You have made a conscious decision to embark on a journey that although most people may take, many have no idea they are on. You’ve made a decision, however big or small, that you would like to level up, improve, progress, be better. Maybe you have lofty goals, “I want to see my name up in lights” / world domination aspirations, maybe you are looking for a leg up in your career, maybe you are a student of life and have a commitment to learning, or maybe you just like the sound of what’s on the box. Whatever your motivation, age, background, status or career, the news is good, you’ve already taken the first step towards a better you.
First off let’s start by clearing something up. There is no big secret that’s going to answer those big existential questions that keep the curious people in this world up at night. Life is not linear, there will be twists and turns in life and everyone’s sequence of events will be vastly different. These events will shape thoughts, feelings, decisions and outcomes. We will all wind up at different finish lines, at different times, in different places. So, if we all have different lives, experiences and even interpretations of those experiences, how can we be sure that one path is going to lead to a better outcome than another? This concept is one that many have made attempts to tackle, unfortunately, this is all dependent on what we as individuals are trying to achieve in their time, and this itself is a question that many of us do not or at least do not yet have the answer to (something we will come back to as we progress on our journey). In short, there isn’t one path that will work for everyone.
With all that uncertainty it can make it very difficult to put any sort of structure around self improvement. Take for example a common scenario, New Year’s Eve rolls around and we decide to make a new year’s resolution (that we will of course stick to), let’s say something like “I’m going to shake off this extra weight and get in shape”. What happens next? We sign up to a local gym, we go at it all guns blazing, morning sessions, evening sessions, lunchtime sessions, we go fitness mad! Sometimes we can’t believe how motivated we are (for anyone who’s ever done two gym sessions in one day, you know what I’m talking about). Then, the big moment, stepping on those scales, and boom! We’ve lost some weight. Confirmation that our decision and commitment was justified. So we keep on with the regime, pushing ourselves beyond our norm, outside our comfort zone, encouraged by the knowledge that we are progressing. And then, the ultimate validation, someone we respect says “You look great, have you been working out!?”.
We have all had this feeling of validation in some way, shape or form. On the back of any accomplishment; losing weight, quitting smoking, winning that promotion, seeing family more often, but have you ever taken the time to think about what really gave you that feeling of fulfilment?
Try thinking of something that gave you this sense of accomplishment and ask these questions:
- What triggered you to make the decision in the first place?
- What did you set yourself as a challenge or what did you decide to to try to achieve?
- What made you feel like you were making progress towards this target?
- How did you know when you had achieved your desired outcome?
Without a clear structure in place it can sometimes be difficult to realise your progress, which can lead to demotivation over time. You are far more likely to reach your destination if you know you are at least headed in the right direction!
Let us take our New Year fitness kick example:
1. What was our trigger?
We identified something that was either not where we wanted it to be, or that we could see would be of benefit to us to improve (in this case we decided our figure wasn’t up to scratch - importantly this is by our own perception and measure, not anyone else’s).
2. What was our goal?
But, was it? Really our goal might have been to feel healthier and fresher, to be stronger and fitter, to fit into those jeans, or to lose our christmas gut. The goal was never actually to lose weight.
So let’s make this one something real and true:
To lose our recently acquired christmas gut
3. What was our measure?
Now our objective has some context, our goal is actually to lose the extra flab, but that’s a little tricky to really monitor progress while it’s happening, so we find a way to measure it - weight loss. We know if we are dropping those pesky pounds, we are on the fast track to that flat stomach we desire.
4. When did we complete our goal?
Here we realise that our goal is nothing without definition, in this case: The gut we had before is now gone!
This trivial yet ever so common example highlights the essence of the be better mindset. An individual journey of progression and development. Your personal journey can’t be measured against someone else’s standards, objectives, goals or vision. It’s all about you, your journey, and your progress. Don’t worry if you’ve not yet identified a clear goal or objective, we will continue to explore these concepts as we progress through our journey.
Think about what you have achieved recently, however big, however small. (Struggling to think of something? You decided to embark on this journey, read this, invest in yourself. Consider this.)
Thought about it?
You haven’t given yourself enough time to appreciate your achievement.
Take 3 deep breaths following these instructions and continue to think of what you’ve achieved.
- Close your eyes and relax, breathe slowly, as deep as you can, fill your lungs, feel them fill.
- Hold before breathing out, as you exhale allow your muscles to relax and sink.
- Continue to think of what you have accomplished.
- Slowly ease out of your relaxed state
Welcome to your journey.