The Cure for Expectations

house_sitting_expectations

I recently wrote a review on the book UnFu*k Yourself where one of the authors rules for life was “I expect nothing; I accept everything”. As you think about this for a while it begins to make sense. Expecting things to turn out a certain way or for people to act a certain way is the road to disappointment. To start out with it takes you away from the present and instead you are living with expectations of the future. Let’s take a few examples:

  • While I’m driving I expect people to follow traffic laws. Little things like stop signs, traffic lights, speed limits, etc. Now this is one hell of a stupid expectation. When humans get behind the wheel of a car they turn into complete morons.
  • I expect that I will be recognized for my work at my place of business. Occasionally this happens, but never enough to live up to our expectations.
  • I expect that my significant other will appreciate the things I do for them. So what is it that they must do to live up to these expectations?
  • I expect that my children will be as motivated and driven as I am. That’s a real crock of shit.
  • I expect that my government will spend my tax money smartly and not build up trillions of dollars in debt. How silly is that?
  • I have expectations for myself surrounding being constantly happy or healthy. Set the bar high my friend and disappointment will find you.

These are just a few examples of how we all live with expectations that are literally sucking the fun out of life. There is no better way to mess up living in the present than by having all these stupid expectations. I’m not advocating that you don’t have dreams or goals, but be aware that if these are laden down with heaps of expectations you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Things rarely turn out the way you expect, often things turn out much better or much worse. You have so little control about how things will turn out, or what someone thinks of you, and planning on how things will turn out is a risky proposition. Do the best you can but don’t be so definitive about the outcome.

So what is the cure for this never ending life of expectations? I’m guessing if you read Gary Bishop’s book you know the answer. One little, but powerful word Acceptance is all you need to understand. By accepting things as they are, you are taking a big step towards living in the present. Give yourself a fucking break; you can often be accepting of others, but you can’t cut yourself some slack. If you can start living with a mindset of accepting life as it is, you will begin to really enjoy what you have and maybe even the things you do. Here are a couple of different ways to look at acceptance:

Acceptance-1Acceptance 2

You don’t need to throw away all your dreams or vision for the future, but don’t get so specific that you put yourself in a corner when things don’t turn out exactly as you expected. Throwing out those silly expectations leaves you open to a whole new perspective and to enjoy how things unfold. All of this can provide amazing levels of joy instead of comparing what happens to your expectations.

I will leave you with one other quote from Gary Bishop that really resonated with me.

“Plan for victory and learn from your defeats.”

Here are a few quotes on acceptance to ponder.

Happiness can exist only in acceptance. George Orwell

The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance. Brian Tracy

The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance. Nathaniel Branden

My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations. Michael J. Fox

Acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it brings something entirely new into this world. That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness. Eckhart Tolle

Namaste

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Book Review – The 5 Second Rule

Mel Robbins

As I’ve mentioned before my book reviews are not meant to be a comprehensive dissertation about the book. I prefer to provide the simple premise and my own perspective about the writing.

5 second rule

The premise behind this book is that we have a tendency to talk ourselves out of pursuing good ideas because our primary focus is on protecting ourselves from things that take us out of our comfort zone. Mel Robbins talks about a hack that breaks this pattern of fear or procrastination by counting backwards from 5 to 1 and then taking action. This breaks the pattern of letting our mind talk ourselves out of doing something in response to the idea we have.

Most of this book is about having the courage to pursue your dreams and explaining all the ways to overcome sabotaging yourself. Let me say that for me the book was very inspirational, and may for you act as a trigger to start pursuing your dreams. She includes lots of quotes from readers on how they changed their life, and some pretty cool quotes on pages you can rip out and put on the wall in your home office for instance.

As much as I enjoyed the book, listening to her on a podcast or YouTube is equally enjoyable. Mel is an excellent public speaker. The YouTube video below is a good example of her excellent presentation skills:

It is an easy read that you could accomplish in a weekend, a little over 200 pages. I would certainly recommend it if you are considering making some changes in your life and need a little push in the right direction.

Namaste

 

 

One of life’s greatest pleasures

never stop learning concept on blackboard

We spend a good part of our life looking for satisfaction by acquiring things like bigger homes, expensive cars, and other possessions. Our quest for these things becomes our focus, believing that they will bring us happiness and pleasure. I’m not sure where all of this came from, maybe it is a result of our culture, but it often leads to a misguided approach to life.

As human beings we have an innate need to learn, which leads to self improvement, and yes happiness. For me and so many others, one of life’s greatest pleasures is learning. Think about the times you have been really happy. Maybe this was when you were pursuing a degree, studying for a certification, or learning something from your own studies or work. Unlike acquiring some material possession your pursuit of knowledge can never be taken away from you, it will not erode or decay over time. The pleasure you get by learning doesn’t wear off, but instead provides an infinite source of gratification.

Most of us can agree that goals are a good thing, they provide focus and direction, but make sure that learning is one of your highest priority goals. In fact those other material things are often the result of learning. Sure it’s great to have a nice car, a comfortable home, electronic toys, and whatever else you enjoy possessing. Unfortunately as you focus on attaining these things, once acquired they leave you with a taste for more much like any other addiction. One should also weigh the cost of what you might have to give up to acquire all these things. While learning costs you very little, maybe the cost of the book, and an investment of your time.

Take a few moments today and think back on a time when you were not obsessed with things, but instead spent your time learning about subjects that interested you. Can you think of anything that brought you more pleasure? It is never too late to change the way you think, modify your goals, and focus on the one thing that can bring you great satisfaction, happiness, and pleasure.

The very act of learning about things that interest you opens the door to everything else, creating opportunities go grow and to contribute to this world. Don’t misunderstand me I am not advocating you become a monk; I have material goals, but most of my goals are centered around learning for personal or professional development, and these are the goals that that provide the most pleasure in my life.

Namaste

Law of Attraction #2

law-of-attraction-5

In the last post Law of Attraction #1 I attempted to explain my macro level view of the law of attraction. I promised that I would try to explain how the law of attraction can be used to help you be happy and fulfilled in your own life. The overall goal for the law of attraction is for you to be happy with your life and to obtain what you want out of life.

For myself I have used the law of attraction to greatly reduce negative thoughts and increase positive results. Remember the law of attraction isn’t some feel good approach to life, although you will feel much better about yourself and others. The law of attraction is a state of the way things work and will exist and function whether you believe it or not. Here are a few ways to start using it to your advantage:

  • Take some time and think about what you want. These can be material things, something you would like to do, places you would like to live or visit, or work that you enjoy. Examples might include but not limited to:
    • A new car (Mustang GT)
    • My own business
    • Enjoying a vacation in Cancun
    • A fulfilling relationship with my significant other
  • Think about why you want these things in a positive way.
  • Write these things down somewhere that you can see them daily, focus on them, feel yourself receiving them.
    • Maybe you put them on a whiteboard, on paper, or some electronic form (computer, phone, etc.). It must be somewhere that will be visible to you as a reminder to yourself where you will focus your thoughts.
  • Do not think about what you don’t want. This is the hardest part because what you think about will be what you are attracting. Don’t fall into the trap that thinking about what you don’t want will motivate you to achieve something else, instead keep the focus only on what you want.
  • Every time you find yourself focusing on something you don’t want consciously make a shift and focus instead on what you want. This gets easier as time goes by and you begin to catch yourself thinking a negative thought and you will quickly remove it from your focus.
  • Begin to monitor what you are exposing yourself to. For me it was turning off the television so that I wasn’t wasting time watching cable news, which was only creating negative thought patterns. Use that time to feed your mind positive information and focus on what you want to attract.
  • Go with the flow, provide your input and advice, but when people don’t act upon it just accept it. Stop focusing on things you cannot change, go with the path of least resistance, it will always be easier to manifest.
  • Believe in yourself, in your dreams, and in the talents you possess. You are a unique creation and you have an unlimited potential to share your talent with the universe.
  • Finally practice being grateful. Being grateful reinforces the power of the law of attraction in a positive way. The power of expressing gratitude alone will only lead to a happier existence.

I think that is enough for today. I would love to hear what you are doing to use the law of attraction to improve your life. More to come on this wonderful subject.

Namaste

Personal freedom – from want to a plan

goal_setting

In my last post I defined what personal freedom is to me and how it is sought after by many of us, but how can it be realized? Certainly the path may be different for each of us as we have different skills, desires, and risk appetites. The one thing we can all benefit from is having some kind of goals that we can achieve which will lead us down the path towards personal freedom and financial independence.

I’ve always been a big fan of setting goals, and I have lots of experience doing it, which has led to continued growth both personally and professionally. I also realize there are limitations to goal setting and if not accompanied by action they are not very useful. So you must first decide that if I set a goal, than I intend to follow-up and do something about it. You will also need to think about your goals very carefully to ensure you have the right goals, because pursuing the wrong ones is a waste of time and precious effort. If personal freedom is one of your goals you will need to have smaller short-term goals that support it. One way to do this is to have goals that fit into at least two-time frames:

  • Less than 1 year
  • Greater than 1 year

In the past I had goals that were in three categories (< 1 year, 1 – 3 years, > 3 years), but it seemed that I was trying to plan out everything so far into the future that I really wasn’t sure what I really wanted and it did nothing but remove my focus on my short and mid term  goals. My advice is keep your goal setting in the 1 – 3 year range, anything beyond that is really speculating and doesn’t help you achieve results in the near term.

I would also recommend being specific on how you phrase your goals, and give them target dates so you have a set amount of time to achieve the goal. It is also important that you not have too many goals and goals that are due during the same time frame. While you want goals that motivate you, they must also be achievable, so be a little conservative at first when setting goals. An example of this would be say that I’m making $100,000 a year and I want to make $150,000 in within a years time. Maybe it would be more realistic to set the goal as $125,000 and if you exceed it, then great, but even if you get a promotion or a new job and you do hit the target you did great and you won’t feel disappointed with that pretty awesome 25% increase in salary. Here are 10 tips for setting goals:

  1. Make them a stretch but achievable with effort.
  2. Be specific in the way they are worded, making sure they indicate an outcome.
  3. Categorize them into time frames of < 1 year and > 1 year.
  4. Shorter term goals may support longer term goals.
  5. Make sure you have a target date to achieve the goal.
  6. Be sure and include personal goals as well as professional goals.
  7. Use some kind of task management system to break a goal down into tasks. I use something called My Life Organizer (MLO).
  8. Don’t create too many goals. When you have other ideas for a goal put it in a parking lot and think about it before committing.
  9. Make sure the goals you create are visible, so that you are seeing them everyday.
  10. Realize that your goals will change, some will be removed, and replaced by other goals as you learn more and come to various conclusions regarding what you really want to achieve.

One or more of your long-term goals will be related to obtaining personal freedom and it might be transitioning to being self-employed. Maybe personal freedom to you means being completely retired, but whatever it is you need to take some time to think about your goals. First determine what you really want and then work backwards to determine the goals that support your long term objectives. Here is an example of how this might look:

Short Term (less than 1 year)

Goal Target
Start playing guitar again 02/11/2017
Get a Brittany Spaniel dog 02/28/2017
Create Living Will and Trust 03/31/2017
Obtain XYZ certification 03/31/2017
Positive cash flow in my home based business 07/28/2017
Remodel Kitchen and replace flooring 09/31/2017

 

Long Term (greater than 1 year)

Goal Target
Start teaching project management online 03/31/2018
$3,000 income per month in my home based business 07/31/2018
Have 5,000 followers on my blogs 12/31/2018
Have 10,000 Twitter followers 12/31/2018
Have 10,000 YouTube followers 06/30/2019
Transition to self-employed 12/09/2019
Finish my first book 12/31/2020

Let’s say you wanted to manage your own business, do some writing, and teach project management in effect transitioning to being self-employed and having a lot more personal freedom than you currently have. Besides some of your personal goals you have some business oriented ones like having a positive cash flow in your home based business, increasing your social media presence on Twitter, YouTube, and your blog; all of these lead you to your ultimate goal of transitioning to self employment. This is merely an example, your own plan will be different and unique to your own situation and time-table.

You now have a starting point to begin taking action. You have considered what personal freedom means to you and have constructed a plan to get there, now you must start achieving your goals. Each goal will have potentially many tasks that go into achieving that goal, so your next step should be breaking down the goal into tasks and performing those tasks in a time frame that supports the target date for each goal.

I am personally committed to a business called MyDailyChoice that I will be working on to help me obtain personal freedom. Check it out if you have a few minutes.

In my next post we will go into more detail on goal setting and more importantly how to achieve them.

At the end of the way is freedom. Until then, patience

One of my favorite quotes attributed to Buddha is “At the end of the way is freedom. Until then, patience”. This seemingly simple quote speaks volumes in terms of guiding us in the direction of a much happier existence. Whether your preference is toward Buddhism and achieving enlightenment which in this case would equate to freedom, or if you are a Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or maybe not a follower of any formal doctrine the intention of this quote should provide some guidance on how to live your life. I know this may sound a bit over the top, and you may feel advocating patience is little solace during times of duress, but  let me make a case for the value of patience in your life. Here are a few ways that patience will enrich your existence:

  • buddha patienceLong term goals require action, but they also require patience. Many of us give up on a goal or dream simply because we do not have the patience that would allow us the time to achieve them. Name a major goal that did not require a fair amount of patience, and I’ll show you a goal that was far too easy to achieve.
  • Patience is the cornerstone of practices like meditation and yoga, which will enrich your life, but without patience neither of these practices are possible.
  • You may never attain a state of complete freedom, but your ability to be patient makes it much more possible, and provides a means to cope with everyday stresses and desires.
  • In the context of this quote the word patience takes on additional meanings implying kindness, compassion, and determination. If freedom, enlightenment, or some form of happiness is your end goal, then you will need all the patience you can muster to achieve it.
  • One constant in our lives is everything changes, and sometimes we go through a cycle or event that can be measured in months or even years, but because everything changes we know that patience is an asset in coping with this cycle until it inevitably ends.
  • Let’s face it no matter what you do, both good and bad things will be part of your life, and your ability to be patient will greatly affect how you react to what happens to you. Patience is the tool that when applied has a smoothing effect on both the highs and the lows of life. Those people that survive great tragedy in their lives use patience to ride out the storm.
  • Patience and the other things it implies acts to counteract destructive thoughts like comparing yourself to others, envy, frustration, fear, embarrassment, disappointment and anger.

I ran across this quote a couple weeks ago and I wrote it down on an index card, pinning it to my cork board in my office. I often look at it when I am in my office, and recite it when I meditate. My journey is probably much like yours, filled with suffering, happiness, and all the emotions in between, but this little quote has brought me great personal relief.

May you seek freedom at the end of the way, but until then use patience to guide your thoughts.

Namaste

 

 

 

Keep doing the good things

I really tire of the endless dribble regarding New Year’s resolutions, and everyone making such a big deal over the year changing from 2014 to 2015. Sure it is a great excuse to drink yourself into a coma, or do some other mindless activity, but give me a break. Many people feel compelled to decide to make radical changes, and more power to you, but beware these things often go unfulfilled. Let’s take someone who doesn’t exercise regularly and then decides I am going to workout everyday and become physically fit. This will probably last about a week or two and then the person falls back into their old habits, and is now donating to the gym where they bought their membership. If it takes a new year to get you motivated then so be it, but the fact that it will be 2015 doesn’t really instill any resolve in you or will it make much of a difference.

I contend that you must keep doing the good things you have started and if possible do more of them. So if you already exercise regularly then increase the intensity or variety. If you have been working on quitting a bad habit or two, then keep it up. If you are meditating every couple of days, then build on that and do it every morning. If you are generally positive and encouraging to others, then try to be that way all the time. Think of the impact you will have when every day you stay positive during good and bad times, and you complement and encourage those around you instead of criticize. How will you feel about yourself? What will the people you live with and work with think?

It is much easier to exploit some of your good behaviors than to create brand new patterns. I’m not saying you shouldn’t choose to set a new course in your life, but don’t let the start of a new year be the incentive, do it because it makes sense and you have the resolve to stick with it. Take advantage of the good things you do, and do more of them, after all they are already behaviors that can be enhanced and with much less effort. Before you know it, all those good things you are doing are crowding out the not so positive behaviors and the world will seem like a better place. I will end this post with the following quote by Aristotle:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”  Aristotle

Happy New Year and keep doing the good things.