Monday, December 7, 2015

Your Journey is Your Own

Often times, in this age of constant connection, we find ourselves comparing our lives to those around us. A lot of times, we don’t even realize that we are doing it. We see the posts of awesome vacations, and career advancements, we click through wedding photos, birthday albums and are met with happy faces. We’re happy for those around us but then, there is another side of that. For those who find that they are not truly happy with their own lives, there comes a moment of despair.
There comes the building of three lists in your mind. In one column you have the things you wished to accomplish in your life, in the next you have the things that you have actually managed to accomplish which, if you’re this kind of person, is significantly shorter than the first. Then you compare that list to what you see on your screen when looking at the lives of others. Their list seems so much greater than yours.
The problem with this is that you can’t possibly know what that person is going through, what they have and will face. You can't know that those columns of things they hoped for and things that they actually achieved aren't just as uneven as yours. And what if it isn’t? What if they have achieved everything they set out for? It doesn't matter!
Your journey, your life is your own and not equal to or comparable to anyone else's.

Why am I writing this?

Simple, I was (am) that person. I woke up one day and realized just how unhappy I was with my life. Just how unsatisfied I had become. That tends to happen when you shift into autopilot. Granted, even in the sedated way of living, I have achieved a lot, significantly more than a lot of the people around me, (which is also a cue to change the people around you) and for that I am proud. Still, I stopped to think, I asked myself a question that has started a change in my life that I am so eager to explore. What more could I do if I actually worked harder, put more into my passions and took over the steering wheel of my life again?

You may notice that above there was that word ‘am’ in parentheses. Why? Well, I am still growing as a person and learning that I need to focus on me. Once you get into a habitual pattern of life, a way of thinking, you have to train yourself, constantly, daily, minute by minute, not to slip back into that. Over time, it becomes easier. Soon it will happen automatically and you won’t even realize it but in the beginning, it will be the hardest thing you have to do.

What I did/am doing to help that change occur.

  1. Limiting time on social media. I have cut my time down to an hour a day where before it was easily 4 to 5 hours of staring at the screen on my computer or phone. This time was supposed to be used productively but more often than not, I was just scrolling and seeing what everyone else was up to. There is no way that anyone can advance to that happiness that they seek, that fulfillment, if they are wasting that much time on absolutely nothing. I use that hour strategically and plan my actions before logging on. What posts will I make? Who will I check in with? What information do I need to get caught up on? This eliminates the allure of the infinite scroll. I set a time so that I am alerted 5 minutes before my hour is up. If I have missed anything on my checklist, I refocus and get it done! Some days I will chop my time up between morning and evening if that works best for what I need to accomplish, but I add that time up to reach and not exceed one hour.
  2. Daily affirmations. Every day I have a list of affirmations that I recite first thing in the morning, throughout my day, and before I go to bed. These sayings help me to stay focused, to keep a positive attitude and have generally lifted my spirits. I feel a rise in my physical energy. What I didn't realize was the weight that negative thinking can have on the physical body. You feel heavier, sluggish, and just want to hide from the world. Affirmations are positive reinforcements that help eliminate that feeling. I included some positive quotes from books I have been reading, and also things that mentors have said. Whatever words have inspired you, write them down and keep them. If they inspired you once, they will again.
  3. Setting goals and planning action. I was the queen of making a plan and not seeing it through. I would outline exactly what I wanted to do, take the first few steps towards that and then give up. This happened regardless of the success of my actions. This has been the hardest for me to change. (I implemented a few affirmations that challenge me to face this problem head on.) So now my goals, my plans are broken down in increments that I check off daily. I spend a half hour to an hour each night refocusing and taking in any progress or setbacks. When I wake up each morning I review what I need to accomplish that day. This tip was given to me by a close friend and I also read it in the book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential by John C. Maxwell.  It's not enough to just dream up a goal, you have to make that goal a realistic one and then make a plan that is one you can actually implement without feeling overwhelmed.
  4. Congratulate others and leave it at that. Do not dwell on what others are going through, what they have done. Be happy for those around you and accept that they have a life that is not your own. Their challenges and triumphs are different from your own. Reach out and tell those people how awesome they are (because everyone can use this positivity) and use their success as not a damper on your own progress but as an added motivation.
  5. Journaling.  Writing helps to refocus, to highlight progress as well as areas that need more work. It's a way to purge your mental and emotional self I journal right before bed and I find that it really helps to relax my mind and makes restorative sleep easier to achieve. When I do this, I sleep better and longer and wake up more refreshed. It just isn’t so hard to get up out of bed and get moving.

My journey to growth is ongoing, but I wanted to take a moment to share what I have learned and hopefully inspire someone else to take a step towards their own growth.
When I first started this author life, this sharing of my creative productions, I said that I wanted to share my journey with the world. This is my journey, one of self-exploration and growth. Once again I invite you to join me as I strive to become a more fulfilled me.

We only get one life, why waste it worrying about what others are doing with theirs?