To what extent are you shaping your life? Do you feel as if you are being taken in directions not of your choosing? Are you anxious about the future and what it may bring?
Now just for a moment, take some time out, sit in a quiet space, close your eyes and imagine how it would feel to be in control. Picture yourself moving from one planned project to the next. Imagine yourself feeling serene and confident and moving about your life calmly, assuredly.
You have immense power to shape your world, and yet so many do not believe that they do.
Let me share with you some thoughts on how to start shaping your life, and putting yourself in the driving seat.
Plan some exciting, important goals. Make sure they are SMART goals:
Specific – avoid generalising; choose a very specific action such as ‘phoning 2 friends, Emma and Jo’
Measurable – make sure you can measure the result otherwise how will you know when you have achieved anything. Think about what will change, for example, ‘I know when I have achieved this goal because I will have had a conversation about the weekend with both Jo and Emma and passed on the information I need to’
Achievable – is this possible for you to do within the time frame? If not, think about simplifying your goal
Relevant – is this goal relevant to the big picture? Will it bring about the outcome that you seek? For some, this ‘R’ will mean ‘realistic’
Time framed – state exactly when you are going to do this action, when you will start and finish. When we put deadlines against things they are more likely to get done
Think of the big goal (for example, getting a new job), work out some journey goals (such as writing your CV, applying for a role) and then plan the steps you will take to get there (maybe to ask a trusted friend to help you with your personal statement for your CV). Remember: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
2. Work out what is within your control or influence
You can’t set goals for others, they are unlikely to want to do something just because you want them to; they need to be motivated and excited to achieve goals, just as you are. Do not waste your time and energy on things that you cannot change, and that includes the past.
3. Say no
Sometimes saying 'no' in a polite, sensitive way can be the best thing for everyone, especially if you need to recharge your batteries. You need to put yourself first sometimes in order to be useful to others; if you’re not in a good place then you are probably not much use to anyone else.
4. Meditate and re-align
Develop good habits, take time out to sit and reflect, notice your thoughts and feelings, avoid burn-out. Re-engage with your values and then start living up to them.
5. List, prioritise, diarise
Be organised: dream it, plan it, do it. It’s good to write things down in a list, more effective to prioritise that list. But unless you plan a specific time to carry out the items on the list then they are unlikely to get done.
6. Ask for help
Ask an expert, most people love to share their knowledge and skills. Get help - you very often don’t need to struggle so spread the load, free up some more time for you. It is not a weakness to ask for help, it is true strength, and it can save you valuable time and energy.
7. Change your language
What dialogue is happening inside your head, what language are you using? Is it full of gratitude and understanding? Are you being judgemental of others and yourself? What story have you bought into regarding your life? Be confident to challenge your thoughts – ask: 'Is this helpful to me, thinking this way?' or 'Is that true, do I have evidence to support that belief?' or 'How else could I think of this situation, is there another, more positive point of view?' We are not always aware of the negative voice inside our heads, of our own inner critic, so when you notice it think about how you can change the words. Change your thoughts, change your world.
Honour mind, body and spirit. When one area becomes out of balance then all areas of your life are affected. It is hard to motivate yourself to go to the gym when you are feeling depressed, and it is hard to feel uplifted and motivated when we are not exercising. Physical exercise releases important hormones that have the power to dramatically affect your mood. We need to make time for all the important areas of our lives.
9. Finish things
Great satisfaction comes with finishing things. Seeing results and learning that you can be effective and efficient is a fantastic confidence booster. Create some worthwhile things in your life, feel the fulfilment that comes with achievement.
When you achieve a goal, celebrate! Don’t let the time pass unnoticed. Gain motivation for tackling the next challenge or goal and get excited! Tell people of your achievements and inspire others to succeed.
So start creating the life you want to be living - no time like the present!