If You Could Decide What Would Your Life Look Like?

nature-3235363_640.jpg

There are tremendous forces at work with life. They crush and crumble our plans easily. That’s why plans are useless. Planning is useful thought, because it allows us to mentally prepare for things to come and then adjust accordingly.

Visualization has the same effects on our brain as actual exercise. Same I believe to be true with planning. When we plan, we are living potential lives already. That prepares us for the actual reality to come.

With all this chaos and change in life, it might be easy to fall into the trap of victimhood: I do not have control.

While it’s true that the big picture of life gets set, we cannot affect the circumstances or the other people that are in our lives, we have surprisingly a lot of control within our own limited life.

Each day we make hundreds of decisions about our life. What if you started to look at your life the way you want to live it and make more decisions according to that ideal?

Decisions themselves are potent if you follow them up with sacrifice (decision to do means also decision not to do something else until the thing is done) and then action.

Quiet Contemplation on Decisions

stained-glass-1181864_640 (1).jpg

On occasion it’s good to have no structure and enjoy the chaotic connections and insights that arise. In order to prioritize we must determine and decide what is important. For that the time to reflect and weigh different options is necessary.

It seems I need to spend at least a day of a week in this kind of quiet and reflective in order to stay operational and to be able to function.

Life is rather easy if we think about it: we just need to prioritize spiritual, social and physical wellbeing and then when the time to do something comes, we are able.

Yet a life of growth is a bit different, because we are not facing the same challenges every day, instead we are facing progressively more difficult challenges.

Stress challenges our mind, body and spirit, and with rest all these grow stronger. Rest is much more than sleep: in physical terms it’s also everything that maintains our body. Our mind also needs healing: thinking practices, social bonding and emotional intimacy. Our spirit needs also nourishing: from social life and spiritual practices.

If we each day and week face increasingly more difficult challenges, how come we spend so little time to prepare for such?

I feel that we have plenty of time to prepare if we do it economically, each day a little bit. To do it economically only thing we really need to do is to keep doing the practices and reinforce the decisions we have made for example to exercise, meditate and socialize with friends and loved ones. Quiet contemplation lets us to appreciate and feel grateful for everything good we have in our lives and to work for those most important things even harder.

Be Calm and Prepare

sports-2943144_640 (1).jpg

Calm and preparation make life to seem to be under our control. Of course even at best we have illusion of control, because life is way too big to be controlled. We at (best) can control our own impulses and responses to what life throws at us.

The calm and the preparation both help us to choose even better responses. And what makes life wonderful are those best thought out responses to whatever happens!

If we are calm, we have all the time in the world to make the right decisions.

If we are prepared, we are never in a hurry because we already are prepared and ready to go.

The sense of calm comes ability to see the reality as it is, not to take it too personally. In fact, the very nature is change between huger and huger forces at play so it’s just easier to remain calm because that’s the only thing we can control: how do we respond when everything comes crashing down.

We have to ability to remain calm and prepare for tomorrow, until sadly the tomorrow one day doesn’t come. Yet if we are calm and in control of ourselves we should have a lot of fun while at it. While others depress or worry, we remain calm and enjoy the life as it is!

Choose Your Response Carefully!

africa-3075736_640.jpg

A bit of continuation to the mature response -blog from last week.

That topic was in retrospect a big hit for myself, because by writing that I had prepared myself for rejection what followed the next day. Now I was ready to deal with it in mature way, because I had just revisited the notes and what it means to respond maturely. Despite knowing and remembering some of this, I have to say that dealing with rejection in personal relationships is never easy.

Even in professional life: sales and marketing people face rejection several or even dozens of times per day it’s not easy even though there it’s not so personal. Rejection hurts.

Here we come to the part what we are actually able to control: our response to the outside impulse. Separation between an animal and a conscious being is the ability to delay the time in between impulse and response. We have the ability to choose our response. This so called last of human freedoms is what many philosophies including stoicism teaches us.

Today I realized that choosing means that there are usually several different options for us to consider. Several paths, from which we can always choose the best suited path for our purposes.

How long can you take in between impulse and response? Try taking a moment of your time.

Usually the powerful have the time to be quiet and think before reply. Do you recognize the feeling?

Be responsible, choose your response carefully!

Mental Preparation: How Everything Can Go as Planned

moon-2092807_640.jpg

I remember reading a few years back War and Peace, there was a scene, where the battle didn’t go probably go as anticipated. Yet the Russian army officer in charge looked at the result and said “everything gone as planned.”

Life is full of uncertainty. Ability to build the mental preparation and flexibility to be ready for whatever happens and think of everything that happens going as planned is a quality which I admire and strive to.

One of my favorite phrases in the recent times is that the hurry is just lack of preparation. We need to be preparing the right things at all times. What kind of preparation this is then that allows us to have the peace of mind under pressure?

In Buddhist terms this could be called “right action” and “right knowledge.” Right knowledge, knowing that you’ve thought of all the possible scenarios, sought help and a different perspective and right action because you know you’ve done everything in power to prevent this outcome. You have done everything, so therefore everything is as it should be.

In the game of Go, the side that has more liberties usually ends up winning. Same in life, where liberties mean more plans. More freedom to execute these plans and choose the best from all the possible options.

Mental preparation is anticipation for future scenarios. Do not attach too much to a plan or a result. Let your mind seek more opportunities with less attachment. Be mindful and present. Only thing we can really lose is the present. The future nor the past cannot be taken away from us, only present can.

Everything you need is in the moment, you do not need more. Let everything that appears in your present to be part of your plan and everything goes to your plan 😉

11 Questions to Reduce Hurry and Worry

composing-2925179_640.jpg

When you start to teach people about something, it gives you yourself more pressure to be example as well. This is mostly positive thing, because then you start deepen your relationship with the things you are teaching. Often this deepening means that you are thinking what you are teaching learning at the same time from different perspectives.

What I learned this morning about feeling of hurry is this: hurry is just lack of preparation.

This means, if we feel hurry, we have failed to anticipate the stuff we are stressing about presently.

What helps here is to accept the present circumstances and prioritize and think what is truly important, and how important. It’s through prioritization only way that we can live through our commitments and learn to make commitments that are most relevant to us.

Uncertainty makes life difficult. Or life is suffering like the Buddha came to understand.

The ability to accept these and to have a set of thinking skills in the present help to handle almost anything that happens and still live a worthwhile life.

Do not be affected by hurry.

Here are some helpful questions to cope:

  1. Do I have any problems right now?
  2. What is the most important priority right now?
  3. Am I doing my best?
  4. Is there something I or we can do?
  5. What would be the first step forward?
  6. What’s the worst thing that can happen?
  7. What is positive about this situation?
  8. Is the worst thing that can happen?
  9. Is this the end of the world?
  10. What is the upside?
  11. How to benefit from this situation?

Have a great evening!

Janne

Year 2017 Expectations, Outcomes and Summary

IMG_20170717_225917a.jpg

Life is ongoing change project, whatever we want it or not. Consciously we might have several ideas what to change, yet consciously we can only live a moment by moment, doing one thing at a time.

To reflect this, I took a peek into my journals and now offer the same chance to you to see how the expectations turned out.

My 2017 expectations and outcomes:

  • Keep writing and publishing every day. I later adjusted to 330 published posts. With this I’ve been successful and happy with. Important lesson right of the bat: do not be afraid to adjust your goals because the long run matters.

    As I wrote in habit combinations recently, writing somehow links so many important habits for me. Although I’ve recognized that it’s not writing per se what drives me, it’s more about the clarifying thinking, learning and then to be able to share that. Writing is medium for that, however the daily habit of writing ensures all these habits do progress to the currently desired direction.

    Outcome: 337 posts published in my English blog. In addition I started writing in Finnish to Posinkautta blog where I published five a bit more invested posts. To reflect back even further back in 2016 the growth from 261 posts to 337 or 29%! Next year the gains in publishing quantity are marginal, so therefore I’ve to write even better quality 🙂

  • Read 40 books. This I exceed by 42 as of present, audiobooks banzai! As a side note on 2016 I struggled with my reading goal of 36 books, however then I didn’t listen any audiobooks compared to this year 20.
  • Meditate at least 5 minutes every day. Meditation is my refuge even if it’s just as short while. However, especially when I am feeling upbeat I tend to forget about this which is sad. I still have to remind me that meditating does lead to my ultimate goal which is the good karma.
  • Exercise at least 5 minutes per day. While this may sound silly and little on a week level, my idea was more to kick start my morning routine or the jog, my logic went like this: if I’ve minimum standard for starting, keeping going is more interesting and many times I would indeed.

    Exercise goal has changed dramatically during the 2017. In the second half of the year I started Salsa, which I enjoy a lot and I’ve to make time to practice this in the upcoming year.

    Another thing that changed was my birthday gift, a polar watch which allows me to track my activity levels more accurately. Now I’ve daily goal of 10 000 steps which I try to keep on 7000 minimum. This has become rather attainable everyday if I just keep on moving right from the morning. Starting the exercise still feels like a chore so I’ve to work on to make it perhaps more social and through that meaningful.

  • Travel 2-3 times. I’ve tried to follow Dalai Lama’s advice to travel twice a year. During 2017 I felt I succeeded in this especially since I spent most of my summer traveling in Croatia, France, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. From my previous travels I had also noted that I should allow more freedom during the travel so I decided to try with no fixed come back date and went to solo travel with only one way ticket. That worked wonders! #learning
  • Form a mastermind group around investing. This idea I didn’t manage to further. On the positive side I did meet and befriend several people who are into different forms of investing and I’ve had great conversations about the topic. My network around the topic grew. Actually now looking at this idea, I think it would be more rewarding to over line the investing part of the mastermind group and just to have a group who has ambitious life goals and then to work on attainment of those. Finances are big part of the life, however there is much more as well. I’ll keep this idea in mind.

    Mastermind requires commitment because it’s a regular meeting format around once a month would be ideal. It’s more purposeful and intentional than just the interesting conversations I am at the moment having.

Summary

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Planning is preparing and preparing is everything in succeeding. Yet once the moment is at hand, we must be prepared to discard the plan, because something greater is at hand. Life is constant prioritization if I were to do similar reflection on the other past 29 years of my life, I would be proud and say that the 2017 has been the greatest experience of my life.

Past can be either a prison or a library, source of learning. Therefore we shouldn’t attach too much ourselves to the past. We should learn from our past and then keep on going. Greatest experiences today come when you understand your mistakes before and decide to find or create a new path today.

I started the year with a piece of wisdom from Mark Manson: “Focus to what truly fucking matters.” By now, at the end of the year I’ve forgotten this advice, a failure? My suffering for example yesterday was cured by simply remembering this phrase. Letters and words put together create what we call magic. As a writer I am a wizard.

Life is full of uncertainty of and consciously unexpected events. In 2017 year biggest this kind of change was in my relationship status back to single life in the summer.

Life is too complicated to comprehend and control, yet we are in control of our fates no matter what happens. We are the captains of our own souls and fates. Plans are the blueprints for our fates, and what we do each day towards those plans are the tiny manifestations of that fate.

Human mind tends to overestimate what we can achieve in short time and underestimate what is possible in a longer time frame. Therefore do not think your life only in terms of year, find a bigger perhaps three year plan! Year is a good measure to see some results, yet do not attach or condemn yourself too much because you did not achieve your goals, life is greater than that! Most important thing is to keep doing, keep doing, keep raising up and doing what you want to become!

On the following days I am going to follow Mark Manson’s advice and focus on what matters. And I am also going to follow the advice that I sometimes do not enough: trust my own judgement on this.

What’s your focus for the upcoming year and for your life? What do you want to achieve? What are you going to do about it today?

Janne

Do Each Moment the Most Important Thing

bible-1867195_640.jpg

If you do each moment the most important thing for the day, you will have done everything by the end of the day.

Ask yourself once every hour, what is the most important thing at the moment? Time is the only leverage we really have, we better start using it to the important things.

When we direct our attention to the important we may not get necessarily more things done, but we get that which is important done and that’s all that matters in life.

I’ve been trying to practice asking myself about the important things for about a year now. Yet the breakthrough happened quite recently when I realized that if I just do the important things I am done, I do not need anything else.

With this thought I get:

My work done.

My exercise done.

My writing done.

My reading & studying done.

Preparation for the next day done.

A good night sleep.

What more I could ask?

 

Determine what’s important for you.

Preparation Makes the Show

shoes-1917927_640.jpg

In life, if you focus to what is important then you’ve important and urgent things and what remains are important and not urgent things. The not important box is about preparing for something important.

Preparation makes the moments possible.

Do you feel prepared?

How do you prepare?

Masters never fail to prepare. It’s as much part of the show than is the show itself.

Conscious Growth

lotus-2528456_640.jpg

Definition of ‘conscious’ according to Google: late 16th century (in the sense ‘being aware of wrongdoing’).

Being aware of wrongdoing! To be aware of the wrongdoing would require some sense of the right. And for this there are some simple questions to ask yourself:

What is my purpose?

What is my mission?

What is my vision?

What are my values?

 

Pause, Don’t Panic

While the set of questions may be daunting, pause for a minute first.

Often we are living our lives without personal life statements such as these, yet many organizations have their purposes, missions and values which we are exposed to. Although we might be unconsciously gravitating towards what feels right, I think everyone owes it to themselves to be aware of their own values and drivers.

The ability to love others come only through our own growth. And growth can only begin if we know where are a standing, and then where we want to go. So this is essential groundwork to be done on the journey of growth.

 

Example

My purpose is simply to grow, explore so that I may nurture the growth of others. As for my mission, it’s more about how good karma is my guide and I try to lead a good and virtuous life through example. These serve my vision which is to organize progressively challenging successes together, so that we could maybe one day work towards exciting goals such as interplanetary travel.

I admit that in an everyday situation I would probably be unlikely very well articulated about these. Yet I am recognizing the importance of knowing the purpose, mission, vision and values by heart. Often many organizations such as companies and churches have their values in many places so that people will remember theirs easily. Yet why is it so that we do not have our own values memorized?

 

We Are What We Remember We Are

Our understanding of the reality pretty much of what we remember, either through experiences or knowledge. It is the memory and identity that dictate what we think we can do.

Therefore we should remember our purpose, values, mission and vision by heart. If you are young, some of these might be still working versions, which is totally fine. It is the sign of a wise person to be able to have dialogue with the world and change their behavior upon learned experiences and wisdom.

Quick and permanent judgement does not simply work, because all life is in constant flux and fluid like water. It’s like saying the water in a running river is today same as yesterday. Well although its water, a lot of water has passed already! Understand the impermanence in life.

 

Paradox of Life

You have to prioritize the needs of other people and your own growth at the same time.

Again, pause and breathe! Two things can be true at the same time: think of circle overlapping each other or the atmosphere of the earth. Because in fact there is no clear point where space starts and the atmosphere ends it’s seamless!

 

Sustaining Growth

To sustain growth, we need energy.

Prioritizing the needs of others eventually drains ourselves. Yet there is no greater purpose in life to serve others and nurture their growth.

For this reason, we need to prioritize our own growth at the same time. We need to take our own energy. and growth. There are many forms of energy: mental, physical, spiritual and intellectual and you must attend to all these parts in your life.

Due to the seamless nature of life we ought to become the masters at prioritizing each moment according to what will serve our overall purpose the best.

I’ve attempted to describe the prioritizing with the following picture:

action preparation'.png

And right away contradicting with my own model I dare to say it is possible to rest in motion if you are well prepared. Likewise it is possible to have rest that does not feel like rest at all if you have taken too much action.

What I find interesting, the more you shift between the action and preparation, the better of you actually are. As extreme example: Elon Musk has his days split into chunks of 5 minutes. This kind of schedule would be really fluid between burning energy and recovering it.

I am trying to have split my focused work to 45 minute spurts and then something else between.

When it comes to sustainable growth, we are all individuals with different drivers (values, purpose, mission…), so some are willing to sacrifice different aspects of their lives than others. However, be aware of your choice.

Path of the Conscious Growth

Conscious growth means acknowledging your responsibility over your own growth in order to benefit others. Conscious growth is essentially recognizing the potential in yourself and then starting the work to actualize some of that potential.

Next think: what is it you want next?

Based on the previous questions, you should know by know that the time and energy are limited. We still what we want and setting a goal towards that can be beneficial, at least you will be going to the right direction.