26 Years… What I Know for Sure- 10 THINGS

So, today marks my 26th birthday, and in honor of that occasion, I thought it would be fun to reflect on some of the lessons I have learned over my 26 years of life thus far. We all evolve so much throughout the years that it is strange thinking back to different beliefs, habits, attitudes you may have held in adolescence or even just a year ago, which might differ completely now.

With inspiration from Oprah Winfrey’s book, What I Know for Sure. Here are the top 10 things that I know for sure (thus far). Hope someone else is able to get something out of it. Enjoy!

1.       It’s not what happens to you in life, it is how you CHOOSE to react to it.

We have a lot more control over our experiences in life than we give ourselves credit for. It is easy to blame “bad luck” or pity ourselves over a certain circumstance we most likely cannot control. So, instead of succumbing to the series of unfortunate events, perhaps, CHOOSE to be positive, own your circumstances, and move forward!

2.       You are always exactly where you are supposed to be.

This is a big lesson I have especially learned over the past year or so. Being in a career I am not super passionate about can make one feel anxious and stuck. But, having adopted this new mentality about where I am vs. where I want to be. I know I am taking small actions towards where I see myself, and in that we much ACCEPT where we are right now because NOW is all we truly have. We must let go of angst and let life guide us patiently through our course.

3.      Want only what you already have.

Many of us live our lives wanting more, more money, more status, more power, more things, and lose sight of all we already have. Being grateful for what we already have and wanting only that and nothing more is extremely humbling. We being to recognize that we have much more than most, and that is enough.

4.       The power of gratitude

I have been journaling what I am grateful for every day for a couple of years now, and I will tell you that it truly does put things in perspective. Having a gratitude journal forces you to reflect on all we have and all of the blessings in our life every day. It can be the smallest little things such as just waking up, having a moment to yourself, having the sun come out today, etc. Many of these small things we can take for granted, and writing them down every day prevents us from overlooking them.

5.       Acceptance is Love

For years I always wondered why I did not feel comfortable around most people, whether it was family, friends or random social settings. I always felt like there was something wrong with me because I was not the type to “click” with many people or make instant friends. I am a self-proclaimed introvert and for years I tried to force myself into a position as an extrovert and fit it. As I grew up I started to understand why the only people I felt genuinely comfortable around was my immediate family, and it was because I trusted that they accepted me. Since I was not yet in a position of fully accepting myself, there was no way I could feel like someone else could be so accepting of me even if they were. On the flip side of this realization, I began to truly be accepting of others in my life, whether they had strange quirks or annoyances, I would still without judgment to my best ability because all they truly want is what I want, acceptance. Then, I began to understand this acceptance as love. It is the most powerful thing we yearn for in life, to be loved, but put even more simply, to be accepted.

6.       The story we tell ourselves RUNS our life, so monitor that story and change the plot if it does not serve you.

Understanding our truth is not an overnight processes. We must recognize the various beliefs and identities we have held throughout the years and assess whether they are moving us forward or holding us back. These beliefs and identities run our lives, so it is important to check in to see what is serving us and what is not. Perhaps you have always identified as being “someone who doesn’t take risks,” so you move through life without ever taking a risk because “that’s not who you are.” Can we maybe question this identity to see if this is good enough reason to never take risks in life? Perhaps we miss out on a good opportunity because we hold this identity so dearly, and holds us back from making a positive change.

7.       Develop the habit of reading even if you don’t love it. Stay curious!

Growing up I was never a big reader, and even today, I don’t love reading books more than 300 pages. But, developing reading into a daily practice is beneficial for the present and future you. Reading allows us to open our minds up into new information and even brings to life a new mindset. As we grow older, we must continue to expand and grow our minds through activities such as reading in order to prevent the deterioration of the brain. In a world where mindless television and internet scrolling in the norm (I am guilty of it to) we need to implement a practice to at least somewhat offset these mindless moment through mindful practices.

8.       Meditation works.

The meditation and mindfulness movement has been growing tremendously over the years, and its benefits have been proven effective for hundreds of years, yet there is some doubt my many (including myself at one time) of its benefits. Over the past year I have been more religious in the adoption of a meditation practice in my own life, and please take it from me, it makes a difference. Overtime, you begin to notice that your mind does not wonder, overthink, dwell or worry about things as it had prior to this practice. Meditation allows for us to train our minds to focus on the present moment and manage distractions during and after the practice.

9.      We experience life through the lens of the mindset we carry.

Perhaps this is similar to the story we tell ourselves, but here I think I am going more for a thought about attitude. If we maintain a positive attitude throughout our days, we had a great day! If we wonder through life thinking the world is against us and everyone is evil, our world will be unpleasant. We can see this sort of idea play out in a circumstance, at work, for example. We might be performing the same job, same task in the same company as another person and they hate their job while you might love it! It’s the same circumstance experienced two completely different ways. Luckily! We have control over our own mindset and can choose to have a good day or not based on that attitude alone.

10.   WE define success, not time, not others, not accolades.

For years I talked about being “successful” “one day,” not fully understanding what success even meant to me. I knew what success meant to other people, having money, cars and status, perhaps, so like many of us, I owned this as my own definition. But was it? How did I define success? What did I want? Is it possible I am already successful? Can’t be! Well, to my surprise, I came to find out that success to me is exactly where I am right now. I might not be in the profession I want to be in, being as financially well-off as I want to be, etc, but in this moment I am success because of the way I define success. I define success as being able to support myself, my friends and my family whether financially (enough) or emotionally. I define success as making progress on personal development, my goals and my skills. I define success as doing the very best I can ALWAYS. Reminding ourselves that everyone is always doing the best they can, may really evoke empathy for one another. Perhaps they do not define success in the same way, but according to your definition, they are successful all the same, whether they know it or not.

Long post and very raw but I hope even one person was able to relate and maybe gain a new perspective from this. What I Know for Sure?… There is more to come. Enjoy!

Quarter-Life Crisis

Most of us have heard about a middle-life crisis, a stage of life stereotypically accompanied by an impromptu purchase of a fancy red sports car and new out-of-character hobbies, but how about a quarter-life crisis? Since it is safe to say that the majority of us at 25 years old are still broke and living with our parents, our quarter-life crisis may not be projected with a luxury car purchase. Conversely, it can be accompanied by overthinking about the future, anxiety about achieving our goals, being unsure about making a new move, and fearing we will not have done enough with our lives by 30 years old.

The irony of having such doubts about ourselves is it can be debilitating and the exact reason we will not achieve our goals. It is easy to look five steps ahead to our ideal life, but how about all of the steps in-between? When we focus too heavily on step five, it hinders us from taking steps one, two, three and four.

So now I beg the question, “Would it be better if we did not set goals at all then?!”

I am not sure about my own response to this question. I believe we do need an objective that will drive us into action, but perhaps my response would have more to do with allowing ourselves to be flexible and do more acting and less planning to inch our way closer to reaching our objectives.

For instance, we should be open to changing our path if interests or lifestyle changes. Sometimes we are too scared to change because of the time and money we already invested in the field we are in, the degrees, the years, the relationships, and to jump into a new field of interest is often less appealing for these reasons. However, if we are not flexible in catering our goals to match our new interests, we will never be able to become that person we envision at step five.

Furthermore, planning less means taking time away from creating a vision board, writing out a five-year plan or creating a business plan, and giving more time to taking action towards our goals.

If you too are going through your own quarter-life crisis, my advice is to put less pressure on yourself, live in the moment, be flexible and focus on taking step one rather than constantly thinking about and planning for step five.

Think about the person at step five. What was the most basic action that person needed to take to get them to where they are? Take it today.

How to Love the Job You Hate (Pt. 2)

My main commitment to this site is to offer mindset and life advice to anyone who in interested in a DIY sort of approach to self-help. All I can offer is tactics based on my own personal experiences, which have help me greatly.

This posts topic seems to speak to the most people so I will expand upon ways to “love the job you hate.”

The two previous methods I have mentioned were, generally, Self-awareness and Gratitude.

Here, we are encouraged to recognize the tasks or annoyances that bring us negative emotion, and choose to react more positively to them. Furthermore, we are encouraged to reflect upon all of the good in our lives and focus on these in times of difficulty at work or everyday life.

To take these concepts a step further. I will share my specific morning routine, which helped change my mindset about my job and my life.

Mourning Routine:

  • Drink a Glass of Water
  • Brush Teeth
  • Journal Three Things I am Grateful for
  • Journal Three Reasons Why I Am Already Successful
  • 5 Minute Listen to Breath
  • 5 Minute Listen to Positive Audio (TedTalk, AudioBook)
  • 15 Minute Stretch/ Workout
  • 10 Minutes of Reading
  • Give Yourself a Smile in the Mirror

Repeating these simple tasks before going to work will make your day, I guarantee it! You will enter your work day with a sense of accomplishment from the start.

As previously mentioned, a habit typically takes about 30 days to stick, so practice this routine as consistently as possible! Finding this 30 min- 45 min of extra time in the morning will be more than worth in the long run. This is time for yourself, before the world wakes up and starts asking things of you.

You deserve it.

Please contact me in the Contact section or comment with email below if you would like me to email a copy of the Morning Routine Check-Off List I have created. This consists of all of the above tasks in check-off list form for each day of every month! (And it is free, of course).

Enjoy!

 

Learning New Skills

“I suck.” “I’m not good at this.” “I should just quit now.”

These are all common phrases we tell to ourselves when we begin learning a new skill. This negative self-talk will definitely not help us improve, but it is sure to discourage us enough to quit.

Learning a new skill is one of the most exciting, yet challenging situations we can put ourselves in. Think back to when you were first learning to ride a bike. I am sure you fell numerous times, cried, felt discouraged and wanted to give up. After each of these falls, though you did not recognize it at the time, you were becoming a better rider. Fast-forward a few weeks and many falls later, I bet you were riding up and down the street like it was second-nature. How awesome!

We have to remember this experience and understand that learning ANY new skill is no different than learning to ride a bike. Though failure can be tough, know that even your failure is getting you closer mastering that skill!

As we grow older, many of us give up on developing our skills. We begin to believe we are too old to learn new things, and are not as willing to learn as we used to be as kids. Basically, any skill was a new skill to learn as a kid, from the basics of reading, writing and even tying our shoes. However, we were always excited when we finally accomplished these simple feats! Let’s embrace that same excitement as adults!

For example, I recently became a local real estate agent in my area. Initially, I believed I would only use my license for myself because I was not interested in getting into the sales side of real estate. As an introvert, I was convinced sales was a skill too far outside of my wheelhouse. I assumed it to be a skill it I could never be good at.

Eventually, I decided to take on the challenge of embracing the sales side of real estate, and see it as an opportunity to learn a new skill, the very skill I deemed impossible for me to learn, sales!

“Oh my! How could you ever step so far outside of your comfort zone, Alex!? You better come back!” my mind tries to convince me daily.

Though it is still early in this skill development, and I have already failed many times, I am excited to witness my progress come to fruition down the road no matter how long that road may be.

We must all understand that falling on your face only gives you the opportunity to get right back up! It is up to us to choose whether to stay down or keep going.

Take hold of the opportunities to learn a new skill when you get the chance! Maybe there is an Excel class or writing workshop at your place of work or local college that you can sign up for. It is never too late to learn something new! Get excited! Be patience! And watch ourselves grow. J

The Pink Elephant in the Room

A few days ago, I was prepared to diagnose myself with OCD. OCD is also known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, essentially a behavior problem that prompts one to inhibit obsessive thoughts and habits that hinder their everyday functions. After recognizing my destructive habit of analyzing every little thought that came to my head, making reason for why it was occurring, and manically scribing away pages and pages in my journal for a full diagnostic report of one simple thought, it sounded like an OCD-type behavior to me. So, I began to read up on the disorder that can be crippling for so many. Ultimately, I realized my behaviors were very much in my control and nothing as serious as such a potentially debilitating disorder. I began to understand this was in my control.

As it was explained in a video I came across about OCD, the psychologist used the example of a “pink elephant,” an objectively bizarre yet meaningless image. She instructed the video viewers NOT to think of a “pink elephant.” Ok, try it for yourself now. Do NOT think of a pink elephant. Whatever you do, do NOT think of a pink elephant. What are you thinking about now? Let me guess… The damn pink elephant, of course! The point of this exercise was to make an example of how the more we think about our thoughts, the more they can consume us. We might even begin to question, “Why am I thinking of a pink elephant? Oh my gosh, it must mean something!” And again, be possessed by meaninglessness.

As the doctor went on to explain, WE are the ones who give meaning to our unintentional thoughts. Unintentional thoughts that just pop into our heads are really just the natural random functions of our brain, which we have no control over. Instead of accepting these thoughts as something we have no control over, oftentimes we CHOOSE to give reason and meaning to these thoughts, which in-turn drive our obsessive behaviors.

At the end of the day, it has been enlightening for me to realize that the majority of thoughts I experience throughout the day are not in my control and are completely random. I am the one who chooses to place meaning on the. As much as I love journaling, I decided it needed to be tamed, for it prompted full-fledged analysis of every little thing. Now that I understand, I have been working to allow my thoughts to come and go, not sticking with or giving meaning to the unintentional whims that might show up thought the day. You kind of just have to laugh about it and say, “Oh brain, you’re so funny. I don’t know why you would think that but I’m going to go back to what I was doing. Thanks for visiting.” And leave it be.

This is where the practice of mindfulness comes it, being able to recognize when the mind has drifted into possessive thought, and then bringing it back to the present. It is easier said than done and I am no expert in meditation or traditional mindfulness practices, but I have found that developing an ability to laugh off our thoughts and move on is a mindfulness practice in and of itself. This is what I encourage us all to do to live a more clear-minded day. Place no meaning on the unintentional thoughts that may pop up today, laugh at them and recognize that it is your mind doing its job. It is not you. J