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?

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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!

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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.

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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?

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Musings on the Process

In order to achieve anything of great significance I believe we have to love or enjoy the day to day grind of it.  So rather than purely focussing on the goal, simply be aware of it and focus on he steps.  I’d like to give you a personal case study on it to hopefully allow you to reflect on your own experience. 

Fitness has been a huge part of my life. I’d never call myself an athlete and I don’t have a trophy cabinet. I did start off at 145lbs and now I’m at 165lbs which is pretty good I think. I wanted to have definition, tone and muscle bulk and I have some of that now but I’m definitely no ‘Men’s Health’ model.  I went through phases of getting big, trimming down, getting ‘fat’, doing no exercise at all and all the dieting or lack of it. 

Now my focus is just maintaining my fitness and becoming a better surfer which means I have a training schedule at the gym, I eat healthily and of course heading out in the surf and giving it a good go. So over 8 years it’s been trying different things or nothing at all.  The big question is whether I have enjoyed the actual process and in some areas I can say I have. Surfing is definitely one area where I actually like and look forward to. I have moments of course where I think it’s going to be miserable and cold or I think the session I just had was bloody average but generally the feeling is positive. When I go to the gym to do a bunch of exercise which are pretty boring, I do get a feeling of satisfaction and a sense of achievement in performing each exercise. And of course, there are plenty of times where I come away disappointed that I didn’t lift a certain weight or that I feel discouraged by how difficult a cardio session was but again the general feeling at the time is positive. 

I realise I don’t spend a huge amount of time thinking this is great or how terrible it will be. Once it becomes a habit, it doesn’t trigger as much thought and so I just get on with it. When I first start some new exercises then I’ll probably have a lil chat to myself about how difficult it is but if I have bad thoughts about it, I won’t get sad about it. For example, with my cardio which I do on the bike, there’s been numerous times where I have tried a new difficulty level and thought just kill me now because it’s too hard and gone back to an easier setting. I could be really disappointed by it, and tell myself what a failure I am but I try not to go down that path because I know it doesn’t help. 

There’s also the point that I’ve always had a curiosity to try something different and if the workout doesn’t quite fit with me then I change it. I think that doing this over time has evolved into a path of what really fits my personality as I don’t recall a time where I’ve really had to trudge through something really unenjoyable.

I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy fitness as much as say, going on a roller coaster or having a hot shower on a cold day (odd example but it is enjoyable!). But there’s enough positivity in what I do to keep on going. Surely for anything worth pursuing there’s going to be parts of it you don’t like but you gotta trust the bigger picture and be curious in finding what suits you. Whether you’re going for fitness, being rich or finding the girl / boy of your dreams, I reckon it’s a process of discovering your own likes/dislikes and working on it until you find that point where it feels easy and it’s emotionally and intellectually fulfilling. It’s a very personal process where we need to sense what our intuition is saying and where it’s directing us.

Do you use intuition to guide your pursuits?

If you reflect on something you’ve been doing for a while, can you see these elements in that journey?    

Be with the present to live for the future

Focus on the now

Are you cheating on your future with your past? I have forever been one of those individuals that suffers from post holiday depression where I’ve had such a good time off that when I come back, I become a limp and lifeless lump. Unable to see joy in anything but the holiday photos and the reminiscing of time away from reality. However I’ve had a revelation that has removed all signs of these ‘blues’ and allowed me to actually enjoy being back.

I was on holiday in England and Portugal. There was sun, surf, friends and fun times. There really was all that, I’m not not just saying that for the poetic alliteration! And there was 3 weeks of it, which made it all the more sweeter. However upon thinking of heading home I started to dread being back at work. I stressed upon the dramas at work I’d have to endure. I became anxious over the tasks I needed to progress and the responsibilities I had let go of since being on holiday. But then I stopped. I realised this was a downward spiral of thinking.  I focussed on the here and now. That’s when I realised that my mind was running off on a worry tangent. That those thoughts are all imagined and are only the negative possibilities. I also realised that I have plenty of great things to come back to, seeing my family, being able to spend more time on my business, surfing my local beach. At that point I felt pretty calm and saw the folly of my thoughts.

If I distil this into something more general, it comes down to two simple things:

  • having an appreciation of what you have, whether it be the physical and tangible like your comfy sofa you’ve missed or positive possibility and opportunity like celebrating a friend’s birthday.
  • controlling any foreboding of the future or longing for the past. Its natural for your mind to prepare for bad things that could happen regardless of how realistic it actually is. Whilst its nice to reminisce of good times past, to hold onto it at the expense of the good things that are or could be happening, is fool hardy.

Past, present and future. Of those three things only one is real and tangible however the mind doesn’t focus on that one. Become aware of your thinking, focus on the here and now with appreciation and positivity and those post holiday blues will vanish.

Do you get the blues when you come back from holiday? Or do you feel you worry over the past and future? How do you overcome  it?

Could you actually be a genius?

I’ve started reading, or listening I should say, to an audio book by Robert Greene called ‘Mastery’. It provides a refreshing view that genius isn’t the result of a God given talent or innate competency but for a natural inclination and interest in a skill or subject matter and a long process of focus, practise and repetition. Reading this makes me reflect on my own beliefs in talent and genius and I have long held that it’s a product of genes. I realise that this is a result of what’s called a fixed mindset; such a term has come from another interesting book I’ve read along a very similar vein from Carol Dweck, ‘Mindset’. This view states that individuals will either have the belief that intellect and talent are fixed and given at birth whereas others will have the view of a growth mindset, where ability is not God given but can be honed and refined through effort.  It’s fascinating to hear Greene’s rather convincing argument and it very much does question my beliefs in this matter. It is far more productive and even liberating to believe that your intellectual capacity is malleable and that everyone is capable of being a ‘genius’, it’s just a matter of embarking on a journey to find it. To find that inner voice which unconsciously pushes you towards certain activities that the very act of doing gives joy. Where the end destination of whatever activity that is, is not the sole focus but the journey towards it is.

In this book, genius is redefined as a natural inclination and that everyone has a responsibility to themselves to seek out that inclination and follow it wherever it leads. This view intersects with other views I’ve read like Victor Frankl’s ‘The Search for Meaning’ which declares that a man’s meaning and true purpose is the path to fulfilment and is unique to him. It also has parallels to certain parts of Steve Job’s Stamford Graduation Speech where he mentions similar themes of finding your passion, following your heart and that you should trust destiny, fate, whatever, that the dots will connect.  I feel that this book gives voice to a feeling the unfulfilled amongst us have. 

Are Limiting Beliefs Limiting You?

The phrase ‘limiting beliefs’ has only recently come into my vocabulary but it’s one that is growing both in terms of meaning and importance to me. It’s an obviously named concept, any belief that restricts you from achieving something or personally growing in someway. It is any kind of long held negative thought about yourself or the world around you. For example, I discovered a limiting belief of mine recently around competitiveness and playing to win in that if I can’t win, then I shouldn’t even be competing. It results in me giving up and not even trying to get in the game. That sounds silly I suppose because competition itself is healthy, it fosters growth, it can push an individual to high levels of competency, it teaches valuable lessons. One damaging part of limiting beliefs is that they can come from your childhood years and therefore escape any adult rationalisation which is where that belief of mine has come from. It was liberating just becoming aware of it, which is another debiliting aspect to them, they can be very difficult to weed out because these beliefs result in behaviours that are so automatic and almost sub-conscious in nature.  The other damaging aspect and perhaps the most critical, is that they result in behaviours that can eventually drain the very life from you. If you have negative beliefs about your appearance, that nature of your personality, your ability to learn or connect to people it can take the air out of you need to function effectively.

Being aware and battling what limiting beliefs you have is what I’m imagining to be a life long quest. It is part of discovering who you are and ridding one’s self of them can only result in great personal growth. What are your limiting beliefs?