyse why we didn’t achieve that goal and take corrective action.  We need to understand that setting goals and striving toward them is an iterative process and whether we achieve them or not, we are still on our way to where we want to be and we can learn even from the lack of success. If we have achieved the goal, then definitely give yourself a pat on the back but your focus should swiftly move on to the next goal, the next landing strip light. 

Setting and striving for goals is very much like going on a road trip. You’ll set yourself an end destination but you’ll want to stop off at various places along the way. If we happen to miss our turn off, all is not lost, we have still inched closer to the ultimate destination but we do need to get back on the right path.  Next time you fail to achieve a goal, think:

  • Why didn’t I achieve it 
  • What are the corrective steps

And don’t ruminate on any subjective feelings.

Let me know your thoughts or share if you liked it!