In 2022 many woke up confronting their own demons for breakfast. I know I did. A slice of toasted comparison, poached self loathing and a pinch of blame. All rolled into trying to return to some sense of normality.
But let’s not dwell on things. On the 30th December 2022 for no particular reason I woke up and decided “not today”. All I had to do, is make it to the end of that day feeling good. And it worked. Since then I am been taking it one day at a time, to nurture the inner child and starve those demons.
This year I wrote these 11 values which have made my life more purposeful, enjoyable and productive. There is still adversity everyday but learning to cope has been crucial to managing oneself.
I hope these values bring you the same good fortune they bring me everyday.
- Be kind to yourself.
This is the alpha and the omega. Getting stuck in echo chambers of self doubt? Stop. Take a deep breath and give yourself a hug.
An investment into the soul returns in kind. Existence is a cycle of life death and rebirth. Transient, always evolving. Let go of what you can’t change. Accept the truth and let it be the seed for your next best move.
Unkindness to the self leads to worse circumstances. The only way to break that cycle is through kindness. If you forgive your self, your world becomes forgiveness. With self kindness life will give you the gift of learning and like a log in a river you will continue your path.
2. Don’t compare, swim in your own stream.
Unkindness often arrives in the form of comparison. All life is unique, nature blossoms with diversity. All have their own path. Luck, failures and triumphs. Abilities and weaknesses. The truth is we only see the surface of other peoples successes and achievements. The depth is in the details. To learn from others it is crucial to find inspiration in failures, and triumphs. It’s not about the prize, it’s about the journey.
Others may compare but be bigger than that. Accept constructive feed back but own your own journey and win your own battles. The only person you can compare yourself to is you. You know yourself better than anyone. Celebrate even the smallest achievements. Did you make a to do list? Well done. Did you plan your week? Time well spent. Didn’t win that new client? It’s okay, at least we got a meeting! What can I do to win the business next time? My path has never been a straight one, and if it was I would not be who I am today. I accept myself for who I am and all that I am capable of.
3. Lead with love.
I have 2 dogs, I know first hand that shit happens. I pick it up as a labour of love. If you can find the space for love in the shittiest circumstances then lead with it, and make it the reason.
Life is full of suffering. We get dealt bad hands sometimes and the best we can do is laugh or cry. If the shit hits the fan and it lands on my plate I can either add to the shit, or find the love to clean it up. Put love in the centre of all action and shit will turn into gold.
4. Listen, observe and reflect.
You can’t find the right solution unless you understand the where you are. Active listening connects me to the moment. Sometimes when I’m listening, I close my eyes and repeat what I hear in my mind. Funny thing is, people ask me if I am paying attention or falling asleep! Repetition is another way to clarify what people say, to make sure it’s understood.
But I’m also referring to listening to yourself. Take a deep breath and hear what your mind is telling you. Write it down and accept it as a thought. Go deeper, find the meaning the behind it. You are worthy of your own self awareness.
5. Write things down and make detailed plans
I used to struggle with this one but I’ve improved in time. Through the course of the year I began to make detailed notes on everything. The more I write, the better. At the start I wrote single words to represent entire thought processes like a cave man. Over time, like the respectable cave man, my writing evolved into deeper more connected phrases.
Now writing has become my favourite thing to do. By journalling daily I can be intimate honest and vulnerable. My fears shrink from overwhelming feelings of anxiety into creative ideas with clarity. My work day is more productive, and I now have a collection of nice inky pens.
The biggest lesson I have learnt about planning is; Before setting a “when, and where” focus on your WHY. Why do I need to schedule a workout? Because it will feel good, and it’s healthy. Why should I write this article? To share my experience and I like writing.
Once I have my why, I send myself a calendar invite and write the why in the invite. That way, when I receive a reminder I am more motivated to carry out the task. Once I have finished a task I take a mindful moment to reflect and about how it went. That way when it comes around again I know what to focus on.
6. Actions speak louder than words
For 35 years I have being trying to recreate the events of the big bang, by trying to create something from nothing. No luck.
Planning and scheduling means nothing until an action has occurred at the end of it. There are plenty of books and articles about overcoming procrastination. I have not read any of them because I was too busy procrastinating.
I give myself 10 minutes to start doing something. During that time I can only think about doing that task, so read the notes I wrote about it or remember the why. Once I start the task, I give myself a further 20 minutes where I can’t have any interruptions. Generally I find that is enough time for me to get into the rhythm and finish the task.
7. Be Creative, be outrageous.
Give yourself license to be ridiculous. It’s fine. People will laugh, people will judge. People always have something to say about everything. In truth, the human mind is capable of outrageous things. Your life your mind your creative moment. Show people what you make, be proud of your worst creation.
Bring colour sound movement and song into the world and don’t apologise for it. Put your deepest fears into a painting. Your most profound memories into a poem. Bring your life to life with more life.
It’s about the journey not the end result. If you set out to draw a banana but end up with a pineapple it’s ok. When life brings you lemons, make a strawberry milkshake.
8. Do your best
Planning and preparing to do a task helps set me up for success.
It’s a lot easier for things to go well, when I know what a completed task looks like.The more undesirable a task, the more I learn from doing it. If I fail at a task that’s good too because I also get to learn something.
Somedays are good and some days are not so good. If things don’t turn out so well, but you did your best. That’s ok as long as you learn something.
9. Face your fears
I am terrified of publishing what I write. I know my friends and family will have endless comments and critiques. When I dig deeper into that I realise I’m afraid of judgment. I also realise the chances are, they are unlikely to read the whole article anyway.
In most cases fear is a healthy emotion. It helps us to instinctively protect ourselves from harm. It’s important to determine between rational and irrational fear. I have a fear of going on stage to play music but I manage it. I do this by assessing the risk, learning everything I can and understanding the core of my fear. I also like to visualise how things will pan out, and rehearse things in my mind before hand. That way my mind is at rest when it comes to the crunch.
One day I will jump out of a plane. Any day now.
10. I am worthy
Before you were born an uncountable number of events had to occur to build the conditions necessary for you to stumble into existence. You were literally written in the stars and pending until you arrived. None of that happened so that you feel unworthy. Also no one is measuring whether you are worthy or not, that is something you decide by believing.
Own every part of who you are, love and accept it knowing that your journey has value. No other creature in nature is out there wondering if they reach the bar. Don’t be realistic, imagine things could be better than you could ever image and multiply that by 10. Now you are closer to your value.
11. Be Patient
Rome was not built in a day. It’s better to take your time and do things properly then try and be super productive. Be present take your time and get things done in the moment they are suppose to get done. Take baby steps every day knowing that you are that much closer to the objective. Just lay one brick a day, and before you know it you have built a wall.