What are you dark little secrets?

This is an excerpt from the book I am writing called, “Living Your Purposeful Life”.

When you present yourself to the world, are you hiding who you really are? Do you have some things that you do not want to tell the world about yourself? Yes, there may be some things the world does not need to know about you, like the color of your bedroom, or who your favorite my little pony pony is.

Think about those things around you that people care about and what you are telling them. If you were to enter into a religious or political discussion, are you going to tell the people what you believe, or are you going to tow the party line? Yes, discussing religious or political topics can be very explosive as people can be very passionate, but if you engage in those discussions, are you being truthful?

Are there areas of your life where you are not being truthful about your life, because you are embarrassed? Do you have a prison record, or a brother that has gone to prison? Did you drop out of university? Are you embarrassed by something a sibling has done, or is doing? I am not saying that you need to go around broadcasting to the world any of these things, but you should not be afraid to talk about them.

Let’s take a look at dropping out of university. Does anybody know that you dropped out of university? If not, why not? If you are embarrassed, that is ok. Why did you do it? At the time, it must have been a good idea. Looking back at it today, was it still a good idea? If not, what did you learn? If you did not learn anything, what could you have learned from it?

May be you dropped out for a great job opportunity that did not pan out. If so, what could you have done differently? Maybe you could have asked some more questions about the company. Maybe you ran the company and made some bad choices during the running of the company. No matter what the reason, what could you have done differently? If you can identify what you could have done differently, then you have learned from the experience.

Can you use what you have learned to help yourself the next time, or to help others? If so, even better. If not, then maybe there is more for you to learn. Go back and look at the situation until you feel you have learned everything you need to learn from the situation.

Now, can you go back and correct that you dropped out of university? Do you want to? Do you need to? If you can correct it and you want to, go ahead. If you do not think you need to go back, then keep moving on. Use the experience and what you learned from it to make you a better person.

What if you have a sibling that has done something that is embarrassing to you? First, take a look at why you are embarrassed? What your sibling does is not a reflection on you, or is that why you are embarrassed? In many cases, what your sibling does does not have any effect on your life unless you let it. So, look at what is embarrassing about your siblings actions? What do you need to learn from them? Do you need to become more compassionate? Was there something you should have done to help your sibling before they got into the situation that embarrassed you? Did you not support your sibling when they asked and now they are in trouble?

None of the answers to the above questions are right or wrong, they just are. They are intended to get you to think. To get you to understand why you are embarrassed so that you can move on. So that you can feel better about talking about your dark little secrets should the topic come up and be stronger for it.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

This is an excerpt from the book I am writing called, “Living Your Purposeful Life”.

My daughter is in high school and she is constantly being asked what she wants to be when she grows up. I can see that it a very difficult question for her to answer. When I was in high school, I am sure that I had the same issue, I did not know what I wanted to do. There were some things that I thought were interesting, but to be when I grew up? When do you grow up? What makes you a grown up? A spouse? Children? Responsibilities? A mortgage?

What if you choose to never grow up? What does that mean? Does that mean you are irresponsible? Does your age mean that you have grown up? Does what you are able to do, or not do, mean you have grown up? Do we have to grow up?

Deciding what you want to be when you grow up sounds like a destination and once you get there, what do you do? I think there are very few destinations in life that you can get to and say you are done, and I mean done with life. I think we always have to be changing and moving in life.

Throughout high school, my father told me that I should be an engineer. I had no idea what an engineer was at the time, but as I started to look at universities, I started to see what an engineering program was and even then, there were many kinds of engineering to choose from; chemical, mechanical, electrical, civil, etc. When choosing a school to go to, I had two criteria; one, an engineering program, and two, go away to school.

When it came down to it, I had a choice between Penn St. and Purdue. I had chose Penn St. because it was a good school and knew some friends applying to it, and I applied to Purdue because it was free to apply. I was never told, but I think my grandmother had something to do with me applying to Purdue, because the application just showed up at my house one day.

The big difference between Penn St. and Purdue at the time was that at Penn St, I was in the engineering program and at Purdue, I was in the computer science program. I was too late to apply for the engineering program, but I could transfer after the first year, if I wanted.

In high school, when I was a freshman, the school got their first computer and I used much of my free time playing with the computer and in my senior year, I had an independent study class to write a program to keep the school’s attendance. So, when I sat with the decision of Penn St. vs Purdue, I felt that I was really enjoying this computer-thing, let’s give it a try and see where it takes me. I had no idea what a career in computers would be like, but it was an area that really interested me and I decided to go to Purdue.

I think there are people who know what they are going to be when they grow up, but I am not one of them. I am going with the flow of life and seeing where it will take me. Living where life will take you is good as long as you are doing those things that are important to you. As I look back on my life, there are times when I know I have made choices that were in sync with what I wanted out of life and there were times when I just let life take it from me, because of my lack of choice and that gets me back to “Purposeful Living”. “Purposeful Living” is making those choices that are in line with what you want out of life. I know it is not easy to do all the time and sometimes, life will sneak up on you and you will find yourself doing something that you really hate, like a dead end job that you have been doing for a few years while you were asleep at the wheel of life. It happens! Do not beat yourself up. Pick yourself up and make a better decision. You can always change and I mean always! Knowing that you are in a rut is halfway to getting out of the rut.

So, choose to live your life. Choose to grow up, if you want, and not to grow up, if that fits you, but you make that choice, do not let life make the choice for you! The next time somebody asks you what you want to be when you grow up, be free to tell them you do not know and then tell them where life is currently taking you, what is important to you, and what is purposeful to you.

For me, finishing this book is important to me. It is getting close. I am lining up an editor to review what I have written and finding out how to publish it. It is coming together and will be out soon. Thank you for all your support!

Who are you?

This is an excerpt from the book I am writing called, “Living Your Purposeful Life”.

Have you ever taken a moment and thought about who you are? If you do, what do you start with? I know that I start by explaining the roles that I play; father, husband, employee, friend. That is a good place to start, but you need to go deeper. What does it mean to you to be a father? Does it mean that you have to be home every night to tuck your kids into bed? If it does, does that limit what you can be in your employee role? How could you travel or work late? Maybe you do not want to travel or work late, so being home every night is where you want to be. Maybe you want to be home every night and you travel a lot. Does something need to give? Does your definition of being a father need to change?

What if instead of tucking your kids in every night, you shifted that definition to telling your kids how much you love them every night before they go to bed. Ok, now you can travel or work late and still keep that commitment.

Looking at how we define ourselves can help us understand how we are limiting ourselves. Take some time and look at how you define yourself and go deeper. Ask yourself what does that mean a few times. Back to the example of being a father. What does it mean to be a father? It means I will tell my kids how much I love them every night. What does that mean? It means that I will love my kids unconditionally. What does that mean? It means no matter what my kids do, I will love them.

What else does it mean to be a father? I am sure there are more definitions that you have for being a father. Break it down until you get to the underlying meanings that you have. You may be surprised at what you find along the way. You first definition could really be just how you express the meaning that you have versus the real intent for what you wanted. If that is the case, maybe you need to change your current definition and go with the underlying meaning and find other ways to show what you really want.

For example, when my daughter was young. I used to read to her every night before she went to bed. It was a way for us to connect and it did not matter how many times I read the same book to her over and again. My job would sometimes take me on the road and prevent me from reading to her and we both missed our time together. So, we found another way. As I was getting ready to leave, my daughter would give me a book to take with me and I would Skype her in the evening and read to her. Was it as good as being with her? No, but it was the next best thing.

As you break down your definitions for each role that you play, I am sure that you will find some underlying definitions that overlap and some that will not. Once you look at the definitions, you might want to consider that you bring some of how you define yourself as a father into the role of an employee. For example, maybe one of your definitions for being a father is to make your children laugh. Maybe you should bring that into your role of an employee and make your fellow employees laugh. Ok, if that is too far of a stretch, what about making your fellow employees smile.

Have fun and enjoy what you discover about yourself. I am sure you will find a few surprises, especially as you look at what you do and then understand why you are doing it.

What do you want?

This is an excerpt from the book I am writing called, “Living Your Purposeful Life”.

Do you really know what you want? I have to admit that I am still searching for what I want, but I am getting closer with each day. For me, I have gotten into a rut of the daily routine, or all the things that I had to do, which were masquerading as what I wanted. I am not saying that there is nothing good in my life, there is a lot of what I want in my life, but I had never taken the time to sit back and ask myself what I wanted.

Take my job for example. I enjoy my job and it offers me a lot of challenges and opportunities for growth, but I never really sat back and asked myself what role I wanted to play in the company. I had just let the company decide what role the company needed me to play. It wasn’t until I started to ask what I wanted that I realized that I was not doing what I wanted in the company. As I focused on what I wanted to do in the company, my role started to change to what I wanted my role to be.

Now, I am in a role that both the company wants me to be as well as I want to be and it is time to start looking at how do I want the role to change, because getting to where I am is only a step along the journey. I am currently looking at how could the role change and how could I change to be better in the role. If I stop to going on this journey, then I know before too long, I will be back into a role the company wants me to be, but I may not want to be in.

There are two questions that I have used to ask myself to help me determine what I wanted and the first one is, “what do I want?” This question seems very obvious, but how many of us really ask the question? And, on top of it, how many of us really know what we want? I know for me, there are a few things that hold me back from being able to answer what I want. First, sometimes I do not know what I want because I really do not know and I believe that comes from how big of a question you are asking. I look at my daughter and she is in high school and she is being asked what she wants to do in her career. I understand that this question helps the school help her determine what schooling she needs, but I can also understand how big this question is for my daughter, because a career is such a big thing, especially for her, since she does not have an idea of what is possible. In this case, I think you need to break things down and ask some simpler questions, like “what do you like to do?”, and then take these answers and find something you can learn to help you get to what you like to do, or if you are already working, this may help identify a job you may want to investigate even more.

There are some other related reasons that I do not know what I want and they are because I do not know what is possible, I am afraid I may not like it, or I do not believe what I want is possible. In each of these cases, I have needed to break down what I want to smaller chunks and take action on the smaller chunks. After taking action, I can then re-evaluate do I still want what I wanted originally. If yes, then I continue with another chunk. If not, then maybe another want has emerged for me to follow.

If you are really stuck and have no idea what you want, then you can ask, “what don’t you want?” I do not like focusing on what I do not want, but sometimes you need some contrast in your life to help you get closer to what you want. When focusing on what you do not want, you need to get clarity on what you do not want. Just do not say, “I do not want my job.” Get deeper, “what do you not like about your job?” If something like, “I do not like Mike.” Ask more, “what is it about Mike that I do not like?” Keep digging until you get something that you can turn into something that you want. For example, maybe you got, “I do not like the way Mike takes credit for my ideas.” You could turn that into, “I want to be in an environment where I am given the proper credit for my ideas.”

Great, now look for ways to get what you want. Do you need to make some changes in your life to get credit for your ideas? Maybe you need to speak up at meetings where ideas are presented. Oh yea, did you feel the fear in thinking about speaking up? Sometimes you have to go through fear to get what you want, but if it is too much fear for you to overcome right now, is there a smaller step that you could take? What about telling another co-worker, not Mike, about your idea and having them prompt you to talk at the meeting, especially if they think you have a good idea? They could say, “I think Bob has a good idea.” They can break the ice and show support for your idea.

Just keep asking yourself what you want. Sometimes you will get what you wanted and not like it, but there was probably something along the way you needed to learn or go through that was required. Maybe in getting what you thought you wanted was not what you really wanted and you did not know it until you got it. For example, may be you wanted your boss’ job and not that you have it, you do not like it. Ok, take stock in what you learned or experienced in getting your boss’ job, because looking back can help you make a better decision going forward. It can show you what you a capable and it can give you some clarity on what you may want next.

Then, ask yourself, “what do I want now?” You may be surprised to learn that you still want your boss’ job, but that you want it to be different than how your boss was doing the job. Make those changes and see where it gets you and then ask again, “what do I want now?”, and keep going!

What are Your Excuses?

This is an excerpt from the book I am writing called, “Living Your Purposeful Life”.

Have you ever taken a moment and sat back and thought about your excuses? Start by looking at something you really want and then ask yourself, why don’t I have that today? For example, I would like to lose 20 lbs. and the first excuse that comes to mind is that I do not have enough time to spend hours in the gym to get in shape, because I spend too much time commuting to and from work. How many of you have a similar excuse?

Excuses are the reasons that justify why we are where we are today. They give us a reason to stay where we are because we make the reasons outside of us, beyond our control, and it is so much easier not to do something because we can not control the things holding us back.

Take my weight loss. Yes, exercising more would make it easier for me to lose weight, but there are other things that I can do to lose the weight. I could eat better and less. Eating better and less have nothing to do with finding time to exercise or my commute to and from work. Even as I think about eating better and less, I can hear the excuses in my mind, like how can I eat better if I go out to lunch every day? Well, bring a lunch. But, I like getting out of the office, it gives me a break from what is going on. Boy, the excuses can keep coming if you are not careful. What is clear to me is that losing weight is clearly in my control and I can do it, I just need to choose to do it.

Several years ago, I did change how I framed time. I used to always say, I do not have time, but I started to say, I have not made time to do bla. It was a simple shift from outside my control to within my control. It is my choice, plain and simple. At first, I felt bad about saying that I have not made time for bla, but after a while, it made me realize that I made the choice not to do it. Eventually, it would make me evaluate what I was doing instead and then I could make a better choice at what I was doing with my time.

Let’s take a look at some bigger excuses. Why are you doing the job you are currently doing? Are you getting something like, because I love it, or are you getting, because nobody else will hire me. Which one sounds like an excuse to you? If nobody else will hire you, why won’t they hire you? Do you not have experience? Are you getting the experience from this job? Do you need more training? How can you get this training? Really break down your excuses that are outside of your control and see if they are really outside your control.

If you can not get the job you wanted because you did not finish high school, or university, not finishing were your choices and you can not change the past, but you can make a better choice today. What do you need to do to finish high school, or university? Or, can you find another way to get to where you want to go without finishing high school, or university? Sometimes there is another path that you have not considered.

Maybe you need to start your own company? Nobody checks your credentials, if you own the company, they only check your results, and if you produce results, nobody cares if you are a high school dropout or a PhD from Stanford.

Phew, start my own company? How could you say that? Yea, I know that brings up a lot of excuses on a whole other level. For me, what if I fail and can not support my family? Supporting my family is very important for me, but it is also an excuse. In this age of the Internet, there are ways that you can start a business without a lot of risk. For me, writing this book is a step in that direction. Something that I enjoy doing and I feel I am good at it. It is a challenge for me and each week, I wonder if people will hate me, but I put those excuses behind me and keep pushing forward.

Step one, identify your excuses and own them. You are not going to change them overnight. Start with something simple, time. Try saying, I have not made the time to do bla, instead of I do not have the time to do bla. Let me know how that makes you feel. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but keep with it. After you say, I have not made the time to do bla. Ask yourself, how can I make the time? You may not get an answer right away, but ask yourself a few times. When I wanted to start writing, I was uncertain how I would find the time, but I kept asking and each Saturday and Sunday morning, I sit down and I write. Small steps and soon to be a book.

You can do it. Start by owning your excuses and look how things will slowly start to change. Things do not have to change all at once, but that is not to say that they can not. They just do not have to. Be curious and enjoy the process.

Do you define your day?

This is an excerpt from the book I am writing called, “Living Your Purposeful Life”.

Do you define your day, or does your day define you? This is an interesting question to look at. When I was starting to ponder this question, my first thought was that my day defined me. I have a job and there are certain things that I have to do during the day. Since I had stuff I had to do, I began to think that the day defined me and I think there are many people out there where you would agree with me, but I think we all need to step back and sit with this for a moment.

Yes, you may “have” to get certain things done on a given day, but you have the choice in how you are going to do them. First, are you going to enjoy doing them? I can hear some of you thinking, “No, because this is work and I have to do it.” Well, you always have a choice! You can choose to enjoy what you are doing and I am sure you can find a way to make it fun. What about whistling while you work? I know I have a hard time being sad when I am whistling. If you interact with customers, even irate customers, you can greet them warmly with a smile. Did you know that if you smile, even when on the phone, the person on the other end will notice. I am sure you can think of a few ways to make what you are doing fun and fun does not have to be the laugh out loud fun!

For me, when I face problems, I have my most issues, non-fun, when I am focused on the problem. When I shift my focus from the problem to finding solutions, the process of solving the problem is fun. I get very focused, serious, and plow through until I get a result. I usually do not realize how much fun I had until I find a resolution and I look back and say, wow, that was fun. For me, it is fun, because I usually have to try new things to resolve the problem and when I try new things, I am learning new things and I enjoy learning new things.

Ok, I am sure some of you are saying that there is no way you can enjoy what you are doing. I am not sure that I can agree, but you are entitled to let what you do define you and how you feel. Step back for a moment and think about your day and ask yourself, when do I smile during the day? Now, think about those moments and see how many of those moments do you have during a single day? If your job is no fun, how could you smile during the day?

If you can not think of a time when you smiled, then ask yourself, why are you doing the job you are doing? If you can not think of anything good, think back to when you took the job and ask yourself, why did I take this job? I am sure you had a good reason at one point. If you still can not find a good reason, may be it is time for a change.

Think about the other areas of your life. Do those areas define you? If you have children, think about when your children were born. What was it like? Did the birth of your child define you, or did it draw out who you were? You have a child that is totally helpless come into your life and you can let that be a time of joy, or the beginning of a burden that you will have to endure for many years. Lucky, most of the people that I know allow the child to be a time of joy and I see it draw out more good qualities in them. Sometimes these changes produce long lasting results, and sometimes not. In either case, it is your choice.

What choices have you made in your life? Are you letting your job define you, or have you defined yourself within the job? It is not an always thing! Some days may define you. It starts by being aware of what you are allowing in your life. Are you allowing your job to define you? When you have a rough day, sit back and ask, what could I do differently next time. What could you choose to do in the same situation to make the outcome different? May be you need to ask for help sooner. May be you need to take a break to call a friend to make you laugh. May be you just need to stop and breath for a moment.

I know for me, my toughest days are days when I am only using my mind to solve problems. A simple breath for me, brings me back into my body where I can utilize all my senses, which almost always helps me move forward with the issue at hand.

Take time during your day and think about how the day is defining you, or how you are defining your day. If the day is defining you, what could you chance, so you can define the day?

How Generous Are You?

This is an excerpt from the book I am writing called, “Living Your Purposeful Life”.

Recently, I went to the movies with my wife and her sister. In preparation for the movies, I went online and purchased the tickets for all three of us. When we got to the movies, my sister-in-law gave me money for her ticket. I was not asking for it, nor did I expect it. So, I just took her money and with that, I got into an argument with my wife. She said, she was more generous than I was because I accepted the money from her sister. I told her generosity had nothing to do with me taking the money. Me taking the money was more about receiving than being generous. Being generous was paying for the tickets with no expectation of getting anything in return.

Me being generous is all the money that I donate to charities. All the lunches and coffees that I buy for my friends. The driving that I offer to take or pick up my father-in-law. In all of these cases, I am not expecting the charities to give back to me. I am not expecting my friends to buy me lunch or coffee and you know what, I usually get something back in return. I get lunches and free coffees. May be not from the people I gave to, but does that really matter? Am I keeping track of the number of lunches I have purchased and for whom? No! I am giving them without expectation.

Can you be too generous? Yes. If you are uncertain, ask yourself, why am I buying lunch for my friend? If you get something other than, because I would like to, then you may have a problem. Are you being generous to them because you want them to be your friends? Are you buying them lunch to impress them? Are you buying them lunch because they forced you to? When you are truly being generous, you should feel good about doing something for that person and not feel drained because you are doing something that does not feel like you have to do it. Yea, you may “have to” do it because they bought lunch yesterday and there was an agreement that you would buy them lunch, but this gives you an opportunity to receive and to give!

The other side of being generous is being able to receive. If somebody wants to give you something, just receive it. Do not try and give them something in return. Think about this, how many times has somebody given you a compliment only for you to give one back to them in the same breath. Can you just receive it? Try it. I was at a seminar where I purposely just received the compliments that people were giving me. At first, it was hard, but after a while, just receiving the compliment allowed the compliment to soak in and the compliment felt so much better, like I really received the compliment.

Try this. When somebody gives you a compliment, say, “thank you,” and then take a deep breath and feel the compliment they are giving you. Let your whole body experience the compliment that they gave you. You may end up saying thank you a few more times. Again, at first, this will feel really strange, because you probably never really received the compliments that people were giving you.

As you get good at compliments, work up to just receiving what people are giving you. If somebody wants to buy you lunch, let them. Yes, sometimes people will be trying to give you something with the expectation of getting something in return, and I think there are two things you need to do. First, really be grateful for what they are giving you, and second, drop the feeling that you feel you need to give back to them. Expectation is their issue, you accepted their generosity without the expectation and you were grateful for it.

Now, if somebody is generous to you, it does not mean that you can not be generous to them. You can be generous, but you do not have to do it right now! If your friend buys you lunch today, accept it and be grateful for it, and buy them lunch on another day.

If you are not certain if somebody is being generous to you or not, you can ask something like, “do you want some money for that?” or, “how much do I owe you?” and they will tell you if they want you to pay or not and if they do not want you to pay now, be grateful for what they did, even if they want you to pay the next time, be grateful that they paid this time and really receive it.

Think about this for a moment. You are at the coffee shop and you want to buy your friend a coffee and they will not let you. How do you feel? Think about it for a moment. You were trying to be generous and you could not.

What about this one? You give a friend a compliment and they give you one in return. This one will be a bit harder because you may be used to it, and it happens all the time, but does it really feel like you gave somebody a compliment if they give you one in return?

In thinking about the movies last night, I was on the end of both giving and receiving. I gave in the fact that I bought the tickets with no expectation of getting anything in return for the tickets and I received when I got the money from my sister-in-law. In this case, there was time between the giving and the receiving. I bought the tickets before we went to the movies and did not receive until I got to the movies. It may seem strange, but I can really feel the giving and the receiving in this situation. Had my sister-in-law asked if she could pay, I would have said she did not, but she put the money in my hands. So, I received it.

Think about your previous week. How many times did you give this week and expect something in return? How many times did you give and it bounced back to you? How many times did you just receive? How many times did you receive and felt that you needed to give something in return? How many times did you receive and wanted to give something in return?

Go forward this week and look at those moments of giving and receiving and enjoy each of them on their own.

Why Do It?

This is an excerpt from the book I am writing called, “Living Your Purposeful Life”.

Nike has a slogan, “Just Do It”. Which is simple and motivating to get you going, but after you have been doing it for a while, you tend to ask yourself, why am I doing it? And the answer to your “why” is what keeps you going and the stronger the “why”, the more reason you have to do it. I also believe the more positive your “why” the more happier you are in just doing it.

For example, why do you go to work? If your only answer is, “because I need the money to pay my bills”. That does not sound or feel too motivating! But what if you answer was, “I go to work, so I can afford my cottage and spend long weekends by the lake.” How does that feel? I am sure it would feel much better if your reason is, “I love the work that I do,” but I know that not everybody “loves” their job, and your “why” may not require that you “love” your job. Your job could just provide some groundwork for you to do something greater in this life.

What if you are a parent, and you took a job that was only during school hours, so that you could spend time with your children and take interest in their activities. Do you really need to “love” that job, you could “love” it, but if your real “love” is spending time with your kids, is it worth it doing your current job?

It really comes down to what is important to you and what are you willing to accept for what is important to you. I do not think that you should take a job you hate, just because of the hours. You do not need to settle.

I was watching one of my favorite movies recently, “Independence Day”, and one of the lead characters was talking to the First Lady of the United States and the conversation goes something like this.

The First Lady asks, “What do you do?”

She responds, “I am a dancer.”

“Oh, Ballet? Theater?”

“No, Exotic.”

“Oh, I am sorry.”

“Don’t be. The money is good and my son is worth it.”

This is a woman who knows what she is doing and why. Do you have this type of conviction?

Sometimes your “why” will change, especially once you achieve a goal. I remember I had a goal of becoming a state champion in wrestling when I was in high school and I achieved it, but when I went to university, I tried to wrestle, but it was just not the same. I felt that I had achieved my “why” and I was done wrestling. I could not find a “why” to keep me motivated to keep wrestling.

Sometimes, your “why” will have to wait. I knew that I wanted to be married someday and throughout university, I had several relationships, but they all ended before they go to serious. It changed to be even fewer relationships after graduating and I was working on my masters. I believe this was because the “why” for finishing school was more important than the “why” to get married. After completing my masters, I was married within 2 years, and not to the girl that I was dating when I finished my masters.

We all have good “why’s” for what we are doing and we need to make sure we keep re-evaluating the “why”, because after you achieve the “why”, why are you still going? If you got good grades in high school so you could attend a fancy law school to work at a fancy law firm and you are there today, why are you there? I hope that you did not just get stuck in a rut and feel there is no way to get out of the rut.

If you are uncertain why you are currently doing what you are doing, take a look back at how you got there and look at some of the decisions you made along the way and ask yourself why you made that decision. May be you took your job because you thought it would lead you to something else, or it was the something else you were looking for. Is it still today? Should you be dusting off your original “why”, or may be it is time to find a new “why” and see where it will lead you.

Why am I writing? I enjoy writing and this writing is flowing from me and I am enjoying what is flowing from me and the comments that I am getting from my readers. I have a deep knowing that this book will allow me to open another chapter to my life. This writing is also a way for me to examine myself and my experiences and from this writing, I am exploring deeper into myself. Through the exploration, I am becoming more aware and a better me. From the comments I am getting, it is getting you to start to question and for that I am grateful.

What is your relationship with fear?

This is an excerpt from the book I am writing called, “Living Your Purposeful Life”.

What is your relationship with fear? I am not talking about the fear for your life because you hear a strange noise in the house. I am talking about the fear of taking action in your daily life. For example, are you afraid to raise your hand in class or in a meeting, because you “might” have the wrong answer, or you are afraid of what people “might” think of your suggestion?

Think about fear for a moment and ask yourself, “Is fear holding me back?” Is it? It fear preventing you from raising your hand, or speaking out, because of what “might” happen to you? I do not believe the fear is something that we have to eliminate from our lives, because fear does cause us to pause and think before we take action, which can be very helpful as long as we do not let fear rule our lives and prevent us from experiencing what life has to offer us.

I know there are times where I have had fear rule parts of my life. When I was wrestling in my senior year of high school, the fear of losing caused me to perform terribly and though I did not lose, I did not win either. In work, the fear of how I might be judged has held me back in taking a leadership role I should have taken years ago. I know the fear of failure has prevented me from taking some chances in my life that might have lead to something wonderful.

When you get fearful of something, sit back and think about it for a moment. Ask yourself, what is the fear here to tell me? What outcome am I fearful about? May be fear is telling you that there is another option you need to consider, before taking action, or another question that needs to be asked before you present your opinion. May be fear is telling you that instead of making a statement, you need to present your opinion in the form of a question. For example, instead of saying, we should do “X”, may be you want to say, have we ever considered doing “X”?

Once you know what fear is there to tell you, are you willing to live with the outcome? Really look at the outcome. You may have to ask yourself, “what is the possible outcome?”, several times to really get the true outcome. Once you really get to the possible outcome, in most cases, the outcome of taking the fearful action is not as terrible as the fear lead you onto when fear first came up. Sometimes stepping out and stating your opinion will endear you more to the people you are having the conversation with. They may respect you more for sharing a different perspective. They may still disagree with you, but they will look at your differently for having a different opinion. They might start asking you for your opinion just to get a different perspective.

Somebody once said, “If the two of us always agree, then one of us is unnecessary.” Do not let fear keep your opinion to yourself.

Just for some fun, I looked up some of the acronyms for f.e.a.r. and here are some of the ones that I found which might be holding you back.

  • False Evidence Appearing Real

  • Forget Everything And Run

    • This might be good if you are facing some danger.

  • Finding Excuses And Reasons

  • Future Events Already Ruined

Here are some positive ones.

  • Fail Early And Responsibly – By Robert Kiyosak

  • Face Everything And Rejoice

  • Face Everything And Recover

  • Feeling Excited And Ready

    • This is the type of “fear” that I feel when I am getting ready to do something, like a presentation. It is an indication to me that I am ready, but not overconfident.

And some fun ones that represent something.

  • Flexible Embodied Animat Architecture

  • Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002

  • First Encounter Assault and Recon

  • Forfeiture Endangers American Rights

So, what is your relationship with fear? Do you use it to move you forward, or hold you back? There is no right answer. I would just like you become aware of what your relationship is, so that you can make a choice on what you want the relationship to be.

What Are You Trying to Create in Your Life?

This is an excerpt from the book I am writing called, “Living Your Purposeful Life”.

It is getting close to the end of 2013 and as everybody starts looking at the new year, many of you start working on your resolutions for next year. I have long stopped creating resolutions for the new year, because I wonder why not just create your resolutions as you need to? Why not ask yourself throughout the year, “what are you trying to create in your life?” and when you get an answer, then start working towards what you are trying to create.

Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine and we started getting into a discussion about what we are trying to create and it was very interesting that I was trying to create a perfect life. She then asked what was a perfect life and I said it was a life without problems. She paused and thought about that for a while and then said, “But you thrive on problems.” She said that I do my best work when I have a problem to work on and living my perfect life, I would be bored.

I took a step back and had to think about what she had said and then realized that, yes, I do do my best work when I am working on a problem, and I have to admit, that I do feel stress when a problem comes up, because in my perfect world, there would be no problems, and problems are a sign that I have failed to create a perfect world.

What a conundrum, on one hand, I want a perfect world, and on the other hand, I like to work on problems. How can the two exist? What is preventing me from owning that I am a problem solving and that is what I do best? I guess that I have always known that I am a problem solver, but on the other hand, I guess that I thought that I would run out of work at some point in my life.

As I look at this view of problems, I look at it as if being successful is a destination, something you accomplish and then you are done, but life does not work that way. For example, look at sports. In sports, each year there is a championship and a champion is crowned, and they celebrate, but as soon as the next season starts, the champion becomes the defending champion and the work begins to crown the new champion.

It is the same with success. You can be successful one day, but the next day, you may not be successful. Does one make you a champion and the other a failure? That depends on how you are measuring yourself. In my life, who really cares if I solve a problem or not? Ok, my boss will care, over time, if I am not successful in solving problems, because that is what he is paying me for, but if I solve the problem today or tomorrow, does he really care? I am the one putting pressure on myself to solve the problem now and not later and I am the one labeling myself as not successful for not solving the problem now and I am the one labeling myself not successful for having the problem in the first place.

So, the real problem is how that I measure myself and of all the issues with problems, my problem is believing that I am a failure for having a problem in the first place. As I am looking at this issue, I feel a bit entangled in my thought process. First, I am creating my reality, so I created the problem so that I could work on it. Second, if I am creating my reality, why am I creating problems? Sorry, after writing these two statements, I have to laugh at myself and as I am laughing I am realizing that I am creating the problems to give me something to do, something to experience, and I should be embracing the problems and seeing what there is for me to learn in the process of solving the problem and here is what I can do to embrace the problem.

  • Pause, breath, and bring myself into the present moment.

    • Sometimes when I get a problem, I start worrying about all the domino effect of me not solving the problem. I start worrying about what will people think of me for having “this problem”.

  • Ask myself a series of questions:

    • Do I know how to solve the problem right now?

    • Do I need to solve this problem? If not, who can I give this problem to?

    • Do I need to solve this problem right now?

    • What action do I need to take right now?

    • Can I solve this problem on my own? If not, who do I need to ask for help and what help do I need from them?

    • Is there more information that I need?

      • This is a question that I usually overlook. I sometimes jump in to solve a problem before I understand what the problem is and solve the wrong problem.

    • Who do I need to communicate to about the status of the problem?

    • Who do I need to communicate to about the problem?

      • This is different than the previous question as this is usually the people affected by the problem versus wanting to know that status of the problem.

I know that I have gone a bit off topic on the world that you are trying to create, but in my world, I create problems for me to experience and solve. Are you doing the same thing? Are you creating problems for your experience in this lifetime? Do you own your creation or are you just living your life? You do create your reality, look at it honestly with wonder and see what you are creating. There is nothing wrong or right with it. Once you understand what you are creating, you have the power to change what you are creating. Whether you decide to change your reality, or live the one that you have, embrace it! Know this is your reality and you have the power to change it.

Take some time and really feel into what you are creating, take inventory of what you like in your reality and what you do not. Look at your likes and dislikes and ask yourself, if you change anything on your lists, what would your world look like? In my reality, if I eliminate problems, I would be bored. So, is there something on your dislikes list that makes your life worth living? May be you have a child that acts out and you do not like that. Well, may be the “acting out” is giving you a chance to be a better parent, a better person, a better communicator, something better than you are today and once you are better, the acting out will stop.

You created your reality, you can change it, and if you need help, there are plenty of people who can help you. Go through your lists with somebody who can help you and give you honest feedback on your lists.

Best of luck and let me know how I can support you.