People ask me all the time where my positive energy comes from. Many of them think it’s because I quit my job in April and that’s definitely part of it, but it’s not the whole story. For the last two years I’ve been on a huge self exploration binge. I’ve had life coaching, I’ve indulged all my passions, I’ve read every book on spirituality, self transformation and motivation that I could get my hands on. I’ve been on yoga retreats, I’ve been to meditation classes, I’ve fasted and detoxed. I’ve travelled for extended periods of time. I’ve ziplined in the jungle. I’ve been to every woo woo workshop out there. I’ve had singing lessons and dancing lessons. I’ve pushed my boundaries in every way I can think of. I’ve tried everything, without doubts and without judgments.
And what I’ve learned boils down to something incredibly simple. True happiness lies in accepting yourself completely and learning to be yourself in every moment, whether you are accepted by others or not. I’m not there yet, but at least I can see where I’m going with this now. For years I was blocked and miserable. I was so afraid to be myself. I craved the approval of other people, but I suspect they sensed the faking. As a result relationships were always difficult and fraught with misunderstandings. I’ve learned the hard way that you cannot depend on anyone else for your happiness. Friends, family, partners, children. They can’t help you with this. You have to do it yourself. I was originally going to make this one post but I talk too much and it got a bit long so I decided to write about one of these rules each week. If you’re a first time reader you might want to check out the previous rules first:
- Rule number 1: Be Honest. ALWAYS
- Rule number 2: Start with the end in mind
- Rule number 3: Spend time with yourself
- Rule number 4: Let Yourself Dream
- Rule number 5: Share Yourself
- Rule number 6: Small Things Make a Big Difference
- Rule number 7……Be Resilient
- And here’s Rule Number 8: Don’t get distracted
So, last week I talked about openly unsupportive people and how to understand them and deal with them. But there are different ways for people to be unsupportive and you’ll also find some people who, while seemingly on your side, will try to get you to engage in activities that are going to take you further away from your goals. For example, if you’ve committed to writing at the weekends, or working on a side business for yourself you might find friends and family pressuring you to spend time with them and find yourself saying no a lot. They support you, they want you to be happy, but they also want to hang out with you and spend time with you. Because the weekend is their free time, they don’t understand why you would want to spend your free time on “work.” I’ve found over the last few months that I don’t really draw a distinction between weekdays and weekends.
Every day I have things that I want to accomplish and every day I want to get my work done. I don’t want to go out for the evening just because it’s Saturday night but, equally, I don’t feel like I shouldn’t go out for the evening just because it’s Monday night. Changing my habits has been difficult and I’m constantly tempted by fun things going on, or events I feel I ought to attend, but my commitment to my life has to come first. I’ve found that I’m highly productive at weekends and it’s easier for me to get my “life admin” done on weekdays so I have to stay away from the siren’s song of the weekend parties if I want to get stuff done.
This is where you have to remain very focused on what you want and what it takes to get there. Having your dreams written down somewhere can help with this. I have a sheet by the side of my bed, and one above my desk, that set out what I have committed to achieving for the remainder of this year and some things that will definitely help me to succeed. I remind myself on a regular basis why I’m doing this, where I’ve come from and where I want to be. And that helps me to decline invites to things I’d really like to do. But, just to be clear, I’m not living life as a hermit. I’m just choosing to prioritise the work that is really important to me. I enjoy the company of my friends and family and, perhaps counterintuitively, I now have more time to spend with them. But I do have to say no to some things.
And how do I prioritise? I make time for the people with whom I feel I have a meaningful and collaborative relationship. For example, I will always make time for Mr B, my best friend. Whenever I spend time with him I feel like we both come away energised and encouraged and supported. I don’t feel depleted after our conversations and I hope he doesn’t either. Together we are more than the sum of our parts. We help and support each other. I have other people in my life who need more support and perhaps take more from me than they give back. I love these people too and I’m just so happy to be able give them what they need but I have to put a time limit on it so that I can get stuff done in my own life. As my friend Lisa says, “There are people will fill your bucket (fillers) and those who take from your bucket (dippers).” I’m more than happy to share the contents of my bucket but if I let people do too much dipping, there’d be nothing left. I need to go get a “fill” from time to time!
What can you say no to? What is a distraction that, albeit pleasant, takes you further from where you want to be? Are you allowing too much “dipping?” In order to bring something new into your life, you have to make space for it. Is your personal life too crowded to allow that new something in?