I used to say a great way to assess what you want to do in life is to imagine what you’ll enjoy looking back on when you’re 80. But these days, as I hear of so many people spending hours binging on television, absorbed in playing computer games, or working in jobs they hate, I’ve decided a five year review and rewrite might be better.
By review I don’t mean wallowing in all that went wrong and getting bogged down in feeling like a victim about it, that’s not going to help anyone. Nor do I mean ticking off a big scorecard of achievements. The reason for the review is to reflect on how far you've come, how happy you’ve been, and to note the stand out things that you’d like to do more of or change.
Take a minute now and think back on the last five years. How much time did you spend doing what you love? What could you have done less of? If you’re not happy with what comes up then you’d better start to consider how you’re going to spend the next five years, or at the end you’ll have a whole decade you’re disappointed with.
Now, imagine yourself looking back five years from now. How do you feel? What memories did you create? Were you learning? Were you growing? Did you make safe plans and fearfully cling to the results, or did you try new things and then laugh at how differently they turned out compared to what you expected?
We all know life is about the journey, but if you never take the car out of the driveway you’re not going to see much. However, if you focus on a destination, head towards it and follow the signs along the way, you might end up where you wanted to. Or, you might end up somewhere different with more knowledge gained along the way. Or you just might end up somewhere too wonderful for you to have ever imagined.
Why not take ten minutes now to start driving your life? Grab a pen and paper, find a spot where you feel indulgently comfy, and sit and write as if it were five years from now. Write a review of how fabulous the last five years have been. Begin something like “It’s date, I’m in city/country, and have just finished/am about to start.... The last five years have been amazing because…”
Write about what you’ve learned about yourself and others and how you used that insight to shift areas of your life and mould it into something wonderful. Write the story you want to happen. Don’t waste another day waiting for something to change. Write yourself a future.
"I’ve come across two quotes this week about being perfect. Well actually about not being perfect. The first was from Layne Beachley - “done is better than perfect”. She was referring to not delegating because you believe you’re the only one who will do something properly. Apart from this resulting in you thinking you have to do everything, you’ll probably also tell yourself a pretty good story about not having enough support.
The other quote from Simon Sinek was “progress is more important than perfection”. It’s very easy to let the inner critic run wild when you don’t get something quite right, especially when you're learning something new. You might not get the desired result as soon as you'd like, but if you’re improving that’s enough. As Mr Wonderful likes to say “an 80% improvement is a lot better than what you started with”.
Don Miguel Ruiz in his best-selling book The Four Agreements gave us another way of looking at things. He said “always do your best" and with this he pointed out that your best will vary day to day. One day you might be able to scale a mountain and another you might just want to curl up with a book and listen to the rain. If you honour how you’re feeling on the day, you’ll probably do a great job of getting through that book.
So that’s my take away from the Universe dishing up two better than perfect quotes. On those days when I have a dozen things in mind to do and it’s stinking hot and I lose all motivation, it’s alright. There will be other days like today, when I wake refreshed and bounding with energy and run at the world and I find my best is better than it usually is and there’s really no need to strive for perfect.
Perfect isn’t about the way we do things like clean house, or write a report, or cook a meal. Perfect is a sunrise, a magpie’s song, or a cooling breeze. It’s nature and we’re part of that - and I can’t think of anything more perfect.
I’ve been thinking about inspiration. Where it comes from and how you get it. Sure it can come from our heroes, the ones who devote their lives to something for the betterment for everyone. But it can also come from smaller acts, those less grand. LIke a young adult pushing back against peer pressure to follow their heart, or a neighbour helping with a meal or a bill, or my 81 year old mum who recently decided to become more independent.
Inspiration comes from action, not grand scale activities, but small things that make a difference to an individual, the community, or the environment. They come from upholding your personal code of honour to do what you think is right.
One of my small actions is to retrieve discarded plastic from gutters to save it from eventually ending up in our oceans, then I walk past a mound of litter and feel helpless wondering if there’s any point. The task seems so big and I wonder if my small actions can really make a difference. But what’s my choice? Do nothing? Usually I take a deep breath and try not to let others’ carelessness get to me. I tell myself there must be more going on in their lives that I don’t understand, too much for them to comprehend how their actions are impacting others.
However, other times at the beach when I’ve run to one end and begun my walk back with a plastic bag collecting rubbish, someone will smile, or say thank you, or even ask if they can add some rubbish to my bag. And on the best days, a stranger will see what I’m doing and join me.
Honouring my personal code of ethics has allowed them to recognise the same value in themselves. Have I inspired them? Perhaps. But they have inspired me to keep picking up bottles and caps, keep taking brightly coloured plastic straws away from disappointed seagulls, and keep rescuing plastic from gutters in an effort to lessen the impact on Mother Earth and her children.
Ironically inspiration also means to inhale - it’s literally a breath of fresh air, and having someone recognise my tiny effort is just that. The same way me watching someone else uphold their personal code to help others is inspiring.
So, how about starting the year with a breath of fresh air, by recognising who inspires you and acknowledging how you inspire others?
noun. Your favourite person in the world. The one who always looks out for you.
Are you a good best friend? What about to yourself?
So often we dish out wonderful advice to our friends, good advice, carefully considered based on all the perspectives we can see in their situation, all with the intent of making them the happiest. It’s not stuff we just think up spontaneously, we mull the situation over then spend time analysing it, genuinely trying to determine what would really be best for them and their personal growth.
But what happens when it comes to making our own decisions? Where is the same level of applied consideration and focus on what’s best for us in the long run, what will truly make us happy? All of a sudden that bestie has left the building.
When we look at our own situations and try to plan, if we bother to plan, how objective are we? Do we take the time to analyse what we know makes us really happy? Do we imagine life at eighty or ninety, reflecting back on the life choices that made us happiest, that brought us the most joy and then act on that? Or do we fall habitually into ‘should’ mode, choosing what’s safe, easy, and won’t make too many ripples?
Isn’t it time we chose to nurture and care for ourselves with as much thought and consideration as we give others?
In every decision you make for yourself, you need to be your own bestie. Whether it’s what to eat for breakfast, buying new clothes, whether to leave a dead end job, take that trip of a lifetime, or date that guy you’re not quite sure about, with each decision you need to step back and look at the big picture - from the outside in.
Start by imagining it’s not about you, just someone you know a lot about, then try to look at the situation symbolically. Lift yourself out of today and view it as a page or chapter in your life story. Ask what part it plays in your overall journey, and what path holds the most potential for your spiritual growth. Take time out to meditate, connect with your higher self and ask for guidance or a sign, and let nature and the universe confirm your decision. Or run it through your body to see how it feels. Check in with your solar plexus to gauge your gut instinct, then sit with the decision in your heart until you’re certain it’s a decision of based on self love. This will ensure every decision, or at least the biggies, are best for your long term health and growth.
Then when you’re ninety, happily sitting back with your own bestie, you’ll know that even if some things didn’t work out as planned you always acted in your best interest. You made decisions to nurture and care for yourself along the way, choosing that which would bring you most joy.
Give your story a happy ending by living life, trusting yourself and being your own bestie.