Why I swapped my corporate suit for yoga pants.Inspiration and advice for anyone who's feeling stuck, unhappy at work, contemplating a career change or wanting to follow their passion. Have a read of my latest blog on Tiny Buddha"Instead of wondering when our next vacation is, we should set up a life we don't need to escape from", Seth Goldinhttp://tinybuddha.com/blog/imagine-living-a-life-you-dont-need-to-escape-from/
Over the years I’ve learned that happiness is not the mere absence of suffering or temporary cessation of unhappiness, it’s less about elation and perfection, more about purpose and fulfilment, being connected to who you are. A big part of this is resilience, tough times will come to us all, it’s how you deal with it and bounce back that impacts your happiness.It’s only the end of the road if you fail to make the turn, life has many twists and turns for us to navigate.Growing up I thought I was the only one suffering and I thought that adults must have it all figured out and when I grew up I’d come to this enlightened point in my life where I knew all the answers, I thought that’s what coming of age was, imagine my disappointment! Now I’m grown up (some days) I realise everybody hurts, we are all fighting our own battles, pain is inevitable which is why resilience is so necessary. If suffering is inevitable then it seems silly that avoidance of pain is a major preoccupation in our modern world and the methods we employ to achieve this often contribute to more of the very pain we are trying to avoid; addictions, eating disorders, debt.Unfortunately sorrow will always come, even to those who are happy but the good news is it will also go, impermanence is the nature of all things. This is good news if you’re going through a tough time, know that it won’t last but the same is also true when things are good and we are happy, this too will change, everything is impermanent. If we are able to accept this and enjoy what we have when we have it this goes a long way to helping us be more resilient. But our struggles make us what we are today, it’s because of the tough times we are strong and have learned the lessons of our life. It may be true that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. A monk once told me, mistakes are our teachers and we are never too old to learn. Where you are now is where you’re meant to be, trust it will turn out right in the end. There are no mistakes, only lessons, negative experiences teach us things and give us an opportunity to be stronger. As Paul Coelho said “Straight roads do not make skilful drivers”.Resilience is something that we should be working on all the time, not just when we need it. You don’t learn to sail in stormy seas and a tree grows its roots in the good times to enable it to weather the storms, resilience is the same, don’t wait until you need it to begin to cultivate it. As we go through change we go through the process of losing something and adjusting to something new, almost like a grieving process. It begins with shock and denial, moves on to anger and eventually we reach acceptance and move on and get over it and the new becomes the norm, until it changes again.BKS Iyengar said; “Change is not something we should fear. Rather it is something that we should welcome. For without change nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever more forward to become the person they’re meant to be”.Having to go through the pain of letting go of the old enables us to find the growth and opportunities of the new. However that period of nothing between letting go of old before we’ve grasped hold of new is the most fearful bit, gap of unknowing and what often sends us running back to cling onto what we know rather than being left out in the dark grasping onto something that’s not there yet and no security, like trapeze artist who has let go of one bar but is suspended in mid air yet to grasp the next. But facing the fear and moving forward allows us to grow and achieve amazing things, only then we can look back on our journey and see how far we’ve come. Change is the nature of everything, nothing stays the same, change is the only constant. Within our lives and work we have a wide range of concerns, some of which we can influence and some we can’t. Make the best use of what is in your power and take the rest ass it happens, this puts you back in control. By focusing your energy and attention on doing something about the things you can control rather than those things you have no control over, you’ll feel more empowered and positive rather than feeling like a victim of circumstance.Charles Darwin said “in nature it’s not the strongest most intelligent that succeeds, it’s those that are most adaptable to change”.Top tips to cultivate resilience
- Know that change will always come and learn to adapt
- See change as an opportunity – ask not what you are walking away from but rather what you are walking towards
- Look after yourself – be well
- Remember it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to it
- There are no mistakes in life, only lessons and negative experiences teach us things and give us an opportunity to be stronger
- Where you are is where you’re meant to be
As the New Year approaches we are busy thinking about the possibilities for 2015 and what lofty goals we may set for our New Year Resolutions. We’ll be telling ourselves, “this is the year, it’ll be different”, we have new found motivation to achieve goals that maybe we’ve been ‘considering’ for the last few New Years.I’m going to lose weight, I’m going to get up earlier, get fit, I’m going to find a new job. We dust off our bucket list for review, we join the gym, we update our CV and then by February the motivation has lapsed slightly, we’ve had a few set backs and real life has taken over and we no longer have the promise of a New Year hanging in the air to give us that extra push. Maybe we’ve taken salad to work for a few days and avoided the bread basket when we’ve been out for dinner but really we’re only a few weeks into the year and not that much has changed.How do you get from where you are to where you want to be and ensure that this year is the year?There’s a big difference between talking about what we want to achieve and actually doing it, how do we make it happen and actually do those things we say we’re going to do, whether it’s New Year or anytime of the year.I’m not an expert, I still have things I’ve talked about that have not quite been crossed of my list yet but I have a pretty good track record. Quitting my corporate job to follow my dreams, travelling the world, spending a year living out of a van as a nomad, volunteering to teach English overseas, studying Buddhism whilst working full time, training to become a yoga teacher and emigrating to the other side of the world.So how do we make our dreams reality and what is it that so often stops us?If it was easy there would be no challenge and we’d not be having this conversation, your resolve will be key. It all depends on you and you must take responsibility and make the right choices along the way. Take control of your own destiny, know why you’re doing it and understand the consequences of failure and keep this in your mind.So as you mull over your prospects for 2015 consider these top tips to help you achieve your goals and live your dreams;
- Understand what you really want. Take some quiet time out to reflect on what this might be. The quieter we become the more we can hear, listen to what is deep inside of you. Make sure your goals are actually what you want not what you think you should want.
- Set your intentions – commit to it and believe in yourself
- Write it down and put it somewhere you’ll see it every day to keep it at the front of your mind
- Make it realistic so you give yourself every chance to achieve it
- If it’s big, break it down, set milestones and timeframes to work to
- Think positive, ordinary people can achieve extra ordinary things, the only person stopping you is yourself.
- Tell people what you’re doing. The more people know, the more ‘pressure’ there is to succeed, you’ll have people asking you about it, the fear of failure increases if it is more public and this helps hold you accountable. You may also find that by making it public you encourage others to join you or find support in places you least expected.
- Be grateful. Don’t get so lost in the search for something better that you forget all the good things you already have. Get into the habit of giving gratitude everyday even for the small things, you may even want to keep a gratitude journal. If you want to get fitter this year remember to be grateful for your health and wellbeing and the opportunity you have to improve your fitness, not everyone is so lucky.
- Give yourself a break. There will be ups and downs, praise yourself for the small successes but don’t beat yourself up when things don’t go so well. Your attitude is critical in your success, so if you accidently ate that piece of cake at lunchtime, get back on the wagon rather than letting it ruin your good intentions and doing more damage. Be kind to yourself and don’t let a little derailer put you completely off track.
- Keep the company of those walking the same path. Like minded people will understand what you’re trying to achieve, they may even be on the same journey themselves giving you a support network of people to share ideas and motivation with. They are more likely to be positive about what you’re aiming for and show an interest in what you’re doing.
- Lose the company of those who do not believe in you or are not supportive. Negative attitudes are infectious and they’ll weaken your resolve, they’ll inadvertently convince you that you’ll fail and may become a distraction to what you’re trying to achieve.
- Let go! Of what you think you should be, grudges from the past, limiting beliefs (I’m too old, not good enough etc), the need to control the outcome, the need for perfection (you don’t need to know everything). Have faith, trust the process and know that if you’re on the right path you’re heading in the right direction.
- Stop procrastinating. There’s always an excuse or a better time. (I’ll start the diet on Monday or after my birthday/holiday etc). Procrastination comes in many forms all distractions from achieving our goals, conditions will never be perfect, don’t let negative thoughts overcome your motivation, start now. This is it, this is life, you’re living it now, you only get once chance, it’s too precious a chance to waste on being unhappy. You get once chance to make it great and you can make it whatever you want it to be.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” Lao Tzu“Every ordinary person has extraordinary potential” Swami Satyananda